Western Civilization 1350

Louis XIV and Napoleon Bonaparte are the most important personalities of French history; their political achievements impressed people of all generations who admitted the fact that unified strong and highly developed modern France is the main result of their activities. Both Louis XIV and Napoleon were politicians of a new type and had very progressive political views which helped them strengthen their country and defeat political opponents. Period of French history since 1643 till 1812 is full of great changes in social, economical, political and cultural aspects of French life and the outcome of this process was unified French nation, strong state ruled by able bureaucracy and French cultural predominance for many centuries.

To begin with we have to remember, that French nation didnt have strong and unified state before Louis XIV: French kings tried fighting for dominant position in the political system but failed as they were directed in their politics by rich noble families. Absolute Kings power was the only way out of feudal disintegration but unfortunately Cardinal Richelieu (in fact true Louiss predecessor) didnt achieve great results as his politics failed in defeating local separatism as many provinces had own parliaments, legislature and armed forces. Louis XIV knew the situation and after Cardinal Mazarins (Kings regent) death became a real king and started providing his politics.

His main aim was strengthening the authority of monarchs power; he said the following about his plans: “Up to this moment I have been pleased to entrust the government of my affairs to the late Cardinal. It is now time that I govern them myself … I order you (officials) not to sign anything, not even a passport . . . without my command” (Hedrick, Franz French Monarchy p. 214) — this is an excellent example of his political thinking and values. Young king was eager to improve the dangerous situation in the country and considered monarchs duties as “grand, noble, and delightful” so he proclaimed himself Gods representative on Earth who ruled the way God ordered him. This idea improved churchs support of his power and also helped gaining great popularity among French Catholics.

Another important Louiss action was weakening nobles power and lessening their influence on the central power; to do this he provided administrative reforms which made nobles dependent on Kings power. In fact, he tried to terminate aristocracy as a class because it had already lost that positive influence on states development it had before. Being a wise man Louis XIV gathered all most powerful nobles in Versailles where they didnt have real power and could not influence his domestic.

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