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France's Change From An Absolute To An Enlightened Monarchy During The Years 1661 1789

1978 words - 8 pages

France's Change from an Absolute to an Enlightened Monarchy During the years 1661-1789

An absolute monarchy is when the monarch’s actions are restricted
neither by written law nor by custom. Eighteenth century France after
the Hundreds Years’ war was in theory an absolute monarchy. The
absolute system of monarchy in France was supported by the Christian
teaching which said that your system in life is ordained by God. The
relationship between the monarch and his people was seen to be
paternalistic and Bolingbroke said in 1738, “The true image of a free
people, governed by a patriot king is that of a patriarchal family.”
However, at the end of the C18th ...view middle of the document...

Louis XV loved gossip,
his “Secrets du roi” and ministers felt like that did not have his
confidence and this led to a very inefficiently run France. Louis was
seen to be more and more despotic and the parlements began to
challenge the king in the name of the nation. Louis XVI was resolute
is not changing his ways and on two occasions called his troops to
Versailles. When in 1766 he wanted to improve the roads in Brittany
and make the Bretons pay, the other parlements announced that they
backed Rennes against Louis, whereupon he reasserted his authority,
earned the reputation of a despot and came into conflict with the
philosophes. In 1771 Louis agreed to the Coup Maupeou- where all
parlements which disagreed with Maupeou’s plans of reform for the tax
system, were dismissed and replaced. Louis could now not be further
from an enlightened monarch if he tried. He illustrated this
accusation with his own words: “It is legal because I wish it.”

In order for France to be under enlightened rule, there had to be
religious tolerance, but rather than becoming enlightened religion
became restricted and subject to the monarch’s discretion. In France,
the Protestant group the Huguenots, under the Edict of Nantes had been
permitted to continue living in France while the national religion was
Catholic. But in 1685, Louis XIV felt this threatened his absolutism
and so he revoked the Edict; the Huguenots could either leave France
or turn Catholic. In addition, Louisand the Pope united in an
ideological dispute against The Jansenists, a Catholics sect deemed
too “extreme” by Louis. Set out in the Papal Bull issued by the
Vatican in 1714 was “Ugenitus” which instructed people in what they
could believe in; they weren’t to read the bible, but to
unquestioningly follow the commands of the priests sermons.
Intellectual Catholics within the parlements refused, for the first
time, to sign this law and Louis died just a year later having refused
to resolve the issue.

A fundamental problem which was never sufficiently tackled during this
period was France’s subjective and archaic taxation system. Louis XIV
gave Colbert the task of reforming the entire French economy. Colbert
successfully reduced taxes to indirect taxes and after 6 years of
tight control showed that 68 million livres was at the King’s
disposal. However, the privileged pays d’etats remained exempt from
these taxes and Colbert’s entire aim was undermined by the king’s
refusal to reform this. When Louis XV succeeded the throne he wsa only
five and neither his regent, Philip of Orleans or the following kings
could control the nobles and the burden of tax. Under Philip, John Law
was given the issue of France’s financial state, in a terrible way
after the harvest and the loss of the Spanish war. Law knew that the
best way was to make the...

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