THE GOVERNMENT OF LOUIS XIV. (1661—1715.)
By A. J. GEANT, M.A., King's College, Professor of History in the University of Leeds.
The character of Louis XIV 1
His abilities . 2
The authority of the Crown .2
The machinery of government .3
The Parlements of France . .4
The Ministers of State. Le Tellier. Lionne .5
The fall of Fouquet. Colbert .6
The character and aims of Colbert . 7
Colbert's reforms in taxation .8
The taille. Provincial risings .9
Colbert's industrial projects .10
State direction of industry . .11
Colbert's commercial projects. Companies . . 12
Colbert and the colonies of France . 13
The Languedoc canal. The French navy. The galleys .14
The new Academies. Administration of justice .15
Ordinances: the Code Louis. The Grands Jours . . 16
The rivalry between Louvois and Colbert . . 17
Army administration of Louvois. Equipment and organisation . 18
Mlle, de la Vallière and Mme. de Montespan .19
Madame de Maintenon . .20
Ecclesiastical opposition to Protestant liberties .21
Curtailment of the rights of Protestants . . 22
Measures against the Protestants . 23
The dragonnades. Revocation of Edict of Nantes . 24
Effects of the Revocation of the Edict . . 25
Rising in the Cevennes. The Camisards . . 26
Destruction of municipal liberties. Edicts of 1692 and 1704 . 27
The capitation. Fénelon on system of government . 28
Criticisms of Boibguillebert and Vauban . . 29
Domestic troubles of Louis XIV's last years .30
Plans for the Regency. Death of Louis XIV .31
THE GOVERNMENT OF LOUIS XIV. (1661-1715.)
WHEN Mazarin's death left the government of France in the hands of the young King, the country seemed to be so happily situated, so free from dangerous rivals and pressing dangers, that it was capable of determining its own destiny. While France had triumphed over Europe, in France itself the monarchy had triumphed over all rival powers, classes and organisations. The futile struggle of the Fronde had discredited the Parlements, and had exhibited the egotism and the incapacity of the noblesse. France turned to her King with a loyal enthusiasm born of a sense that the monarchy alone could maintain order in the State and ensure its prosperity.
At the time of Mazarin's death Louis XIV was twenty-three years old. His character was as yet little known. If Mazarin had not kept the sovereign in ignorance, he had certainly kept him in the background ; and hence it was that Louis XIV's declaration " that he intended to be his own first minister" and that "all ministers were to address themselves to him" was received with amusement and incredulity. His singular grace and dignity of manner were already apparent; his amorous temperament was familiar to those who had been brought into close contact with him ; and these characteristics endured to the end. But the world had not yet suspected the persistent energy of the young King, or his fondness for "the business of reigning,'" or, again, the boundless pride and egotism which neutralised many of his best qualities. During the whole of his reign he maintained his habits of regularity and hard work. He was constant in attendance at the various councils by which the business of the State was transacted ; and he was always attentive, eager to master the details of business, and confident in his own judgment whether in domestic or in foreign affairs. From the first he was the real ruler of the country, and his mastery increased as his reign advanced. The domestic and the foreign policy of France were at first largely controlled by his great Ministers-Colbert, Louvois, and Lionne-though the approval of the King was always a necessary condition of their action, and at each point his judgment had to be
It is difficult to arrive at a judgment as to the abilities of Louis XIV. Lord Acton has called him " by far the ablest man who was born in modern times on the steps of a throne." Clearly, his was no commonplace character or intelligence. One who directed the policy of the first State in Europe for fifty-five years, who achieved many victories, and showed great tenacity and skill in the hour of defeat, must have had powers above the average. No historian has ever denied to him patience, industry, or method. " One must work hard to reign," he wrote, "and it is ingratitude and presumption towards God, injustice and tyranny towards man to wish to reign without hard work." He laboured at the task of reigning his whole life through, undeterred by ennui, uninterrupted by pleasures or domestic affliction. Montesquieu's judgment, that his character was more striking than his intelligence (" il avait Fame plus grande que Tesprit "), is perhaps the fairest summing-up of the Grand Monarque. In what concerned foreign affairs and the organisation of the central government he exhibited real skill. But he did not show the same intelligence or the same patience in relation to social or religious problems or the organisation of local government. The extension of monarchical authority and of his own personal power was the predominant impulse with him ; and where these were not concerned his attention and energy were apt to flag. His theory of life was theocratic through and through : the King is God's vicegerent, and is possessed of a sort of divine infallibility. The history of his reign passes judgment on this theory as to its effects both on the kingdom and on the King. In his reign the monarchy ceased to be the one principle of unity in the State ; it ceased to justify itself as the protector of the people against the nobility and as the successful leader of the nation in war. It became something apart from the people and the nation. The way was thus prepared for the Revolution of the next century.
The authority of the Crown had triumphed over, without actually effacing, all rival authorities. Parlements and local Estates and municipalities still existed. The Church still held its assemblies; but, if they still exercised any power, it was by permission of the King. All power came from the King, and it was the fixed determination of Louis XIV that this fact should be recognised by all the officials of the State. When Voysin became Secretary of State, he apologised to the King for referring certain decisions to him, saying that he had not yet had sufficient experience of office to take on himself the responsibility of decision. Louis answered emphatically that it would never be his business to decide anything; that he must always take his orders from the King, and limit his activity to executing them.
The machinery of government developed by Richelieu and Mazarin was used by Louis XIV ; but it was developed still further. The essential characteristic of the constitution of France during his reign consisted in its being a government through Councils, to which, with few exceptions, neither birth nor rank gave any right of admission. The nobility were excluded with jealous care ; great ecclesiastics were no longer admitted ; the Councils were filled chiefly with men of middle-class birth, usually lawyers (gens de la robe), who owed everything to the King and could not possibly regard themselves as independent of him. The exclusion of those above the accepted level was maintained even against members of the royal family.
