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Louis XIV

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King of France, b. at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 16 September, 1638; d. at Versailles, 1 September, 1715; was the son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, and became king, upon the death of his father, 14 May 1643.

General survey

Until 1661 the real master of France was Cardinal Mazarin, under whose government his country, victorious over Austria (1643-48) and Spain (1643-59), acquired by the Treaties of Westphalia (1648) and the Pyrennes (1659) Alsace, Artois, and Roussillon, which had already been occupied by French troops since the days of Richelieu. As a result of the marriage between Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Austria, Louis XIV also acquired rights over the Low Countries. When Louis's personal government began (1661), France was the arbiter of Europe: she had re-established peace among the Powers of the North (Sweden, Brandenburg, Denmark, and Poland); she protected the League of the Rhine; and her authority in Germany was greater than the emperor's. At that period the power of France, established upon the firmest foundations, was perhaps less imposing, but was assuredly more solid, than it became during the most glorious days of Louis XIV's personal government.

The memory of those dangers with which the parliamentary Fronde and the Fronde of the nobles (1648-53) had threatened the power of the Crown persuaded the young king that he must govern in absolute fashion, regardless of the still existing provincial relics and local rights. The nobility became a court nobility, and the nobles, instead of residing on their estates where they were influential, became mere ornaments of the Court. The Parliaments, which had hitherto used their right of registration (droit d'enregistrement) of edicts to revise, to some extent, the king's decrees, were trained to submission. The whole power of the State, represented in the provinces by intendants at once docile and energetic, was gathered up in the hands of the king, who consulted, in his council, certain assistants chosen by himself — Colbert, for finance and justice; Louvois, for war; Lionne, for foreign affairs. Colbert desired that France should rule the sea. He did much to develop French colonial power, but before the end of the reign that power was to enter upon its period of decadence. Colbert's plans were, indeed, constantly embarrassed by the Continental wars which Louis undertook. No doubt, the king was forced into some of these wars: it was necessary to strengthen the French frontier at certain points. But his lust of fame, the flattery of his courtiers, and his desire to humiliate Europe led him to prefer the glories of warfare to the wiser and more durable triumphs which a great maritime development would have secured for France. His European policy continued those of Richelieu and of Mazarin in the struggle against the House of Austria, but it differed, too, from the policies of the two cardinals in being a policy of religious creed, confronting Protestantism in Holland and England.

The war against Spain (1667-68) undertaken to enforce the claim of the queen, Maria Theresa, to the sovereignty of the Low Countries (guerre de dévolution), in which the king in person accomplished the conquest of Flanders and made a military promenade in Franche-Comté; the Dutch War (1672-78), in which Louis distinguished himself by that passage of the Rhine, of which contemporary poets sang, by the siege of Besançon, the definitive conquest of Franche-Comté, (1674), and two campaigns in Flanders (1676-78); the judiciary and police measures by virtue of which, without any declaration of war, he occupied Strasburg (1681), a free and imperial city, as well as several other places on the banks of the Rhine — all these brought Louis XIV to the apogee of his glory, the date of which is commonly assigned as the year 1685. But these very successes, the king's habit of not considering himself bound by treaties, and the pride which led him to commemorate by insulting medals his triumphs over various nations, combined to arouse in Europe a sort of uprising against France which found expression in numerous pamphlets, on the one hand, and, on the other, in diplomatic coalitions. The soul of these coalitions was the Protestant William of Orange. The League of Augsburg, formed in 1688 between the emperor, Spain, Holland, and Savoy, set on foot a war during which Louis himself, in 1691 and 1692, made two campaigns in Flanders. In spite of the victories of Luxembourg and Catinat, the war was ruinous for Louis XIV and ended in a peace less glorious than those which had preceded it (Peace of Ryswick, 1697), forcing him to restore Lorraine and all the cities of the empire outside of Alsace, and to recognize William as King of England. Thus, at the opening of the eighteenth century, Louis stood face to face with England, a Protestant power, a power in which instead of the monarchy or Divine right the Parliament held sway, and lastly, a power already stronger on the sea than France was — three circumstances which made the prestige of that nation all the more galling to the King of France.

