1902 Encyclopedia > France > France

France
(Part 13)




FRENCH HISTORY (cont.)

The Bourbon Monarchy: (b) Louis XIV


Nothing is more striking in all history than the contrast between the Louis whom mean saw under Mazarin’s tutelage, and the Louis whom France long adored as her Great Monarch. In the earlier period there was the dull and tranquil docility of a great creature which as yet knows not its amazing strength, and has as yet none of the ambitions of power, and has never tasted blood. His nature, developing itself very slowly and late, seemed to onlookers to be only heavy and commonplace; courtiers noted with keen eyes that the young prince liked amusements, and they promised themselves a bright and joyous reign, in which they would have free leave to spend as they liked the hardly-won wealth of France; it seemed to them perfectly natural that they should waste at will what they had never earned, and they fully believed that the young king would be their accomplice. His capacity seemed to be small; he was timid and ignorant. Mazarin almost alone was not mistaken in him, and no one knew him so well; "he will set off late, but will go further than all the rest," was his judgment, and a just one, on the young monarch’s character. For he was serious, severe, obstinate; he learnt little, and that slowly; but what he did learn he never forgot. He would neither bend nor forgive; and when he had once taken on himself the heavy burden of his kingly duties he never flinched nor repined for more than half a century. From the beginning he declared that he would rule without a first minister, - this Mazarin had instilled into him as a fundamental law of his kingcraft; and he kept his word, although it became clear in time that it was quite possible to hold him in close leading strings, so long as he himself did not find it out. At first, however, he was determined to have only agents around him, - men of business who should never expect to become too prominent, - not great lords of church or state, but men of middle or humble origin. With them he was prepared to undertake any amount of dry detail work of public business. Without a sign he dedicated henceforth four or five hours a day, or even more, to public affairs; his commonplace abilities, his instinct of orderliness, his love of minutieae, his punctual routine, which would have disgusted a livelier prince formed the happiness of his life. "His ministers," says Michelet, "might change or die; he, always the same, went through his duties, ceremonies, royal fetes, and the like, with the regularity of the sun, which he had chosen as his emblem." With a morbid conscience, he easily became subject to his confessor; with a limited intelligence and great lack of knowledge, he was dependent on his ministers without knowing it; with a vein of small vanity in his character, he was not above being led by the flatteries of the woman he loved. Finally, Louis XIV., though heavy-looking, was handsome and majestic in person; no one has even played the part of a king with such equable gravity and success; his dignity was as striking as his selfishness; for his heart was dull, and neither surprises nor warm feelings could throw him off his balance. His whole reign passed without his ever showing any real feeling for his poor subjects; and his indifference to he health and feelings of those nearest him, his treatment of his court, especially of the ladies of it, was such as nothing but their abject fear of him, and the meanness engendered by the atmosphere of such a court, could explain.

Louis XIV. began his true reign in 1661 by dividing the business of government into three agencies. He placed all foreign affairs under Lionne, who had served him so well in the war against Spain. Le Telier had charge of the army and was war secretary, supported by his strong-handed son, the terrible Louvois; and finance was entrusted to Fouquet, the most brilliant and unsatisfactorily of his ministers. All three were men of middle origin: Lionne came of a family of gentle birth in Dauphiny; Le Tellier’s father was a lawyer; and Fouquet was a citizen who pretended (as many Frenchmen have sicne done) to be of noble birth. The king had at his side also Mazarin’s most trusted dependant Colbert, grandson of a wool-seller of Rheims. It was though at court, where Louis was not better understood than elsewhere, that Fouquet would before long carry all before him, and fill the coveted post of first minister of the crown. The queen- mother, seeing that the king did nothing for his governor Villeroy, and that he was stepping resolutely forward in the path he had chosen, complained bitterly of her son’s ingratitude, and declared with a sneer that he "wanted to pretend to be a man of ability." Fouquet, ambitious and bright, a favorite with the queen-mother, the court ladies, the literary world, the Jansenists, a man who let the finances fall into hopeless confusion and stooped to dishonest representations to save his credit, was not the man to suit the young king, and in a few month’s time he had fallen for ever from power, and Colbert sat in his place.