There were four chief Councils : the Conseil d'État, the Conseil des Dépêches, the Conseil des Finances, and thé Conseil Privé. The Conseil d^Etat, unofficially known as the Conseil d'en haut, was a small body of not more than four or five men, which met in the presence of the King. It assembled three times a week, and in it the great questions of State were considered and decided. All the members could take part in discussing these questions, but the decision rested with the King. This Council was the pivot of the State ; but the King took care not to allow it to become apparent constitutionally. No minutes were taken of the proceedings of the Council, and no record was kept of its decisions. Its meetings were merely occasions on which the King chose to ask the advice of those whom he cared to consult. The Conseil des Dépêches was also held in his presence, and considered and decided on all questions relating to the internal condition of France. The Conseil des Finances had under its control all questions relating to taxation, and was also held in the royal presence. All these three Councils were held in the royal apartments. The fourth Council, the Conseil Privé or Conseil des parties, was a body quite different in kind. It was held in the palace, but not in the royal apartments, was not usually presided over by the King, and consisted of a large number of lawyers (maîtres de requêtes). It was not technically a supreme Court of appeal, for its functions were purposely left indefinite ; but it was the highest judicial Court in the land, and represented the vague but supreme judicial authority belonging to the King. These were the chief Councils ; but there were others, such for instance as those dealing with religion, with the Huguenots and with commerce. In any matter of importance the King was accustomed to seek the advice of persons whose opinion he valued and whom he had no reason to fear, and to decide after listening to their advice.
Thus, at the centre, the royal authority triumphed completely, and thrust the Parlement and the sovereign Courts into the shade. His aim was the same in the provinces ; but in these the royal authority had to struggle to supremacy through the ruins of a vast number of provincial institutions, customs, and rights. There were the provincial Estates, or
It was the effort of the King to keep the power in his own hands and to avoid the slightest appearance of a " mayor of the Palace." Without violently overthrowing the old machine of government, he reduced to
Louis XIV was excellently served during the first part of his reign by men most of whom had received their training in statesmanship in the schools of Richelieu and Mazarin. Le Tellier, a man of humble origin, was Secretary of State for war and had shown great efficiency in that department. He was a servant such as Louis XIV loved to have- painstaking, efficient and incapable of any ambition except to rise in the favour and service of his royal master. His reputation has been effaced by his subordinate Colbert, and by his son, the notorious Louvois. Brienne, La Vrillière, and Guénégaud were the other secretaries in 1661 ; but the name of Lionne was greater than theirs. He had served as a diplomatist with great distinction under Mazarin, and was soon to show his skill under Louis XIV as Secretary of State for foreign affairs.
For the moment, however, it was not war or foreign affairs which claimed the King's chief attention, but rather the department of finances,
The chief agent in pressing on the trial of Fouquet had been Colbert. He was sprung from a family engaged in commerce, and had at first thought of commerce as his destined career. But he had then entered the service of Le Tellier, and had through him become acquainted with Mazarin, to whom he had rendered important services. His opposition to Fouquet was prompted by a detestation of the methods employed which animated his whole career ; but personal ambition also played its part. The fall of Fouquet brought Colbert to the control of the finances, though the title of surintendant was not employed again. Finance was now relegated to the attention of a Council ; but in this Council Colbert was henceforth the supreme influence, though he at first only held the title of intendant des flnances, which was later changed to controller-general. His influence too extended far beyond the finances, and largely controlled the King's policy until the epoch of the great wars began. Charge after charge was accumulated upon him. In 1661 he was member of the Council of Finance and chargé d'affaires for the navy. In 1664 he became superintendent of buildings. He was raised to the post of Controller-General of Finance in 1667. He became Secretary of State for the King's household and Secretary of State for the navy in 1669.
Colbert was neither a philanthropist nor a philosopher. The relief of the poor is often mentioned in his projects, but it seems rather a conventional phrase than a deeply cherished aim. He has nothing to add to the economic or political theory of the State. He identified the wealth of a State with the amount of gold and silver which it contains. This was the common theory of his age. It was more individual to himself that he conceived the total volume of European commerce to be incapable of a material increase. What one nation gained, he concluded, another must lose. The idea of the fraternity of nations found no place in his scheme of thought. He was anxious that France should win
The man himself is clearly revealed in his projects, his letters, and the correspondence and memoirs of the time. Madame de Sévigné calls him the " North Star," in allusion both to his fixity of purpose and the coldness of his temperament. Industry with him ceased to be an effort and became a passion. The labour which he so readily underwent himself he exacted from others. He loved to work his way into all the details of business ; to determine the methods by which it could be simplified and improved; and then to carry out the reform in spite of all obstacles, thrown in his way by tradition, corruption, and the carelessness of the King. But a desire to paint Colbert as the King's good influence, while Louvois figures as the opposite, has sometimes led to the attribution of virtues to Colbert which are not really his. His life was not without very serious blemishes. He made himself the complacent instrument of the King's amours, and his passionate hatred of corruption did not prevent him from gaining titles, income, and offices for himself and his relatives by means which in another he would have bitterly condemned.
As a man of business Colbert, while he sought to open out new sources of income for the State, desired also to see the State managed on its present lines with economy and efficiency. For the present these qualities were the last that could be attributed to the political and economic system of France. There was confusion everywhere. A medal struck in Colbert's honour mentioned without exaggeration "aerarii rationes perturbatas et hactenus inextricablies.(tm) But confusion was not the only trouble ; there had been corruption and knavery too. And, so soon as Fouquet had been arrested, and long before his trial had reached its strange termination, Colbert set to work. A tribunal was established to deal with the fraudulent financiers, and sat from 1661 to 1665. There was no inclination to lean to mercy's side. Some were condemned
The debts of the State next demanded his attention. Through the mouth of the King he repudiated certain debts altogether, because only a small portion of the original capital had ever reached the treasury. Then he declared that other bonds were to be cancelled by paying off the original sum advanced, less the sum of the interest already received. Those who were chiefly injured by this measure were the rentiers of the city of Paris, and their protests were loud and long. The King supported Colbert in a declaration wherein he stated that the cancelling of the bonds was the only way of effecting " the relief of the people which we desire with so much ardour"; but subsequently the procedure was modified in deference to the outcries of the people of Paris. The net result was, however, a considerable reduction in the indebtedness of the State.
