Was Louis XIV merely concerned with 'la gloire' in his foreign policy?

Essay by muselimanHigh School, 12th gradeA-, April 2004

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La Gloire can be translated as a reputation in the world and the posterity for nobility, honour and glorious feats of arms. With this in mind the question can be interpreted as whether Louis XIV was to use his foreign policy to establish a universal monarchy for himself or alternatively to use it to secure natural frontiers for France thus improving its defences. During his reign Louis was involved in four major wars some of which Louis may be accountable as the provocateur, however, I believe that mainly his motives were purely defensive.

It was apparent to Louis that there were a number of gateways from the Empire through which enemies of France might threaten the state's security. The three imperial bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun were strategically situated on the north-eastern frontier. They had been occupied by French troops since 1552 but it was only at the treaty of Westphalia that they were finally acknowledged as sovereign possessions of the French King.

Franche-Comté was one entry into France previously exploited by its enemies that Louis succeeded in closing in 1678 by arguably legal claims that he had sovereignty. He had already closed another, the port of Dunkirk, by purchasing it from Charles II of England in 1662 and a third gateway, from the southern Netherlands, was effectively barred by the military fortifications erected by his great military engineer, Vauban, in the 1680s. Following the successful Peace of Nijmegen, Louis began to employ his own judicial courts to determine what additional territories were dependant on those properly acquired by Louis at Westphalia and Nijmwegem. Not surprisingly the additions proved to be extensive and strategically important. From this it seems that Louis does have a genuine concern for his country and despite his dubious methods he does manage to secure...