John Baptiste Colbert, who was minister of Louis XIV. for two-and twenty years, claimed descent from a Scottish family settled in France, and his character, his commonsense, rigid principles, business ways and tastes, and his simple habits, were just what one might have expected from such an origin; "a mind somewhat heavy and harsh, but solid, active, unwearied in work." He was first named comptroller-general of finance; he had also the supreme care of all home-affairs, and when the navy (after 1669) was first in his own and then in his son’s hands, he may be said to have had charge of that also. Till Louvois succeeded to the ministry of war in 1666, Colbert’s influence on all parts of the administration was paramount; and the young king, partly understanding what he was doing, and wholly desirous of doing his best, gladly seconded him in everything. At first Colbert found everything in the financial department in a melancholy state: more than half the sum gathered in taxes disappeared before it reached the treasury, and the expenditure had so far grown as to leave a yearly deficit of nearly twenty-two millions of livres. To reorganize the finances was his first task; and be stern dealing with intermediate officials, by fixing the interest of loans at a maximum of five per cent, by sweeping away masses of useless officers, he succeeded in so far reducing the cost of levying the taxes and the burdens of the state that in six years’ time the position of affairs was reversed, and the treasury had a good balance in hand, while the burdens imposed on the people were lightened. The years which preceded the Devolution war of 1667 are perhaps the most prosperous that France had ever seen. She made extra-ordinary progress in all directions. Even in foreign affairs her power was shown: she humbled the papacy, she asserted her precedence over Spain in the streets of London, she helped the emperor Leopold to resist the Turks and enabled Montecuculi to win a decisive victory over them at St Gothard in Hungary, her fleets in the Mediterranean cleared away the African pirates. At home the triumphs of peace were far more splendid even than these warlike signs of power. Colbert’s activity was unflagging; to reorganize the finances might have seemed enough to another minister; he regarded it as only the groundwork of his structure; on it he would raise a new and brilliant France, splendid among the nations, not only feared-that was something-but admired as well, and humbly imitated. So he set himself in these years to develop his country on every side. For agriculture indeed he would do but little, for his temper was the opposite of that of Sully. Sully, a great lord, and owner of broad estates, rated manufactures as of little value by the side of tillage; Colbert, a townsman, and of the middle classes, thought that the encouragement of agriculture signified the increase of noble wealth and privilege, wile manufactures would tend to build up a rich and useful burgher class, obedient to the king and fruitful in taxpaying. He therefore devoted his attention to manufactures and commerce, and to the communications by land and water necessary for them. He made good roads, set on foot the canal of Languedoc, declared Marseilles and Dunkirk free ports. He then re-established old manufactures and introduced new ones, such as tapestries, silk, mosaics, cabinet-making, lace, cloth of gold, pottery, steel-work, and the like, a long series of "royal manufactures," the industries of taste and luxury, which can flourish only on the favor of the great. Colbert’s system was therefore one of protection and bounties, and never enabled France to discover for what forms of labor she was by nature specially suited. The true wealth of France lies in her soil,- in her varied agriculture and the thrifty habits of her people; yet the world has ever believed that these "Louis Quatorze" ornaments, these works of art and of little use, are the special glory of French workmanship, the models of good taste. This royal direction thus given to French industry, though it only slowly (if at all) increased the true wealth of the nation, added largely to its credit, and heightened its splendor in the eyes of the world. On industrial movement commerce must naturally wait; and Colbert attempted much for the circulation of productions. He set on foot four great companies, though they never really prospered. Patronage and direction, which could established freshen manufactures, failed here. In the end Frenchmen, with little gifts for colonization, and no decided bias for the sea, learnt chiefly to produce for their own consumption. In these years, the same royal and official patronage was largely extended to letters and science as well as to the arts. The last was no doubt regarded as directly connected with the general progress of the favorite industries mentioned above; in building a great palace at ruinous cost, Louis XIV. and Colbert both thought that French industry was being encouraged, and money circulated. Versailles was undertaken in 1661 (it had previously been a royal hunting-box built by Louis XIII.); the famous colonnade of the Louvre, Perrault’s work, was begun in 1665, Bernini was summoned from Rome that same year to assist in the great works. The buildings erected in this period have all the same deadness of style; they are splendid, no doubt, and crowded with ornaments; we note in all a want to spontaneous fire; no longer does genius create; talent, at the service of a master, can only copy or conceal its poverty under the cloak of rich ornamentation. The paving and lighting of Paris was a more beneficial work; the quays, squares, and triumphal gates of the period did much to make up for the abandonment of the capital by its kings, - for after the days of Henry IV. the Bourbons spent very little time in Paris. Colbert also established at Paris those new learned or scientific academies which were intended, after the pattern of the new Royal Society of London, to stimulate and direct the progress of knowledge. Such were the Academy of Inscriptions, founded in 1663; that of the Sciences, in 1666; of Architecture, in 1671. He also established the school of Rome, built the Observatory, and in every way did his utmost to advance learning and observation. In all, his practical principle was to trust to rule and organization, and to leave as little as possible to genius or national selection, - and French industry, arts, and sciences have all suffered accordingly. Nor was the case different in literature: here also Colbert desired to encourage and direct; the baneful patronage of kings finds here its highest example. for the true golden age of French literature scarcely touches the active reign of Louis XIV.; it is to Richelieu’s time when at the head of affairs was one who not merely patronized but who warmly interested himself in literature, that the greatest masterpieces belong. The 17th century saw two periods of literary activity, of which the earlier extends to 1661 , and is the period of originality and fire; the later runs from 1661 to the end of the century, and (except for Moliere and the great preachers) is lacking in character, if improved in taste and style. France has always been justly proud of her stage, little as we may admire its pedantic limitations, its unnatural heroics, and the frigidity of some of its finest efforts: we feel that we are among those who would have thought Addison’s Cato far superior to Shakespeare. Still, in its own style, French tragedy produced masterpieces, and these chiefly under Richelieu and Mazarin, rather than underLouis XIV. Rotrou, who showed the way, died in 1630; the great Corneille wrote the Cid in 1636, Les Horaces and Cinna in 1639. after 1646 his powers declined, and though he still wrote to his life’s end, no one now cares for his Agesilaus or his Attila. His brother Thomas, a far inferior dramatist, was worthily reserved for Colbert’s days. Moliere belonged to both ages; his Precieuses Ridicules appeared in 1659, Sganarelle in 1660, l’Ecole des Maris in 1661, while the Medecin malgre lui (1666) and the Tartuffe (1667) belong to Louis XIV. Racine’s earlier period, and the best part of him, extends to 1677; after that he fell under royal influences, wrote nothing for some years, and afterwards became the quasi-religious poet of the court; the Esther appeared in 1689 and the Athalie, which the French public treated with indifference, was printed 1691. In other lines of poetry Malherbe, the great purist of the century, who, as Boileau sung, "reduisit la muse aux regles du devoir," died in 1628. Bensarade, a trifling wit, flourished with pensions from Richelieu, Mazarin, and Colbert; La Fontaine wrote many of his fables in the days of the Precieuses, and published his first volume in 1668, - he was one of Fouquet’s friends, and therefore not likely to attract the favor of Louis XIV.; Boileau is properly of the later age; satire and comedy seemed alone able to thrive by the side of obsequious oratory.