The assessment and collection of the taxes also called for immediate consideration. The chief of the taxes was the taille. The abuses connected with this most burdensome and long-lived impost were threefold, and may be summed up in the words privilege, arbitrary assessment and oppressive exaction. Nobility, clergy, court and government officials were exempt. Boisguillebert estimated, in 1697, that not more than a third part of the population contributed to the taille, and this third was the poorest and most wretched. In the pays d'élection the total sum was fixed by the Government, divided among the districts and parishes of the province by the intendant, and finally collected by prominent villagers, who were made responsible in their own property for the full payment. The payment of the tax was enforced by distraint and quartering of soldiers, often accompanied by acts of cruelty, and was frequently evaded by corruption. The collectors especially groaned under the burden of their responsibility. Failure to find the prescribed amount of taxes was punished by imprisonment. In 1679 we hear that there were 54 collectors imprisoned in Tours alone. Colbert's letters are full of the shifts to which the taxpayers had recourse in their efforts to escape, and of the misery caused by the government exactions. In the pays d'état, the taxes paid to the King were still called a don gratuit (or "benevolence"), and the taille was by no means so grievous a burden and did not discourage industry and the cultivation of the soil. The total amount was fixed by the intendant ; but the provincial Estates had some influence in its assessment on districts and individuals, and it was reckoned, not on the general wealth of the taxpayer (taille personnelle), but upon his house and landed property (taille réelle). How was the situation to be remedied ? Colbert did not propose or desire to anticipate the ideas of 1789 by the abolition of privilege ; but he scrutinised all claims to exemption, and brought back into the ranks of the taxable
A vast number of other taxes, usually in the nature of customs and excise, exhibited the same features of confusion, corruption, and oppression as those noticed in the case of the taille. The abuses arose chiefly out of the indirect method of collecting these taxes. They were sold to capitalists who usually undersold them, and thus a large number of intermediate profits were exacted from the taxpayer and were lost to the State. Here also Colbert exhibits his usual characteristics. His ideas do not rise above the existing system. He does not propose to institute the direct collection of these taxes by state officials. But he inspected the existing system with minute care ; he punished fraud ; he tried to establish greater simplicity of working. Yet even under the improved system introduced by Colbert the weight of the burden of the taxes is shown by frequent provincial disturbances. These provincial risings make little mark in the memoirs of the time (though Madame de Sévigné devotes some precious pages to the troubles in Britanny), and the society of Versailles cared little about them. But they were in many instances very serious, and a study of them shows how little the classic dignity of the Court of the Grand Monarque is truly representative of the condition of France during his reign. There was a serious rising in the Boulonnais in 1662 caused by the quartering of troops and the imposition of unpopular taxes. It was suppressed without difficulty, but was followed by cruel and unjust punishments. Two years later a much more dangerous movement broke out in the Landes of Gascony. Here it was a new tax on salt that raised the fury of the people. The nature of the country, and above all the skill and audacity of the leader, Audijos, prolonged the trouble for many months. In vain those who were caught were cruelly punished, and high rewards were offered for the head of Audijos. He escaped in spite of all, sometimes finding a refuge on the Spanish side of the frontier. In the end the Government had to come to terms with the audacious leader, and gave him the command of a regiment of dragoons. An equally serious revolt broke out in the Vivarais, where a report of absurd taxes exasperated the people beyond patience. It was reported that the peasants were to pay ten livres for each male child born and five for each female, three livres when they bought a new coat and five when they bought a new hat. The rising
While Colbert strove to improve the working of the actual machinery of France, and succeeded in diverting to the coffers of the State gains which had hitherto gone into the pockets of individuals, he was not contented with this. He desired also to add to the wealth of France by promoting her productive energies and by stimulating her industries. In all this he frankly takes the national point of view. The wealth of one country meant the poverty of her neighbour : such was his economic creed. And he desired to acquire for France the industries which her neighbours-especially England and Holland-enjoyed. False theory here led him into the one supreme mistake of his life-his promotion of the war against Holland. His eyes were never opened to his theoretic error; but he saw the war sweep away many of the reforms and improvements that had been the result of his passionate energy.
His general industrial scheme is easily summarised. He desired to turn France into a busy hive of industry, to promote and direct those industries by the action of the State, to protect them from the rivalry of foreign countries by high protective tariff's ; and then to open up trade in the commodities produced by improving the internal communication of France, by establishing trade with distant lands and defending the country by an increased and remodelled fleet. He pursued this task with energy and gained as large a measure of success as his commercial theory, the lukewarmness of Louis XIV, and the condition of the country allowed.
In 1663 he drew up a statement of the various articles imported into France and declared that they ought to be produced on French soil. Some of them had formerly been produced in France, but had disappeared ; others had always come from abroad. Domestic manufactures must be revived and stimulated, foreign manufactures must be planted in the land. Many industries he found in the exclusive possession of foreign countries. Colbert was determined to break through these monopolies and to transfer these industries to French soil. He offered rewards to foreign workmen-English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Venetian -to come and settle in France and establish a centre for the manufacture of their various articles on French territory. At the same time he
But it was not in Colbert's nature to trust for the development of industrial France to the effects of competition and the free impulses of the people. He could not believe that a thing was done, unless he did it himself or through his agents. He was alarmed and irritated to find that in certain markets the products of the French factories were not welcomed and were regarded as deficient in quality compared with those of the rivals of France. To alter this condition of things, the manufacturers must be schooled by the State. The industries of France were nearly all in the hands of trade-guilds, and it was through these that Colbert brought the influence of the State to bear on the manufacturers. Edicts and regulations followed one another by the score ; methods of manufacture, with details as to the size, colour and quality of manufactured articles, were laid down. The tone adopted was that of a schoolmaster who alternates punishment with moral platitudes. Then inspectors were sent round the country to enforce these regulations. A famous edict of 1671 on the weaving and dyeing of cloth will show to what lengths he was ready to go. If bad cloth is produced specimens of it are to be exposed on a stake with a ticket attached giving the name of the delinquent. If the same fault is committed again, the master or the workman who is at fault shall be censured in the meeting of the guild. In the event of a third offence the guilty person shall himself be tied to the post for two hours with a specimen of the faulty product tied to him. The customs and traditions of France and the love of ease natural to all men resisted Colbert at every turn. His instructions show his growing anger with the fainéantise of the people. He closes the public-houses during working-hours. He uses irony and threats, and often confesses that his efforts are in vain. But much was done. Industrial France was slowly coming into being. Patient energy and a continuation of peace would have done more.
