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I INTRODUCTION Louis XIV (1638-1715), king of France (1643-1715), known as the Sun King, who imposed absolute rule on France and fought a series of wars trying to dominate Europe. His reign, the longest in European history, was marked by a great flowering of French culture. Louis was born on September 5, 1638, at Saint Germain-en-Laye. His parents, King Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, grateful for an heir after 20 barren years of marriage, christened him Louis Dieudonn (literally, the “gift of God”). II EARLY REIGN In 1643 Louis XIII died. Anne of Austria, aided by her minister, Cardinal Mazarin, ruled France as regent. His father’s death spared Louis XIV the beatings and abuse usually given French princes; kindly but mediocre tutors gave him a feeble education. His mother formed his rules of conscience, teaching him a simple kind of Roman Catholicism laced with superstition. Mazarin instructed him in court ceremony, war, and the craft of kingship. The Fronde-two rebellions against the Crown between 1648 and 1653-impressed upon Louis the need to bring order, stability, and reform to France and also fostered in him a deep suspicion of the nobility. In accordance with the Franco-Spanish Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), Louis married his Spanish cousin, Marie-Th r se, in 1660. When Mazarin died the following year, Louis shocked France by refusing to name a first minister; he decided to rule alone and select Jean Baptiste Colbert as his financial adviser. Colbert encouraged domestic industry and foreign exports and rebuilt the French navy. Despite his rakish youth, Louis XIV proved a hardworking king. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday he presided at a council meeting in which he and a select group of ministers formulated policies that affected the lives of his 20 million subjects. Louis developed two effective new instruments of power: a corps of professional diplomats and a standing, uniformed army. After 1682 the king spent most of his time at Versailles, near Paris, where he had built a magnificent palace that became the showplace of Europe. III FOREIGN WARS In foreign affairs, Louis’s consistent aim was to glorify France, to gird its defenses on the northern and eastern frontiers, and to prevent any resurgence of the power of the Habsburg dynasty, which had formerly threatened France on two sides by its control over Spain and Germany. In four wars he displayed before all of Europe his prowess as a military leader. In 1667, claiming his wife’s right of inheritance (jus devolutionis), Louis invaded the Spanish Netherlands. His quick victories prompted England, Holland, and Sweden to check France and force the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668). Louis gained 12 fortresses in Flanders and soon isolated the Dutch by buying English and Swedish neutrality. In 1672 he hurled an army against Holland. For six years the Dutch, aided by Spain and Austria, staved off French attacks. The treaties signed at Nijmegen (1678) did not dismantle Holland but gave Louis the Franche-Comt region and more forts in Flanders. While his armies were battling Dutch Protestants, Louis had been denying religious liberty to the Protestants (Huguenots) of France and tightening control over his Roman Catholic clergy. In 1685, determined to force conversion of the Huguenots, he revoked their charter of liberties, the Edict of Nantes, forcing more than 200,000 into exile and igniting the Camisards’ revolt. Although applauded by his Roman Catholic subjects, the revocation stiffened resistance to Louis in Protestant Europe. Overconfident and ill-advised, he sent an army into the Rhineland in 1688 to claim the Palatinate for his sister-in-law Elizabeth Charlotte of Bavaria. This War of the League of Augsburg (1688-97) revealed serious deficiencies in Louis’s army. Despite the devastation of the Rhineland, the Peace of Ryswick (1697) did not improve French defenses or add to the glory of the monarchy. Louis’s last military venture, the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), stemmed from his acceptance of the Spanish throne on behalf of his grandson, Philip. Louis’s armies, opposed by an alliance of the European powers, lost most of the major battles, but won control of Spain. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which awarded several French territories in North America to the British, also recognized Philip as king of Spain. Louis ruled a war-weary France until his health broke in 1715. Suffering from fever and gangrene, he mustered enough strength to say, “I depart, France remains,” before dying on September 1, 1715, at Versailles. IV ACHIEVEMENTS Parallel to Louis’s quest for glory in war was his patronage of glory in the arts. Moli re and Jean Baptiste Racine wrote plays performed at his court. Paintings by French masters ornamented his palaces, where the music of Jean Baptiste Lully charmed his guests. Louis founded the academies of Painting and Sculpture (1655), Science (1666), and Architecture (1671), and in 1680 he established the Com die Fran aise. His grand palace at Versailles