In these palmy days of the reign, Louis XIV. saw with pleasure war break out between England and the Dutch (1664). He was slowly preparing to take part in it against Charles II. when the death of Philip IV.of Spain changed his views completely. He made peace with England in July 1667 (treaty of Breda), and plunged into those complications of European law and usage which interested him intensely. The Spanish succession question at once came up, - for no one expected Charles II. of Spain to live long or leave posterity; and the immediate question of the claims of the queen of France on a large part of the Spanish Netherlands occupied his energies. Louis and Lionne snapped their fingers at the queen’s renunciations of her Spanish rights, and went even further; they made claims which, to modern international law, seem to be utterly indefensible. The claim for the Spanish Netherlands was based on the "Jus Devolutionis," the old feudal custom by which certain territories descended to the offspring, male or female, of the first wife, to the exclusion of the children by the second. Now Maria Theresa, queen of France, was daughter of Elziabeth of France, the first wife of Philip IV., while his other children sprang from his second wife, Maria Anna of Austria; and Louis therefore proposed to apply ancient customs of feudal lordship to international matters, to the transfer of territories from one monarch to another. The customs of different districts varied much; in one way or another he hoped to lay undisputed hands on the Netherlands, Hainault, part of Luxembourg, even of part of Franche Comte; he was prepared to support these flimsy claims by the stronger argument of war. To war it came; the king with Turenne overran the Netherlands in 1667’ Conde, who was governor of Burgundy, overran Franche Comte, in 1668. It was a little war of town-taking; places fell, like ripe fruit, for the shaking. Meanwhile Lionne, busy over the negotiations which sprang out of the succession question, had sketched out a partition treaty, in which Leopold and Louis arranged the whole affair to their liking. With this in hand the king, who had returned in high triumph to Paris, and who knew of Sir William Temple’s Triple Alliance, which had been signed in the spring of 1668, made peace as easily as he had made war, and on May 2, 1668, signed the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, by which he restored Franche Comte to Spain, and secured the Netherlands. It was to all appearance a very moderate peace, and much enhanced the king’s reputation; men did not know that it was meant to lay the basis for an entire reconstructions of the map of Europe, so soon as ever sickly young Charles II. of Spain had died; and that, every one thought, must follow very soon. The long reign of that prince (who lived till 1700) had much to do with the great wars which followed, and with the consequent exhaustion of France.

Louis now set himself to break up the Triple Alliance; it was a combination opposed to all the diplomatic ideas and plans of France. Sweden was her old ally; and her policy was to encourage the two sea powers, England and Holland, to weaken one another on the water, so as to give France a chance of constructing a navy. Therefore she was necessarily jealous of the Alliance; nor was it hard to overthrow it. Sweden, as was said, had joined it as a speculation, and had her price; Charles II. of England could easily be bought; Holland thus left defenceless, having lost her barrier of the Spanish Netherlands, could expect nothing but the anger of her new neighbor. But how changed were the world’s politics, when the three Protestant powers, England, Holland, and Sweden could unite, even for a short time, for the defence of their ancient foe, Catholic and cruel Spain.

