Religious wars and power

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The Reign of Louis XI

Chapter 21 Section 2




( Pages 596–598)

What changes were occurring in


France was torn by eight religious wars between Catholics and Protestants from1562 to 1598.

In 1589, a Protestant prince, Henry of Navarre, became King Henry IV. In 1593, he changed religions. He became a

Catholic to please the majority of his

people. In 1598, he issued an order called

the Edict of Nantes. It gave Huguenots—

French Protestants—the right to live in

peace and have their own churches in

some cities.

Henry rebuilt the French economy and brought peace to the land. He was

followed by his son, Louis XIII, a weak

king. However, Louis had a very capable

chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu.

Richelieu ruled the land for Louis and

increased the power of the crown.

The cardinal ordered the Huguenots not to build walls around their cities. He also said nobles had to destroy their castles. As a result, Protestants and nobles could not hide within walls to defy the king’s power. Richelieu used people from the middle class—not nobles—to work in his government. That also reduced the power of the nobles.

French thinkers had reacted to the

religious wars with horror. They

developed a new philosophy called

skepticism. Nothing could be known for

certain, they argued. Doubting old ideas

was the first step to learning the truth, they

1. How did the monarchy get stronger in







( Pages 598–599)

How did Louis XIV rule?
In 1643, Louis XIV became king at the age of about five. Cardinal Mazarin, who succeeded Richelieu as minister, ruled, for Louis until he was 22. Louis became a powerful ruler, who had total control of France. He was determined to never let nobles challenge him.

He kept the nobles out of his

government. He gave more power to

government officials called intendants

and made sure that they answered only to

him. He also worked hard to increase the

wealth of France. His chief minister of

finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert, tried to

build French industry. Colbert wanted to

persuade French people to buy French-made

goods and not those from other

countries. He urged people to settle in the

new French colony of Canada in North

America. The fur trade there brought

wealth to France.
2. How did Louis make sure he kept his








( Pages 599–602)

What changes did Louis make?

Louis enjoyed a life of luxury at his court. He built a huge and beautiful palace at Versailles near Paris. He also made sure that nobles had to depend on his favor to advance in society.

Louis made France the most powerful nation in Europe. France had a larger population and a bigger army than any other country. However, Louis made some mistakes that later proved costly. After winning some wars against neighboring countries, he became bolder and tried to seize more land. Other nations allied to stop France in the late 1680s. The high cost of these wars combined with poor harvests to produce problems at home in France.

The final war fought in Louis’s time was fought over succession to the throne of Spain and lasted from 1700 to 1713. In this War of the Spanish Succession, France and Spain attempted to set up united thrones. The rest of Europe felt threatened and joined in war against them. Both France and Spain were forced to give up some of their American and European colonies to England. England was the new rising power.

3. How did Louis XIV bring disaster to






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