Louis XIV

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In the seventeenth century there were different types of leaders in Europe. The classic monarchial rule was giving way to absolutist rule. Absolute kings claimed to be ruling directly from God, therefore having divine rule that could not be interfered with. In 1643, Louis XIV began his reign over France as an absolute king.

Louis was born at the royal chateau in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1638. He was only five years old when he became king after the death of his father, Louis XIII. In 1660, he married Maria Theresa, Infanta of Spain. The following year, on the death of his godfather and his Prime Minister Cardinal Mazarin, the 23-year-old monarch announced he would take over the government. He insisted on convening a council on a daily basis, from which he excluded grand nobles.

When Louis began his rule, his actions immediately began to suggest an absolute dictatorship. His first step was to expand the civil services.

He staffed his government with men who would obey him without question. Instead of filling the position with nobles, he appointed advisors drawn largely from the middle class. He kept the reins of the government firmly in his own hands and did not let the nobles overpower him. He made it so that all the decisions made were his own. Louis proposed to expand the activities of the central government. Through practice and theory, he became the master of his kingdom. The number of state servants grew enormously. The amount of state servants that used to be at 600 in the beginning of his reign grew to 10,000. A new form of royal officials appeared as well. They were called the intendants. They gathered information for the king and supervised the enforcement of his decisions. They brought a new kind of order to...