During the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, a form of government swept the world. Absolutism, where the ruler holds all the power and runs the state how they would like it. The poster boy for absolutism is Louis XIV, the Sun King. In the words of historian Mr. Pursel, “Louis was the epitome of absolutism”. Louis XIV held the title for the longest reign in Europe’s history lasting seventy-two years; but many historians believe that he would not have lasted nearly as long if he was elected or democratic.
Louis XIV was able to hold his position for so long because of his absolutist mindset. During his time in office, Louis took all the power, made new positions for himself, and made nobles nearly obsolete. On top of this, if a noble is too wealthy and influential, he is imprisoned.
Nicolas Fouquet is a prime example of this, upon gaining wealth and power (which posed a threat to Louis) he was sent to jail. This is one of many times that Louis XIV had any competition put away. This is done in order for all the power to be in Louis’s hands and his state to be purely under his fist. Louis XIV glorified his state by building palaces like no other and statues and arches.
Versailles, Louis’s palace, was built for himself and his royal family. Covering 3.6 square miles and having 728,000 square feet of indoor luxury, this palace put Louis above everyone in Europe and established his power and wealth. As a child, Louis witnessed a revolution and vowed to never allow this to happen again. So, he became an absolute ruler with all the power and an impenetrable city of his own, outside the reach of the common peasant.
While Versailles served as living grounds and peace of mind for Louis and his family, it also demonstrated the immense wealth and power that Louis XIV had and how weak every noble and peasant was compared to him. Louis enjoyed making sure everyone knew that he was above them that is why it is fitting that he was the “Sun King”. This is because, no matter where one is in the world; they will see it every day and each time it will be above them. While in office, Louis’s goal was to make France a land with “one king, one law, one religion.” One king and one law was achieved by establishing his power over all others and weakening nobels. While one religion was met by redacting The Edict of Nantes.
The Edict of Nantes allowed Calvinist Protestants to practice freely in France; but once replaced by Louis’s Edict Of Fontainebleau, the Calvinists could no longer practice. By achieving one king, one law, and one religion; Louis was a true absolutist ruler. He controlled the laws, the state, and even what people could believe in. By establishing his power, making laws that suit him, glorifying his monarchy, and weakening nobles and people; Louis was able to rule over France uncontested for seventy-two years. By taking full power of France, the Sun King was able to write his page in the history books as the most absolute ruler ever.
As famed historian Mr. Pursel said, “Louis XIV is the epitome of absolutism.”