In consequence of the testament of Charles II, King of Spain, the Spanish Throne passed from the Habsburgs to the Bourbons. The Duke of Anjou, the king's grandson, became Philip V of Spain. Hence resulted the War of the Spanish Succession, a long and ruinous war, and yet glorious, thanks to the triumphs of Vendôme and Villars, though it brought France to the brink of destruction. At one time, in 1712, the king thought of placing himself at the head of his brave nobility, and burying himself beneath the ruins of his throne. The victory of Villars at Denain (1712) saved the country. The Treaties of Utrecht and Baden (1713 and 1714) maintained Philip V on the throne of Spain, but gave to the emperor Spain's ancient possessions in Italy, doomed the maritime power of France to destruction, and made a breach in her colonial power by the cession of Newfoundland and Acadia to England, thus firmly establishing England in North America at the same time that she was established, at Gibraltar, in the Mediterranean.

The close of his reign, saddened by these reverses and by financial catastrophes, also brought a series of personal griefs to Louis XIV: the deaths of the Dauphin (1711), of the Duke of Burgundy, the king's grandson, and the Duchess of Burgundy (1712), of their eldest son (1712), and of his other grandson, the Duke of Berry (1714). He left his throne to Louis XV, then five years of age, the son of the Duke of Burgundy. Thus did all the glories of the reign end in the dangers of a regency. Such as he was, Louis XIV left a great memory in the soul of France. Voltaire calls the seventeenth century the Age of Louis XIV. Warriors like Turenne, Condé, Luxembourg, Catinat, Vendôme, and Villars, navigators like Duquesne, Trouville, and Duguay-Trouin, preachers like Bossuet, Bourdaloue, and Massillon, engineers like Vauban, architects like Perrault and Mansart, painters like Poussin, Le Sueur, and Le Brun, sculptors like Puget, writers like Corneille, Racine, Molière, Boileau, La Fontaine, La Bruyère, Fénelon, Madame de Sévigné, gave to France a glory by which Louis XIV profited, and the "Mémoires" of Saint-Simon, in which the reverse of that glory is often exhibited, have rather enriched the history of the reign than damaged the prestige of the king.

Louis XIV and religion

Louis XIV was much occupied with religion and religious questions. His reign is generally considered as divided into two periods: (1) that of libertinage, during which his heart was ruled by Mlle de la Vallière, Madame de Montespan, and other favourites; (2) that of devotion, coinciding with the influence of Madame de Maintenon, the widow of Scarron, who, when Marie Theresa died (31 July, 1683), secretly married the king, and who, for a quarter of a century, assisted him in ruling the kingdom. The second of these two periods was also that of the influence of Père Le Tellier. This division is natural and accounts for certain developments of religious policy; but it must not be exaggerated. Even during his period of libertinage, Louis XIV took a passionate interest in religious questions; and during his devout period, he never altogether abandoned those Gallican principles which incessantly exposed him to conflicts with Rome. Certain pamphlets, published in the days of the Fronde, opposed to the doctrines of royal absolutism the old theological doctrine of the origin and the responsibilities of power. "Le Théologien Politique" declares that obedience is due only to those kings who demand what is just and reasonable; the treatise "Chrétien et Politique" asserts that kings do not make peoples, but that peoples have made kings. But the doctrine of the Divine right of kings succeeded in establishing itself upon the ruins of the Fronde; according to that doctrine Louis XIV had to reckon only with God, and the same doctrine served as one of the supports of the dictatorship which he pretended to exercise over the Church of France.

In the "Mémoires" of Louis XIV a whole theory of the relations between Church and State is expounded. He sets forth that the king is the proprietor of the Church's wealth, in virtue of the maxim that there is no other proprietor in the kingdom but the king. He holds that all the faithful, "whether lay or tonsured," are the sovereign's subjects; that the clergy are bound to bear their part pecuniarily in the public burdens, and that they "should not excuse themselves from that obligation by alleging that their possessions are for a particular purpose, or that the employment of those possessions must be regulated by the intention of the donors." The assemblies of the clergy, which discuss the amounts to be contributed by the clergy, are, in the eyes of Louis XIV, only tolerated; he considers that, as sovereign, he would be within his rights in laying imposts upon the clergy, and that "the popes who have wished to contest that right of royalty have made it clearer and more incontestable by the distinct withdrawal of their ambitious pretensions which they have been obliged to make;" he declares it to be inadmissible that ecclesiastics, "exempt from the dangers of war and the burden of families," should not contribute to the necessities of the State. The Minims of Provence had dedicated to Louis XIV a thesis in which they compared him to God; Bossuet declared that the king could not tolerate any such doctrine, and the Sorbonne condemned it. But at Court the person of the king was the object of a sort of religious worship, in which certain courtier bishops too easily acquiesced, and the consequence of which became perceptible in the relations between the Church and the State.

