Louis 5 years old when his father died; Richelieu had appointed Cardinal Mazarin as his successor, and the regent Anne of Austria kept him on.
Fronde Part 1. Only counter-checks to absolutism the Estates General (not summoned since 1614) and the Parlement de Paris, representing only the haute bourgeoisie--magistrates, financiers, gov't officials. 1648 it drew up 27 articles: no Intendants, approval of taxation, right to trial within 24 hours. Riots in Pris--Louis flees--Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé takes city after 2 month siege.
Fronde Part 2. Nobles wanted the "freedom" of the days of Catherine de Medici. Condé joined them but then hesitated to call in Spanish troops. Louis re-enters Paris Oct. 1652. Louis never forgot that his 11th to 13th years were spent in exile.
Spain's Philip IV took advantage of Fronde in Flanders. Mazarin makes deal with Cromwell (!): Calais for 6,000 Ironsides and the Battle of the Dunes. Peace of the Pyrenees, and Louis marries Spanish Infanta Marie-Thérèse. Spain goes down hill: religious fanaticism and a succession of weak rulers, culminating in the invalid Charles II (1665-1770). Catelan revolt and loss of Portugal (1640), rebellion of Naples (1647) and finally Pace of the Pyrenees (1649). Only the Inquisition remained strong.
Mazarin dies 1660 and Louis at 22 takes over and rules France without a minister for 51 years. His stage becomes Versailles instead of Paris. Crowded like a slum, took 30,000 workers and £15,000,000 to build. 15,000 in Louis' entourage whose salaries cost 1/10 the revenue of France! Louis XV would kill 500 stags a month. In 15th-16th centuries nobles lived on their estates and cared for them. During wars of religion they moved to court; Louis completed the process.
Colbert, former Intendant and financial secretary under Mazarin, became Louis' indispensable Controller General for 20 years. Mercantilism: Wealth to be captured not created--only transferred from one man to another. Total amount of wealth could not be increased--thus a "war of money," with tarifs as weapons, to make a balance of trade in every commodity favorable to France. Thus home industries necessary to force foreigners to spend their money! For last time, French books balanced.
Improved roads and bridges; founded trading companies and finally built a navy. In 1660 18 ships--276 when Colbert died.
But in Versailles Louis couldn't see the misery of the French people. His industry only produced luxury goods for the idle rich while 6,000,000 died of hunger during his reign.
Gallicanism: Louis vs. Pope Innocent IX over the Four Articles (1680) which separated the temporal and religious power of the Church and made the Pope subservient to French Councils of bishops. Louis forced to compromise.
Cornelius Jensen, bishop of Ypres, died 1638, wrote book on St. Augustine. Predestination! Jesuits easy, religion hard. Abby of Port-Royal, 20 miles SW of Paris. Unpolitical, but Louis attacked: 1660 burns Pascal's Provincial Letters; 1709 22 old nuns kicked out of Port Royal; 2,000 Jansenites in prison by Louis' death.
1685 Louis revoked Edict of Nantes. Ministers given 2 weeks to leave France--lay members can't leave and must raise children as Catholics. Nonetheless 300,000 fled to Switzerland, Holland, and England. Great Elector gave 20,000 free land and religious toleration near Berlin. Caused Protestant hatred of Louis.
In 1661 war inevitable. Louis wanted the traditional frontiers of Gaul: Pyrenees, Alps, and Rhine. Treaty of Westphalia guaranteed the Pyrenees, but Franche Comté and Spanish Netherlands in control of Spain, the 3 forts of Metz, Toul, and Verdun still surrounded by empire. England weak under the Stuarts, Spain weak under Philip IV and Charles II, Germany wrecked by the 30 Years' War--but Holland always opposed him, and William III did him in.
1. War of Devolution 1667-1668. Louis claimed Spanish Netherlands for his wife Marie-Thérèse, daughter of Philip IV's first marriage over Charles II, the son of his second! Holland, England, and Sweden formed Triple Alliance against him. Spain gives in by Treaty of Aix and Louis gets part of Flanders in return for Franche Comté.
2. Dutch War (1672-78). Louis invades Holland--hates Dutch as Republicans, merchants, and Protestants. Pensionary John de Witt killed and William of Orange leads Holland. Louis agains seized Franche Comté and signs Treaty of Nimuegen (1678).
By Chambers of Reunion Louis' lawyers claim any land connected at any time to their new Dutch acquisitions. And in 1681 Louis seized Strasbourg, which commands a major bridge over Rhine. This is the height of Louis' career.
3. William III established the League of Augsburg. This war lasts 1689-1697 on 5 fronts: Pyrenees, Savoy, Rhone Valley, Netherlands, and Ireland. Louis wanted to keep Flanders and restore James II to throne. Lost Ireland at Battle of Boyne (1690). By Treaty of Rhyswick Louis keeps gains in Flanders and Strasburg, but gets nothing new.
4. War of the Spanish Succession 1700-1713. Louis claims Spanish throne for his grandson Philip of Anjou. Charles II of Spain agrees in his will to avoid war, but Louis overplays his hand: says Philip has not surrendered claim to French throne, seizes the barrier fortresses of the Netherlands, and recognized the Old Pretender as James III. In first phase of war (1702-1704) Louis on the offensive, but can't separate Duke of Marlborough from the Austrians, who defeat him at Battle of Blenheim. As he goes on the defensive, Philip twice driven from Spain (but returns!) and Parish threatened (Malplaquet, 1709). Despite an 11th hour victory against the Dutch, Louis forced to sign the Treaty of Utrecht: Philip keeps Spain but renounces French throne. England gets Gibraltar, Minorca, and trading rights in South America. Austria gets Spanish Netherlands, Milan, Sardinia, and Naples. England gets Newfoundland and Arcadia! Louis drops Stewarts and recognized Hanoverian succession after Queen Anne.