On April 23, 1648 Chancellor Séguier informed the Parlement of Paris that Regent Queen Anne of Austria insisted the edicts requiring more taxes must be implemented. One week later the paulette tax was renewed with a fee on four years of salaries. A tax imposed on judicial officers stimulated the four law-courts of Paris (Parlement, Grand Conseil, Chambre des Comptes, and Cour des Aides) to form the Arrêt d’Union on May 13. They sent representatives to meet in the Chambre Saint-Louis in the Parlement to reform the bankrupt government. Queen Anne as Regent accepted the Union on June 15, and their assembly proposed 27 articles of reform. They demanded that intendants and other officers of tax collection be suppressed unless they were authorized by courts of justice. The sale of new offices was to be banned. Royal interventions in the judicial process must cease. Fiscal legislation must be registered by parlements. On June 23 Anne attended local celebration of St. John’s Day, and 9-year-old King Louis XIV lit the bonfire before cheering crowds.
In July the Parlement of Paris demanded that contracts with tax farmers must be revoked, and the taille tax was to be decreased by a quarter. Superintendent Particelli was resented for having acquired much wealth, and he was dismissed on July 9 and replaced by Charles de la Porte, Duke de la Meilleraye, who was assisted by finance directors Etienne d’Aligre and Antoine Barillon. On July 18 all the intendants were suspended except those with the army in frontier provinces, and that day the taille was reduced by 12%. Parlement still wanted 25%, and financiers refused to make loans to the government.
On July 31 Queen Anne and her prime minister Cardinal Mazarin renewed the paulette tax and stopped demanding four years of income from magistrates. In August the Parlement demanded the right to assess the pancarte tariff, and they agreed to let it be assessed by Pierre Broussel and Ferrand on their behalf and by Prince Gaston d’Orléans for the Regent. The critic Broussel began investigating the salt tax (gabelle) and contracts with tax farmers, and Parlement decided to prosecute financiers. During a celebration of the French victory at Lens several men including Broussel and President Nicolas Potier de Blancmesnil were arrested on August 26. Parlement met the next day, and 150 judges followed by 20,000 people marched to the Palais Royal to demand that Queen Anne release Broussel and Blancmesnil. People began building 1,260 barricades in Paris and were joined by city militias. Slings called frondes were used to throw rocks, and these rebellions were called “Frondes.” The barricades spread, and two days later Anne and Mazarin with a letter de cachet ordered Broussel, Blancmesnil and other magistrates released. Also in 1648 the Royal Academy of Arts was founded in Paris.
Many began writing pamphlets that came to be called “Mazarinades” criticizing Mazarin for being corrupt, despotic, and a warmonger. Most of those opposing Mazarin were organized by Jean-François-Paul de Gondi de Retz, Archbishop of Paris. Of the 5,000 pamphlets published in the next few years only 600 supported Mazarin. He was defended by Gabriel Naudé who published the 700-page Mascurat which had little appeal. Prince Louis II of Condé returned to Paris, and he and Gaston met with delegates from Parlement. On October 24 the Regent Anne decreed statutes confirming the articles of the Union and conceding a 20% cut in the taille tax, reductions of excise taxes on meat, wine, and salt, and accepting that no official could be dismissed or imprisoned by a lettre de cachet without a trial within 24 hours. She felt humiliated and left Paris with Mazarin on the night of January 5-6, 1649 to go to nearby Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Three days later the Parlement demanded that Mazarin be banished, and Condé’s troops surrounded Paris and put it under siege. The price of flour rose sharply. On January 18 aristocrats led by Gondi de Retz swore to support Parlement against Mazarin. In February the Prince of Condé’s brother Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, invited the Archduke Leopold to invade France from the Spanish Netherlands.
In 1648, 1649, and 1650 bad weather delayed grape harvests until October, and the price of bread was the highest in nearly a century. In the spring of 1649 floods covered central Paris. The French controlled Catalonia in the early 1650s when the people were weakened by hunger and a plague. The longest drought recorded in Languedoc and Roussillon was in 1651. France had bad harvests between 1646-51 and 1657-61.
News that England’s Charles I had been beheaded on January 30, 1649 alarmed most of the Parlement, and their President Mathieu Molé arranged talks with the Regency at Rueil in March. Their peace agreement was accepted by the Parliament on April 1. Interest payments had stopped in February, and most financiers had departed; but Particelli’s favorite traitant La Ralliere was imprisoned. Any advances on taxes that La Meilleraye could get he sent to the army. The royal family returned to Paris on August 18, and they were cheered by tens of thousands in the streets. Yet the Fronde of Paris had spread to Provence, Guyenne, and Bordeaux. On December 11 rumors spread that France was going to default on its bond payments, and riots broke out. On the 22nd France’s procureur-général asked the Parlement to prosecute Gondi de Retz, Beaufort, and Broussel, but most of the evidence was hearsay.
Queen Anne and Mazarin made concessions to the Prince of Condé, but then on January 18, 1650 they arrested him, his brother Conti, and his brother-in-law Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Longueville. The Duchess of Longueville organized support to remove Mazarin while Marshal Turenne joined their cabal on April 30 and conspired with Spain. Condé’s wife Claire-Clémence de Maillé-Brézé, who was Richelieu’s niece, garnered support in Burgundy and Berry where Condé was governor, and Conti’s wife raised rebels in Champagne where he governed. The Duchess of Longueville incited rebellion in Normandy. Provence also joined them in what was becoming a civil war. Turenne and Archduke Leopold’s Spanish forces captured Chatelet in May and then Guise.
The Regency withdrew troops from forces fighting Spaniards and regained control of Burgundy during the summer. Anne and Mazarin went with the royal army which besieged Bordeaux in July while Gaston ran the government. They made peace on September 30, and Mazarin offered amnesty while agreeing to dismiss the hated governor, the Duke of Epernon. D’Aligre warned that people were not paying taxes in Touraine, Maine, and Anjou. The government had to borrow from traitants at high interest rates. Turenne’s rebel army occupied Rethel, but King Louis and Mazarin went with the army that defeated them on December 15.
Archbishop Gondi de Retz persuaded Gaston, Broussel, the Duchess of Chevreuse, and other aristocrats to demand the dismissal of Mazarin, and in early February 1651 the Parlement of Paris called for the exile of Mazarin who left Paris and went to Le Havre where the princes were imprisoned. He released them, went to Liege, and found sanctuary in Cologne. On February 9 Gaston with militia prevented Anne and King Louis from leaving Paris. Eight days later Parlement proclaimed that no foreigner could be on the Royal Council. On April 28 the Parlement exonerated Condé, Condi, and Longueville, and they ordered Mazarin arrested. Condé regained Burgundy and Berry and gave Champagne to his brother Conti. Mazarin sent letters advising Anne who listed charges against Condé, including that his troops were plundering Champagne and Picardy. Condé argued his case before Parlement which remained neutral. Queen Anne made a deal with Archbishop Retz in early August. If he would persuade Condé to be satisfied with what he had or leave Paris, then she would have Retz nominated to be France’s next cardinal. On August 17 she announced the King’s criminal charges against Condé. Retz and Gaston had a strong party that opposed Condé’s party in the Great Chamber. When the Parlement of Paris met on the 21st, the leaders of these parties were protected by hundreds of armed retainers.
On September 5, 1651 King Louis XIV celebrated his 13th birthday, and two days later the Parlement proclaimed him of age to rule according to Salic law, ending the Regency. The next day Molé was given the seals; La Vieuville became Superintendent; and Charles de l’Aubespine, Marquis de Chateauneuf, was appointed chief minister. Condé signed an agreement with Spain in November to receive military and financial aid. King Louis and Anne went with the royal army to fight Condé in Guyenne. Louis proclaimed him and his rebels guilty of treason. La Rochelle remained loyal to the King, but on September 22 Condé entered Bordeaux and was supported by their Parlement. Queen Anne left Paris on the 27th and moved to Poitiers. Turenne returned to support the King in October. The Parlement of Paris offered a reward of 150,000 livres to whomever assassinated Mazarin that would be paid for by selling his library. Nobles in the countryside published Eight Peasants from Eight Provinces calling for an Estates General, allowing nobles in royal offices, reducing lawyers and administrators, abolishing pensions of great nobles, and taxing the wealthy.
On December 4, 1651 the Parlement of Paris proclaimed Mazarin an enemy of the state. He hired 6,000 German mercenaries and returned to France on December 24. On January 11, 1652 Louis XIV supported him and ordered his subjects to assist Mazarin who joined the royal family in Poitiers. On the 24th Gaston d’Orléans allied with the Prince of Condé, and the Duke of Rohan led an uprising in Anjou. However, Turenne and Henri de Lorraine, Count d’Harcourt, led royalist forces who captured Anjou as Rohan surrendered on February 29. Condé defeated Charles de Monchy, Marquis de Hocquincourt, at Bléneau on April 1 and then returned to Paris while Duke Charles IV of Lorraine invaded the northeast for Spain. Mazarin paid off Lorraine who left France in June. The court went to Saint Germain as Paris became the scene of civil war.