But Colbert had not succeeded in destroying or seriously injuring the industries of the neighbours of France; and his theory persuaded him that this was an indispensable sign of her prosperity. Holland, he
In Colbert's scheme industry and commerce were closely connected ; and, while he desired to stimulate the productive energies of France, he desired also to increase her share in the interchange of the commodities of the world. French traders lagged far behind those of Holland and England. They had hitherto played a small part in exploiting the wealth of the Indies and the Americas. Holland and England employed the method of chartered companies for their distant over-sea traffic, and Colbert resolved to do the same. His dealing with this question reveals his invariable characteristics. France must have trade, and therefore she must have trading companies; the rich men of France, whether merchants or nobles, must be forced to invest in these companies; the companies, when formed, must be under direct State supervision at every point. All that energy and constant watchfulness could do for the promotion of trade would be done. ColberVs failure, in this instance as so often, was that he did not realise the part that liberty must of necessity play in the development of commerce. It was his habit to think of efficiency and liberty as rivals, not as partners. He reorganised the Company of the West Indies; he founded a Company for the East Indies ; these were followed by Companies for the Levant, for the timber trade of the Pyrenees, for the Northern Seas. The development and the failure of all these Companies follows similar lines. We may take the East India Company as typical of all. It was founded by a royal edict of August, 1664. The capital was to be 15 million livres, and the King subscribed 3 million without asking for interest. The Company was to enjoy a monopoly of all trade between the Cape of Good Hope and the East Indies. It was to possess in its own right whatever it took from the natives or from European enemies, with full
The colonies of France were closely connected with the commercial companies ; and their history during the administration of Colbert is much the same. France possessed excellent bases for colonisation in Canada, Louisiana, and the West Indian Islands, and made a promising beginning in Madagascar, Ceylon, and India. But, though Colbert realised to the full the possibilities of these colonial establishments, he interfered too much; and his interference was even more dangerous at so great a distance from France than it was in France itself. The spirit of religious intolerance, which was soon to strike a heavy blow against his enterprises at home, ruined those abroad. The only thing that could have served the French colonies was liberty ; and of this Colbert with all his vast gifts and powers never knew the value.
The internal customs of France were an irrational medley of tradition and privilege ; each province had a different system ; and this system was guaranteed in many instances by the treaty whereby the province was incorporated with the Crown. It was impossible even for the ruthless will of Colbert to make a clean sweep of all the fetters which the past had placed upon the future ; but by persuasion he brought the great central provinces of France under the same system, viz., Normandy, Poitou, Maine, Picardy, the Aunis, Thouars, Perche, Champagne, Berry, the Nivernais, Burgundy, the Bourbonnais, the Beaujolais, Touraine, Bresse, Anjou, and the Ile de France. In this case he aimed at much more than he accomplished. "I am opposed," he wrote, "to all that interferes with commerce, which ought to be extremely free." He would have liked to see an uniform system of weights and measures and the almost complete abolition of interprovincial custom and dues. He was not sufficiently supported by the King's authority to realise more than a small part of his plan, though French commerce had acquired a more unrestricted movement before the Dutch War.
Colbert did much to facilitate the internal trade of France by the
Colbert's vision of a France, colonial, industrial, and commercial, necessarily included a strong navy. What Richelieu had done in this respect had been undone in the period of Mazarin's domination. Colbert took up the work with more than his usual energy, and here all his great qualities were seen at their best. When he began, the warships of the French navy were, he tells us, only twenty in number ; and of these not more than two or three were really serviceable. But by 1671 the number had risen to 196 effective vessels, and by 1677 the figure had risen to 270. Thus Colbert saw the King in a position to realise the object summed up by him in the phrase " se passer des étrangers? The old harbours and arsenals of France were repaired, and new ones created. A fresh life was infused into Toulon, Rochefort, Brest, Le Havre, Dunkirk ; and ship-building rapidly developed. He gave as careful a consideration to the question of the crews as to that of the ships themselves ; but here the hardness of his nature becomes painfully evident. He forced the maritime population of France into the service with a vigour not less brutal than that of the English press of later days. But the cruelties to which his system could descend are seen at their worst in relation to the galleys. These vessels had been of the greatest service in the naval warfare of the Mediterranean, and Colbert was passionately determined to build and equip them with the greatest possible rapidity. He succeeded in building them, and boasted that the French yards were capable of turning out a galley within the space of twenty-four hours. But the crews gave him endless trouble. The toil of the rowers was so terrible and their treatment so cruel that free men could not be induced in sufficient quantities to undertake the work. The galleys were a common form of punishment for the criminals of France ; and the correspondence
We stand amazed at the different subjects which came under the survey of Colbert and at the minute attention which he was able to bestow on them. There is assuredly no French statesman besides him whose energy flows through so many channels until we come to Napoleon. As Minister of Marine the fortifications of France were partly under his control, and, with Vauban, he laboured to make them impregnable. He was interested in the public works of Paris, and hoped to make the King concentrate his architectural ambitions on the Louvre ; and he saw with despair that the royal inclination was turned wholly in the direction of Versailles. He protested against the expenses of Versailles with singular frankness, declaring that the new palace "would perhaps afford the King pleasure and amusement but would never increase his glory1'; but all was in vain, and his projected improvements for the Louvre were never realised. In order to complete the survey of his manifold activities, we need here only mention that the creation of five new Academies was due to Colbert-the Academy of Inscriptions and Medals ; the Academy of Science ; the French Academy at Rome ; the Academy of Architecture ; the Academy of Music. Though with these royal protection and ministerial direction counted for much and sometimes hindered their free development, they all lived and flourished and were one of the most permanent effects of Colberfs genius. Of the pensions which he accorded to men of science and letters, the first list (1662) contained 60 names-45 French and 15 belonging to foreign countries. It must, however, be allowed that the list, and especially the order of names in it, suggest no very favourable idea of Colbert's literary tastes. His object was in point of fact mainly political, and, by acting as Maecenas under Louis XIV, he intended to control the men of letters and through them to influence public opinion.
In its ideals and its efforts, both political and literary, the age of Louis XIV typifies order and authority. But an enquiry into the actual condition of things reveals a striking contrast to the ideals of the age. The administration of justice was irregular and corrupt. The encroachments of the Crown had broken the independence of feudal justice, but it still subsisted in a most confused, arbitrary and corrupt form. Crimes were amazingly frequent even in the neighbourhood of Paris and were increased by the brutality of the punishments inflicted. The procedure both in civil and criminal cases was uncertain, dilatory, and embarrassed by the rival claims of innumerable feudal Courts as against the royal magistrates and one another. The corruption of the
Louvois crossed Colbertfs path at every turn. He urged Louis to spend money on Versailles, while Colbert wanted to make Paris the royal residence ; he wanted to spend the revenues of France on military preparations, while Colbert wished to use them for the promotion of colonial and industrial enterprises ; in short, he was for war, and Colbert, with one fatal exception, was for peace. The struggle between them for their master's support was very keen ; but it was decided in favour of Louvois. For some years before his death Colbert had suffered from gout, and this decision seems to have overwhelmed him. He died in September, 1683, almost in disgrace. It was the supreme misfortune of France that Louis XIV, with all his great qualities of intelligence aid character, had so imperfect a sympathy with Colbert's aims. What might not Colbert have done if he had served a Frederick the Great !
