Sajid Hossain Mr. Feltman
AP Euro 10/28/10
France – Louis XIV during the age of exploration
During the time period around the 1650’s, France was a huge power in Europe that unlike other countries, ruled with one of the best absolute monarchs. Not only was Louis XIV a great known leader for France but he was also considered one of the best and if not, then the best absolute monarch of all time. Under the power of Louis XIV, France ultimately became a very wealthy country considering government, society, and economy. After the Thirty Years War and with the Treaty of Westphalia, France became a very strong nation that eventually emerged as a world power. It also became a great militaristically advanced country that also made them lead the way in three very important wars in the future. For the reason of having such a strong military, it must be assumed many enemies were also to have been created. Although France was stagnated in their expansion of country by oversea exploration, unlike Spain and Portugal, they still had other features that made up for it. Even so, France still did expand eventually and best of all, was economically benefited unlike any other country. After the Thirty Years War and around the time period of 1650, France emerged as a Nation with great power in all ways. Under the reign of Louis XIV, France became a much enriched nation, which much like other nations, sought to gain more and more land and power and quite possibly may have been considered the greatest nation in Europe at the time.
Louis XIV, otherwise known as the Sun King, was essentially the main reason and focus why France was such a powerful nation at its time. He came into power after his father died. The only problem was, he was four years old at the time. Cardinal Mazarin, who became prime minister after Cardinal Richelieu died, took power and helped in the efforts to fight against the nobles during a French civil war, known as the Fronde rebellion. After Mazarin died, Louis XIV was ready to rule. Under Louis XIV’s rule, it was believed that he created the best trade and commerce that France ever sought. Just by patronizing arts he encouraged the growth of industry. Furthermore, his consolidation of royal authority over the feudal elites significantly reduced the incidence of civil wars and aristocratic rebellions, which had frequently been occurring within France before Louis’s reign. His early reforms and centralization of France also marked the birth of the modern State and served as an example of political organization for much of Europe during the Enlightenment. Since France was in such good condition from the Thirty Years War and from the rebellion which essentially failed and was won by the Mazarin, it could only get better for the reign on Louis XIV. This eventually became true.
After the Thirty Years War, Frances’ military became extremely powerful. With a strong military hold, France was able to lead the way in the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession. For this reason, they became even more militaristically advanced. This could be a reason why France was considered the most powerful nation of its time. While fighting these wars, they apparently created enemies as well. Although the Netherlands could be accepted as an enemy of France around 1650, even more so would be Spain. For years before, in the Hapsburg-Valois War and in the Thirty Years War, Spain and the Hapsburg family was a great threat to France. And even after Spain had weakened after those wars, Spain was still a great enemy for France during the War of the Spanish succession. France and Spain before never got along and even during Louis XIV reign they still were having difficulty accepting each other.
During these same times, Spain itself and Portugal became interested in oversea exploration. Although under Louis XIV’s rule, France was halted in exploration compared to Spain and Portugal, it still had a considerable amount of exploration done. Under Louis XIV’s rule France had created colonies in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. They had also discovered the Mississippi River, which was founded by Jolliet and Marquette. They also set up trading posts in the Indian Ocean which made trade for spices much easier. France’s main goal to establish these colonies and to explore further was mainly for an economical reason. As mentioned before France had gone through the Thirty Years War and the Fronde so it can be expected that the economy of France wasn’t as great but Louis XIV found another way to benefit the economy using the colonies and exploration. Louis and Jean Baptiste Colbert developed the idea called mercantilism which essentially states that the colonies are only made to trade with the mother land and while doing so the motherland will benefit by using the system of exports greater than imports. With the new idea of mercantilism, Frances economy shoots up yet again and may have been a driving force why France was exploring and colonizing. Altogether, the great economy of France created under Louis XIV’s rule may have been another reason why it was considered a world power and the greatest power in Europe of its time.
During the time period around 1650, Louis XIV ruled all of France. As a great leader himself, came a great country. France became a super world power during these times and during the reign of Louis XIV. After the Thirty Years War, France had already been benefited and militaristically. When Louis XIV became the ruler of France, he continued these benefits and expanded upon them. He faced war when he knew he had too and gained power from each war he did face. He faced his enemies such as Spain and never backed down. Essentially this is what made France militaristically superior to other countries. The Fronde, of course stagnated the growth of Frances economy but he used his exploration to benefit him economically. He adopted the idea of mercantilism and gain power from it. This essentially created an economy unbeatable during its time. With these benefits and exploits it is rational to conclude that France, under Louis XIV, during the time period around 1650, was the most powerful nation in Europe.
Sajid Hossain Mr. Feltman