On July 2 Condé’s forces fought a bloody battle against royal troops led by Turenne in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine east of Paris. Two days later a mob burned down the town hall, and a rump Parlement recognized Condé’s power in Paris. D’Aligre reported that most of the hostility was aimed at Mazarin, and on August 19 he went to Bouillon. On September 23 city councilors asked d’Aligre to arrange the surrender of Paris to Turenne, and d’Aligre persuaded Gaston to leave Paris. Condé fled to the Spanish Netherlands. On October 21 King Louis entered Paris to cheering crowds, and the next day he ordered Parlement not to discuss affairs of state and its finances. That month the French evacuated Casale in Montferrat. A call to elect deputies to an Estates General to meet at Sens was sent out in November. Condé and Gaston wanted it in Paris, but Queen Anne prevented that. The result was that the Estates never met. Mazarin was welcomed when he returned on February 3, 1653. The Fronde rebellion continued in the southwest; but it ended after the Prince of Conti’s surrender of Bordeaux on July 31 and the capitulation of Villeneuve-sur-Lot on August 13. Of the five years of misery 1648-53, 1652 had been the worst. One million people may have died during the Fronde revolts. After they ended, the monarchy in France would assert itself with more power.
Mazarin spent much time tutoring King Louis XIV on politics so that he could learn to govern without being controlled by a prime minister. While the King and Mazarin were with the army fighting the Spaniards at the sieges of Mouzon and Sainte-Menehould, the diplomat Abel Servien and Nicolas Fouquet were in charge of the administration. They were assisted by Etienne d’Aligre and Antoine Barillon in finance. The Prince of Condé was in exile, and Gaston d’Orléans had retired to Blois in 1652. That year in October the Spaniards had taken over the fortress at Casale in Italy. They also captured Gravelines and Dunkirk in Flanders. In July 1654 the Prince of Condé was a commander of the Spanish and Lorraine troops which besieged Arras. The French army led by Turenne relieved the city in August, and the Spaniards retreated. The French then took over Quesnoy. In 1655 Turenne’s forces laid siege to Landrecies which surrendered on July 14, and in the summer the French captured other towns on the northern frontier. The Duchesse de Chatillon tried to persuade the Marquis d’Hocquincourt, who governed Péronne, to turn it over to Condé, and Mazarin had her arrested. In July 1656 Turenne besieged Valenciennes, but Condé and Don Juan of Austria, who was governing the Spanish Netherlands, stopped the French advance there and at Cambrai in 1657.
Louis XIV had been crowned at Rheims on June 7, 1654. He went to the Parlement of Paris on April 13, 1655 and ordered them not to discuss the edicts they were there to register. He made his famous statement, “I am the state.” (L’état, c’est moi.) However, he resented the Fronde rebellion of the privileged, and his court would not return to Paris until 1660.
During the English Civil War in the 1640s the French princess Henriette and her son Charles II had been given refuge in France, and Mazarin let royalist English ships use French ports. In 1654 Mazarin gave the exiled royal couple money to move to Cologne, and in 1655 he negotiated a commercial treaty with Oliver Cromwell that was signed at Westminster in November, ending their trade embargoes and attacks on each other’s ships. In April 1656 the General Hospital of Paris opened to house the poor. On March 23, 1657 England and France formed an alliance with the treaty of Paris. The French army of 30,000 men besieged Montmédy which held out with only 756 men for 57 days. On June 14, 1658 Turenne’s French army defeated Condé and the Spaniards on the dunes, forcing Dunkirk to submit nine days later. The French turned over the city to the English as they had agreed in the treaty. The French then took Bergues, Furnes, Gravelines, Menin, and Ypres in Flanders.
Tax collectors returned to the provinces by 1653, but instead of intendants they were called commissioners. The Royal Council’s expenditures were 113 million livres in 1653 and climbed to 154 million by 1657. Between those years Angers had its elections annulled three times. Uprisings occurred in the southwest at Chalosse, Astarac, Médoc, Libournais, Saintonge, and Auvergne. In 1657 and 1658 nobles in Normandy assembled and formulated a list of grievances to restore their traditional rights and privileges. These ideas spread to Anjou, Beauce, Tours, and Poitou. In April 1658 a popular rebellion erupted in Sologne where the peasants rioting were called “Sabotiers.” French soldiers suppressed the rebellion, and concessions were made on the taille tax.
France had an army of more than 200,000 men on various frontiers. On November 30, 1657 a royal decree required subjects in Provence to pay soldiers. When the governor, the Duke de Mercoeur, imposed the charge on the towns of Tarascon and Draguignan in February 1658, they resisted violently. This spread the tax rebellion to Aix and Marseille where merchants equipped a galley with a commander. The King ordered them to accept the royal commander, and in July troops faced barricades. On August 14 French diplomats helped organize the League of the Rhine which included more than fifty German princes who allied with France, effectively separating the Habsburg empires of Spain and Austria.
Emperor Ferdinand III hoped that one of his sons would marry Felipe IV’s oldest daughter Maria Teresa, but he died in 1657 and was succeeded by Leopold. Mazarin wanted Louis XIV to marry her and negotiated with Felipe. The Spaniards and French signed a truce on May 7, 1659, and on November 7 the war was ended with the Peace of the Pyrenees. France gained Roussillon and Perpignan in the south, part of Luxembourg, and Artois, Arras, Béthune, Gravelines, and Thionville in Flanders. England kept Dunkirk, and Duke Charles IV regained Lorraine. Spain wanted Maria Teresa to renounce any claim to the Spanish throne by her or her children, and they promised to provide a dowry of 500,000 gold écus. The French made the renunciation dependent on payment of the dowry, and Spain, broke from wars, never paid.
On January 20, 1660 the Queen Mother Anne came with 6,000 soldiers, and a tribunal in Aix ordered a citadel built. King Louis arrived in Marseille on March 2, and he announced changes to the city’s administration. Mazarin also accomplished a diplomatic triumph by helping to mediate the Peace of Oliva on May 3, 1660 that ended the Second Northern War between Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, Austria, and Brandenburg-Prussia. After a proxy marriage in Fuenterrabia, Louis and Maria Teresa were wedded on June 9, 1660 in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Louis XIV and his bride entered Paris in August 26 amid celebrations.
Mazarin had built a fabulous palace and accumulated a large fortune that included the duchies of Mayenne and Nevers with the abbey of Cluny. His librarian Gabriel Naudé had acquired 40,000 volumes by 1648, but the Parlement of Paris sold them in 1651. However, after the Fronde revolt Naudé managed to reconstitute most of the collection. In 1658 Mazarin had allowed Finance Superintendent Nicolas Fouquet to buy the Belle Isle fortress from Cardinal de Retz so that it would not fall into the wrong hands. Because Mazarin had benefited financially so much from his service, he did not restrain Fouquet from doing the same. In 1656 Fouquet had hired the architect Louis Le Vau to build him an extravagant chateau and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte, and 18,000 workers began the project in early 1657. In declining health Mazarin urged King Louis to rule without a chief minister. Mazarin’s estate was worth nearly 40 million livres with more than half of it in cash when he died on March 9, 1661.
In 1657 Paul Scarron completed his realistic novel, Roman comique, and that year Cyrano de Bergerac published his fantastic Histoire Comique des Etats et Empires de la Lune. In Paris in 1659 Pastorale by Abbe Pierre Perrin and Robert Cambert was the first opera performed in French.
Vincent de Paul criticized the Jansenists for adopting the Calvinist idea that only a small number of souls were predestined for the grace of salvation; he believed God gives all people the grace needed. During the Fronde revolt Vincent advised Queen Anne to separate herself from the hated Mazarin to restore civil peace; but he felt he failed and left Paris to go on a tour of his Mission’s provincial houses for five months. While he was gone, 600 soldiers occupied and plundered the buildings at Saint-Lazare. In December 1650 seven priests and six brothers went to aid the poor suffering from the war in Picardy and Champagne. Charles Maignart published regularly Les Relations to report on the misery and the charitable work in the devastated provinces. The collected letters were distributed in Paris and other cities. On February 14, 1651 an ordinance appointed Vincent secretary of state for the provinces affected by the wars, and by March a public campaign had raised 80,000 livres so that they could feed 10,000 people. They also provided seeds and tools for those strong enough to work. Vincent sent a priest and five missionaries to Warsaw in September and wrote the Queen that they could educate priests in Poland by using Latin.
