Louis XIV is the greatest example of an absolute monarch. He built his strong monarchy using eight main ingredients listed below. Using the attached reading to help explain these ingredients in detail. Please be sure to provide examples.
Key 1: Weaken the Power of Others
Key 2: Produce a Powerful Self-Image
Key 3: Demonstrate your Benevolence (i.e. show people you’re a great person!) Key 4: Ensure People’s Financial Security (i.e. make sure your citizens have money!)
Key 5: Develop a Strong and Loyal Military
Key 6: Control The Flow of Money
Key 7: Do Not Allow Dissent (i.e. don’t let people disagree with you!) Key 8: Establish Unity (usually at the expense of others!!)
Louis XIV Gains Absolute Power
Fundamental to Louis's power was the display of monarchical wealth and power gifts to others. To this end, he moved the monarchical residence out of the center of Paris to a suburb in Versailles. There he built the single most opulent palace ever built for a king of Europe: the palace of Versailles. It was an awe-inspiring structure and was built as a stage on which to perform the public rituals and to display monarchical power. The building itself was a little over a third of a mile long; the outside was surrounded by magnificent gardens and over 1400 fountains employing the newest hydraulic technologies. The inside was an altar to French military might, room after room decorated with paintings, tapestries, and statues celebrating French military victories, heroes, and, especially, French kings.
Louis required every noble to spend some time at the palace at Versailles. There he would stage elaborate performances and rituals designed to show the nobility both his power and his benevolence. In these displays of monarchical power he assumed the role of "Sun King." Certain philosophers of the Renaissance and seventeenth century argued that the sun, as the source of light, was the proper symbol for god and wisdom. Louis adopted this symbol for God to symbolize his own role as God's monarchical representative.
The power and the benevolence that Louis put on display was to some measure real power and real benevolence. In order to secure his power, Louis had to centralize the military, take control of national taxes, reign in independent territories such as Brittany and Languedoc, break up the legislative assemblies, and impose a religious unity on the country
Until Louis XIV, the military in France had been largely a private affair. Individual regions raised and paid for their own armies; when the king required military help, the army came from these semi-private sources. Louis began to build a state army of professional soldiers and began to bleed the military power from these individual regions. This new centralized military would owe allegiance only to the king; the danger of factionalism and rebellion subsequently declined.
In order to pay for his new military as well as his expensive theater of power, Louis seized control of national taxes. Until Louis's time, taxes throughout Europe were collected largely by individual nobility on a region by region basis. Nobles had been required to submit a certain amount of taxes to the crown, but they were free to collect whatever they pleased and keep the excess. In all the states in Europe, this was a massively inefficient affair, at least from a monarch's perspective. When Louis assumed power, only 30 percent or so of the taxes due to the monarch actually got paid.
Louis effectively cut out the middlemen. Rather than charging nobility to collect taxes, Louis set up a bureaucracy to collect taxes directly from the peasantry (the tax burden did not fall on the nobility at all). By the end of his reign, Louis was collecting over eighty percent of the taxes due to the monarchy. But Louis did not spend this money only on himself: he and his finance minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), used much of this money to expand and improve roads and to invest in national industry. In fact, historians usually credit Colbert as creating the first modern state in terms of financial management: collecting taxes and then reinvesting those taxes in the infrastructure and industries of the country.
Louis broke regional independence by dividing the country into thirty-six generalités ; each generalité was administered by an intendant, who was generally appointed from the upper middle classes rather than the nobility. No intendant was ever appointed to a region that he lived in; in this way, corruption would be kept to a minimum. These intendants were appointed by the king and answerable only to the king. For the most part, this bureaucracy functioned to collect taxes. In the most autonomous regions, such as Languedoc and Brittany, Louis ruthlessly imposed obedience to the crown.
In the matter of legislative assemblies, Louis had no patience whatsoever. The parlements of France were largely regional in nature rather than national. Not only did these parlements represent a diffusion of power from the king to the populace, they also represented a diffusion of power from the king to separate regions. Louis solved the problem of the parlements directly and simply: if any parlement vetoed monarchical legislation, all the members of that parlement would be exiled from France. Simple as that. The national legislative assembly, called the Estates General, was never called into session by Louis; in fact, it would not be called until 1789 at the heart of the crisis that precipitated the French Revolution.
Finally, decades of bloodshed over religion made it obvious that political unity would only be a dream unless religious unity were achieved first. To that end, Louis, a Roman Catholic, actively worked to get rid of heterodox religious groups: the Protestant Huguenots, the Quietists (mystical Christians), and the Jansenists, whose beliefs were a combination of Calvinism and Catholicism. The greatest threat to religious unity, as Louis saw it, were the Protestant Huguenots. He destroyed their churches and burned their schools and forced Protestants, under pain of imprisonment or death, to convert to Catholicism. Finally, he overturned the Edict of Nantes and declared Protestantism to be a crime against the state. All Protestant clergy were exiled from France. Most French Protestants chose to leave France rather than convert; the latter half of the seventeenth century saw the expansion of French culture throughout Europe as middle-class French Huguenots brought their culture, language, and artisanal skills to countries all over Europe.