From these principles resulted his attitude towards the assemblies of the clergy. He shortened the duration of their sessions and caused them to be watched by his ministers, while Colbert, who detested the financial autonomy enjoyed by the clergy, went so far as to say that it would be well "to put a stop to these assemblies which the wisest politicians have always considered diseases of the body politic." From these principles, too, arose the fear of everything by which churchmen could acquire political influence. Unlike his predecessors, Louis XIV employed few prelates in the service of the State.

The Concordat of Francis I placed a large number of benefices at the disposal of Louis XIV; he felt that the appointment of bishops was the most critical part of his kingly duty, and the bishops whom he appointed were, in general, very well chosen. He erred, however, in the readiness with which he dispensed them from residence in their dioceses, while, as to abbacies, he too often availed himself of them to reward services rendered by laymen, and gave them as means of support to impoverished nobles. To the Comte du Vexin, his son by Madame de Montespan, he gave the two great Abbacies of Saint-Denis and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Louis XIV was particularly fond of taking a hand in doctrinal matters; and those who surrounded him ended by believing that the king could supervise the Church and supply it with information on religious questions. Daguesseau, on 14 August, 1699, went so far as to proclaim that the King of France ought to be both king and priest. Thus it was that, for example, in the midst of the war of the League of Augsburg, Louis was careful to have a report prepared for him on a catechism which was suspected of Jansenism; and so, again, in 1715, he caused a lieutenant of police to be reprimanded for neglecting to report three preachers of Paris who were in the habit of speaking of grace in a Jansenistic manner.

Louis XIV and the papacy

There was always a certain inconsistency in Louis's policy towards the Holy See. On the one hand, he called forth the intervention of Alexander VII against the Jansenists (see below), which would have been anomalous if the king had believed that the Bishop of Rome was no more in the Church than any other bishop. On the other hand, he set himself up as the head of his Church (though, at the same time, not wishing to be schismatical), and the Gallicanism of his magistrates and some of his bishops found support in him. Full submission to Rome and rupture with Rome were equally distasteful to him. The humiliation which he inflicted on Alexander VII when Créqui, his ambassador, had to complain of the pope's Corsican guard (August, 1662) was inspired rather by the need of displaying his unlimited power than by any feeling of hostility to the Holy See (see ALEXANDER VII). In 1665, a papal Bull having condemned the censure which the Sorbonne had passed against the doctrine of infallibility, Louis, after inviting the procurator-general to appeal against it comme d'abus, desisted from further action. In 1666, when Colbert, in order to diminish the number of priests and monks, wished to put back the legal age for ordination, the nuncio declared to Père Aunat, the king's confessor, that there would be a schism if the king continued to consult only laymen on spiritual affairs; Louis thought these words "horrible," and Colbert's project was abandoned. In short, Louis XIV held that, as he expressed it, it was "an advantage that the Roman Curia should be favourable to him rather than unfavourable."

In 1673 the conflict of the régale broke out. The term régale was applied to that right by which the king, upon the death of a bishop, drew the revenues of the see and made appointments to benefices until the new bishop had registered his oath in the Court of Exchequer (Chambre des comptes). Louis XIV claimed, in 1673 and again in 1675, that the right of régale was his in all bishoprics of the kingdom. Pavillon, Bishop of Alet, and Caulet, Bishop of Pamiers, refused to submit. These prelates, both Jansenists, alleged that the Jesuits had stretched the right of régale so as to increase the number of benefices in the collation of which Père La Chaise, the king's confessor, might exert his influence. In 1677, Caulet, having refused to give the cure of souls within his diocese to priests whom the king had nominated in virtue of the régale, was deprived of his temporalities. Three Briefs of Innocent XI (March, 1678, and January and December, 1679) sustained Caulet and threatened Louis with the pains of conscience before God's tribunal, and the rumour was current that the king was about to be excommunicated.