As he aged, Vincent de Paul suffered more from painful sores on his legs and fevers which may have been caused from contracting malaria when he was young. He followed the instructions of physicians, but their purges and bleedings only weakened the patient. During the civil war the revenues of the Mission were reduced. When the rebel forces of Gaston d’Orléans and the Prince de Condé occupied Paris in 1652, Vincent met with them and then advised Queen Anne that Mazarin needed to leave. Meanwhile at Saint-Lazare about 15,000 people a day were given soup so they would not starve while the Daughters of Charity helped feed another 19,000. Many died of the plague, and missionaries helped healthy men bury the dead. Soldiers confiscated wheat from farmers. On August 16 Vincent wrote to Pope Innocent X asking him to intervene for peace, and two days later Cardinal Mazarin withdrew from the court. Vincent wrote to him on September 1 and begged him to let the King and Queen return to Paris, and after the departure of Gaston and Condé they did so on October 21. After Mazarin came back in 1653, he had Vincent removed from the Council of Conscience. The Ladies of Charity raised money, and the Missionaries helped them distribute aid to those in need. That year Pope Innocent X also issued a bull condemning the propositions of Cornelius Jansen.
In April 1656 a royal edict prohibited begging in Paris which had an estimated 40,000 doing so. They were to be housed at Salpetriere and other places, and a hospital was established. However, Vincent opposed physical constraint, and involvement of the police resulted in only 4,000 going into the general hospital. Over seven years 360,000 livres were raised to help the poor and the sick in Champagne and Picardy, and they rescued 800 orphans. Vincent kept working and wrote or dictated about ten letters a day from Saint-Lazare to the priests, Louise, and the Daughters of Charity. Queen Anne donated 60,000 livres for a mission to Metz. Vincent died on September 27, 1660, and René Alméras was elected to succeed him as Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission.
Vincent de Paul included the vow of stability in his Rule of the Congregation so that members would not leave after finishing their studies. He succeeded in keeping the priests secular rather than part of a religious order. Vincent was concerned that the Church was being ruined by bad priests, and he worked to educate and train better priests by recommending action to do good. The five virtues he recommended most were simplicity, humility, gentleness, mortification, and zeal for souls. Vincent believed that perfection comes from doing the will of God. Yet he realized that one must have an inner life, or else one lacks everything.
After hearing of Mazarin’s death King Louis XIV summoned Superintendent of Finances Nicolas Fouquet, Secretary of State for War and the Navy Michel Le Tellier, and Minister of State Hugues de Lionne and told them that his full Council would meet the next day (March 10, 1661). There Louis announced that he intended to govern his state himself. Chancellor Pierre Séguier and Fouquet would no longer be authorized to decree any ordonnance de comptant which had allowed them to make unauthorized payments from the Treasury, and the Secretaries of State would not be permitted to issue any papers including passports or spending without his order. The King assured them that they were free to offer him advice and that he was eager to learn from their criticism. The Council would meet on Mondays and Thursdays, though for the rest of the month they met every day. He warned the elder Brienne not to discuss foreign affairs to anyone but to the King and his inner circle of Séguier, Fouquet, Le Tellier, and de Lionne. Louis learned from the Fronde revolt that he wanted to break the power of the independent nobles, and so he had no princes, aristocrats, marshals, or prelates on his Council, excluding even his mother Anne who had been regent.
Louis began getting up before nine and worked three hours before dinner and two after, consulting with ministers and giving audiences, and he spent countless hours working alone. He made himself accessible and quickly learned more about government. On March 11 he ordered the elder Brienne to write to all French ambassadors and ministers. On March 21 he initiated a search of all titles of nobility because many were claiming them to avoid paying taxes. On April 4 Louis abolished the tax on drinks levied in Normandy. He told Fouquet that his past corruption would be forgotten but warned him it must end. Jean Baptiste Colbert had been made an intendant on March 8. The King designated him to control finances because he considered him “hardworking, intelligent, and honest.” Colbert had been educated by Jesuits, served in the war ministry under Le Tellier, and in 1651 began managing the large fortune accumulated by Cardinal Mazarin.
Louis XIV later wrote his memoirs of these years, and he found that Fouquet continued making “excessive outlays, fortifying his fortresses, building palaces, forming cabals, and putting under his friends’ names important offices.” He even tried to bribe the King’s mistress Louise de La Valliere by offering her 20,000 pistoles. Louis forced Fouquet to pay the 30,000 écus he owed the crown, and he did so by selling his office of procureur-général of the Paris Parlement which allowed him a trial by Parisian magistrates who were his friends. Louis ordered the daughter of the Duchess of Orléans to wed the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s heir or become a nun even though she was in love with someone else.
The King’s advisors were astonished by his sudden thoroughness. Louis summoned Perier, who had persuaded the Aix Parlement to resist the royal government. When that Parlement refused to let him go, the King’s Council (conseil d’en haut) had Perier arrested. Louis also ordered the Aix Parlement president to Paris or face imprisonment. In May 1661 the King exiled his own relative, the Comte de Soissons, for initiating a duel over two wives even though Olympe Mancini was a former mistress of Louis. The ban on dueling had not been enforced since the time of Richelieu.
Louis realized in early May that he would have to remove Fouquet; but he had to do so carefully because of his power and so that his papers could be obtained. Louis implied that Fouquet might be the next chancellor, and he arranged to borrow two million livres from the new Duc de Mazarin if necessary. In early August he stopped Fouquet’s ability to take money from the Treasury. On August 19 the King and his court attended an all-night party at Fouquet’s palatial estate that included a performance of Moliere’s Les Facheux with music by Lulli. Six days later Louis ended the use of ordonnances de comptant. While the court was visiting Nantes on the King’s 23rd birthday on September 5, royal guards were present. The Musketeers commander D’Artagnan arrested Fouquet, and all his papers were seized. On November 15 a Chamber of Justice was organized “to examine the abuses and malversation in finance since 1635,” and the investigation took two years. In November 1664 Fouquet was tried for peculation and treason, and on December 20 the judges voted 13-9 for banishment over death, but Louis modified the sentence to perpetual imprisonment and sent most of the judges who voted for banishment into exile. Fouquet was not allowed books nor writing materials and died in 1680.
Louis XIV created the Council of Finances under his former tutor Nicolas de Villeroy. Fouquet had wasted much money and made it worse by borrowing at high interest rates. As a result of the debts more than 16 million livres were lost to the Treasury in 1662, but the 54 million livres revenue for that year by 1664 had increased to 88.5 million. Louis was so determined to balance his budgets that he kept a notebook with a record of income and expenditures. The summer of 1661 had a bad harvest, and a severe famine followed. Louis wanted to relieve the suffering of his people, and in 1662 the tailles tax was reduced by three million livres. Yet in 1664 France’s treasury had a surplus of more than a half million livres. Louis gave out pensions, titles, offices, and promotions that been handled by prime ministers since the death of Henri IV in 1610. On November 1, 1661 Queen Marie-Thérèse had given birth to a son Louis, assuring the succession.
In 1662 starving people in the Boulonnais rebelled. Louis XIV sent 38 companies of royal troops who arrested 3,000 people of which 40 leaders were executed, and 400 were made galley slaves for life. Louis imposed censorship that limited the number of subversive pamphlets to 1,500 during his reign (1661-1715). In 1649 alone more mazarinades had been published. Another revolt in Audijos lasted from 1663 to 1665.
The capable Colbert founded the Académie des Inscriptions et des Belles-Lettres and the Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1663, and in September he sent out intendants to study the communes and their defenses, cultivation, industry, and trade. He became Superintendent of Buildings in 1664, set up the Council of Commerce the same year, and was recognized as Controller General in 1665, the year he started the Académie des Beaux Arts, followed by the Academy of Sciences in 1666 and the Paris Observatory in 1667. He became secretary of state for the King’s household in 1668 and for the navy in 1669. That year he founded the Academy of Music and Dance and in 1671 the Academy of Architecture. Thus Colbert came to dominate supervision of finances and also commerce, public works, police, the navy, colonies, the arts, and the royal household. During his career Colbert secured positions for about twenty of his relatives.