The king’s dislike for the Dutch is one of those things which illustrate the evils of personal rule. They were distasteful to him as Protestants, as burghers, as tradesmen, as a sea power, as a constitutional republic; they had given shelter to refugees who could not bear the brilliant despotism of France. Of old times French policy had favored the growth of the United Provinces, as counterpoise to Spain, henceforward Spain and Holland were friends, and Louis was eager to revise the old lines of his country’s foreign relations. So he at once made use of his connection with the small Rhine-princess, those unpatriotic Germans who were ever on sale, and who almost till our own days sided with France against Germany. With them he arranged for a great flank attack on the republic; he secured England by buying over her king; the wishes and feelings of the people could easily be disregarded in these early days after the fall of the Commonwealth. In 1670 the treaty of Dover, that standing scandal of the Stewart period, was signed; it contained a secret clause, of which the second duke of Buckingham, who negotiated it with the fair duchess of Orleans, sister of Cahrles II., was ignorant. The two kings played their comedy behind the backs of the two clever negotiators, and laughed in their sleeves at them and at the English nation. Sweden had been easily detached from Holland, and the Triple Alliance entirely swept away within two years of its formation. The efforts made by Leibnitz and others to divert Louis to a Mediterranean war proved utterly unavailing; Colbert’s reluctance to furnish the costs of war was overborne; Lionne died in 1671, and was not there to guide the foreign policy of France; Louvois, the "brutal minister whom all men hated," was just rising to the height of his influence, and threw that influence in with the king’s rejudices in favor of a Dutch war. Colbert was the man to be pitted; the rapid rise of Louvois, who wielded all the war-power of the kingdom, and whose reorganization of the army drained the resources of the treasury, not only lessened his influence but made great war-expenses inevitable; and those terrible outlays were by no means undertaken in the wisest direction. In vain did the dry and common-sense minister try the way of flattery: he was too gross; he could not catch the subtle undertones of praise and adoration which pleased the Great Monarch’s love of approbation. "We are bound," he writes, "to save a sixpence in things not necessary, and to lavish thousands when thy glory is in question. A hundred pounds for a useless banquet breaks my heart; but when millions of gold are wanted for a great object, I would sell all I have, pawn wife and children, and go afoot all my life, rather than fail to provide it." Such protestations, which did protest too much, such bathos of adulation, could not please the willful monarch; Colbert’s influence henceforward steadily declined, and Louvois climbed into his place, sitting as an evil genius at his master’s ear, to whisper war with Holland , the crushing of Genoa, the double ravaging of the Palatinate, - the horror of which survives even to these days in which atrocities are popular, - the dragonnades of Nantes, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

The Dutch war broke out in 1672, and France had at last a considerable fleet to send to sea. Thirty ships of war joined the English navy, which was pledged to neutralize the sea-power of Holland, and to find employment for Amiral Ruyter’s hands. Ruyter was the stay and strength of the aristocratic or burgher party at Amsterdam- the party which had now ruled for years, and had with no small glory rivaled England on the high seas. Little did Louis XIV. deem that by this war of 1672, and by this very alliance with England, he was laying the foundations of that power which would in the end frustrated his splendid plans, and hold up against him the liberties of Europe. The sea-party in the Provinces had resisted and overcome all the efforts of Spain. Louis was now about to overthrow that party, to make room for the land-party, which, led by William of Orange and England, was to withstanding him to the end. The sea-party, the aristocratic and commercial republic, headed by the two distinguished brothers, John and Cornelius de Witt, was inevitably hostile to England, and as naturally friendly to France. The land-party, democratic and agricultural, and headed by the great house of Orange-Nassan, was naturally a friend to Germany, with which it had close connections, and to England also; for it was no rival on the sea, and lastly, William, the head of the house, was first cousin to the king of England.

