Louis XIV and Absolutism: A Brief Study with Documents / Edition 1

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This unique collection of documents with commentary explores the meaning of absolute monarchy by examining how Louis XIV of France became one of Europe’s most famous and successful rulers. In the introduction, William Beik succinctly integrates the theoretical and practical nature of absolutism and its implications for the development of European states and society. The documents, newly translated and carefully selected for their readability, examine the problems of the Fronde, Colbert’s grasp of the economic and fiscal dimensions of the kingdom, the taming of the rural nobility, the interaction of royal ministers and provincial authorities, the repression of Jansenists and Protestants, popular rebellions, and royal image-making. Explanatory notes, a chronology, a map, a geneaology chart, and 9 striking images further strengthen this volume’s usefulness in the undergraduate classroom.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312133092
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 247
  • Sales rank: 531,714
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

WILLIAM BEIK is professor of history at Emory University. An authority on the social and institutional history of seventeenth-century France, he is the author of Abolutism and Society: State Power and Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc (1985), which won the 1986 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association, and of Urban Protest in Seventeenth-Century France: the Culture of Retribution (1987). He has written numerous articles and is coeditor of the New Approaches to European History series at Cambridge University Press.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents





Introduction: Louis XIV and French Absolutism

Absolutism in Theory

French Absolutism in Practice

The Landed Nobility

The Robe Nobility

The Royal Commissioners

The Catholic Church

The Urban Bourgeoisie

The Lower Classes

A Note about the Text


The Documents

1. Confronting French Society during the Fronde

Paris Rebels against the Crown

Madame de Motteville’s Account of the Parisian Disturbances in August 1648

A Mazarinade against the Queen and the Cardinal

An Intimate Discussion between the King and the Queen Regent, His Mother, concerning the Affairs of the Day

The Parlementaires of Aix Strike Back, 1649

Haitze’s Account of the Uprising in Aix, 1649

Agen Is Seduced by the Princes

An Account by Bru, Bookseller, 1652

A Revolutionary Party in Bordeaux: The Ormée 44

Apology for the Ormée

The Ormée Abolishes the Parlement of Bordeaux

2. The King and the Aristocrats at Court

The King and His Family

Mademoiselle de Montpensier Saint Maurice

Primi Visconti

The World of the Court

Saint Maurice Primi Visconti

The Princess Palatine

Exéchiel Spanheim

3. Managing France

Colbert’s Instructions for the Commissioners Who Have Been Sent into the Provinces, September 1663

Financial Memorandum by Colbert, Addressed to the King in 1670

Louis XIV’s Tax Flows

4. Reforming the Provinces: The Grands Jours d’Auvergne

Letters Patent for the Establishment of the Grands Jours

Excerpts from the Memoirs of Esprit Fléchier

5. Reforming the Provinces: Interaction with Burgundy

Letters to and from Burgundy

Brulart to Mazarin, Dijon, January 5, 1660

Brulart to Mazarin, Dijon, April 20, 1660

Condé to Colbert, Dijon, June 18, 1662

Brulart to La Vrillière, Dijon, January 31, 1663

Louis XIV to Brulart, Paris, February 13, 1663

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, February 14, 1663

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, February 17, 1663

Brulart to La Vrillière, Dijon, February 21, 1663

Colbert to Bouchu, June 5, 1663

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, November 13, 1663

Brulart to Chancellor Séguier, Dijon, December 16, 1663

Bouchu to Colbert, December 10, 1664

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, January 25, 1665

Brulart to La Vrillière, Dijon, January 25, 1665

La Vrillière to Brulart, Paris, February 3, 1665

Bouchu to Colbert, Port Digoin, October 30, 1665

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, March 21, 1666

Bouchu to Colbert, April 21, 1666

Bouchu to Colbert, Auxerre, November 4, 1667

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, June 23, 1669

The Viscount Mayor and Échevins of Dijon to Colbert, July 14, 1669

Bouchu to Colbert, Dijon, July 14, 1669

Colbert to Bouchu, Paris, December 19, 1670

Meeting the People of Dijon

Brulart to Louvois, Dijon, June 1673

Request by the City Council of Dijon for a Monitory, November 21, 1668

Extract from the Deliberations of the City Council, April 7, 1671

Petition about Drunken Husbands, April 8, 1672

Illegal Vending, June 30, 1673

Illegal Production, September 11, 1673

Homelessness, September 2, 1674

Illegitimate Births, April 27, 1675

A Riot by Winegrowers, January 1684

Petition to the Mayor and Échevins from the Protesters Debauchery of Youth, March 28, 1688

6. Social Unrest: The Revolts of 1675

Eyewitness Account by Ferrant, Agent of the King’s Tax Receiver Le Maigre, Bordeaux, March 30, 1675

The Mayor and Consuls of Bergerac to de Sève, Intendant of Bordeaux, May 3, 1675

La Case, Tax Collector from Quimper [Brittany], to Colbert, June 24, 1675

Dallier, Tax Farmer from Nantes, to Colbert, June 25, 1675

The Bishop of Saint Malo to Colbert, July 23, 1675

7. Absolutism and the Churches

Divine Right Monarchy

Bossuet’s Vision in Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture

Bossuet Chides Louis XIV about the State of His Soul

Dealing with the Gallican Church and the Pope

Pope Innocent XI to Louis XIV, December 29, 1679

Memoirs of the Intendant Foucault on the Resistance over the Régale, 1679 –1680

Declaration of the Clergy of France, 1682

Dealing with the Jansenists

Suppression of the Abbey of Port Royal des Champs by d’Argenson, Paris Lieutenant of Police, 1709

Dealing with the Huguenots

Commission for the Execution of the Edict of Nantes, 1663

Commentary by Saint Maurice, November 23, 1668

Verbal Abuse, Protestants to Catholics [Summary], 1678

Memoir by the Intendant d’Aguesseau on How to Convert the Pastors and Huguenots of Languedoc, 1679

Verbal Abuse: Catholics to Protestants [Summary], 1680

Letter of the Intendant d’Aguesseau to Secretary of State Châteauneuf, Toulouse, September 29, 1682

Demolition of the Main Protestant Temple in Montpellier, 1682

Report of the Intendant d’Aguesseau on the Situation in Montpellier and Languedoc, July 18, 1683

D’Aguesseau’s List of Protestants Who Have Left Languedoc in Violation of the Royal Orders, August 3, 1685

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Fontainebleau, October 25, 1685

Royal Dragoons in Languedoc, 1685

List of Property Belonging to Protestants Who Have Fled from the Diocese of Montpellier [Summary], 1686


The Princess Palatine Remembers Louis XIV

8. The King and His Image

Charles Perrault on Colbert’s Plans to Glorify the King

Chapelain to Colbert, Paris, November 18, 1662

Report to the Estates of Languedoc on the Equestrian Statue of the King, October 30, 1686

The King’s Own Words

Excerpts from Louis XIV’s Mémoires for the Instruction of the Dauphin




A Louis XIV Chronology (1638–1715)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography


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