On August 3, 1664 Colbert presented a report to the King and the Council of Commerce with his recommendations for using the policy of mercantilism to acquire gold and silver bullion by protecting domestic industries from foreign competition. He noted that France had less than 300 ships then while in 1658 the Dutch had 16,000. He urged the King to help increase the number of their ships to 2,000 within ten years. He argued that their manufacturing and other production was mostly ruined because the Dutch had been bringing these products to them in exchange for commodities. If French factories produced more goods they could sell them to the Dutch or abroad to gain money. Colbert calculated that the Dutch had been taking four million livres annually from France for transportation costs to carry French products. Using French transportation would save that expense. He blamed the poor condition of French commerce on debts of cities, legal wrangles over debts, tolls on land and water, ruined public roads, multiplicity of officials, excessive taxes on commodities, excessive tolls at provincial and national borders, piracy, and the inattention of the King and his Council. He suggested that they could also increase their wealth by limiting the consumption of imported goods. He urged the King to welcome merchants at court, protect them, and aid their commerce. He advised renewing local regulations, lessening import and export duties on manufactured products, investing in factories, subsidizing ships, repairing public roads, removing tolls, discharging local debts, making rivers navigable, and supporting France’s new East and West Indies Companies started in 1664.
Louis XIV believed that France had become the greatest power in Europe, and he wanted his reign to achieve greatness and glory by promoting justice, common sense, compassion, and enlightenment. Writers were given pensions and praised him. Painters portrayed his rule, and historians recorded his achievements. Louis rewarded those who aided his efforts and punished those who violated his laws. He made his best advisors wealthy with gifts for being honest and not corrupt. The sun symbolized his power. He endeavored to win wars, advance trade, promote the arts, build palaces, take care of the nobles, and help people to prosper. Although he exercised nearly absolute power in making laws, setting taxes, spending the money, and conducting foreign policy, his purpose was to protect people’s rights as he saw them. He could hire or fire any government employee, and he selected abbots, bishops, and archbishops who were always confirmed by the Pope.
Louis remembered the poverty of the court during the civil wars when a mob had invaded his bedroom. The Fronde rebellion had weakened the power of the parlements. They had become unpopular because they and other judges were not elected but bought their offices. France’s provinces had governors with large salaries who were from the royal family or were aristocrats. The Fronde had increased their power, but now the intendants appointed by the King regained authority to carry out his policies. Governors and other aristocrats were encouraged to live at the Fontainebleau court where they were lavishly entertained. Unlike the King of Spain, who was rarely seen, Louis liked to have people around him, and he enjoyed their company in royal parks and palaces. In 1662 a famous Carrousel was held in the space between the Tuileries Palace and the Louvre. Colbert assured Louis that such events would increase the revenues from sales taxes. Splendid fashions were noticed, and witty conversation was appreciated. Those who spent too much on clothes or lost a fortune gambling might gain a pension or an office with a salary.
The court was also filled with beautiful women from the two queens to the young maids-in-waiting. The King’s brother Duke Philippe d’Orléans had recently married tall Henrietta Stuart, and they were called Monsieur and Madame. Next were the Prince and Princess de Condé and the Duke of Beaufort who had led the aristocrats during the Fronde. While still attending to conjugal duties with Queen Marie-Thérèse, Louis fell in love with Louise de La Vallière who bore him three sons who all had died by 1666. She also gave birth to his daughter Marie-Anne de Bourbon (1666-1739) and the son Louis de Bourbon (1667-83). The Queen and his former mistress, the Comtesse de Soissons, came to accept La Vallière. Le Brun decorated the Tuileries Palace, and Le Notre was the garden architect. In 1660 Versailles was only a hunting lodge; but 834,000 livres were spent on improving the gardens and building the palace in 1664 alone. In May 1664 the Festival of the Pleasures of the Enchanted Isle inspired by Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso was held in the gardens of Versailles.
Louis began writing memoirs of his rule for the benefit of the Dauphin, but they were not published until 1806. Louis believed his greatest pleasure was governing rationally and raising men of merit to do good. He found that the most successful are those who have the magnanimity to admit their faults. He felt he could gain respect by doing justice to everyone’s claims, and he gave favors to whom he pleased. He used a wide choice of people to help him rather than a prime minister. After being shy he came to realize he was born to be a king, and he found satisfaction in working for the happiness of the people. He learned as much as he could about the provinces and foreign relations which he kept secret. Louis believed in submitting to God and hoped that his subjects would obey him as God’s representative. In religion he respected the Edict of Nantes, but he disliked Protestants and Jansenists, who believed that salvation comes from God’s grace, not works. France was mostly Catholic with 12% Protestants. These Huguenots had been disarmed but were allowed to practice their faith. In April 1665 Louis imposed on the French the papal bull Regiminis apostolici that required all clerics to condemn the five propositions from Augustinus by Cornelius Jansen.
At first Louis XIV excelled at diplomacy, though he often used the threat of force. In October 1661 a dispute over precedence in London between Spain and France was resolved after Louis wrote a letter to Charles II demanding that the Spanish ambassador be recalled. In March 1662 Felipe IV’s envoy, the Count of Fuentes, told the French court that Spain would yield precedence to France. In October 1662 Louis negotiated with Charles II and for 3.5 million livres he bought Dunkirk which he then fortified.
On August 20, 1662 during a conflict in the French embassy’s district in Rome the Corsican Guards besieged the embassy and shot pistols at the French ambassador, the Duke of Créqui. Louis withdrew Créqui and asked about reparations, and the Papal Nuncio was expelled from France by the end of the year. In January 1663 Pope Alexander VII offered to restore Castro, Ronciglione, and Commachio to their dukes but did not apologize. The Parlement of Aix annexed Avignon with the Comtat Venaissin, and Louis mobilized an army near the Alps. On January 19, 1664 Alexander agreed to return Castro and Ronciglione to the Duke of Parma and compensate the Duke of Modena for Commachio, and Rome’s governor Mario Chigi was dismissed. After agreement to the Treaty of Pisa on February 12 the Pope’s nephew, Cardinal Chigi, came to France and apologized on July 29, and France returned Avignon to the Pope. In September 1665 Louis sent the solicitor-general and magistrates from the Paris Parlement to enforce the law at Clermont in Auvergne, resulting in 87 nobles being condemned with 23 of them executed.
Queen Mother Anne suffered several surgeries for breast cancer before dying on January 20, 1666. Although she had given up power in 1661, Louis and his brother Philippe were close to their mother and mourned her passing. Louis was concerned that his brother might follow the bad example of his uncle Gaston d’Orléans who had been the focal point of plots. Louis would not appoint princes as governors so that he could keep them at court.
In 1666 the Parlement of Paris protested a new production tax, a fine on financiers who had stolen from the Treasury with Fouquet, and a reduction of interest on debt to 5%; but after King Louis forbade the protest and ordered them to register the laws, they submitted.
Louis made La Valliere a duchess and recognized their daughter Marie-Anne. He had numerous lovers and in 1666 fell in love with Françoise-Athénaïs, Marquise de Montespan, who though married was beautiful and intelligent.
King Felipe IV of Spain died on September 17, 1665. Louis XIV’s wife Marie-Thérèse was his oldest child, but Spain had not paid the enormous dowry of 500,000 écus. Lawyers argued that she should inherit Flanders, Brabant, Luxembourg, and the Franche-Comté, and Louis decided that these territories belonged to France. On May 8, 1667 he sent A Treatise upon the Rights of the Most Christian Queen to Various States in the Spanish Monarchy to Spain’s government explaining how these territories “devolved” to his wife. France hired 25,000 mercenaries from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Lorraine, building up the French army to 80,000 men. The War of Devolution began on May 24 as Marshall Turenne and the main army invaded Flanders. The Spanish army in the Netherlands had only 20,000 men. In August the French with short sieges captured Bergues, Ath, Charleroi, Tournai, Douai, Oudenarde, and Alost. The siege of Lille began on August 28, and Louis arrived on September 10. After a French attack on the 25th Lille surrendered the next day, and 2,500 troops from the garrison were allowed to march to Ypres. Louis directed his engineer Vauban to build a fortress. In 1667 François de Lisola wrote a tract accusing Louis XIV of seeking a “universal monarchy,” and Emperor Leopold made Lisola his ambassador to Spain.
On April 20, 1667 King Louis demanded that the Parlement of Paris register a revised ordinance of civil procedure without debate, and he had four magistrates who disagreed exiled with three losing their offices. By November he had it pushed through the parlements of Burgundy, Dijon, Rouen, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Aix, Metz, Rennes, and Grenoble. Louis took the Marquise de Montespan as his mistress and had her husband held in the Bastille.
During a short truce in January 1668 the Dutch, English, and Swedes formed the Triple Alliance and urged Spain to accept France’s claims; but they were prepared to stop any future French aggression. Louis went to war again in February. War Minister Michel Le Tellier for years had been training his son François, Marquis de Louvois, and he supervised army supplies in Flanders. Louvois suggested a plan to take French-speaking Franche-Comté back from the Spaniards after several generations, and the Prince de Condé led this successful campaign that took only twenty days. Peace was made again on April 15, and the French agreed to withdraw from Franche-Comté after disarming it. The peace treaty mediated by Pope Clement IX was signed at Aix-la-Chapelle on May 2.
