Beginnings in War, Revolt, and Misery

  • Orest Ranum
  • Patricia Ranum
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


The relationship between internal French development and general European history is very clearly observable throughout Louis XIV’s long reign. Indeed, there could be no era of isolationism for one of the greatest powers in Europe. This is evident from the immense problems which Louis XIV inherited. When his father died in 1643, France was already at the point of total civil war and complete political disintegration. The costly war which the French had been conducting against Spain since 1635 had already led to large-scale violence and revolt in Spain. The war undermined the political stability of both combatants, while the high taxes needed to pay troops had strained the resources of the peasantry to the breaking point in a period of poor harvests and dire subsistence living. What could an otherwise socially stable population do but attack the tax collectors, pillage records, and burn down the houses of royal officials?


Seventeenth Century Process Server Neighboring Province City Hall Peasant Uprise 
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  1. 1.
    See the general review by J. H. M. Salmon, “Venal Office and Popular Sedition in France,” Past and Present, 37, 1967.Google Scholar
  2. Letter from Descartes to Brasset, March 31, 1649, in C. Adam and P. Tannery, Oeuvres de Descartes (Paris, 1903), V, p. 331.Google Scholar

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© Orest and Patricia Ranum 1972

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  • Orest Ranum
  • Patricia Ranum

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