Absolutism Essay Research Paper During the preEnlightenment

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Absolutism Essay, Research Paper During the pre-Enlightenment period, France and England went through very dramatic and very different government change. At the beginning of this time period, England had achieved relative stability, due largely in part to Elizabeth I long and successful reign. On the other hand, France had been subjected to numerous civil and religious wars, therefore leading to instability. French absolutism was largely a result of these crises and tragedies, with the country recognizing the need for a strong, powerful leader, which they found during the long and successful reign of Louis XIV. In England however, many problems arose due to a series of short and incapable rulers, beginning with James I and ending with James II. During Louis XIV’s reign, he

was able to create a strong and stable absolute state by controlling the French nobility. Previously, during Louis XIII reign, the nobility had a great deal of power, and the French government was not centralized. Instead, the nobles acted as the middlemen, regulating the taxes and military of the French regions. The peasants paid taxes directly to the nobles, who kept a certain portion for themselves and then paid the remainder to the King. Individual regions raised and paid for their own armies; when the king required military help, the army came from these semi-private sources. Religiously, the state was also controlled by the nobles due to the Edict of Nantes, which gave the nobles the power to determine the religion of their lands. These factors lead to a divided French

state, which reduced the power of Louis XIII. France was subjected to various civil wars and wars of religion, and the future king, Louis XIV, witnessing this period of unrest, vowed to implement a great change in the French government. When Louis XIV came into power, he began centralizing the French government in order to have an absolute state. In order to do this, he need to have control of three key elements: the military, tax collection, and the judicial system, all of which had been controlled locally. In order to seize these powers, Louis needed to create a bureaucratic system answerable only to the king. Essentially, Louis had to seize power from the hands of the nobles. Louis succeeded in creating a national tax collection process, where taxes were paid directly to the

king rather then the nobles. This way, by the end of his reign, Louis was collecting 80% of the taxes due to him whereas before, with the nobles acting as middlemen, only 30% of the taxes due to the king were actually received. In order to placate the nobles, he exempted them from taxes, thus appealing to their senses while stripping them of their power. The nobles began to believe that the only way to achieve a stable and prosperous state and secure their own interests was to support Louis’ monarchy. Louis used much of this money to create a centralized military of professional soldiers and gradually took the military power from the individual regions. Military allegiance was due only to the king, so the danger of military rebellion was greatly reduced. He took away regional

independence by dividing the country into six generalit?s, each one governed by an appointed member of the upper class rather then a noble. These governors were required to spend a large amount of time at Louis’ extensive palace of Versailles, which allowed Louis to monitor the generalit?s very closely. Religiously, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes and declared France a Catholic state. Louis hoped that religious unity and centralization would lead to stronger unity in the country as a whole. He expelled or executed any Protestants who refused to convert, and the Catholics supported most of his actions. Although he delegated most of the power in France to himself, Louis did acknowledge the power and authority of the Parlement of Paris, which helped to regulate local