The Age of Absolutism in France

By Noah, Tyler, and Lindsay


From the 1500s to the 1700s, France was rarely referred to without absolutism being talked about along with it. Because of Louis XIV's reign, French culture, language, and manners spread among Europe very quickly. Also, French diplomacy and wars dominated political Europe, and because of this, other European countries wanted to possess the effectiveness Louis XIV's reign brought to France.

Essential Questions

List the sequence of events that led to the Edict of Nantes
    • For thirty years, battled raged in France between the Catholics and the Huguenots.

    • The Huguenot's political leader succeeded to the throne as Henry IV.

    • He converted to Catholicism.

    • When he was crowned king in 1594, the fighting in France finally came to an end.

    • To solve the religious problem, he created the Edict of Nantes in 1598.

Based on his rule, how might Louis XIV’s views of absolutism have differed from those of Jacques-Benigne Bossuet?

During the reign of Louis XIV, he believed that God appointed him, giving him permission to rule. However, he was very oppressive because he had been chosen. However, Jacques-Benigne Bossuet believed that there needed to be restraint and fear and one needs to do nor good and evil in order to rule.

French Wars of Religion

The French Wars of Religion were caused because of conflicts between Catholics and Protestants. This war lasted from 1562 - 1598 and its religious conflict started with French Kings persecuting Protestants. Although many Protestants were at risk, this persecution did not deter Protestantism from spreading their religion.

Some of these Protestants were called Huguenots, French Protestants whose goals were the same as John Calvin’s. Not all Protestants were Huguenots, but they did compose around 7% of France's total population. There were also many in nobility as 40-50% became Huguenots. This nobility made Huguenots very powerful.

Henry of Navarre (or Henry IV) was the Huguenots political leader. He knew he would never be accepted into Catholic France as a Protestant so he converted to Catholicism to usurp the king of that time. The wars and fighting in France diminished after he was crowned in 1594.

The Edict of Nantes was Henry IV's attempt to solve the religious problem. This edict made Catholicism the official religion of France while also giving the Huguenots the right to worship and enjoy the same privileges Catholics held.

Louis XIV

Mini Bio: Louis XIV

New ideas originated from the empire

One key to Louis’s power was control of the central policy making machinery of the government, he established a strong royal court that had control over France. King Louis also had a great influence on the art at the time, he was featured in many pieces that included him being depicted as the Sun King.

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List of important rulers and dates ruled

Louis XII - ruled 1498-1515 (Father of the People)

Francis I - ruled 1515-1547 (The Father and Restorer of Letters)

Henry II - ruled 1547-1559

Francis II - ruled 1559-1560

Charles IX - ruled 1560-1574

Henry III - ruled 1574-1589

Henry IV- ruled 1589-1610

Louis XIII - ruled 1610-1643

Louis XIV - ruled 1643-1715

Louis XV - ruled 1715-1774

Louis XVI - ruled 1774-1792

Important Terms

Huguenots - French Protestants influenced by John Calvin

Henry of Navarre - The Huguenot's Political Leader

Edict of Nantes - An event which recognized Catholicism as the official religion of France

Absolutism - A system when the ruler/ king holds total power. This power was given to the ruler from God.

Louis XIV - He was regarded as the best example of absolutism. He brought power and stability to France. France endured a period of struggle 50 years before Louis XIV began to reign.

Major accomplishments

1627 - Cardinal Richelieu strengthened the monarchy's power and took away the Huguenots political power and military rights.

1648 - The Peace of Westphalia ended the war and gave France and its allies new territories.

1661- Louis XIV begins absolute rule of France and French culture, language, and manners reached to all levels of society.

What changed during the period

When absolutism was created, rulers received their power from God and God only! They now had the ability to make laws, levy taxes, administer justice, control officials, and determine foreign policy.

Legacy of France

The Palace of Versailles represented their immense wealth and unconcern for the people of France. “Louis XIV has long been regarded as the best example of absolutism in the 17th century. French culture, language, and manners reached into all levels of European society. French diplomacy and wars dominated the political affairs of Europe. The court of Louis XIV was imitated throughout Europe.” (Spielvogel 464).

“One key to Louis’s power was his control of the central policy-making machinery of government.” (Spielvogel 466). France survived the revolution since the strong government Louis XIV created led to government reform and art enrichment. Unfortunately, he left France with great debt and enemies.

Works Cited

Baskes, Jeremy. "Glencoe World History, Glencoe, 2003." Glencoe World History, Glencoe, 2003. Scott K. Grunder, 3 Sept. 2003. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

"France Under Louis XIV." The Age of Absolutism. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

"Mini Bio: Louis XIV." YouTube. YouTube, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.