Louvois had raised the army to 125,000 men; the French navy could count about a hundred sail. With almost all this great force Louis began the Dutch war of 1672. Guided by Turenne he set forth for the Rhine, leaving an army to mask Maestricht. The friendly princes gave him passage; the trembling Dutch with a raw ill-disciplined army of scarcely 25,000 men, under command of the prince of Orange, sheltered themselves behind the half-furnished forts of the river Yssel. By crossing the Rhine into the ancient "Betuwe," Turenne hoped to get between the Dutch and Amsterdam, and with one hand to crush the army, while with the other he coerced the seat of government into submission. The plan was simple and good; the earlier stages of it were successfully carried out; the famous passage of the Rhine dazzled the eyes of all France, and, unopposed in fact, and perfectly easy, made Paris believe her monarch to be a complete hero of romance. Turenne at once pushed on and seized Armheim, which gave him passage out of the Betuwe into the country behind the Yssel; and had his voice been heard, nothing could have saved the prince of Orange. But with overwhelming force, the king missed completely the point of the campaign. He set himself to reduce the unimportant Yssel forts, led by his own taste forsiege-warfare and Louvois’s advice; he wasted time and weakened his army by garrisoning the captured places. Presently he moved on and occupied Utrecht; Naarden, half way from thence to Amsetrdam, was taken. The Dutch despaired of help, and offered terms to Louis; but he contemptuously refused them. Then the mob of Amsterdam in fury of despair rose on the De Witts and murdered them both, and called on William of Orange to rescue the state. He at once accepted the perilous task, and with equal skill and courage saved the republic, first by flooding the country, so as to defend Amsterdam from a land-attack, and then by arousing the jealousies of Germany and Spain. Louis had gone back to Paris; his armies achieved nothing more in 1672. In 1673 the interest of the war lay in the siege of Maestricht; for Germany was no longer a safe French roadway, and the line of the Meuse was necessary, if Holland was to be reached at all. Maestricht fell; but then no more was done. Louis returned again in triumph to Paris, and the war lagged. At this time (August 1673) a great league of the Hague was formed against France; its members were the emperor, the Spaniards, and the Dutch; the young stattholder became the leader of the opposition to Louis XIV. The campaign on the Rhine, in which William of Orange and Montecuculi were pitted against Turenne and Conde, while the duke of Orleans attacked the Spanish Netherlands, went on the whole against France. The allies took Bonn, and thus compelled the Rhine-princes to abandon France. The Great Elector, Frederick William of Braudenburg, who had hitherto leant towards the French, in 1674 joined the allies; public feeling in England forced Charles II. to make peace with the United Provinces. Sweden, jealous of Brandenburg, remained as almost the sole ally of France.





In this year Turenne was charged with the duty of defending the Alsace frontier; the war, from being offensive, had become strictly defensive, except in Franche Comte, which was retaken by Louis in a six week’s campaign, and the ancient county now fell for ever into the hands of France. When the king’s brilliant campaign was over, Turenne pushed forward into the Palatinate, defeated the imperialists at Sinzheim, and then deliberately destroyed the whole country; this was the well-known first destruction of that fair territory. The allies in September crossed the Rhine at Mainz and then at Strasburg, occupying all the plain of Alsace. It seemed as if Turenne could do little to arrest them. He observed them till winter had set it, and then, making his wonderful march along the west flanks of the Vosges mountains, suddenly came out in force at Belfort, and drove the Germans from point to point, till he had entirely cleared them out of Alsace. As the wasting of the Palatinate was the one great blot on his career, so this famous march raised his strategic fame to its highest point. In the north the campaign was not so brilliant; William of Orange lost the hard-fought battle of Senef, and was unable to carry out his plans for penetrating into France. When he had retaken Grave, the campaign of 1674 was over.

The campaign of 1675 on the Rhine was to be once more a trial of strength between Turenne and Montecuculi. The great Turenne however, was killed by a chance cannon-shot, and the whole plans of the French were shattered. Marshal Crequy was defeated at saarbruck; the advantages gained by the king in the north, where he had secured the Meuse by taking Liege, Limburg, and Dinant, were altogether neutralized; the army destined for Holland had to held the dispirited army of the east. Conde, who here fought his last battles, upheld the honor of the French arms on the Rhine, and, having secured Alsace for his master, now withdrew from warfare altogether. The age of an inferior series of generals begins.

