French apolytarchy: Louis XIV

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

How did it emerge?

French apolytarchy was the culmination of a series of historical processes. The development and maintenance of a reliable bureaucratic mechanism which was funded by the regular taxation of the citizens, allowed the monarch to have control over the State. The long-lasting war resulted in the creation of a strong and ready-to-use army, but it also created the desire of the French society for stable governments that could guarantee peace and elimination of social crisis.

The decline of the medieval representative institutions (e.g. the General Assembly of the Classes) and the limitation of the oppositional provincial aristocracy strengthened the monarch's institutional and political power.

At the same time, the Protestant Revolution contributed to the rise of the royal power, by breaking the Christian church, abolishing the papal power of secular leaders, and by reviving the doctrine of Apostle Paul, according to which all powers on earth derive from God (thus allowing the leaders of northern Europe to extend their power to the religious sector as well).

Principles and organisation

The French apolytarchy flourished within a framework of values. The ultimate political ideal that was cultivated, was the absolute, unlimited power of the monarch over his own citizens. Louis XIV, known as the "Grand Monarch", regarded himself as a monarch empowered by god, giving his role a religious character. The phrase "L 'état c'est moi", i.e. "The State Is Me", is also attributed to him. Besides, the economic principle of #mercantilism, contributed positively to the implementation of his totalitarian regime.

The intellectuals of the era

Like every political system, the #apolytarchy had fans among the intellectuals. Top political thinkers of the time were Thomas #Hobbes and Jean #Bodin, who gave important arguments in favour of the appropriateness of the apolytarchy. Bodin expressed the idea that royal power should end only where the divine one begins, and that therefore the people ought to obey the royal commands without questioning them. Hobbes presented #totalitarianism as the only right solution to resolve the problem of anarchy and misery, which, according to his theory, ravaged humanity at the beginning of human history.

Ways of exercising power

The government of Cardinal Prime Minister #Richelieu (1624-1642) and his successor, #Mazarin, was characterized by the extermination of the disobedient nobles, executions, confiscation of property, and systematic uprisings of the population. The above actions led to the weakening and ultimately the subordination of the French aristocracy. Shortly afterwards, Louis XIV brought together the three powers (legislative, executive and judiciary), with the commitment to respect the succession rules, the territorial integrity of the country, the life and property of his nationals, and the Roman #Catholic #religion.

Royal curators and military commanders exercised power on behalf of the king. In terms of finance, planning was based on the principles of mercantilism and its main objective was the proliferation of monarchy; a series of economic measures and institutions were working to achieve this goal. In religious matters, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, giving an end to the #religious tolerance. His #authoritarianism resulted in the emigration of thousands of non-catholic French citizens.

With respect to the French society, Louis XIV, executing the plan of #Richelieu and #Mazarin, further weakened the political role of the French nobles, thus he compensated them by providing them with financial and social privileges.

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Suggested reading:

Edward M. Burns, European History

Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Early Europe 1450-1789

Konstantinos Raptis, General history of Europe


Note:

This article is part of an academic essay, produced by Lamprini Repouliou.

You can bookmark or download the paper in the author's academia profile: https://oxford.academia.edu/LampriniRepouliou

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Credits:

Editor: Sharon Batha

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