In July, 1680, the assembly of the clergy, in a letter to the king, identified themselves with the king and threatened the pope. Upon the death of Caulet, the Diocese of Pamiers was contested between the vicar capitular nominated by the chapter, who was hostile to the régale, and another vicar capitular, nominated by the Archbishop of Toulouse and installed by the royal officers. The former of these two vicars was removed by the king's order, and the latter was excommunicated by the pope. A third vicar capitular, nominated by the chapter, remained in hiding while he administered the diocese, was condemned to death and was executed in effigy by the king's command. A rupture between Louis and the Holy See appeared to be imminent; the king, in convoking the assembly of the clergy for November, 1681, threw out some hints of a schism. This was an attempt to frighten the pope. In fact, neither side wished for any schism. Louis made the concession that priests provided by him in virtue of his right of régale should be obliged to first receive canonical mission, and this concession was offset by the passage of the Declaration of the Four Articles, which showed the "wish to humiliate Rome." The very animated correspondence between the pope and the assembly was a disquieting circumstance, but Louis prorogued the assembly on 29 June, 1682 (see BOSSUET; ASSEMBLIES OF THE FRENCH CLERGY). In this way he made his escape from the advisers who, to use his own words, would have liked to "invite him to don the turban." He had, in the words of the Jesuit Avigny, "a foundation of religion which would not allow him to face these divisions without emotion."

Again, when Innocent XI steadfastly refused to accept bishops who, as priests, had participated in the assembly of 1682, Louis went through a series of manoeuvres which had the appearance of acts of contrition. Innocent remained insensible to all this and, on the other hand, refused to maintain the right of asylum and the franchises which the ambassador of France claimed at Rome. This new incident made an immense stir in Europe; there was talk of the conquest of Avignon and Civitavecchia by France; the Bull of 12 May, 1687, excommunicating the ambassador and his accomplices, was pronounced abominable by the parlementaires of Paris, who had in view the assembling of a national council and declared that the pope, by reason of his infirmities, could no longer support the weight of the papacy. Alexander VIII (1689-91), during his short pontificate, induced Louis to surrender his claim in the matter of the franchises and also published a Bull, until then reserved, by which Innocent XI had condemned the Declaration of 1682. Innocent XII (1691-1700) made but one concession to Louis XIV: he declared his readiness to grant Bulls without delay to all bishops nominated by the king, provided they had taken no part in the assembly of 1682, and provided that they made a profession of faith before the nuncio. Louis, on 14 September, 1693, declared that, to show his veneration for the pope, he ordered the declaration of 1682 to be held without effect in regard to religious policy. The Gallicans in France and the Protestants abroad pointed to this decision of the king as a desertion of his principles.

The good understanding between Louis and the papacy, while they fought side by side against Jansenism (see below), was again momentarily clouded during the War of the Spanish Succession. In a very long and very cordial Brief dated 6 February, 1701, Clement XI had recognized Philip V as King of Spain. Political conditions, threats made against him by the Emperor Joseph I, brought the pope to recognize Charles III as king, 10 October, 1709. The diplomatic representatives of Louis XIV and Philip V at Rome had done everything to prevent this; the extremely reserved tone and the laconic style of the Brief addressed to Charles III did not sufficiently console them, and Cardinal de la Trémouille, on 13 October, 1709, protested in the name of Louis XIV against the public recognition of Charles III, which was to take place in Consistory on the next day.

Louis XIV and the heresies

His care to maintain a certain orthodoxy, and the conception which he had formed of the religious unity of his kingdom, expressed themselves in his policy towards the Jansenists, the Quietists, and the Protestants.


Since the days of Mazarin, Louis had felt "that the Jansenists were not well-disposed towards him and the State." A certain number of them had been implicated in the Fronde; they wished to obtain, in spite of Mazarin, the recall of Cardinal de Retz, Archbishop of Paris, who had escaped from his prison at Nantes and gone to Rome; some of them applauded the triumphs over Louis's armies won by Condè, who was in alliance with the Spaniards. Louis, in September, 1660, caused the "Provinciales" of Pascal to be examined by a commission, and the book was burned. His desire, expressed in December, 1660, to the president of the assembly of the clergy, induced that body to draw up, in February, 1661, a formula condemning "the doctrine of the five propositions of Jansenius contained in the "Augustinus," which formula was to be signed by all ecclesiastics; and the superiors of the two monasteries of Port-Royal received orders to dismiss their pupils and their novices. Mazarin, on his death-bed, in March, 1661, told the king that he must not "tolerate either the sect of the Jansenists or even so much as their name." The vicars-general, who governed the Diocese of Paris in the absence of de Retz, explained, in a charge published in May, 1661, that the signature required was compatible with reserves on the question of fact — i.e., the question whether the five propositions were in fact contained in the "Augustinus." The royal council and the pope condemned this charge, and in 1664, Archbishop Hardouin de Péréfixe made two visits to Port-Royal (9 June and 21 August) and demanded of the religious their signatures without reserve. The religious of Port-Royal refused, and thereupon, on 26 August, the police expelled those of Port-Royal de Paris, and, in November, those of Port-Royal des Champs. Later, in 1665, lest they might have a disturbing effect on the various convents in which they had found shelter, they were all collected in the des Champs convent and placed under a police guard.