In 1676 the war was feeble; nothing was done in the north; in the east the Germans took Philisburg, a place of the utmost value to France before she had got Strasburg. On sea, however, the year was far more brilliant: in the Mediterranean Du Quesne in two great battles destroyed the combined fleets of Holland and Spain; and in the second battle off Palermo, Ruyter himself perished. Both France and Holland now began to wish for peace; the Dutch, seeing their navy ruined, and conscious that they could not recover Maestricht, were very weary of war; and the French were also fretting under the burdens of the struggle, which had ruined all Colbert’s plans for the development of their commerce and wealth. Troubles broke out in more than once district. Negotiations went on, and war also. In 1677 the French arms were more successful the duke of Orleans, whom his brother never forgave for it defeated William of Orange at Cassel, and was never again put in command; the French overran all Flanders; the duke of Lorriane was completely defeated by Marshall Crequy. Towards the end of this year William of Orange was espoused to his young kinswoman, Mary, daughter of the duke of York, and early in 1678 King Charles was obliged to declare war on his royal patron. These things swelled the tide in favor of peace. The burgher party of Amsterdam, afraid of William’s growing power, leant strongly on that side; Charles II. had never been sincere in his declaration of war, and gladly forwarded the wishes of Louis. Finally, the peace of Nimwegen closed the war. The first treaty was one between Holland and France, which restored Meastricht, the only place William had not retaken, to the Dutch; a friendly treaty of commerce was attached to it. The second treaty was between Spain and France; while the king restored some strong places to the Spaniards, they ceded a chain of strong frontier-cities to him; France became mistress of Valenciennes, Conde, Bouchain, Maubeuge, Cambrai, Saint-Omer, Aire, Ypres, and other towns. They also ceded Franche Comtye, which has ever since been French. Thirdly, there was a treaty with the German princes, which reaffirmed the treaty of Munster of 1648. France ceded Philipsbrug, and retained Freiburg in the Brisgau. The peace of Nimwegen was but a starting point for further ambitious steps, yet is formed the highest point of the greatness of Louis. His fortunes seemed to rise a little higher through the "reunion policy" in the next few years; yet he was already beginning to descend from the topmost height. After this peace France could not enough praise and flatter her great monarch; all though of resistance died away; the needy nobles flocked to his court and begged for place,- they did not dream of asking for power; the king absorbed them into all possible offices-army and navy, finance, in all were to be seen swarms of noblemen; it is to Louis XIV. that the absolute and fatal severance between noble officer and peasant soldier is due. The clergy were kept in fit subjection; no great cardinal now could overshadow the throne; the Jesuits were in full favor, - masters of speech, miracles of persuasiveness, they set the fashion of that age of pulpit eloquence, which is perhaps the most marked of the literary characteristics of the reign. These were the days of Bourdaloue and Bossuet. From this time to about 1685 the French monarchy stands at its highest; Europe is amazed and paralyzed; France if exhausted is full of glory; the king has become more august and magnificent as he has grown older, and now in the prime of life is, as has been said, "if not the greatest king, the finest actor of royalty the world has ever seen." One person, at any rate, was dissatisfied with, and suspicious of, the peace of Nimwegen; and that was William Orange. Four days after there peace had been signed, he made a sudden attack on the French camp at St Denis near Mons. Marshal Luxembourg was taken by surprise; but the French troops soon recovered and drove out their Dutch assailants with heavy loss. With this uncalled-for bloodshed the war ended. The history of the next decade of years in France justified to the full the disapproval William had so roughly expressed, thought it could not justify the bloodshed and the failure at Mons. It was in these years that abroad and at home Louis XIV, carried out to the full his autocratic ideas, - the king all powerful at home, the kingdom omnipotent abroad. So in this time, while the other nations thankfully disbanded their armies, those of Louis remained on foot. Vauban was named commissary-general of fortifications, a new office, in 1677, and the moment peace was signed began to fortify and secure all the frontiers of France with strongholds which should be at once gateways for aggression and bulwarks against attack. Finding also that a complete scheme of defences demanded some points which were not yet in his hands, the king began that system of "reunion," as they were called, by means of which he applied old feudal rules to the acquirement of territories and towns in time of peace. Thus, for example, he filched Strasburg away from Germany, because he wanted that ancient Teutonic city to make his eastern frontier safe and aggressive. The peace of Westphalia to which that of Nimwegen, so far as it dealt with Germany, went, back, had in it the feudal term "dependencies." When it declared a city to be ceded, it spoke of it as being ceded "with its dependencies"; and Louis XIV. having determined to push this phrase to its further application, established in 1679 and the following years three "Chambers of reunion," – one for the three bishoprics at Metz, a second at Besancon for Franche Comte, the third at Breisach for Alsace. These bodies inquired into all matters of feudal jurisdiction; and as these old usages, specially the Episcopal ones, were wide and vaue, they formed a convenient basis for decisions in which the claimant wasboth judge and executor of his own judgments. The French overlordship over many Germanic districts was at once affirmed and acted on; territories were occupied with French soldiers, and the strong points fortified or further strengthened; and before Europe well knew what was doing, the frontiers of France had been pushed forward into Germany, and so strengthened as to make it very difficult to wrest them again away. The Breisach chamber thus secured almost all the lordships in that district, and succeeded, partly by legal argument, partly by bribery, lastly by force, in winning Strasburg in November 1681. At the same time by secret agreement with Charles III. of Mantua, the last of the Gonzaga-Nevers dukes, Louis XIV. became master of Casale, which seemed to secure his permanent influence in northern Italy. The capture of Luxembourg, Courtrai, and Dixmuyde, in the little war with Spain which was waged in 1683-1684, set the French frontier well forward on the north side of the three bishoprics. All went well with the monarch in these days. Unfortunately for his glory he had still thirty-two years of reign before him; and these years, the period of Madame de Maintenon, are crowded with blunders, darkened with misfortune. "Here ends" (in 1683), says the duke of Saint-Simon, "the apogee on this reign,- the height of its glory and prosperity. The great captain, the great home and foreign ministers, are no more; only pupils and disciples remain. We are now to see the second age, which will fall short of the first, though it will be far better than the third and last period of the reign." Colbert died in this year; in this year John Sobieski drove the Turks from the walls of Vienna; and from the day of their defeat, the fortunes of the Ottoman allies of France also began to recede. Above all, in this same year Louis XIV. was privately married to Madame de Maintenon, and she, with unbounded influence over him, intentionally or not, had a share in the worst errors of his reign.

