Monday, July 7, 2014

Unbearably Wearisome Final Period of His Reign

Featuring James Cotter Morrison

Previously on Louis XIV Establishes Absolute Monarchy in France

Time: 1661
Place: Paris

Louis' reign continued thirty years after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, years crowded with events, particularly for the military historian, but over the details of which we shall not linger on this occasion. The brilliant reign becomes unbearably wearisome in its final period. The monotonous repetition of the same faults and the same crimes--profligate extravagance, revolting cruelty, and tottering incapacity--is as fatiguing as it is uninstructive. Louis became a mere mummy embalmed in etiquette, the puppet of his women and shavelings. The misery in the provinces grew apace, but there was no disturbance: France was too prostrate even to groan.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Building Versailles Palace

Featuring James Cotter Morison

Previously on Louis XIV Establishes Absolute Monarchy in France

Time: 1661
Place: Paris

Such was the emaciated France which Louis the Great picked systematically to the bone for the next thirty-five years. He had long ceased to be guided by the patriotic wisdom of the great Colbert. His evil genius now was the haughty and reckless Louvois, who carefully abstained from imitating the noble and daring remonstrances against excessive expenditure which Colbert addressed to his master, and through which he lost his influence at court. Still, with a self-abnegation really heroic, Colbert begged, urged, supplicated the King to reduce his outlay. He represented the misery of the people. "All letters that come from the provinces, whether from the intendants, the receivers-general, and even the bishops, speak of it," he wrote to the King. He insisted on a reduction of the taille by five or six millions; and surely it was time, when its collection gave rise to such scenes as have just been described. It was in vain. The King shut his eyes to mercy and reason. His gigantic war expenditure, when peace came, was only partially reduced. For, indeed, he was still at war, but with nature and self-created difficulties of his own making.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bad Conseqences of the War

Featuring James Cotter Morison

Previously on Louis XIV Establishes Absolute Monarchy in France

Time: 1661
Place: Paris

The Dutch envoys, headed by De Groot, son of the illustrious Grotius, came to the King's camp to know on what terms he would make peace. They were refused audience by the theatrical warrior, and told not to return except armed with full powers to make any concessions he might dictate. Then the "hucksters" of Amsterdam resolved on a deed of daring which is one of the most exalted among "the high traditions of the world." They opened the sluices and submerged the whole country under water. Still, their position was almost desperate, as the winter frosts were nearly certain to restore a firm foothold to the invader.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Take Their Goods and Burn Their Houses

Featuring James Cotter Morison

Previously on Louis XIV Establishes Absolute Monarchy in France

Time: 1661
Place: Paris

A perfect giant of administration, Colbert found no labor too great for his energies, and worked with unflagging energy sixteen hours a day for twenty-two years. It is melancholy to be forced to add that all this toil was as good as thrown away, and that the strong man went broken-hearted to the grave, through seeing too clearly that he had labored in vain for an ungrateful egotist. His great visions of a prosperous France, increasing in wealth and contentment, were blighted; and he closed his eyes upon scenes of improvidence and waste more injurious to the country than the financial robbery which he had combated in his early days. The government was not plundered as it had been, but itself was exhausting the very springs of wealth by its impoverishment of the people.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Remarkable Coincidence

Featuring James Cotter Morison

Previously on Louis XIV Establishes Absolute Monarchy in France

Time: 1661
Place: Paris

It happened by a remarkable coincidence that precisely at this moment, when the condition of Europe was such that an aggressive policy on the part of France could be only with difficulty resisted by her neighbors, the power and prerogatives of the French crown attained an expansion and preeminence which they had never enjoyed in the previous history of the country. The schemes and hopes of Philip the Fair, of Louis XI, of Henry IV, and of Richelieu had been realized at last; and their efforts to throw off the insolent coercion of the great feudal lords had been crowned with complete success. The monarchy could hardly have conjectured how strong it had become but for the abortive resistance and hostility it met with in the Fronde.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Take Care, God

God bless mother and daddy, my brother and sister, and save the King. And, oh God, do take care of yourself, because if anything happens to you, we’re all sunk.

- Adlai Stevenson, speech at the Harvard Business School in 1959 quoting a child’s prayer.

More on Adlai Stevenson.

Pictured is a campaign poster from the 1952 campaign.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Louis XIVs Reign’s Chief Interest

Featuring James Cotter Morison

Previously on Louis XIV Establishes Absolute Monarchy in France

Time: 1661
Place: Paris

That subtle critic, M. Sainte-Beuve, thinks he can trace a marked rise even in Bossuet's style from the moment he became a courtier of Louis XIV. The King brought men together, placed them in a position where they were induced and urged to bring their talents to a focus. His court was alternately a high-bred gala and a stately university. If we contrast his life with those of his predecessor and successor, with the dreary existence of Louis XIII and the crapulous lifelong debauch of Louis XV, we become sensible that Louis XIV was distinguished in no common degree; and when we further reflect that much of his home and all of his foreign policy was precisely adapted to flatter, in its deepest self-love, the national spirit of France, it will not be quite impossible to understand the long-continued reverberation of his fame.