afforded the ideal setting for his lavish court. After Queen Marie-Th r se’s death in 1683, Louis secretly married a pious and previously obscure woman, Fran oise d’Aubign , known as Madame de Maintenon; she urged him to suppress spectacles and sin. Louis’s interest in improving Paris, however, never waned. He razed the city’s medieval walls, built the Invalides as a home for disabled veterans, planned the great avenue of the Champs-+lys es, and refurbished the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Louis XIV was never able to resolve the tensions between a governing elite committed to efficiency and a society organized by rank, birth, and privilege, which explains many of the failures of his reign. His personal example of long, dedicated rule, however, made France the bureaucratic model for 18th-century, absolutist Europe. Contributed By: Philip F. Riley, Ph.D. Professor of History, James Madison University. home encyclopedia products encarta online library latest updates visit a place did you know all about schoolhouse game celebrate the century how to contact us accessibility site tools 1998 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy After-Results Apart from the immense increase of international trade and the fraternization of many nations, what were the results, temporary andenduring, of the career of this great man? Of supreme and lasting importance to the world was the extension of Greek culture; secondly, avast territory was opened up which had been useless as a desert until the conquered nomad tribes had been trained to follow civilized waysof life, with the resultant impetus given to the building of cities, the creation of harbors, ships and other aids for travel on land and sea;thirdly, financial and economic reforms; and lastly, the partial realization of Alexander’s dream of universal toleration for all religions and thebrotherhood of mankind. These results differed in many regions of the empire; for various reasons the successors of Alexander had not beenable to follow all his visions. Because their dynasties endured for several generations, the work of Ptolemy and of Seleucus in theirrespective kingdoms is summarized later in this page. Greece and the Greek language were forgotten during the Dark Ages, but with the Renaissance their natural supremacy was recognized and became the basis of European culture. Hellenic culture continues to influence the world to this day. In Bacteria, it left an indelible mark which extended to northern India and parts of the Far East; two large volumes, beautifully illustrated, describe this information: L’Art Greco-Bouddique du Gandhara, by A. Foucher. Comparatively recent discoveries by archaeologists show how the technique of Hellenic art was adapted to Indian buildings and statues. Thus, as Foucher says,. there was created an intimate union between the genius of antiquity and the soul of the Orient On the border of India these works of art show an infinite superiority to the native creations in stone. Brief as was the transit of the Macedonian march from the Cophen Valley to the delta of the Indus, the refining influence of Greek art can be traced all along Alexander’s path from the Hindu-Kush, Peshawar and Taxila to the mouth of the Indus. Even in Turkestan and China, where Alexander never penetrated, the Buddha statues are modified by the gracious style of Greece. In Aesthetics and History, Bernard Berenson, the art connoisseur, writes: The term Hellenistic covers the art that after the conquests of Alexandercaptured the entire Mediterranean world and its hinderland. The influence spread much further than even this recognition would imply. Buddhist art, practiced in what are now Afghanistan and the Punjab and Java, is fully as Hellenistic as the so-called Christian art prevailing in the West. In Rome the wealthier and more cultivated Romans of the second to the fifth century were so Hellenised that early Christian art was Hellenistic. To this day, twenty-two centuries after his death, we still divide the world between what preceded and whatfollowed Alexander the Great, the individual who more than any other changed the entire aspect of Mediterranean politics, culture and civilization. Alexander had started out as a crusader, to avenge the invasion and the destruction of the precious buildings of Greece, but later had as his

goal the extension of Hellenic ways of life throughout his empire. In this he succeeded. Greek democratic liberty-freedom to think and tospeak, and the duty of the individual to take his share in the government of his city was instituted wherever he became master. After the surrender of the robbers and semi-savage tribes of the mountainous regions of Persia, who had for centuries been a persistentmenace to life on the plains, Alexander founded new towns and improved communications. The so-called “Foundation cities” were built atthe junction of important roads, in positions specially chosen to assist the transit of merchandise and to command the valleys-a precautionnecessary for adequate military supervision. The towns were planned on the Greek pattern, with a market square, school, offices, shops,temple, theater, gymnasium, and