Louis XIV: Apogee of Absolutism

Liberty News

Louis XIV: Apogee of Absolutism

For his part, Louis XIV had no trouble fitting the absolutist role. Even more than Colbert, he totally identified his own private interest as monarch with the interests of the state and with the “public good.” Whether or not Louis uttered the famous words often attributed to him, “I am the state,” he certainly believed and acted upon them, as did his father Louis XIII before him, who had said, “It is not I who speak, it is my state.” Statism logically implies that the state owns all the property in the land, and that all who live on or use such property do so only by the sufferance of the “true” owner. And Louis certainly believed that he was the true owner of all property in France. Hence justice was “my justice,” and hence he claimed the inherent right to tax all his subjects at will. And why not indeed, if they were all truly existing in his realm only at his, the owner’s, pleasure?

Furthermore, virtually everyone, even the king’s opponents, believed that he ruled by divine grace and divine right. Previously, Cardinal Richelieu had called kings the images of God. Early in the Sun King’s reign, court propagandist Daniel de Pri