The Legacy of Louis XIV
THE PRINCIPAL LEGACY of Louis XIV was a powerful and centralized France. Though le Roi Soleil was no superman in the sense that he would have fought his way to the front had he not been of royal descent, he gave his name to the greatest era in French history, and his rays penetrated to every corner of Europe. He owed his success to the combination of his political heritage and his personal qualities. Frederick the Great saluted the French of the age of Louis XIV as the Romans of the modern world. The founder of dynastic autocracy was Richelieu, who broke the power of the feudal nobility and the Protestants and, by the creation of intendants, asserted the authority of the crown over the whole country. So decisive was his achievement that the Fronde was little more than a straw fire, and Condé was the last of the noblesse de l’Épée to draw his sword against the throne. The most sordid episode in the history of seventeenth-century France left the monarchy stronger than it found it, for the angry disgust it aroused led to a national demand for the curbing of anarchy by a firm hand at the helm. The noblesse and the parlements had discredited themselves, and Mazarin steered the ship of state into calmer waters without shedding blood. Le Grand Siècle had begun.
KeywordsRoyal Family French History Public Weal Young Ruler Great King
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