The year 1672 and the outbreak of the war with the United Netherlands mark the end of the pacific period of Louis XIV's reign, throughout which Colbert's had been the chief influence over the royal mind. During those first twelve years of the reign the prosperity of France was not unchequered nor her aims always right ; but the chief effort of the Government was directed towards commercial and industrial development, the limitation of privilege and the unification of the State. The War of Devolution had been only a slight interruption to this progress, but the Dutch quarrel opened a continuous period of war lasting with little real interruption from 1672 to 1713. During this period the internal development of France was of little account. Colbert's influence had much declined even before his death. The King's mind was absorbed by military glory and religious orthodoxy ; and these two tendencies were represented in his Court by Louvois and Madame de Maintenon.
Louvois was the son of Le Tellier, of whom mention was made above, and who in 1655 had procured for him the right of succession to his office, in accordance with the dangerous custom which established a sort of heredity in many of the highest positions in the State. In 1662 the King raised Louvois to the position of Secretary of State ; and from that date he became one of the chief influences with the King and the rival of Colbert. He was a man exactly suited to win and to retain the favour of Louis XIV. To the rest of the world he was disdainful, arrogant, and violent ; but in his dealings with the King he showed himself pliant and servilely deferential. It flattered the pride of the King to see his power over one who submitted to no other authority. Louvois did not, like Colbert, strive to thwart the King's natural disposition. Rather, he impelled him towards the goal to which his natural bent directed him. War, glory, dominion, and self-worship-these were the objects that Louvois held up before the eyes of Louis XIV, and to which he was by nature only too much inclined.
There are two sides to the work of Louvois, and our judgment on him will vary widely according as he is regarded as an administrator or a statesman. As a statesman he not only urged the King on to those military adventures which brought the "Age of Louis XIV1' to so disastrous an end, but he also approved and cooperated in the tragic blunder of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But as an administrator and organiser he deserves the very highest praise. He found the French army, famous indeed and victorious, but full of gross corruption and so bound by traditions, usually of feudal origin, that it was far from answering quickly to the wishes of the central Government. Louvois, acting in agreement with the whole tendency of the ideas and policy of Louis XIV, centralised the administration of the army, made the control of the King direct and paramount, and eliminated what remained of aristocratic influence. At the same time he improved its weapons, tightened its discipline, punished abuses and brought its different parts into organic connexion.
The abuses in the army were chiefly due to the power and influence which the nobility still held in the recruiting and organisation of the army. It was the nobles, not the Government, who collected and equipped the troops. They had themselves purchased the posts which they held, and they found various ways of making a profit out of their positions. The chief of these was to make a return of, and consequently to receive pay for, more men than were actually to be found in the ranks. On days of official inspection the gaps were filled up by paid substitutes (passe-volants), whom Louvois strove to suppress by the severest penalties. The scandals and corruptions in the provisioning of the army were also notorious.
Louvois sought to remedy this state of things, chiefly by bringing the army under more direct control of the Government. He was not prepared to revolutionise the whole system ; but, by indefatigable attention to detail and by the strictest severity against proved malefactors, he succeeded in abolishing or diminishing the worst evils. The army was still recruited by the nobles ; but Louvois appointed inspectors to ensure that the soldiers, for whom the Government paid, really existed, and to repress the licence and indiscipline of the noble officers. The cynical hardness of Louvois' nature-the brutalité that is so often attributed to him-here stood France in good stead ; and he was excellently served by two inspectors, the famous Martinet for the infantry and de Fourilles for the cavalry.
But Louvois was not satisfied with the enforcement of honesty. Equipment and organisation both underwent important modifications. The bayonet was introduced ; the fusil (flint-lock) took the place of the mousquet, which had been discharged by means of a match. The grenadiers were organised into an important force ; the status of the engineers and of the infantry was raised ; the artillery was brought into
In sum, Louvois was efficient in the highest degree ; as energetic as Colbert, and capable of infusing his own energy into his subordinates ; ready to take responsibility and usually able to justify it by success. Without the efficiency of the French War Office under Louvois it is impossible to conceive of all the triumphs dating from the earlier part of Louis XIV's reign.
Before the death of Colbert another influence besides that of Louvois had begun to be strong with the King. Orthodox pietism had triumphed over him in the person of Madame de Maintenon. The political marriage, which had been arranged for him at the Peace of the Pyrenees, was not likely to retain exclusive control of his heart. The licence which had become traditional with the kings of France would not be checked by loyalty to Maria Teresa, who was a true and virtuous wife, but neither intellectual nor attractive. The King had been strongly attached in the first instance to Maria Mancini, the niece of Mazarin, and it needed all the power of the Cardinal to induce Louis XIV to carry out the stipulated treaty and marry Maria Teresa. Immediately after the marriage gossip was busy with the King's infidelities, and soon it was known that Louise de La Vallière was the chosen favourite. The King felt for her probably the purest passion of his life. She was only seventeen at the time of their first acquaintance, and her great beauty, charm of manner and sweetness of disposition sufficed to maintain her influence for many years. But she was in many ways singularly unfitted to maintain her position at Court. Her conscience was not easy ; the religious life was always attractive to her ; and, when at last she found her power waning and a rival preferred to herself, it was chiefly her genuine love for the King that made her regret the change. In 1674 she retired to a Carmelite nunnery. Her successor was Madame de Montespan, who had intrigued desperately against Mademoiselle de La Vallière and held the first place in the King's affections from 1670 to 1679,
Madame Scarron, who soon received at the King's hands the title of Marquise de Maintenon, is perhaps the most interesting figure in the Court of Louis XIV. She was the grandchild of Agrippa d'Aubigné, the famous Protestant leader of the sixteenth century. Her father had been a worthless spendthrift, and she had passed through many remarkable changes in life before she came to be the unacknowledged wife of the most splendid of the French kings. She was born in the ante-chamber of a prison ; had spent some portion of her early life in Martinique, had been left an orphan at the age of seven, and, following the tenets of her protectors, had passed from Catholicism to Protestantism and from Protestantism back to Catholicism. In her seventeenth year she had married Scarron, a comic dramatist of reputation in Paris, preferring, as she has told us, such a marriage to the cloister ; at twenty-five years of age she was left a widow, and lived for some time an obscure life, until an accidental meeting with Madame de Montespan made her the governess of the King's children. In her new task she came into contact with the King and soon became a well-known figure in the Court. She played a part of extraordinary difficulty with the utmost adroitness. Though she was in name the servant of the King's mistress, she gained great influence with the King himself. It was partly due to her that he severed himself from Madame de Montespan and was reconciled to his much-injured wife. After the death of Maria Teresa in 1683, Madame de Maintenon was secretly married to the King in January, 1684, in the presence of Harlay, Archbishop of Paris, and Louvois. She was a woman of great charm and dignity of manner ; demure, self-restrained, and even cold in temperament; loving sobriety and reason both in thought and action ; a character apparently little fitted for so romantic a destiny. She was, too, a woman sincerely, if not passionately, religious, and it was the religious element in her mind and character which contributed much to her conquest of Louis XIV.
