Expansion and Crisis in Louis XIV's France

September 2009
2 line illustrations
259 pages
9x6 in
Changing Perspectives on Early Modern Europe
ISBN: 9781580463034
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS037030, HIS013000, POL058000

Expansion and Crisis in Louis XIV's France

Franche-Comté and Absolute Monarchy, 1674-1715

Darryl Dee

New insights on the growth of the territorial state in early modern Europe, the nature of the French absolute monarchy, and the political legacy of the Sun King.
Driven by a desire for glory and renown, Louis XIV presided over France's last great burst of territorial expansion in Europe. During the first three decades of his rule, his armies conquered numerous territories along France's borders. After 1688, however, the tide of conquest turned as the kingdom was plunged into crisis. For the remainder of his reign, the king and his people endured wars against grand alliances of European powers, ecological disasters, economic depression, state bankruptcy, and demographic stagnation.
Expansion and Crisis in Louis XIV's France examines these central yet understudied aspects of the age of the Sun King through the experience of Franche-Comté, a possession of the Spanish empire with a long history of autonomy, conquered by Louis XIV in 1674. Dee's detailed research reconstructs the ensuing dialogue -- sometimes harmonious, sometimes discordant -- between the king and the elites who ruled this province. The integration of Franche-Comté into France proved to be a protracted process involving confrontation, negotiation, and compromise. The resulting regime was then severely tested by the challenges of Louis XIV's late reign; its survival demonstrated how the king had brought a distinctly early modern state to the height of its development.
This study offers significant new insights on the growth of the territorial state in early modern Europe, the nature of the French absolute monarchy, and the political legacy of the Sun King.

Darryl Dee is Assistant Professor of History, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada.

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Table of Contents

Franche-Comté before the French
The Conditions of Conquest: Louis XIV and the Free City of Besançon
The Politics of Integration: Franche-Comté as Pays Conquis
The Nine Years' War and the Transformation of Crown-Elite Relations
Managing Elites: the Monarchy and the Parlement of Besançon, 1699-1705
War Finance in Franche-Comté, 1701-1714
Wartime Government in Franche-Comté and the French Royal State


This model study of a newly annexed province during the later rule of Louis XIV offers a convincing picture of absolute monarchy in action during a period of intense international pressure. Lucidly written, steeped in archival sources and in recent revisionist perspectives, it throws refreshing and impressively independent new light on the whole of the "Great Reign" and its long-term significance in French History. --William Doyle, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Bristol

In this impressively researched and convincingly argued book, Darryl Dee investigates how Louis XIV integrated the newly conquered province of Franche-Comté into his realm. Dee's work makes a major contribution to our understanding of Louis XIV's government, demonstrating that his rule was the high point of a distinctly early modern form of the state. --Julian Swann, Professor, Birkbeck College

Lucidly written, cogently argued, and masterfully researched in appropriate archives, Dee's study is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the debate over the nature of absolute monarchy. H-France Review

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