religious moorings. In addition, his determination to overcome Jansenism eventually led Louis to reverse his Gallican policy of support for the national Church. Instead, he came to depend upon an outside power, the Papacy, to make his policies effective, thereby undermining his own authority at home.


Foreign policy

INTRODUCTION

Louis XIV's chief preoccupation was foreign policy: the regulation of the complex relationship between France and other European states. Ever since the beginning of modern international diplomacy in fifteenth-century Italy, princes had given priority to maintaining their power at their neighbours' expense. Because for the most part they represented family dynasties, the rulers of states, including Louis XIV, tended to view international agreements as they viewed private legal contracts. Contemporaries saw nothing odd in the fact that a major international settlement like the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), which ended the Thirty Years' War between France and Spain, should also contain arrangements for Louis XIV's marriage to a Spanish princess, Maria Theresa, as well as provisions for the restoration of the French estates of the rebel Prince de Condé.

However, in the course of Louis XIV's long reign other considerations began to loom large: what were the rights of the state as opposed to those of the ruling family and what rights had the subjects in the painful and expensive business of waging war? We have already seen how in religious affairs Louis's objectives were frustrated by conflicting ideas. Similarly, in the conduct of his foreign policy the king was an inevitable victim of changing attitudes and circumstances.

He was assisted in the implementation of his foreign policy by a number of distinguished secretaries of state, Lionne, Arnauld de Pomponne, Colbert de Croissy, brother of the great Colbert, and Croissy's son, the Marquis de Torcy, who further united these governing families by marrying the daughter of Pomponne. Yet none of them ran foreign affairs: that was pre-eminently the king's business, even at the end of the reign when the developing bureaucratic organization gave Torcy greater knowledge and expertise than any of his predecessors had possessed. Torcy could take the initiative more regularly, but not the final decisions.

-32-

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Louis XIV
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Europe in 1715 viii
  • France's North-Eastern Frontier ix
  • Prologue 1
  • Influences Upon the King 2
  • Domestic Policy 12
  • Foreign Policy 32
  • Epilogue 47
  • Bibliography 49
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