Francoise d’Aubigne was a Huguenot by birth and breeding ; in 1652 the comic poet Scarron, a cripple, and, as he called himself, "an abstract of all human miseries," married her when she was penniless and friendless; eight years later she was left a widow, and again without resources. She a soft and gentle beauty, a grace and tact, a cold temperament and placid, manner, which recommended her, by way of contrast, to Madame de Montespan, the violent and dangerous beauty who for several years reigned supreme over Louis XIV. At her suggestion poor Madame Scarron was engaged, in 1666, as a kind of nursery governess to her children, the duke of Maine and a daughter. It is curious to see how great are the contrasts in her history. At first Louis was offended and hurt at the introduction of this person at court; she seemed odious to him. He gave her the little Maintenance estate with a stipulation that he should see her no more; he thought her a precise and disagreeable precieuse. She had been the wife of a playwright, the center of a little literary coterie; the king, with his instinctive dislike for literature, felt a distate, almost an aversion, for her. Her placid temperament stood the trial well; after a time, when Madame de Montespan was unusually imperious, he would betake himself to the sweet gentleness of the governess, and cool his heated temper in her calm society. Her influence was all for good she weaned him from Montespan, and did not take her place; she reconciled him to his poor queen, whom he had so long and so scandalously neglected; and when the queen died in 1683, the governess became the king’s wife, and queen in all but name. She never was publicly acknowledged; still her position was recognized, and her power felt. Louis worked with her, consulted her in all things; she was a warm friend to the high Catholic party; though not openly subject to Jesuit influences (her early training making that unlikely), she did work which the Jesuits could not but like. The king, naturally religious in a stiff and ignorant way, and Madame de Maintenon, narrow, placid, and obstinately afraid of intellect or independence, worked together towards the same ends. The necessity of disarming any suspicion the king might feel as to the leaven of Huguenot opinion still fermenting within her led Madame de Maitenon often to countenance things which she could not in heart have approved. She had known the light, and could never afterwards have fallen into utter darkness. Jansenists and Huguenots, in these years, felt the king’s dislike increased; the eagerness for the submission of the one, the conversion of the other, grew day by day into an absorbing passion. And Louis had had no small temptationto interfere with the Jansenists. They held opinions which, his Jesuit advisers assured him, were of a fatal wrongness; and in 1682 they had sided to a great extent with Innocent XI. against him. His horror of independence of views combined with his horror of a divided allegiance, and led him to act promptly against them. He convoked a great assembly of clergy, which, under the influence of Bossuet, drew up those four articles which have often been quoted as the clearest statement of the liberties of the Gallican church, - liberties, that is, as face to face with the pope, not as against the royal power. These articles affirm (1) the independent authority of the secular power (2) the superiority of general councils; (3) the inviolable character of the Gallican usages; (4) the fallibility of the pope except when supported by the assent of the church. There was talk also of a Gallican patriarchate, so far did the quarrel go. The Jansenists, the "Ultramontanes" of that day, seemed to side with pope against king. In these years the papacy and the monarch were not no good terms together. Innocent XI. looked with favor on the growing resistance, and rejoiced when Protestant William overthrew catholic James of England. The Jansenists were thus kept down; the Huguenots were more severely treated, Louvois, unluckily for them, here taking the lead. Great numbers were bribed or threatened into giving up their opinions, others were driven to it by actual hard usage, until in 1685 Louis, believing that all had been converted except a small-necked remainder, with whom he need not scruple to deal sharply, finally ordered the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and therewith the total abolition of all the privileges unwillingly granted ninety years before to the Huguenots, and always permitted with a grudging hand. The severities of 1685, and the exodus of the Huguenots, finally brought that party to an end as a political organization. Whatever difference of opinions there may be as to the numbers who fled from the kingdom at this time, there can be no doubt as to the quality of them. They were the thriftiest and readiest hands in France; they carried the arts and taste which were till then the special gift of their country, to Spitalfields, or Amsterdam, or even to Berlin. They crowded into the armies which were arrayed against their oppressor; they helped to man the ships which destroyed the navy of France; they planted their industries in many places, and gave that wealth and prosperity to other lands which was driven from their homes. In England they influenced opinion not a little, and stedfastly supported the house of Orange against the Stewards, friends of the king of France.

