The French Revolution

I. Absolutism

A. Absolutism defined

1. In the absolutist state, sovereignty resided in kings--not the nobility or the parliament--who considered themselves responsible to God alone.

2. Absolute kings created new state bureaucracies and standing armies, regulated all the institutions of government, and secured the cooperation of the nobility.

a. Some historians deny that absolutism was a stage of development that followed feudalism, but, instead, was "administrative monarchy."

3. The absolutist state foreshadowed the modern totalitarian state but lacked its total control over all aspects of its citizens\' lives.

B. The foundations of French absolutism: Henry IV, Sully, and Richelieu

1. Henry IV cared for his people, lowered taxes, achieved peace, and curtailed the power of the nobility.

2. His minister, Sully, brought about financial stability and economic growth.

3. Cardinal Richelieu, the ruler of France under King Louis XIII, broke the power of the French nobility.

a. His policy was total subordination of all groups and institutions to the French monarchy.

b. He changed the royal council, leveled castles, and crushed aristocratic conspiracies.

c. He established an efficient administrative system using intendants, who further weakened the local nobility.

d. They delivered royal orders, recruited men for the army, collected taxes, and more.

4. Through the Edict of Nantes, Henry IV and given religious freedom to Protestants (Huguenots) in 150 towns, but Louis XIII decided otherwise.

a. He defeated the city of La Rochelle in 1628 and re-instituted the Catholic mass.

b. Richelieu and the French kings faced many urban protests over high taxes and food shortages.

c. Local authorities usually let local riots "burn themselves out."

5. Under Richelieu, France sought to break Habsburg power.

a. He supported the struggle of the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, against the Habsburgs.

b. He acquired land and influence in Germany.

6. Richelieu supported the new French Academy, which created a dictionary to standardize the French language.

7. The French government\'s ability to tax was severely limited by local rights and the taxexempt status of much of the nobility and the middle class.

8. Mazarin continued Richelieu\'s centralizing policies, but these policies gave rise to a period of civil wars known as the Fronde.

a. Fronde meant anyone who opposed the policies of the government.

b. Many people of the aristocracy and the middle classes opposed government centralization and new taxes; rebellion was widespread.

c. The conflicts hurt the economy and convinced the new king, Louis XIV, that civil war was destructive of social order and that absolute monarchy was the only alternative to anarchy.

II. The absolute monarchy of Louis XIV

A. Louis XIV, the "Sun King," was a devout Catholic who believed that God had established kings as his rulers on earth.

B. He feared the nobility and was successful in collaboration with them to enhance both aristocratic prestige and royal power.

C. He made the court at Versailles a fixed institution and used it as a means of preserving royal power and as the center of French absolutism.

1. The architecture and art of Versailles were a means of carrying out state policy--a way to overawe his subjects and foreign powers.

2. The French language and culture became the international style.

3. The court at Versailles was a device to undermine the power of the aristocracy by separating power from status.

4. A centralized state, administered by a professional class taken from the bourgeoisie, was formed.

D. Financial and economic management under Louis XIV\'s minister, Colbert

1. Louis\'s wars were expensive, but the tax farmers took much of the taxes while the nobility paid no taxes at all.

2. Mercantilism is a collection of governmental policies for the regulation of economic activities by and for the state.

3. Louis XIV\'s finance minister, Colbert, tried to achieve a favorable balance of trade and make France selfsufficient so the flow of gold to other countries would be halted.

a. Colbert encouraged French industry, enacted high foreign tariffs, and created a strong merchant marine.

b. He hoped to make Canada part of a French empire.

c. Though France\'s industries grew and the commercial classes prospered, its agricultural economy suffered under the burdens of heavy taxation, population decline, and poor harvests.

E. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes

1. In 1685, Louis revoked the