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  1. Navigation
  2. The Chevalier de Lorraine as “Maître en Titre”
  3. Early modern France
  4. About William Young
  5. The Privilege of Liberty, 1650–1820

Contrary to the accepted historical opinion that there was a meeting of minds within Louis XIV's conseil d'en haut over the desirability of the war, Professor Sonnino chronicles a story of bitter division, in the course of which the contrasting personalities of the king and of his most intimate advisors emerge in vivid detail.


Racine once eulogized the war as a brilliantly executed venture which put the insolent Dutch in their place. Saint-Simon, on the other hand, saw it as the disastrous result of endemic jealousies, in which Le Tellier and Louvois sought to displace Colbert in Louis' affections. From these early views the modern consensus, in spite of occasional dissenters, has gradually evolved. Professor Sonnino, however, breaks through the maze of interpretations with decisive new evidence, and in an unusually clear and lively evocation of the emotional element which pervaded high policy, explains the many agonizing decisions that preceded one of the most dramatic conflicts of the seventeenth century.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Cambridge Studies in Early Modern History. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. His thesis is that the Sun King was impatient to win further military gloire and eager to annex the Spanish Netherlands.

The Chevalier de Lorraine as “Maître en Titre”

The French plan was to besiege a few outlying Dutch strongholds and force the much weaker Dutch into diplomatic concessions concerning the annexation of the Spanish Netherlands. Louis XIV hoped that Spain could be prodded into intervening in the Dutch War, thereby allowing France to immediately conquer and annex the Spanish Netherlands, instead of waiting for the death of Carlos II of Spain and the implementation of the secret partition treaty between France and Austria.

A series of postponements, dramatic changes of plan, shifts of alliances, and the opposition of some ministers delayed a conflict which might have begun in Sonnino believes that the split among the members of the council of state meant that the conflict was not inevitable. He fully describes how the leading warmongers neutralized or won over their opponents to the war. The study is based on massive archival research in twelve countries.

Chris Bolling rated it really liked it Aug 28, Teodelina rated it liked it Jun 04, Arguing further from this, he posits a special role for "sacralization" and the witch trials in the process of state formation. The zenith of the use of supplices was the 'rite of separation with the medieval world.

After the rite of aggregation set in; then the sacred grew beyond the reach of ordinary mortals 8. Ingenious as this may seem, we must wonder if it is helpful to view the population of an entire country over six generations or so as if they were a group of people undergoing an initiation rite. It provides the missing link to save the two-road approach and do away with the pluralism which existed in reality. Every country had something of France: Sweden, although Protestant and hardly witnessing witch trials, was absolutist just like France; England had a king and a court just like France; Scotland, too, had them for a period and witch hunts in addition; even the Southern Netherlands can be annexed to the French model in this way.

Conspicuously absent is the relative newcomer, Prussia. The inclusion of the Southern Netherlands is especially striking. Apparently, this conglomeration of territories must be considered as having followed the French road, because like France they were Catholic and experienced waves of witch persecutions. In reality, the Dutch Revolt had been partially successful in the South: although the revolt failed to establish religious pluralism and a sovereign prince remained the highest authority in these provinces, absolutism did not develop there.

Admittedly, in the realm of witchcraft prosecutions, the Dutch Republic had an exceptional status indeed. When it comes to witchcraft, however, every country or region is different from the others. There was no straightforward link between one model of State-formation and the witch persecutions. Multiple factors were at work here, as attested by, among others, Robin Briggs. He doubts whether the witch trials served to acculturate the peasant masses to elite or 'Christian' standards and he sees witchcraft accusations as following a variety of scenarios Moreover, how could the witch persecutions have contributed to the stabilization of the French state, since they were infrequent and stopped relatively early in the heart of the French monarchy, the Parlement of Paris?

Witch hunts characteristically occurred on the peripheral fringe: an area partly outside the kingdom, although often French-speaking In non-French speaking areas, such as in the Saar region and other parts of Germany, witch trials were often initiated from below Now we must inquire into its supposed contrast. Was the Dutch model really that exceptional?

Did it in no way resemble a country like France? In his writings on State-formation, Elias hardly pays any attention to the Netherlands. Muchembled proceeded by looking for additional support in the work of Braudel. As a consequence, he contrasts France with Amsterdam, rather than the Dutch Republic as a whole. Braudel, however, dealt primarily with economic developments When the economy is the subject, it makes sense to concentrate on the Dutch metropolis; it is less helpful when the subject is the state.

In this case, we are inquiring not only into the differences with France, but also pose the question whether there were similarities. We find, for example, that the Republic featured various aristocratic elements Two aspects, which made for a degree of similarity with the rest, should be emphasized:. It can be viewed from various angles, but two elements, I think, need special emphasis. First, there was a long-term cultural development of changing attitudes toward the body, which involved the emergence of privatization and a measure of sensitization to suffering.