The religious vein had never been wanting in Louis XIV even in his careless and licentious youth, and his confessor had always been one of the chief influences upon him. But under Madame de Maintenon the whole tone of the Court had changed. The splendid gaiety of the early years was thrown aside, and the practices of religion became the
The attack upon the Protestants of France which culminated in the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes was due, almost entirely, to religious intolerance, little complicated by the political and social motives which had intensified the religious struggles of the sixteenth century. The Huguenots of France had lost the political ambitions and aristocratic connexions which made them a serious danger in the days of the League and perhaps in the time of Richelieu. They had taken no part in the wars of the Fronde, and Louis XIV in 1666 publicly acknowledged the vigour and success with which they had resisted the party of rebellion during that period. They supported the commercial schemes of Colbert with a force out of proportion to their numbers. Nor did they threaten the Church any more than the State. There were fine orators and some scholars of distinction in their ranks, but their propagandist zeal had waned. They only needed to be left alone to provide France with a great source of strength both moral and material.
Two forces drove France down the fatal descent, from being the foremost representative of religious toleration to becoming a belated exponent of religious persecution in its most odious character. First, the King's personal feelings counted for something. Religion had come to be a strong and genuine motive with him, and, together with his vanity, impelled him towards the establishment of religious unity. But the Church in France was the strongest driving force. She was at the zenith of her power : her clergy were distinguished by sincerity, learning, and even by social sympathies. But they had always regarded the Edict of Nantes as an insult, and passionately desired its withdrawal, or, if that were not attainable, its restriction within the narrowest possible limits. The assemblies of the clergy, held every five years, continually demanded fresh measures of persecution. The fact that the clergy of France were about the same time engaged in a serious controversy with the Papacy as to the question of Gallican liberties made them all the more anxious to prove their orthodoxy by measures against the Protestants ; and it is upon them that the chief responsibility must fall.
The end of the struggle was not foreseen. Neither King nor clergy had any intention of abolishing the Edict from the first. They desired
Henceforth the liberties of the Huguenots were curtailed by a hundred different methods, open and secret. Two may be taken as representative. In 1666 those of the Huguenots who accepted Catholicism were allowed three years in which to pay their debts ; and in 1669 the " Chambers of the Edict," established in 1598, were suppressed. The position of the Protestants became grievous in the extreme; but for the present Louis XIV was not prepared to go further. The Elector of Brandenburg had protested against the Edict of 1666, and in 1669 Louis XIV withdrew many of its clauses. The Protestants were still oppressed by indirect persecutions of every kind ; but the years between 1669 and 1680 were a period of comparative peace. During much of it, foreign affairs were claiming the King's attention ; Colbert's influence was still strong; and thus no positive legislative enactments of importance are recorded against the Huguenots. But signs of coming danger were not wanting. The clergy maintained a war of pamphlets against them, and demanded "the destruction of the hydra.1' Turenne's conversion was a serious blow ; for, so long as the first soldier in France was one of them, his fellow-Huguenots felt secure from the worst. The Government, moreover, was rigorously excluding from its service, even from the lowest grades of it, all Protestants. Even Colbert had to bow to this policy, the danger of which he realised. But the most important move in these years of comparative peace was the institution, in 1677, by Pélisson, himself a renegade Huguenot, of the "treasury of conversions.1' A considerable sum of money was put at the disposal of the
The year 1681 marks the beginning of the end. The Peace of Nymegen had left the King's hands free to attend to domestic concerns. About the same time Madame de Montespan's influence with the King came to an end ; and, though there is no evidence to connect Madame de Maintenon with the policy of the Revocation, her rise meant the strengthening of religion and the weakening of political interests in the King's mind. It is the special characteristic of the tragedy of the Revocation that so many good men and good impulses contributed to indjuce the King to commit his criminal and suicidal blunder. In June, 1681, was issued an Edict unsurpassed in the history of religious persecution for its mixture of hypocrisy and cruelty. It declared that children of Protestant parents might declare themselves converted to Catholicism at the age of seven. The Edict, which at firsb sight seemed merely ridiculous, proved in its working a terrible weapon of religious coercion. Any trivial acts or words could be interpreted as implying adhesion to Catholicism ; then came the invasion of Protestant households and the forcible abduction of children. All appeals to the King were in vain. He had perhaps not yet determined on the revocation of the Edict ; but he told Ruvigny, " the deputy general of the Reformed Churches," that he was henceforth " indispensably bound to effect the conversion of all his subjects and the extirpation of heresy." The attack became hotter during the following years, and the violations of the words of the Edict itself grosser. In 1682 a pastoral from the leaders of the Church in France was ordered to be read in all places of Protestant worship, in which the continued obstinacy of the Huguenots was threatened " with evils incomparably more terrible and deadly " than they had suffered up to the present. Protestants were excluded from most trade-guilds, from the financial service of the State and from the King's household. Their places of worship were closed in great numbers, usually on the plea that they had received back converts to Catholicism. Their colleges and schools were abolished. When they attempted to meet on the sites of their ruined temples, this was interpreted as rebellion and punished with barbarous severity. It is reckoned that, by 1684, 570 out of the 815 French Protestant churches had been closed. Between 1665 and 1685 nearly 200 edicts were issued dealing with " la religion prétendue réformée" and nearly all of these curtail some liberty or impose some new constraint : here they destroy a church ; there they compel midwives to baptise the children of Huguenots in the Catholic faith, if their life is uncertain. One edict orders that a seat shall be placed in all Protestant " temples " for the accommodation of Catholic officials ; another, that no Protestant minister may reside for more than three years in the same place. Already the Huguenots had begun to
But the Government was not satisfied with legal chicanery and indirect pressure. In 1681 Marillac invented the method of the dragonnades. The quartering of soldiers on private persons was habitually practised in France. It was a grievous burden to whomsoever it befel; but, when the soldiers were quartered specially on Protestants and received a hint that their excesses would be overlooked by their officers, it became, for the sufferers from it, a martyrdom. But in 1681 the Government was not ready to adopt as its own the procedure of Marillac, which raised difficulties with foreign Governments, and vastly increased the tide of emigration. When, therefore, Ruvigny reported the iniquities which were being transacted in Poitou, the King disowned Marillac and shortly afterwards recalled him. But in 1685 Foucault was directed by Louvois to use the same methods in Beam. Tens of thousands of Protestants saved themselves from outrage and torture by verbal adhesion to the religion of their persecutors. Then the same system was extended from Beam to other provinces where Protestantism was strong. But the Edict of Nantes still remained on the statute-book, and the Government pretended to observe it.
