The Failure of Louis XIV's Dutch War

The Failure of Louis XIV's Dutch War

The Failure of Louis XIV's Dutch War

The Failure of Louis XIV's Dutch War

Synopsis

Begun as a royal adventure to enhance the glory of the king, the Dutch War sparked serious debate within the French government over the relationship of the ruler to the state. Ekberg focuses on one significant year of the war and explains how, despite opposition by several counselors, the king escalated the original conflict into a full European war and wrought a dramatic shift in French policy. The study is arranged thematically to bring clarity to a period of complex issues.

Originally published in 1979.

Excerpt

At the beginning of this century, Ernest Lavisse in his great Histoire de France remarked that our knowledge of the political and military history of the first half of Louis XIV's reign was superficial. At about the same time, the young Georges Pagès, who became the doyen of political historians of the Old Regime for the next generation of French scholars, made much the same observation. He wrote in Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine that the period 1661-88 was to him the most interesting phase of Louis's reign, and then noted that relatively little was known about it. After Lavisse published Histoire de France in 1911, Pagès, Gaston Zeller, Camille Picavet, Bertrand Auerbach, and others selectively rummaged through the mass of documents in the archives of the French foreign ministry and wrote the studies upon which our knowledge of Louis's foreign policy is still largely based. As recently as 1960, however, Victor-L. Tapié, who had studied with Pagès, felt justified in remarking, in Bulletin de la société d'étude du XVIIe siècle, that our knowledge of this subject remains cursory and shallow. Three generations of French historians thus agreed that Louis XIV's reign, and particularly the first half of that reign, was a rich but neglected field for the student of international relations.

French historians of the Old Regime now often scorn the study of politics as histoire événementielle, and despite the work being done by European and American scholars, Tapié's remark is almost as true today as it was eighteen years ago. The French continue to publish the important series, Recueil des instructions données aux ambassadors et ministres de France, and Georges

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