often a fountain. The young were given instructions in military methods and in Hellenic culture with its idealsof chivalrous courage. Some records speak of seventy cities having been founded, but only sixteen are certain; those hastily built with mud walls soon crumbledinto dust. Six remain to this day: in Egypt was Alexandria; in Aria was Herat (in modern day Afghanistan); in Arachosia was Ghazni (also inmodern day Afghanistan); in Margiane was Merv; on the Oxus River was Termez (on the modern day Amudarja River in Uzbekistan); andon the Jaxartes was Chodjend. Seven endured a considerable time: among these seven were Susiana, Prophthasia,Alexandria-ad-Caucasum, and Bucephala. The new cities were placed near enough already existing villages to permit association with thenative population, yet so far apart that the Macedonian and Greek settlers could maintain their own custom of life. The new colonists, chieflyGreek mercenaries, old and wounded men, introduced Macedonian methods of farming and agriculture to the mountain tribes. Manymarried Oriental women; thus began the fusing of the nations according to the plan which had been simmering in Alexander’s vision for thefuture since his winter in Egypt in 332-331 BC The free intercourse opened up from the East relieved some of the economic difficulties which had threatened the West. Disputes betweenthe city-states had led to neglect of the farms; at one time food became so scarce in Greece that its pottery had to be sold to pay for importsof corn. The new cities in Asia provided some solution of the unemployed during the time of financial crisis in Greece. Alexander had envisaged vast building projects even during his early experience in Egypt. Many great conquerors had visited the coast ofthat country; how came it about that a youth in his early twenties almost as a first glance grasped the importance of building a town on thesite where he founded Alexandria and foresaw that it would develop into a center for an immense exchange of commerce between Egyptand the western Mediterranean? And later, when he had controlled all the territory as far as Pattala, what far-sighted statesmanship enabledhim to search for and to find a sea route which would encourage trade from India to Babylon? And then, just before his death, What filledhim with a longing to explore the Arabian shore to seek a safe path which would connect Babylon with Alexandria? When density cut short his life he had designs for the construction and the completion of buildings for dockyards, harbors, lighthouses;temples to be restored, new cities to be founded; rivers to be opened out for safe navigation; an efficient irrigation system for Babylonia andfor other derelict land. Wilcken stated that what had been accomplished were “achievements of colossal dimensions.” Bishop Thirlwall summarized the benefits which resulted from Alexander’s expedition in these words: Let anyone contemplate the contrast between the state of Asia under Alexander and the time when Egypt was either in revolt against Persia, or visited by her irritated conquerors with the punishment of repeated insurrection; when almost every part of the great mountain chain which traverses the length of Asia, from the Mediterranean to the borders of India, was inhabited by fierce, independent, predatory tribes; when the Persian kings themselves were forced to pay tribute before they were allowed to pass from one of their capitals to another. Let anyone endeavor to enter into the feelings with which a Phoenician merchant must have viewed the change that took place on the face of the earth, when the Egyptian Alexandria had begun to receive and pour out an inexhaustible tide of wealth; when Babylon had become a great port, when a passage was open both by sea and land between the Euphrates and the Indus; when the forests on the shores of the Caspian had begun to resound with the axe and the hammer… This part of the benefit which flowed from Alexander’s conquest cannot be easily exaggerated. With the advent of Alexander came new methods of government in civil, military, and financial administration. Just as he was swift to alterand modify his tactics in battle to meet new situations, so also did he adapt new political methods to suit the different regions of his empire.Nor did he ever hesitate to throw aside those who were unsuccessful; failure only stimulated him to consider a more practical solution. Thechief positions in government were at first confided to Macedonians, later to Persian satraps; finance and taxation remained in Macedonianhands. In Asia Minor superintendents of finance collected the taxes direct from the peasants and remitted them to the Treasury. In the largetowns, such as Susa, Persepolis, Babylon, and Memphis, a commandant was appointed, directly responsible to the King. In India the chiefprinces and rajahs proved to be loyal allies. Persian treasures were converted into useful coinage, and a universal system of currency wasintroduced, with immediate benefit to trade. Important and far-reaching consequences followed when Alexander adopted Greek as a universal language throughoutthe empire. Confusing mistakes had constantly occurred when