On August 13, 1669 Louis entered the Parlement of Paris with Swiss Guards and forced them to register 25 new laws. The Turkish ambassador introduced drinking coffee to the French court, and they noticed it kept them awake. In July 1670 the Parlement of Rouen sentenced a man and two women to be hanged for sorcery based on the testimony of youths, but Colbert intervened to prevent that and to release twenty others imprisoned on similar charges. In August the Paris Parlement refused to publish new criminal laws until the King sent them a threatening letter the next day. Louis made Paris an open city by ordering its ramparts demolished. Abbot Gabriel Mouton measured the circumference of the Earth with decimal measurement in 1670.
That year Louis XIV founded a home for 7,000 disabled soldiers, and France spent 16 million livres on the army, 9.5 million on the navy, 5 million on buildings, and 2.5 million to fortify the newly acquired cities in the north. On June 1 Louis made the secret Treaty of Dover with England’s Charles II who agreed to convert to Catholicism in exchange for two million livres and 6,000 French soldiers to help put down rebellion. If Charles supported a French war against the Dutch, he would get annual subsidies of three million livres. Also in 1670 French forces occupied Lorraine, and Louvois introduced army uniforms. By 1671 the King’s net income had doubled since 1661. In November 1671 Emperor Leopold promised to be neutral in a Franco-Dutch war.
Madame Montespan’s first pregnancy was kept secret, and she had seven children by Louis XIV. Louis Auguste (1670-1736) became Duke of Maine; Louise Françoise (1673-1743) married Prince Louis III of Condé; Françoise Marie (1677-1749) married the future regent, Duke Philippe II of Orléans; and Louis Alexandre (1678-1737) became Count of Toulouse. Her other three children did not reach adulthood.
On April 6, 1672 France declared war on the Dutch and mobilized their forces in May. On June 12 King Louis, the Prince of Condé, and the French army crossed the Rhine River. The Dutch army had only about 40,000 men mostly in garrisons; Willem of Orange commanded a force of 14,000. On June 20 Utrecht surrendered. French forces reached Amsterdam a few days later, but they opened the sluices to flood their fields. When Willem paid a small ransom, Louis released 20,000 prisoners. In 1672 the black plague killed 60,000 people in Lyons. In February 1673 the Parlement lost the right to object to royal edicts. From the summer of 1672 to May 1673 the army led by Turenne with 25,000 foot soldiers and 18,000 horsemen fought Germans along the Rhine and the Elector of Brandenburg who accepted a peace at Vassem on June 6.
In 1673 three French armies were led by Condé, Turenne, and the King’s brother Philippe. Louis joined that army of 45,000 men and 58 cannons at the siege of Maastricht on June 10. The garrison surrendered on July 1. In late August the Austrian Empire and Spain formed an alliance with the Dutch to reduce France to the borders agreed upon in 1659. Spain declared war on France on October 16, and three days later France countered. Taxes were increased to pay for the war, and in the winter people began to rebel against them. The Prince of Condé commanded an army against Willem of Orange in the Netherlands while Louis led a force to reconquer Franche-Comté. They besieged Besançon for nine days until it capitulated, and France annexed the territory. In February 1674 England and Holland made a separate peace, and on May 28 the Imperial Diet declared war on France. Condé led an army of 45,000 and attacked Seneffe on August 11, killing about 11,000 Dutch, wounding 7,000, and capturing 1,000 while suffering about 8,000 casualties. Tax rebellions erupted in Roussillon in 1674 and Brittany in 1675.
General Raimundo Montecucculli led an imperial army that attacked Alsace, but the French led by Marshal Turenne fought back and defeated the imperial forces at Turckheim on January 5, 1675. The French occupied Messina on the island of Sicily in April. French forces crossed the Rhine again, but Turenne was killed by a cannonball on July 27. Charles IV of Lorraine died on September 18. That year the Prince of Condé and Montecucculli retired.
On June 16, 1676 Louis XIV decreed that a general hospital was to be established in every city of his kingdom, but these institutions were more judicial than medical in which the directors used stakes, irons, prisons, and dungeons to control the insane.
In the next three years the French armies achieved some victories. In 1676 Louis mobilized five armies and led a force of 50,000 men into the Spanish Netherlands. Willem with 40,000 soldiers besieged Maastricht on July 7, but after a failed assault on August 26 he lifted the siege. Louis sent a fleet to Sicily. On April 11, 1677 French led by the King’s brother Monsieur Philippe defeated the Dutch led by Willem at Mont-Cassel, capturing gold plate and his military plans. The Monsieur was often mocked at court for dressing and wearing make-up like a woman and desiring men, and he was in love with the chevalier de Lorraine. On April 21, 1678 Bishop Bossuet condemned Richard Simon’s Critical History of the Old Testament, and the Royal Council had all 1,300 copies destroyed.
Peace talks began at Nijmegen in May 1677. Louis XIV captured Ghent and Ypres in March 1678 but proposed peace on April 9 by offering Maastricht and other conquests while demanding much of Flanders, Franche-Comté, management of Strasbourg, and the right to move his troops through Lorraine. The Dutch agreed to these conditions at Nijmegen on August 10. Four days later Willem near St. Denis attacked a French force led by the Duke of Luxembourg, killing about 2,000 on each side. Spain and France signed a treaty on September 19, and Emperor Leopold finally accepted peace on February 6, 1679. While their enemies reduced their armies, France maintained their forces. Louis persuaded the nobles to agree to a ban on dueling. In 1680 he used a pension to win over the Bishop of Strasbourg.
While becoming fat Madame de Montespan remained at court as the King’s official mistress. Louis often visited Madame de Ludres; then it was Mlle. de Fontange for a while until he fell in love with Montespan’s protégée Françoise d'Aubigné, the Marquise de Maintenon, a widow who raised and taught the King’s legitimized children. Though over forty she still was beautiful, and Louis appreciated her intellect, modesty, and discretion.
By 1677 life at court had changed. Many gambled, and a few wanted to remove their fathers so that they could get their inheritance. The Marquise de Brinvilliers took the chemist Saint-Croix as a lover, and he gave her an arsenic powder to poison her father and husband. She took care of the sick, and many of her patients died within a few weeks. She found that small doses could bring about a slow death that appeared to be sickness. When Saint Croix was found dead after a laboratory accident, she was suspected of poisoning people and was arrested, tried, and executed. In 1679 several people were suspected of being poisoners, sorcerers, and abortionists, and were convicted. On April 10 King Louis set up a special tribunal that investigated 442 aristocratic men and women; 377 were arrested; 36 were condemned to death; 5 were made galley slaves; and 23 were banished while others fled. A year later a poisoner’s daughter accused Montespan of giving Louis love potions, celebrating black masses to regain his love, and ordering him poisoned. Louis kept this case secret. Mlle. de Fontange had a miscarriage in 1680, and she died the next year.
Louis XIV made a defensive alliance with Brandenburg on January 11, 1681. He created the Chambers of Réunion with thirteen members of the Metz Parlement who determined territories in or near Metz, Toul, Verdun, and Alsace, which had belonged to France but had been lost. Then he re-appropriated them, mostly from small German princes, but on September 30 he included the imperial city of Strasbourg. The French besieged Luxemburg until 1682. That year the Benedictine monk Jean Mabillon published De re diplomatica, and Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet published his Discourse on Universal History to show how God through the Judeo-Christian religion has helped civilization advance. On November 1, 1682 Bossuet gave an inaugural address on the unity of the Church to a general assembly of French clergy that included 34 bishops and 37 other prelates gathered at Paris. Louis expelled the Jews of Marseilles from France, and the next year he banished Jews from the colonies of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Cayenne. Colbert also wanted to reduce the number of Jews and their influence on the French economy.
In May 1682 the royal court officially moved to the Palace of Versailles. Building was continuing at Marly, and its expenditures reached a peak with 677,000 livres in 1685. The King’s most trusted minister Colbert died on September 6, 1683, and his son Seignelai took over most of his offices. Le Pelletier became Controller General of Finances. The War Minister Louvois became most prominent and gained the job of Superintendent of Buildings.
Louis was becoming more religious and shared that interest with Maintenon. In 1682 he declared four articles which included limiting the Church to spiritual matters, recognizing that kings and sovereigns are independent from ecclesiastical power in temporal matters, and that their subjects owe them submission and obedience. After that Pope Innocent XI no longer ratified Louis XIV’s appointments to vacant sees, but all the French bishops sided with the King. Louis tried to destroy female vice by punishing prostitutes with whipping or imprisonment and by hanging abortionists as murderers. He once praised a general for having 800 prostitutes thrown from a high bridge into a river. Homosexual men were punished for sodomy.