The concern felt by Louis on the subject of Jansenism was so great that, in 1665, he appealed to Pope Alexander VII to break down the opposition of Pavillon, Bishop of Alet, who did not recognize the right of assembly of the clergy to legislate for the Church, and was carrying on a campaign against the formula drawn up by that assembly and against the obligation to sign it. France was presented with the spectacle of a joint effort of the pope and the king; the royal council annulled a charge in which Pavillon, after having given the required signature to another formula drawn up by the pope, developed some new Jansenistic theories on grace; the pope, without arousing any feeling on the king's part, himself appointed a commission of French bishops to try Pavillon and three other bishops who refused to make the unreserved submission. Presently, in December, 1667, nineteen bishops wrote to the king that the appointment of such a commission by the pope was contrary to the Gallican liberties. The difficulties appeared insurmountable; but the nuncio, Bargellini, and the foreign secretary, Lionne, found a way. The four bishops signed the formulary and caused it to be signed, at the same time explaining their action in a letter expressed with such intentional ambiguity that it was impossible to make out whether their signatures had been give pure et simpliciter or not; the pope, in his reply to them, took care not to repeat the words pure et simpliciter and spoke of the signatures which they had given sincere. It was Lionne who had suggested to the pope the employment of this word sincere. And thanks to these artifices, "the peace of the Church" was restored.

The question of Jansenism was revived, in 1702, by the case of conscience which the Jansenists presented to the Archbishop of Paris: "Is a respectful and silent submission to the decision of the Church sufficient in regard to the attribution of the five propositions to Jansenius?" Again the pope and the king were unanimous against Jansenism. In February and April, 1703, Clement XI called upon Louis XIV to intervene, and in June, 1703, Louis XIV asked Clement XI for a Bull against Jansenism. To keep peace with the Jansenists, however, the king at the same time begged the pope to particularly mention in the Bull that it was issued at the instance of the French Court. Clement, not wishing to yield to this Gallican suggestion, temporized for twenty-six months, and the Bull "Vineam Domini" (15 July 1705) lacked the rhetorical precautions desired by Louis. The king, nevertheless, was glad to take it as it was. He hoped to make an end of Jansenism. But Jansenism from that time forward maintained its resistance on the ground not of dogma but of ecclesiastical law; the Jansenists invoked Gallican liberties, asserting that the Bull had been issued in contravention of those liberties. More and more plainly the king saw in Jansenism a political danger; he thought to destroy the party by razing the convent of Port-Royal des Champs, dispersing the religious and disinterring the buried Jansenists (1709-11); and he sacrificed his Gallican ideas to the pope when he forced an extraordinary assembly of the clergy, in 1713, and the parliament, in 1714, to accept the Bull "Unigenitus" which Clement XI had published against Quesnel's book. But at the time of his death he wished to assemble, for the trial of Noailles, Archbishop of Paris, and the bishops who resisted the Bull, a national council to which he was to dictate, and Clement XI, naturally, scouted this idea as bearing the marks of Gallicanism. Thus was Louis XIV ever anxious for an understanding with Rome against Jansenism, and in this alliance it was he who displayed the greater fury against the common enemy. At the same time, he brought to his warfare against Jansenism a Gallican spirit, making concessions and displays of politeness to the Holy See when the conduct of the struggle required, but on other occasions using methods and terms to which Rome, rightly impatient of Gallican pretensions, was obliged to take exception (see JANSENIUS AND JANSENISM).