financial and business transactions were conductedthrough the medium of interpreters; a uniform currency and tongue simplified commerce and also exchange of ideas.Education in the Greek language extended knowledge of Hellenic culture, so that nations which had followed separatelines of thought, traditions, and customs, became members of a common civilization, citizens of the same world. Just astoday the French language lends itself to express thought with concise precision, so in antiquity clear thinking was bestconvoyed in Greek. Greek became the chief agent of the unification of the East and the West. St. Paul spoke and wrote in Greek; theGospels were written in Greek so that their message could reach a wide public. It can with truth be said that Alexander paved the way forChristianity; without his spade-work its preachers would have made slower headway in western Europe. With a common language Oriental knowledge became more accessible to the West. Rapid progress was made possible when Greek andBabylonian scholars collaborated in mathematics, science, and astronomy. Babylonia had studied astronomy long before Christ; the distanceof the sun and the moon from the earth had been calculated with almost exact precision. They knew that the earth turned on its axis, thatcertain planets revolved around the sun and that the sun was much larger than the earth. As the city-states in Greece remained at variance, some called on Rome for assistance. The reputation of Athens was so high that Romanvisitors regarded it as an honor to be invited to participate in the Olympic Games and to speak at public receptions; some were privileged towitness the Eleusinian Mysteries. Rome gradually acquired much of the refinement of Greece; it adopted the alphabet, the art, the literature,even some of the legal methods of Greece. Alexander’s dream of the brotherhood of mankind was not destined to materialize during the short spell of life allotted to him, and withoutthe guidance of his strong personality none of his successors could undertake the task. When one looks back upon a lifetime one can oftentrace a plan, as of a master designer; behind the scene of the conscious self of the individual a pattern has been woven which during theyears of its gradual unfolding could not be seen or understood. The influence and the example of Alexander lived on, even in the years ofwarfare between his successors. In their different spheres his generals, who eventually became kings, tried to copy his example, not only inwar, but also by encouraging the extension of Hellenic culture and by working for the benefit of their subjects. Louis XIV Patronage of the arts. Louis’s great fortune was in having among his subjects anextraordinary group of men in every area of activity. He knew wellhow to make use of them. He was the protector of writers, notablyMoli re and Jean Racine, whom he ordered to sing his praises, andhe imposed his own visions of beauty and nature on artists. France’sappearance and way of life were changed; the great townsunderwent a metamorphosis, the landscape was altered, andmonuments arose everywhere. The King energetically devotedhimself to building new residences. Little remains of his splendidpalaces at Saint-Germain and Marly, but Versailles–cursed asextravagant even as it was under construction and accused of havingruined the nation–still stands. Versailles was approximately the price of a modern airport; it wasan object of universal admiration and enhanced French prestige. Allthe power of the government was brought to bear in theconstruction of Versailles. Louis XIV was not wrong, as some haveclaimed, to remove himself from unhealthful and tumultuous Paris,but he erred in breaking with the wandering tradition of hisancestors. The monarchy became increasingly isolated from thepeople and thereby assumed a decidedly mythical quality. While Louis watched his buildings going up, Colbert, whosupervised the construction, obtained from him the means to carryout an economic revolution aimed at making France economicallyself-sufficient while maximizing exports. Manufacturers, the navy andmerchant marine, a modern police organization, roads, ports, andcanals all emerged at about the same time. Louis attended to everydetail, while at the same time giving dazzling entertainment andcarrying on a tumultuous love affair with Louise de La Valli re. In 1667 he invaded the Spanish Netherlands, which he regarded ashis wife’s inheritance, thus beginning a series of wars that lasted for agood part of his reign. Louis himself on his deathbed said, “I haveloved war too much,” but his subjects, who often complained of hisprudence and moderation, would not have understood had he notused force to strengthen the frontiers of France. After a brilliantcampaign, the King had to retreat (1668) in the face of English andespecially Dutch pressure. He never forgave the Dutch and swore todestroy their Protestant mercantile republic. To this end he alliedhimself with his cousin Charles II of England and invaded theNetherlands in 1672. The long war that ensued ended in 1678, inthe first treaty of Nijmegen with Louis triumphant.

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