In 1680 Huguenots had been excluded from judicial and financial offices, and mixed-religion marriages were banned. In 1681 Louis had signed an ordinance that excepted recent converts from the obligation to quarter dragoons; but when he learned about it, he stopped that. Instead lawsuits were used to persuade the minority to turn Catholic. In June 1681 a royal decree permitted children as young as seven to convert even over their parents’ objection. Protestant houses and churches were closed so that the government could confiscate their endowments. By 1682 France gained 88 new seminaries in the previous forty years, mostly in the 1660s and 1670s. During the summer of 1682 the government demolished two or three Protestant “temples’ each week. Louvois exaggerated how many Protestants were converting.
Philippe de Courcillon, Marquis de Dangeau, was a devoted courtier, and in 1684 he started keeping a diary describing the details of the King’s life. In 1690 Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon, began doing so also. Louis married Maintenon secretly in January 1684. Because he trusted her discretion, he consulted his ministers in her apartment, though he rarely followed her advice.
The Languedoc Canal connected the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Gascony to the Mediterranean Sea and was opened to traffic in May 1683. That year Louis XIV took advantage of the Turks’ invasion of Austria to attack the Spanish Netherlands again, besieging Luxemburg. Spain declared war on France in December. The French besieged Luxemburg from April 7, 1684 to June 7. In May their ships bombarded Genoa and destroyed two-thirds of the city because they had built ships and supplied Spain. The Dutch persuaded the Spaniards to accept a 20-year truce at Ratisbon on August 15 that gave Strasbourg, Luxemburg, and other Reunion territories to France, which conceded Courtrai and Dixmude to Spain. In 1685 French entrepreneurs formed the Guinea Company to exploit the expanding slave trade. In May the Doge of Genoa visited the court of Louis XIV to apologize. On September 1, 1686 a Siamese embassy was received by Louis at Versailles which was completed in 1688.
In 1685 Dragonnades harassed and intimidated so many Protestants that during that summer 130,000 converted in Bordeaux, Limoges, Montauban, and Poitiers. In October the dragoons entered northern France, especially Normandy. On October 19 Louis abrogated the Edict of Nantes with this Edict of Fontainebleau which ordered Protestant churches destroyed and their ministers to leave France within two weeks, and all babies had to be baptized as Catholics. The persecution in the southwest provinces where about 300,000 Protestants lived included torture and murder, and many fled to Brandenburg where the Elector welcomed them. This edict was popular among the majority Catholics. On November 27 the French armed forces expelled all Protestants, and the army and navy lost hundreds of Huguenot officers and thousands of soldiers and sailors.
In October 1685 the pregnant Dauphine waited to leave a play until the King left, and she had a miscarriage before reaching her bed. That year Louis began noticing pain in his feet, and he suffered from poor dental care. In 1686 he was ill with a tumor on his upper leg and an anal fistula. He kept working because he would not trust his brother or his son Louis, the Dauphin. He had engaged in wars, and his policies were becoming more harsh and intolerant.
Expenditures on fortifications 1662-68 had averaged 2.3 million lives a year, but in 1682-88 they had risen to 8 million. In April 1686 French forces attacked Protestants in Vaudois, devastating the country, and many of the 12,000 people imprisoned died of starvation and disease.
Concerned about the expanding hegemony of Louis XIV, Willem III of Orange organized the League of Augsburg with his Dutch Republic, the Austrian Empire, German princes, Britain, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden in 1686 to defend the Palatinate. In 1687 the engineer Vauban estimated that nearly one-tenth of the French people had been reduced to begging, and many more were in bad shape because of debts and lawsuits.
In 1688 Louis also gave refuge at the Saint-Germain palace to the exiled James II and his wife Mary of Modena, giving her 240,000 livres and promising him 600,000 livres a year. War Minister Louvois believed a religious civil war would break out in England and urged the King to attack the Emperor as well. Louis believed that his brother’s wife Madame should inherit the Palatinate from her late father because all her dowry had not been paid. Yet she had renounced the claim when she married Monsieur Philippe. On September 24 Louis sent a letter to Emperor Leopold giving him three months to comply. Louvois persuaded Louis to besiege Philippsburg, and on October 30 a French army led by the Dauphin and Marshal de Duras with the engineer Vauban captured the town. By November 11 Mainz, Heidelberg, and Mannheim were taken, and by the 15th Speier, Trier, Worms, and Oppenheim had surrendered. When Louis learned that cities had been burned, he was angry and stopped that. Brandenburg and other German states went to war against the French. The Dutch declared war on November 26, followed by the Imperial Diet on January 24, 1689. On December 20 Louvois marked cities on a map for destruction, and Louis only objected to some religious buildings.
In the spring of 1689 people in the Palatinate rose up and were led by Duke Charles V of Lorraine whose state had been annexed by France. His forces regained Mainz in June and Bonn in November. On July 25 Louis XIV declared war on Britain, and he mobilized 300,000 soldiers and ordered the silver furniture from Versailles melted down to make coins worth 2.5 million livres. New gilt-wood furniture would set the fashion in Europe. Louis provided a fleet to help James II invade Ireland. On July 1, 1690 the Prince of Waldeck and an army of 38,000 allies near Fleurus were defeated by 35,000 French under Marshal Luxembourg, who refused to deal with Louvois and took his orders from King Louis. On July 10 the French Navy defeated the Anglo-Dutch allies near Beachy Head, but the next day William III’s 35,000 English and Dutch supported by exiled French Protestants defeated James and 23,000 Irish and French at Boyne. James returned to France. Lavish balls and long parties were held at Versailles with 9,000 masked dancers carousing until four in the morning. Waldeck and the Brandenburg elector led a combined army of 55,000 in August. After the death of Colbert’s son, the Marquis de Seignelai, on November 3 Louis put the Count of Pontchartrain in charge of the Navy.
In 1691 Louis XIV sent five armies to Flanders, the Moselle, the Rhine, Piedmont, and Roussillon. Louvois died in July but was replaced by his son Louis François Marie Le Tellier, the Marquis Barbezieux, who neglected his work while pursuing pleasures. Louis complained but tolerated his incompetence until his death in 1701.
In 1692 Louis added another army in Flanders which besieged Namur on May 25. On the 30th a fleet attempting to return James II to his throne was defeated by the British Navy. Louis made his natural sons the Duke of Maine Grand Master of the Artillery and the Count of Toulouse Grand Admiral. Between 1650 and 1692 Louis had participated in more than twenty sieges, but after this he asked his heir to campaign for him, warning him that if he did not, he would be despised and would lose respect.
In 1693 the French army was increased to more than 400,000 men. That year Louis XIV revoked his four religious articles, and Pope Innocent XII ratified all the bishops he had appointed since 1682. On July 29, 1693 Luxembourg’s army of 80,000 men at Neerwinden surprised William’s 50,000 who lost 19,000 soldiers while the French had 9,000 casualties. At Marsaglia on October 4 the French army of 40,000 led by Nicolas Catinat defeated Vittorio Amedeo of Savoy’s 36,000 who lost nearly 10,000 compared to about 3,000 French casualties. Starting in the summer of 1693 and lasting a year, the French suffered one of their worst famines ever. Economic regulations kept food out of districts suffering famine while speculators cornered grain supplies.
In May 1694 Marshal Jules de Noailles with 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry invaded Catalonia and took Palamos on June 10. King Louis negotiated a neutrality treaty to stop fighting in the western Pyrenees. He imposed a new income tax of 5% that for the first time included the nobles, setting a new standard of equality.
Marshal Luxembourg died on January 4, 1695 and was replaced by the Duke of Maine and Villeroy. Armies led by Brandenburg and William III besieged Namur on July 1 with 80,000 men, and the garrison gave up and marched out on September 5. Then the allies began invading French territory. Between 1689 and 1695 the sale of offices by parlements in France raised 16,740,000 livres.
In a treaty signed at Turin on August 29, 1696 Duke Vittorio Amedeo II, who ruled Savoy and Piedmont, suggested that his daughter Marie Adélaïde could marry the Dauphin’s son, the Duke of Burgundy. She came to Versailles and delighted Louis and Maintenon, and on her 12th birthday, December 6, 1697, she married 14-year-old Louis of Burgundy.
In April 1697 the Commedia dell’Arte was ordered to leave France because their play The False Prude satirized Maintenon. A French army of 40,000 men led by Catinat and Villeroi besieged Ath on May 15. William III arrived, and joined by Bavaria’s forces they had 100,000 allies between Ath and Brussels, but the garrison capitulated on June 7. The French bombarded Barcelona in July, and the garrison surrendered on August 10.