His personal interest in the question of Quietism was shown in 1694, when, at the suggestion of Madame de Maintenon, he ordered three commissioners—Noailles, Bossuet, and Tronsen—to draw up the Issy articles for the signature of Madame Guyon and Fénelon. In July, 1697, he asked the pope, in a personal letter, to pronounce as soon as possible upon the book "Maximes des Saints" (see FÉNELON); in 1698 he again insisted, threatening that if the condemnation were deferred, the Archbishop of Paris, who was already causing the "Maximes" to be censured by twelve professors of the Sorbonne, should take action. Here again, as in the matter of Jansenism, Louis evinced a great zeal for correctness of doctrine and, on the other hand, an obstinate Gallicanism ready at every moment to prosecute a doctrine apart from and without the pope, if the pope himself hesitated to proceed against it.


Strict justice, strict application of the Edict of Nantes, but no favour — such was Louis's policy towards the Protestants after 1661. It was a policy based on the hope that the union of all his subjects in one faith would sooner or later be easily accomplished. From 1661 to 1679 means were sought to limit as much as possible the application of those concessions which Henry IV had made to the Protestants by the famous Edict, and Pellisson, a convert from Protestantism, organized a fund to aid Huguenots who should come over to the Catholic Church. From 1679 to 1685 a more active policy was followed: Protestants were excluded from public office and from the liberal professions, while the police penetrated into Protestant families in order to keep watch upon them. Louvois's idea of quartering soldiers in Protestant households to bring them to reason was applied, after 1680, in Poitou by the intendant Marillac in the cruel fashion which has remained famous under the name of dragonnades. The king blamed Marillac, but in 1684, at the instigation of Louvois, the dragonnades recommenced in Poitou, Béarn, Guyenne, and Langeudoc, with more excesses than the king knew of. Misled by the letters of Louvois and the intendants (see LAMOIGNON), Louis believed that there were no more Protestants in France, and the Edict of 18 October, 1685, revoked the Edict of Nantes and ordered the demolition of places of worship, the closure of Protestant schools, the exile of pastors who refused to be converted, and the baptism of Protestant children by Catholic parish priests. On the other hand, article xii of the edict provided that subjects could not be molested in their liberty or their property on account of the "alleged reformed" religion, so that, in theory, it was still permitted to anyone to be individually a Protestant. By these measures Louis imagined himself to be only registering an accomplished fact — the extinction of the heresy. Innocent XI, while praising the king's zeal, in the consistorical allocution of 18 March, 1686, expressed satisfaction with those French prelates who had censured the dragonnades, and begged James II to use his good offices with Louis to obtain gentler treatment for the Protestants.

The fugitive and proscribed Protestants thought of returning to France, even in spite of Louis. Jurieu in his "Avis aux Protestants de l'Europe" (1685-86), and Claude in his "Plaintes des Protestants" (1686), gave utterance to the idea of a union of all the Protestant powers to force upon the King of France the return of exiles. In the success of William of Orange, in 1688, Jurieu saw an indication that England would soon reinstate Protestantism in France, and that an aristocratic government would be substituted there for the monarchial. These prognostications were developed in the "Soupirs de la France esclave," which was issued in parts by subscription. In 1698, when the peace of Ryswick was being negotiated between Louis and William, two Protestant committees, at the Hague, made an attempt to commit Holland and England to the demand of liberty for French Protestants, but William confined himself to vague and politic approaches to the question in his dealings with Louis, and these were ill received. In a letter to Cardinal d'Estrées (17 January, 1686), Louis had flattered himself that, out of from 800,000 to 900,000 Protestants, only from 1200 to 1500 remained. The collective abjurations were generally far from sincere; the new converts were not practicing Catholics; and the policy of the authorities, in regard to those new converts who remained too tepid, varied strangely in the several provinces. Was it still lawful in France for an individual, as an individual, to remain a Protestant? Article xii of the edict of revocation implicitly said "Yes;" Louis and Louvois, in their letters, said "No," explaining that all, even to the very last individual, must be converted, and that there ought no longer to be any religion but one in the kingdom.

In 1698 intendants and bishops were consulted as to the measures to be taken in regard to the Protestants. Bossuet, Archbishop Noailles, and almost all the bishops of northern and central France declared for a purely spiritual propaganda animated by a spirit of gentleness; Bossuet maintained that Protestants must not be forced to approach the sacraments. The bishops of the South, on the contrary, leaned to a policy of constraint. As a result of this consultation, the edict of 13 December, 1698, and the interpreting circular of 7 January, 1699, inaugurated a milder regime and, in particular, forbade anyone to compel Protestants to approach the sacraments. Lastly, at the end of his reign, Louis ordered a new inquiry into the causes and the persistence of the heresy, and decreed, by the declaration of 8 March, 1715, that all Protestants who had continued to reside in the kingdom since 1685 were liable to the penalties of relapsed heretics unless they became Catholics. This amounted to an implicit admission that the edict of 1685 had meant to command all Protestants to embrace Catholicism. The alliance between the revolted Protestants of the Cevennes (the Camisards, 1703-06) and England, the enemy of France, had driven Louis to adopt this policy of sternness.

