Louis XIV was an absolute monarch. He inherited the French throne when he was only five. Because Louis XIV was so young, Cardinal Mazarin was the true ruler of France until his death when Louis took control. Louis weakened the power of the nobles by excluding them from his councils and increased the power of the intendants. He made sure that local officials communicated with him regularly. Louis was greatly helped by his finance minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert who believed in mercantilism. French companies were given government funds and tax benefits, so that manufacturing would expand.
The French government encouraged people to migrate to France’s colonies in Canada. Because Louis was an absolute monarch his decisions were final. France’s economic growth was slowed when Louis canceled the Edict of Nantes. In response to this act, thousands of Huguenot artisans and businessmen fled the country, robbing France of many skilled workers. High offices were often given to Louis’s favorite nobles. Louis turned against nobles who did not come to court to flatter him. Having the nobles at the palace increased his royal authority.
It made the nobility totally dependent on him and took the nobles from their homes which gave more power to the intendants. His palace at Versailles was the size of a small city. As an absolute monarch Louis controlled foreign affairs, including warfare. Louis gained twelve towns by invading the Spanish Netherlands. He then personally led an army into the Dutch Netherlands. The Dutch saved their country by opening the dikes and flooding the countryside. The war ended with the treaty of Nijmegen which gave France several towns and a region called Franche-Comt.
Louis fought additional wars, but alliances between other European nations stopped him from expanding France’s borders. Poor harvests in France, constant warfare, and heavy taxes to pay for the wars brought great suffering to the French people. Louis’s last years were sad. He regretted the suffering he had brought to his people. News of his death prompted rejoicing throughout France. Although after his death France was definitely a power to be reckoned with, Louis left a debt equal to 21 billion 1992 U. S. dollars.
The Thirty Years’ War Catholic and Lutheran Princes of Germany watched each other carefully after the Peace of Augsburg. The two religions tried to gain followers and both felt threatened by Calvinism which was spreading in Germany. In 1608 the Lutherans joined together in the Protestant Union and in 1609 the Catholic princes formed the Catholic League. Ferdinand II ruled the Czech kingdom in Bohemia as the head of the Hapsburg family. The foreign Ferdinand was Catholic and the Protestants in Bohemia did not trust him.
After Ferdinand closed some Protestant churches the Protestants revolted. When Ferdinand sent an army to crush the revolt several Protestant German princes challenged their Catholic emperor which began the Thirty Years’ War. The war lasted from 1618 to 1648. For the first twelve years Hapsburg armies from Austria and Spain crushed the troops that the Protestant princes had hired. They succeeded in putting down the Czech revolt and defeated the German princes that were supporting them.
Ferdinand II’s army was paid by being allowed to plunder German villages. Although he died in battle, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and his army of 13,000 changed the course of the war in 1630 by driving the Hapsburg armies out of Northern Germany. The Catholic Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin feared the Hapsburgs worse than they feared the Protestants because they didn’t want any European ruler having as much power as the French king, so Richelieu sent French troops to join the German and Swedish Protestants.
The war caused Germany’s population to decline from 20 million to 16 million and disrupted trade and agriculture, ruining Germany’s economy. The War was ended by the Peace of Westphalia. It weakened the Hapsburg states of Spain and Austria and strengthened France by awarding it German territory. It also made German princes independent of the Holy Roman Empire, ended religious wars in Europe, and introduced a new method of peace negotiation. The Glorious Revolution In 1685, Charles II died, and James II became the king of England.
After he became king he offended many of his subjects by flaunting his Catholicism. James violated English law by appointing several Catholics to high offices and when Parliament protested his actions, he dissolved it. In 1688 James II had a son and English Protestants became terrified at the thought of having a line of Catholic kings. James’s daughter, Mary, was Protestant and was married to William of Orange, a prince of the Netherlands. Seven members of Parliament asked them to overthrow James for the sake of Protestantism.
In 1688 when William led his army into London, William fled to France. This overthrow of James II is called the Glorious Revolution because no blood was shed. At William and Mary’s coronation they agreed to make the English government a constitutional monarchy, instead of an absolute monarchy. In 1689 Parliament drafted a Bill of Rights in order to make the limits of the royalty clear. This document stated many things including no suspending of Parliament’s laws, freedom of speech in Parliament, and freedom of petition.