Louis XIV, William III, and Spain finally ended the Nine Years War at Ryswick on September 20, 1697. Louis promised not to try to restore the Stuarts, gave back Lorraine, withdrew from Catalonia, gave Brisach, Kehl, Freiburg, and Philippsburg to the Emperor, destroyed his forts on the Rhine, and recognized William’s principality of Orange in southern France. During the war the French had captured or sunk more than 5,000 English merchant ships. On January 29, 1699 Louis established the rules for the Academy of Sciences.
On October 2, 1700 Spain’s Carlos II declared the Dauphin’s second son, the Duke of Anjou, his heir and successor as the grandson of his half-sister Marie-Thérèse, the late wife of Louis XIV; but he stipulated that if the French did not accept the will or if Philippe did not renounce the throne of France, then his inheritance would go to the Habsburg Emperor’s son Charles. After the death of Carlos on November 1 Louis met with his councils for many hours, and they agreed to accept the terms of the will. Nearly 17 years old, Philippe would become King Felipe V. William III and the Dutch Grand Pensionary recognized him in February 1701. Then Louis announced that Philippe had not renounced the throne of France, and he persuaded the new Spanish government to give the French Guinea Company a monopoly on the slave traffic to the Spanish colonies. In March the Elector of Bavaria, who was governing the Spanish Netherlands, recognized Felipe V. In the spring Emperor Leopold’s imperial army began attacking Spanish domains in Italy, and on September 7 England and the Dutch Republic formed the Second Grand Alliance against France and Spain which was joined by several German princes.
Louis instructed Felipe V to get advice from the French ambassador, the Duke of Harcourt, who was already in Madrid. Louis persuaded Philippe to marry Marie Adélaïde’s younger sister, Maria Luisa of Savoy, and their wedding was on September 11. Louis chose as her main confidant (Camarera Mayor) the princess of the Urchins, a widow of 59 and a close friend of Madame de Maintenon who now was an influential advisor to Louis. Controller General Chamillart had recently become War Minister as well, and the King took on more of that work. He gave commands to his sons, the Duke of Maine and the Count of Toulouse. After his brother Philippe died, Louis was surrounded by younger generations except for Maintenon, who hated the war and wanted peace. Felipe V became obsessed with sex so much that his young queen could easily get him to agree with her, though Louis advised him to make his wife obey him. James II died on September 16, and Louis went against the advice of most of his ministers and recognized his son as King James III of England.
Prince Eugene of Savoy defeated French forces led by Catinat in Italy, and on February 1, 1702 his army killed General Villeroy and took Cremona. On May 15 Britain, the Dutch Republic, and the Austrian Empire declared war against France. In September an Anglo-Dutch fleet overwhelmed the Spanish silver fleet and a small French squadron in Vigo Bay. On October 14 the French led by Villars were victorious at Fridlingen in Alsace, but on the 23rd Liege capitulated to the army led by John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough.
On March 9, 1703 Villars and the French captured Kehl on the Rhine opposite Strasbourg, giving the French a bridgehead. Two days later the Elector of Bavaria with 12,000 men defeated the imperial army of 10,000 at Seigharding, and they took Ratisbon in April. The Archbishop of Cologne fled to France before Bonn was besieged and capitulated on May 15 to the Allies; but on June 30 Boufflers led 19,000 French who defeated an Anglo-Dutch force of 15,000 at Eeckeren. In September the French defeated the imperial army at Hochstedt.
On March 15, 1704 the Camisards, who were persecuted Protestants led by Jean Cavalier, defeated the royal army; but on April 16 the Marquis de Montrevel’s forces killed about 400 Camisards as they defeated a band of a thousand at Nagés. Three days later 200 more Camisards were killed near Euzet, and their weapons cache was captured. The Marquis de Villars replaced Montrevel as Governor of Languedoc. Camisards met with Cavalier on May 6, and they agreed to submit to the mercy of the King.
On July 2, 1704 the allies defeated the French at Donauwroth as they regained the Lower Rhine. The English took control of Gibraltar on August 3, and forces led by the Duke of Marlborough won a major victory near Blenheim on August 13. The French and Bavarians had 12,000 men killed and 14,000 captured.
In March 1705 the British Navy drove the French away from the Spanish coasts and took over Barcelona. Emperor Leopold had recognized his son Archduke Charles as King of Spain before he died in May, but Charles III ruled only in Catalonia for six years. On August 16 Vendome’s French force of 22,000 troops defeated 24,000 commanded by Prince Eugene at Cassano west of Milan.
In 1706 France’s budget had increased to 220 million livres with a deficit of nearly 170 million. French offices were sold; gold coins were debased; paper money was introduced; taxes increased; and loans depended on higher interest. On May 23 Marlborough and the allies near Ramilles defeated Villeroy’s army again, killing or wounding 13,000 French, Bavarians, and Spaniards while losing only 1,100 killed and 2,600 wounded. In the next two weeks the allies captured Louvain, Brussels, Malines, Lierre, Ghent, Alost, Damme, Oudenarde, Bruges, and Antwerp. Louis replaced Villeroy by recalling Vendome from Italy. On September 7 Eugene and Vittorio Amadeo of Savoy with 30,000 men outside of Turin defeated 41,000 led by Orléans and Feuillade whose men suffered 3,800 casualties with 6,000 taken as prisoners. The French retreated from Mantua, Milan, and Piedmont, and the British Navy helped the Austrians take over Naples. The French siege of Barcelona failed, and Felipe V fled to Navarre. The French Protestant exile de Ruvigny had become the Earl of Galloway and led an invasion of Spain and reached Madrid on June 26. Maria Luisa managed to raise money from Spanish cities, and Felipe led a revived army to defeat Galloway and take back Madrid on September 26.
On April 25, 1707 Marshal Berwick’s French army of 21,000 defeated 16,000 English and Portuguese at Almansa, inflicting 4,000 casualties and taking 3,000 prisoners. Louis XIV gave his nephew, the Duke of Orléans, a command, and he led a force that took Lerida and other fortresses in Spain. In August the Duke of Savoy besieged Toulon and devastated Provence. Vauban’s Dime Royal criticized France’s tax exemptions and asked for uniform taxes, but Louis XIV and the Royal Council ordered the books burned.
In March 1708 a fleet carrying 6,000 French and Jacobites tried to invade Scotland, but after seeing Admiral Byng’s fleet at the Firth of Forth they returned to Dunkirk. Vendome surprised Ghent in early July and also seized Bruges. The Duke of Burgundy and Vendome could not agree on their command, and on July 11 Marlborough’s army of 80,000 defeated their 85,000 men at Oudenarde. Prince Eugene besieged Lille on August 14 and captured the town on October 22, which cost them 12,000 casualties, but then they took Gand, Bruges, and other strongholds in Flanders.
The winter of 1709 was one of the coldest ever in western Europe as 24,000 people died in Paris in January. Louis sent his gold tableware to the Mint to make coins. His Foreign Minister Torcy went to The Hague on May 22 to plead for peace, but the allies made severe demands including that Felipe V give up the crown or be attacked by the French. Louis refused to fight his kin. Marlborough with an army of 86,000 men besieged Mons, and on September 11 Marshal Villars and 75,000 French engaged in the battle of Malplaquet that was the bloodiest of Louis XIV’s wars with the allies losing 21,000 killed and wounded and the French 11,000 casualties while 500 soldiers were captured.
On February 15, 1710 Louis XIV’s great-grandson Louis the Beloved was born. In June the French lost Douai and Béthune. Felipe V’s army was defeated in August, but on December 9 a Franco-Spanish army led by Louis and Vendome did better against the allies at Villaviciosa. France increased the annual income tax to one-tenth.
On April 17, 1711 Emperor Joseph I died and was succeeded by Charles VI. Marlborough’s army took Bouchain in September and moved toward Paris, but the British wanted peace.
In January 1712 a peace conference began at Utrecht, and they agreed on a cease-fire. Felipe V renounced any claim to the French throne on July 8, and on the 19th Louis gave Dunkirk to the British army. Yet Prince Eugene continued to fight and besieged Marchiennes on July 30. Marshal Villars led a force that defeated them near Denain and then took back Marchiennes, Douai, Le Quesnoy, and Bouchain.
Louis XIV was sustained by the love of his wife Maintenon until his death as important relatives died before him. First on April 14, 1711 his only legitimate son, the Grand Dauphin Louis, died of smallpox, probably the most devastating blow. This made his oldest legitimate grandson Louis, Duke of Burgundy (Bourgogne), the Dauphin. His other legitimate grandson, King Felipe V of Spain, was 27 but still respected aging Louis enough to give him power to act in his name. Their brother Charles, the Duke of Berry, was uneducated and was considered stupid, and he died after a riding accident in May 1714. In February 1712 the new Dauphine Marie Adélaïde caught the measles and scarlet fever that was an epidemic in Paris, and she and her husband, the new Dauphin, succumbed to this disease within two weeks. Then their five-year-old son Louis, Duke of Brittany (Bretagne) died of measles on March 8. This left their other two-year-old son as the heir to the throne. Though many feared he might die also, he lived to reign as Louis XV until 1774. Historians believe that his governess, Madame de Ventadour, probably saved his life by keeping doctors away from him. The common practices of purging and bleeding of royalty and aristocrats usually made them worse, and surgery, painful without anesthetics, was often deadly without antiseptic care. People began to wonder if someone, such as the Duke of Orléans, was poisoning people; but doctors found no traces of poison, and Louis trusted his nephew. He increased the status of Montespan’s sons, the Duke of Maine and the Count of Toulouse until they were equal to royal princes, but they were not in the line of succession.