The farce soon ceased. Every influence at Court was in favour of the Revocation. Chief among the King's counsellors in the matter were his confessor, the Jesuit Père La Chaise ; Harlay, the Archbishop of Paris ; Louvois, the Minister of War ; and Le Tellier, the Chancellor, the father of Louvois. Madame de Maintenon was admitted to conferences on the treatment of the Huguenots, and found her position, as an ex-Huguenot, a difficult one. She tells us that her advice was always for moderation. " We must not hurry ; we must convert, not persecute." There was a period of hesitation, in which the question of policy and legality was considered. The Court adopted the view that Protestantism in France had almost ceased to exist, and that the Protestants had, of their own free will and uncoerced, flocked to reunion with the Catholic Church. Père La Chaise promised that the completion of the work would not cost a drop of blood, and Louvois held the same opinion. The accession of James II to the English throne removed all danger on that side. Thus Revocation was determined on. The Edict was signed by the King on October 17, 1685.
The Edict of Revocation declares in its preamble that the best and largest part of the adherents of the Protestant faith have embraced Catholicism, and that, in consequence, the Edict of Nantes is no longer necessary. That Edict therefore and all other Edicts of Toleration were repealed. All meetings for public worship were henceforth interdicted to Protestants. Their ministers were exiled ; their schools closed. No lay Protestants were to leave the kingdom ; any attempt at departure was to be punished by sentence to the galleys for men, by " confiscation
In France, the chorus of contemporary approval of the King's action was almost unbroken by criticism: though a little later Vauban and Saint-Simon both expressed their hearty abhorrence of the methods employed and their fear of the consequences. But among later historians no apologist has been found for these proceedings. The strength of France was diminished and the strength of her enemies increased. It made the Elector of Brandenburg a more determined opponent than he had been before ; it contributed to the overthrow of James II three years later, whereby England became the most tenacious of all the enemies of France ; it ruined the industrial and commercial projects of Colbert ; and it added to the military and commercial efficiency of other countries, more especially of Brandenburg-Prussia and England. The King had said that he would complete the conversion of the Huguenots, " even if it cost him his right hand " ; and the disaster was not smaller than what is implied by the metaphor. It was, moreover, soon obvious that the Revocation and its consequences had done nothing to strengthen the Church in whose cause it was undertaken. Bother, it contributed unmistakably to the rise of the anti-clerical movement of the next century, which made the repetition of such an incident for ever impossible in Europe.
Soon after the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, a rising in the south-east of France revealed how complete had been the
The remainder of the reign of Louis XIV exhibits little of general interest in the domestic policy and development of France. The long struggle of the Dutch War had thrown the finances into confusion ; and now, after a peace of only nine years, France entered upon what was practically twenty-five years (1688-1713) of warfare against a vast European coalition. War and diplomacy monopolised the attention of the Government during all the period, and the internal administration shows us little more than the reaction of the great struggle. One result of the War with the Grand Alliance was the utter destruction of the municipal liberties of France. Colbert had already interfered with the towns, but his interference had been directed against abuses and carried out in the interests of justice and efficiency. He found the municipal finances in confusion, the taxes often employed for the pleasures of the magistrates, the rich throwing a large part of their proper burdens on the shoulders of the poor. Colbert submitted the municipal accounts to the inspection of the royal intendants ; he scrutinised all claims to fiscal privilege, and forbade all improper employment of town revenues. Careless as he always was of popular liberties, and blind to the advantages of self-government, he often interfered in the elections, imposed candidates of his own, and annulled the popular choice where he disapproved of the result. But it was after Colbert's death that the decisive blow was struck, and for motives far lower than his. In 1692 the War with the Grand Alliance was straining the resources of France, and the Government had recourse to expedients of every kind. Chief among these was the sale of offices ; and this evil practice received an indefinite extension, when by the Edict of 1692 it was applied to municipal magistracies. The King declared that it was his intention to create mayors in all municipalities, whose offices should be for life and hereditary. His action was justified in a preamble of amusing sophistry by the explanation, that " having no longer any reason to fear successors, they would exercise their functions without passion and with the freedom which is necessary to secure equality in the assessment of the public burdens." The same process was carried still lower in the municipal scale by an Edict of January, 1704, which declared that aldermen and all other municipal magistracies should be brought under similar rules ; and again the change was justified on the ground that an annual tenure of office was insufficient to acquaint men with the duties of their office and to make them useful to their fellow-citizens. The real motive was financial. The sale of these offices was a valuable source of income to the Crown and a terrible burden on the population. The Government, which during the next century grew almost continuously weaker, could not renounce an expedient so easy and elastic. In 1706, "alternative mayors " were created that there might be two offices to sell. During the eighteenth century the right of free election was seven times sold to the municipalities of France and seven times taken away again.
Municipal government sank lower and lower in France until the Revolution came.
