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Assess the political, social and cultural significance of Versailles in the reign of Louis XIV

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Introduction

Assess the political, social and cultural significance of Versailles in the reign of Louis XIV The Palace of Versailles, a brainchild of Louis XIV, best exemplifies the great opulence during the reign of France's greatest monarch. Built with this end in mind, the significance of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV is unquestionable. It became a place for Louis to practise the art of government by spectacle and through ritual. Unprecedently grand, Versailles came to embody a form of court and government that would be widely admired and copied. One might wonder why Louis needed such a palace in an insignificant little town like Versailles when he had the splendid Palais Royale in Paris and other magnificent palaces elsewhere in France. The simple answer is the Frondes. As a child the Frondes had a profound impact on Louis. Louis witnessed his mother being humiliated by members of the noblesse d'epee and Mazarin being chased out of the country. This left two major effects on him. Firstly, Louis became determined not to allow the aristocracy to revolt in such a way ever again and secondly in order to do so, he required a new place splendid enough to represent him adequately. ...read more.

Middle

This permitted Louis to establish control. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, it allowed him to control the noblesse d'epee. They were forced to spend the majority of their year at Versailles under Louis' close watch. This way Louis enhanced his authority over them and subsequently reduced their control in local areas. Following the examples of Cardinal Richilieu and Mazarin, Louis gave the high executive offices of government to the noblesse de robe. This created distinguished ministers such as Michel Le Tellier, Nicholas Fouquet and Jean-Baptiste Colbert. As a result the noblesse d'epee was forced to stay loyal to Louis in order to receive royal patronage which was needed to maintain their extravagant lifestyles. This diminished the influence and power of the sword nobles and consequently reduced the chances of revolts such as the Frondes. There were also, however, limitations on Louis' political influence. Whether or not government policies were implemented depended on the co-operation of officials throughout the length and breadth of France. Local government in the age of Louis XIV was a mixture of corruption, moral blackmail and genuine public interests. This undermined the political authority of Louis. By requiring the noblesse d'epee to stay at Versailles for the majority of the year, Louis gained immense social control over them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Versailles had enabled Louis and France to exert significant influence on European culture at the time. However, there were also limitations on French influence. In literature, for instance, many leaders produced works in their own style rather than the French style. The plays, rituals and festivals may have been glamorous to watch but they were only for a minority of privileged viewers because not everyone in France could read or write. Others simply did not share the appreciation of Louis presented as Augustus or Constantine in plays and paintings. Despite these limitations, Louis was still able have a considerable effect on European culture. In conclusion, the significance of the Palace of Versailles was unquestionable. It provided a framework for Louis to launch his system of absolutism. Through Versailles, Louis was able to dictate France politically by centralizing government, socially by taming the nobility and culturally by determining French culture which was copied by many European countries. All three factors were equally important because they were inter-dependent of each other. Without having such successes in controlling the nobility and establishing absolutism, French culture would not have had such a dominating influence on Europe. Without establishing centralized control, Louis would not have been able to control the noblesse d'epee in the way he did. Therefore, all three factors all contributed to the significance of Versailles. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lei Pang ...read more.

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