Felipe V had renounced his claim to the French crown, and on March 15, 1713 the dukes of Berry and Orléans declared they had no right to Spain’s throne. By April the Peace of Utrecht treaties had been signed by Spain, Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy, and the Dutch Republic. Felipe V was confirmed as King of Spain and their colonies, and the Elector of Bavaria was reinstated. Emperor Charles VI gained the Spanish Netherlands, though its fortresses were garrisoned by the Dutch. The Habsburg Empire also got Naples, Sardinia, and most of Milan’s duchy while the Duke of Savoy took over Sicily and the rest of Milan. Spain ceded Gibraltar and Minorca to the British and also gave them the monopoly on the slave trade to Spanish colonies in America. France recognized the British succession to the Hanovers and let the English have Newfoundland, Rupert’s Land, Arcadia in Nova Scotia, and St. Kitts. France got back Lille and Béthune but destroyed Dunkirk. The nations also made commercial treaties.
In the summer the imperial armies continued to fight, but the French led by Villars often defeated them. On March 7, 1714 they signed the Treaty of Rastatt ending the War of the Spanish Succession. Emperor Charles VI gave up the Catalans. On September 7 the Treaty of Baden settled issues between France and the Habsburg Empire. After a four-month siege Barcelona surrendered to the Bourbon rulers on September 11. During the war from 1702 to 1714 French fleets took 4,545 ships to prize courts. During the reign of Louis XIV expenditures related to war were 42% of the state budget in the 1660s, 66% in the 1670s, and 78% from 1690 to 1715. Soldiers and peasants suffered most during the war, and France compiled a huge debt that reached £124,000,000 in 1715 compared Britain’s £36,200,000. Some made profits on loans, military supplies, and manufacturing. The era of Louis the Sun King built elegant palaces decorated with paintings and sculptures that included nudes, tapestries, mirrors, furniture, vases, etc.
In June 1715 an expedition of French and Spaniards took back Majorca. Louis XIV wrote his will on August 26, suggesting a Regency Council, though he knew he would have no power after his death. On that day he said goodbye to his family, and according to Dangeau’s Journal (XVI, 126) he gave his great grandson Louis the following advice:
Sweet child, you are about to be a great King,
but your whole happiness will depend on
your submission to God,
and on the care you take to relieve the people of their burden.
In order to do this you must, whenever you can,
avoid making war; it is the ruin of the people.
Do not follow the bad example I have given you on this point.
Often I have started wars without sufficient cause
and continued them to satisfy my pride.
Do not imitate me, be a peaceful ruler,
and let your main object be to look after your subjects.
Take advantage of the education
Mme. La duchesse de Ventadour is giving you.
By 1714 France’s colony in western Haiti was producing 7,000 tonnes of sugar. In his last two years his physician Fagon gave Louis XIV a diet of over-ripe fruit and sweets, and he probably suffered from diabetes that led to the gangrene in his leg that finally killed him on September 1, 1715.
Abbé Charles-Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre (1658-1743) was educated at a Jesuit college, where he studied the classics, logic, ethics, physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. He joined a strict order of monks, but he had to leave it for reasons of health. He moved to Paris in 1680 and was at court from 1693 to 1718, when he was expelled from the French Academy for refusing to approve of the title “Great” for Louis XIV. He studied both the theory and practice of politics and was particularly influenced by Plato, Bodin, Machiavelli, Grotius, Pufendorf, Richelieu, Doria, and Hobbes. His Paix Perpetuelle was first published in 1712, but he expanded that sketch to a two-volume edition the next year, which was translated into English in 1714 as A Project for Settling an Everlasting Peace in Europe. He added a third volume in 1717 and published abridgements in 1729 and 1738. Saint-Pierre tried to gain publicity for his effort by giving credit to France’s king Henri IV for the “grand design” that was actually written by the Duke of Sully years later in 1638. He attended the peace conference at Utrecht in 1713 as the secretary for the Abbé Polignac, one of the three French plenipotentiaries. This gave him first-hand experience of the peacemaking process and stimulated him to work on his plan that could make peace perpetual.
Saint-Pierre attempted to use the philosophical methodology of Descartes in order to gain certainty by means of intuition and deduction. His first idea had been to include all the nations of the world; but then he limited his confederation to Europe so that the whole project would not seem impossible. Examining the various means which could prevent war among European nations, he inferred that a federation of states is the best solution. Whereas Hobbes showed that for the protection and benefit of individuals there must be unity in the state, Saint-Pierre went a step further in reasoning that to safeguard the peace between nations there must be a unifying federation. Saint-Pierre recognized that passions control the actions of most people, and he argued that to overcome motives of self-interest the fear of violence must be used to enforce law and justice. He believed that society could protect people from violence by a contract and could express its sovereign will by establishing a permanent federation among the states of Europe.
Saint-Pierre’s plan took the form of an elaborate treaty divided into articles that were fundamental, important, and useful. States of various forms of government could be in the federation, and most at this time were monarchies. The laws founded on justice were to be equal and reciprocal for all. Saint-Pierre pointed to the confederations of German and Helvetian states and the United Provinces of the Netherlands to show the practical advantages of union. He began his plan with peace and contrasted this to the French war aims that would have initiated the biased plan of Sully.
Saint-Pierre proposed twelve fundamental articles. First, all the Christian sovereigns of Europe shall form a permanent union for peace and security, endeavoring also to make treaties with Muslim sovereigns, and the sovereigns are to be represented by deputies in a perpetual senate in a free city. Second, the European society shall not interfere with the governments except to preserve them from seditious rebellions, and he even went so far as to guarantee hereditary sovereignties. Third, the Union shall send commissioners to investigate conspiracies and revolts and may send troops to punish the guilty according to the laws. Fourth, territories shall remain as they are unless three-fourths of the Union votes for a change, and no treaties may be made without the “advice and consent” of the Union. Fifth, no sovereign shall possess more than one state. Sixth, Spain and France shall remain in the house of Bourbon. These previous five articles have been criticized for not allowing a natural process of change. Seventh, chambers of commerce shall be maintained, and each sovereign must suppress robbers and pirates or pay reparation; if necessary the Union may assist them in this.
Eighth, no sovereign shall take up arms except against a declared enemy of the European society. Complaints shall be discussed and mediated by the senate in the city of peace. The Union shall defend the sovereigns who agree with its decisions. After at least fourteen nations have joined the confederation, any sovereign refusing to join is to be declared an enemy by the rest of Europe, which is to make war on it until the state joins or is dispossessed. The ninth article specified that the senate was to represent with one delegate each the following 24 powers: France, Spain, England, Holland, Savoy, Portugal, Bavaria, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Switzerland, Lorraine, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the Papal States, Muscovy, Austria, Courland, Prussia, Saxony, Palatine, Hanover, and ecclesiastical electors. Obviously this scheme allowed extra votes for the divided German and Italian states. Tenth, each state shall contribute to the expenses of the society in proportion to its revenues. Eleventh, the senate shall take up questions after a plurality vote, and three-fourths is needed for a decision. Twelfth, none of the fundamental articles may be altered except by a unanimous vote of all members.
In the important articles Saint-Pierre gave more details he recommended such as Utrecht as the seat of the senate, which shall have an ambassador in every province of two million people. No sovereign shall keep more than 6,000 soldiers in his nation. Enemies of the union shall be punished with death or life imprisonment, and anyone reporting a conspiracy shall be given a reward. Every year on the same day sovereigns shall renew their oath to the Union. If a state has no succeeding sovereign, the Union may regulate the succession or allow a republic to be formed.
The useful articles are even more specific. The commander-in-chief of the federal forces shall not belong to any sovereign family. Rotating senators shall preside week by week. The four standing committees on politics, diplomacy, finances, and war are to be supplemented by committees of reconciliation, which shall adjust difficulties or report them to the senators for their decision. Freedom of religion is allowed. The Union may agree on weights, measures, and coins. The senate may mediate between conflicts of non-members and support the sovereign who accepts its offer. The European Union shall encourage Asia to establish a permanent society also.