Colbert died in 1683; Louvois in 1691. After the deaths of these powerful men the King's government grew more and more personal, and his dislike of independence in his servants greater. Le Peletier was at the head of the finances from 1683 to 1689 ; Pontchartrain from 1689 to 1699 held the control of the finances as well as other posts ; and by his position, though not by his abilities, recalled the situation of Colbert; Chamillart succeeded to the control of the finances in 1699, and was followed in 1708 by Desmarets, a nephew of Colbert. The losing struggle which France fought against Europe during these years brought confusion on her finances and ruin on her manufactures. Yet the very pressure of her necessities made her look at times in the direction in which, at the time of the Revolution, she found at last an escape from her financial embarrassments. Thus in 1699 the capitation was imposed. This was in name an income-tax that should have been paid by the whole population of France, privileged and unprivileged. But the regime of privilege was too deeply rooted, not only in the laws but in the habits and ideas of the country. The capitation was arbitrarily assessed by the intendants, and in some districts of France they avowed that they made the tax press on the unprivileged with a weight nearly ten times as great as that which it brought to the nobility. For instance, in the Orléanais the noble paid only a hundredth part of his income, the unprivileged an eleventh part. The capitation was withdrawn at the time of the peace and reestablished during the War of the Spanish Succession. But it was not enough, and in 1710 the dixième was established ; an income-tax which should have fallen on all incomes without exception. But, as before, the privileged managed in many instances to elude it, and the bankrupt Government of France supported existence by means of affaires extraordinaires-that is to say, temporary expedients such as the sale of offices, forced loans from the clergy, debasement of the coinage, loans, lotteries, anticipations of revenue. And, in spite of all, the balance during the Spanish War was increasingly against the State.
As the glory of the Grand Monarque passed under heavy clouds he became increasingly intolerant of criticism and opposition ; but the situation was so serious that criticism made itself heard. Fénelon had been tutor to the Duke of Burgundy, and we may see from Tettmaque what were the ideas with which he had tried to inspire his pupil. A warm spirit of humanity breathes through that and all Fénelon's writings ; but his sympathies are with the aristocratic and feudal past, and his influence, if it had made itself felt in public affairs, would have told in favour of a restoration of the power of the nobility. His political ideas are expressed, not only in Télémaque, but also in UExamen de conscience sur les devoirs de royauté, which he composed
Before the end of the reign men of practical knowledge attacked the King's government with even greater energy. Pierre Le Pesant, Sieur de Boisguillebert, was a magistrate at Rouen. He published in 1697 a book called the Détail de la France and another the Factum de la France, which is little more than a repetition of the conclusions of the first, in 1707. He writes with vigour and occasionally with humour. His books are occupied to a large extent with theoretic problems of political economy, as to which he shows himself in advance of Colbert. But historically the most valuable part of his book is the picture that he gives of the working of the actual financial system of France, its clumsiness, its inefficiency, its tendency to discourage industry. The Crown, he tells us, derives little advantage from the system and the people lose the whole value of their labour. He was not content with pointing out the evil ; he also suggested remedies. His suggestions fall into line with the general tendency of economic thought during the eighteenth century, to which he gave a powerful impulse. He demanded the abolition of pecuniary privilege, the establishment of free trade in corn, the removal of custom houses to the frontiers. His proposal for immediate application in the Détail de la France was an extension of a reformed taille to the privileged classes. In the Factum de la France he goes further and suggests a capitation, which should amount to a tax of ten per cent, on all incomes, whether derived from land or other resources. The books were little read ; but Boisguillebert procured an interview with Chamillart, who seemed inclined to accept some of his ideas. Yet, when the reforms were postponed on the ground that the war made them impracticable, Boisguillebert published a bitter ironic attack on the Minister under the title of a Supplément to the Detail de la France. This brought upon him the suppression of his books and his own exile from Rouen (1707).
But criticism of the methods of government could not be repressed, and in 1707 Vauban published his Projet d'une dime royale. After Turenne and Louvois the military glory of Louis XIV's reign owed most to Vauban ; and he showed a moral courage and a social feeling that rank him, in truth, much higher than either of the other two. The Dime royale is, in fact, a treatise on taxation, proposing to make a clean sweep of the
The end of the Spanish War brought to France some return of military glory ; but her finances were hopelessly exhausted and her old King suffered from one shattering blow after another which fell on his domestic circle. No royal family could seem more firmly established than his. Maria Teresa had only borne one son to Louis XIV, who received the traditional name of Louis. But the King had three grandsons ; Louis the Duke of Burgundy, Philip, Duke of Anjou (since 1700 Philip V of Spain); and Charles, Duke of Berry. The Duke of Burgundy was happily married to Maria Adelaide of Savoy, and had two children. Yet suddenly, in addition to all her other disasters, France was threatened by a difficult question of succession. The Dauphin died in April, 1711. He had been completely effaced by his father ; and men welcomed the prospect of the accession of the Duke of Burgundy, who had been the pupil of Fénelon and had adopted many of his aristocratic liberal ideas. Men repeated with astonishment and hop« his saying
"that a King is made for his subjects, not the subjects for the King." Had he lived to inherit the throne there would have been an attempt made to alter the development of France, probably in a reactionary feudal direction. But, in 1712, the Duke of Burgundy and his charming wife and eldest son were all carried off by a mysterious disease which seems to have been smallpox, though it roused at the time suspicions of poison. The Duke of Berry, the third of the King's grandsons, died in 1714. The second, Philip, was King of Spain, and his claim to the French throne was expressly renounced by the Treaty of Utrecht. Any attempt to revive this claim would be the signal for a renewal of war. The direct heir to the throne was Louis, Duke of Anjou, who was afterwards Louis XV. He was two years of age, and of feeble health. And if the boy were to live, according to all the traditions of France the Regency would come into the hands of the Duke of Orléans. All eyes were fixed on him ; and his name awoke the wildest suspicions and fears. He had fought with distinction in Spain, and possessed a keen and inquisitive intellect. But he was of an indolent and self-indulgent nature, plunged in vice and drunkenness, openly opposed to the doctrines and neglectful of the practices of the Church. Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon saw with alarm the prospect of power coming into his hands, for it would mean a complete reaction against the policy which the dying monarch had pursued in Church and State both at home and abroad. Hence arose the last intrigue of the reign. The King's fondness for his illegitimate children had been manifested throughout the latter part of the reign. And now it was determined to give the reality of power to the Duke of Maine, the son of Madame de Montespan and the pupil of Madame de Maintenon. He had shown himself unsuccessful and incapable in war ; but it was determined to make him master of France after the King's death. Tradition made it impossible to deny to the Duke of Orléans the title of Regent; but the custody of the young King was to be in the hands of the Duke of Maine and a council of regency was to be established by the will of the King, so arranged that the present regime would be prolonged and Louis XIV would still rule France from his grave. But the King and his wife miscalculated the forces against them. The age was weary of the long and now disastrous reign ; men were more attracted by the known opposition of the Duke of Orléans to the reigning policy than frightened by his reputation. Thus the King's schemes were foredoomed to failure, when, after a reign of seventy-two years (the longest reign recorded in history) he died on September 1, 1715.