Second, changes in the 'volume' of court activities can be observed, involving types and total number of punishments, both per crime and total. Here we have to do with quantitative trends; the element mentioned first, is obviously qualitative.

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The qualitative and quantitative developments were related, but they did not exactly follow the same track. In both, State-formation played an important role.

Early modern France

Changing attitudes to the sight of the scaffold were manifest first among elite groups. They originated in the early seventeenth century, when, as a general Western European phenomenon, certain penal practices such as various forms of mutilation and the imposition of visible branding marks, were discontinued judges, of course, also belonged to the elite. By the late seventeenth century, upperclass persons, even though regularly present at executions, disliked the permanent sight of the scaffold. When Constantijn Huygens urged the Court of Holland in the Hague to remove its permanent, stone scaffold, as the magistrates in other towns had done, he expressly motivated his request by pointing at the 'foreign persons of quality', among whom the French envoy, who lived close by In the eighteenth century, the trend toward more sober executions was complicated by the 'carnivalesque' behavior of crowds at executions.

Although much emphasized by such authors as Laqueur and Linebaugh, this phenomenon was probably peculiar to London, and maybe a few other big cities From the late eighteenth century onward, feelings of uneasiness at public executions became more common. For England, this process has been charted recently by Gatrell, who unfortunately, takes a step back to older, valueladen interpretations The 'conclusion' of the general European development was the removal of capital punishment from public view between and Interestingly, France was the principal exception here, delaying this removal until We should not expect an automatic congruence.

For one thing, different courts had widely divergent penal practices. Moreover, related to separate crimes, the severity of punishment increased in this period. Thus, during a middle-range term, the court gradually became more severe, while remaining within the bounds of a certain standard of acceptable repression.

About William Young

This is another complicating factor in any attempt to capture the longer-term development in statistical terms. As monopolies of violence were established, state rulers started to make use of their monopoly. The result was an increase in the severity toward lawbreakers, which culminated in the sixteenth century Later, from the seventeenth century onward, sensibilities gradually started to get in the way, which finally caused the volume of severe sanctions to decrease again. Both trends are visible in the figures for capital punishment.

Here, at last, we have a less ambiguous indication.

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These examples could be supplemented by others. Decline set in from the end of the sixteenth century, in some counties earlier than in others. This decline was manifest not only in percentages but also in absolute numbers.

For example, in Cheshire the total number of death sentences decreased from during the years , to in and down to eighty-five in Using scattered data from all over England, Sharpe concludes that capital convictions for property offenses dropped considerably, except for the London area, between the end of the sixteenth century and the middle of the eighteenth The next known figure concerns the second half of the seventeenth century, when death sentences were pronounced.

Thus, the annual average had declined from over six to about three, even though the city had expanded enormously in the meantime. After a temporary peak of death sentences during the years , the number declined sharply to fifty-six in the years This contrast between the first and second half of the eighteenth century was also visible outside Amsterdam.

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The absolute number of death penalties in the seven sample regions from to was ninety-three. Between and this was forty-nine and thirty-seven of them were imposed, in one region alone, on members of the Bokkerijder band Obviously, capital punishment was on the decline in the Netherlands in the second half of the eighteenth century. As in England, this sentence became increasingly reserved for homicide. Death sentences peaked in the sixteenth century and then started to decline. Several authors have devoted attention to the personal character of justice and authority in the early modem period.

However, similar images were prevalent in patrician republics. In their conception, the body belonged to the city fathers, who exposed it in the name of the urban community Likewise, urban magistrates in Holland, but also in the German town of Bremen, regularly received requests from families who wanted to imprison a member for misconduct. Whether or not we consider this practice as paternalistic, it is absolutely wrong to consider it as peculiar to absolutist monarchies Neither its frequency nor its geographic spread can be adequately explained in terms of city-states vs.

Admittedly, in the province of Holland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there were hardly any large bands, although banditry did occur there too. Likewise, however, there were few bands in the Paris region or the North of France. Banditry was more frequent and widespread in central France, the Southern Netherlands and most German regions. Very often, it rose in the aftermath of war, with the disbandment of troops Germany and the Southern Netherlands were theaters of war in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Hence, they lagged behind the core of Europe with respect to an important concomitant of state formation processes: pacification. By contrast, both the Dutch Republic except some border areas and the Paris region were pacified to a greater extent.

The Privilege of Liberty, 1650–1820

Again, the republican-absolutist contrast is no factor of importance. Could the Northern Netherlands have partaken of a general European development with respect to crime and justice, without any change in the basic fabric of the state? Obviously, in the North the sixteenth-century revolt arrested the trend toward centralization that the Habsburgs had championed. The republic, which emerged in this comer of Europe, was wanted by no one. Nevertheless, the basic preconditions for a resumption of the process of state formation were present: a monopoly of military violence and a monopoly on the collection of taxes.