The attitude of Innocent XI in regard to the persecution of Protestants and the grave and mature deliberation with which Clement XI proceeded against the Jansenists prove that, even at those very moments when the religious policy of Louis XIV was resting upon, or was invoking, Rome, the full responsibility for certain courses of precipitancy, of violence, and of cruelty must rest with the king. Aspiring to be master in his Church, he chastised Protestants and Jansenists as disobedient subjects. Though there may have been a parallelism of action and a reciprocity of services between Louis and the Holy See, still the ideas which inspired and guided the religious policy of the king were, in fact, always unlike those of the contemporary popes. "Louis XIV," says the historian Casimir Gaillardin, "assumed to direct the conversion of his subjects at the whim of his pride, and by ways which were not those of the Church and the sovereign pontiff."


Œuvres de Louis XIV, ed. Grimoard et Grouvelle (Paris, 1806); Mémoires de Louis XIV pour l'instruction du Dauphin, ed. Dreyss (Paris, 1860); Depping, Correspondance administrative sous le règne de Louis XIV (Paris, 1850-52); Hanotaux, Recueils des Instructions aux ambassadeurs è Rome (Paris, 1888); Vast, Les grands traités du règne de Louis XIV (Paris, 1898); Mention, Documents relatifs aux rapports du clerg, avec la royaut, de 1682 è 1705 (Paris, 1893); Lemoine, Mémoires des évêques de France sur la conduite è tenir è l'égard des réformés en 1698 (Paris, 1903); Dangeau, Journal (1684-1720) (Paris, 1854-61); De Sourches, Mémoires sur le règne de Louis XIV (1681-1712), ed. Cosnac; Saint-Simon, Mémoires, ed. Boislisle (Paris, 1871-1909); Spanheim, Relation de la cour de France in 1690, ed. Bourgeois (Paris, 1900); de Maintenon, Correspondance générale, ed. Lavallée (Paris, 1865-66); Correspondance de la Princesse Palatine, trad. Jaegl, (Paris, 1890); the numerous Mémoires included in the collection of Michaud and Poujoulat should be consulted. Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XIV, ed. Rébelliau (Paris, 1894); Gaillardin, Histoire du règne de Louis XIV (Paris, 1877-79); Philippson, Das Zeitalter Ludwigs des Viersehnten (Berlin, 1879); Hassall, Louis XIV and the Zenith of the French Monarchy (New York, 1895); Lavisse, Histoire de France, VII-VIII (Paris, 1907-08); Chérot, La première jeunesse de Louis XIV (Lille, 1892); Lacour-Gayet, L'éducation politique de Louis XIV (Paris, 1898); Chéruel, Histoire de France pendant la minorit, de Louis XIV (Paris, 1879-80); Reynold, Louis XIV et Guillaume III (Paris, 1883); Valfrey, Hugues de Lionne (Paris, 1877 and 1881); De Boislisle, Les Conseils sous Louis XIV (Paris, 1891); Haggard, Louis XIV in Court and Camp (London, 1904); Farmer, Versailles and the Court under Louis XIV (London, 1906); De Moüy, L'Ambassade du duc de Créqui (Paris, 1893); Michaud, Louis XIV et Innocent XI (Paris, 1882-83); Gérin, Recherches sur l'assemblée de 1682 (Paris, 1870); idem, Louis XIV et le Saint Siège (Paris, 1894); idem, Le pape Innocent XI et la révocation de l'Edit de Nantes, in Revue des Questions historiques, XXIV (1878); Douen, La Révocation è Paris, et dans l'Ile de France (Paris, 1894): Landau, Rom, Wien und Neapel wéhrend des spanischen Erbfolgekriegs (Leipzig, 1885); D'Haussonville, La duchesse de Bourgogne (Paris, 1898-1908); Le Roy, La France et Rome de 1700 è 1715 (Paris, 1892).

About this page

APA citation. Goyau, G. (1910). Louis XIV. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Goyau, Georges. "Louis XIV." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Charles W. Herman.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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