In this same year 1685 Louis pushed his plans in Germany also further than was prudent. He alarmed the greater princes by intriguing, seriously or not, for the imperial dignity, against the next vacancy; he alarmed the Rhine princes also by claiming the Lower Palatinate for Charlotte Elizabeth of Bavaria, the Princess Palatine, who had married the king’s brother the duke of Orleans, and who in this prime of her fortunes and brilliancy almost scared the dismal court with her bright sallies and the freedom of her tongue. When the princes heard this claim, coming so soon after the loss of Strasburg, - a claim which would have brought Louis into the very heart of Germany, - they hesitated no longer; and in July 1686 was signed that great league of Ausburg which was the beginning of the long struggle between France and the rest of Europe. The emperor, the king of Spain, the Dutch, the elector of Saxony, the Palatine elector, and a number of lesser princes, all joined it; in 1687 the pope secretly acceded; the duke of savoy and the elector of Bavaria also came in; the soul of the combination was William of Orange. It is a strange moment of history in which the pope and the emperor, the king of Spain and the elector of Bavaria, unite to resist the advance of Catholic France and the Catholic king of England. The league was at first purely defensive, and for two years held simply an observant and ready position. The tension, however, was too great, and by 1688 Louis saw clearly that peace could not last much longer. France had had peace for ten years, yet her strength had not increased; for the court had been very profuse in these days, and the :reunions" had cost somewhat, - the exodus of the Huguenots still more. The works at Versailes had wasted men and money; the great ministers and generals were dead, and the country was surely drifting into war again. In the last war the king’s armies had followed two lines – that of the Rhine and that of Flanders. Then, however, war was being made on the Dutch alone; now it would have to be against the Dutch and Germans combined. To all appearance the hostility of Germany was likely to be more dangerous than that of Holland, and the Rhine had been proved to be the best roadway of attack- for both countries. For this purpose the Cologne country, the electorate and its territory, appeared to Louis to be of the utmost value to him. Occupied with this idea, and not realizing either the force of the character of William of Orange, or the depth of dissatisfaction against James II. in England, the king now committed the great blunder of his life. A small demonstration against Holland would have made it impossible for William to make his attempt on England, and would have cost France very little in expense or risk. But when it came to decision, Louis and Louvois, here as ever his evil genius, were both in favor of securing the influence of France on the Rhine; both thought the dynastic question involved in the Palatinate to be more important than the great European question involved in the plans and movements of William. Moreover, the vacancy in the electorate of Clogne in 1688, in which question the pope was openly opposed to the king’s nominee, excited the royal pride, and made interference in Germany a point of honor; a French garrison was sent to occupy Cologne. For these reasons Louis, underrating the danger elsewhere, and thinking that a threat would keep the timid Dutch quiet, dispatched the dauphin to the east with the main army in September 1688. He took Philipsburg; the Palatinate and the three Rhine electorates fell easily into his hands.

Immediately William, freed from his worst anxieties, set sail for England, and the Revolution took place at once and without bloodshed. The Declaration of Rights was issued by parliament in February 1689, and William and Mary were seated on the throne of England. James II. took refuge at the French court, and was established at the palace of St Germains; his presence in France, and that of his family, becomes an element in the politics of more than half a century. And now Louis recognized the error he had committed; his troops were withdrawn from the Palatinate, which (again at the advice of Louvois) had to undergo that scathing of fire and sword which moved the feelings of all Germans, and gave earnestness to the war. Early in 1689 the Diet of Ratisbon declared war against France. The great duke of Marlborough, now only General Churchill, defeated the French at Walcourt near the Sambre; the French were also thrust back into Alsace and Lorraine. King James was furnished with a strong force of troops and ships, with which he landed safely in Ireland, and almost all the island declared for him. A French-Irish court was established at Dublin. William III. sent Schomberg to the north of Ireland to make head against this great danger; and William himself followed so soon as ever he could venture to leave England. Things were looking very serious for him. The French had kept up communications with Ireland without difficulty; the English fleet was not thought to be loyal to the new government, for King James had been a sailor, and many of the higher officers were held likely to side with him. The battle of the Boyne (1st July 1690), however, cleared away this peril. James lost heart, and fled to France; in a very short time the ascendancy of William III. was secured in Ireland. It was not too soon. A very few days after the battle of the Boyne, Tourville, commanding the French fleet, had defeated the anglo-Dutch navy off Beachy Head; and in the same month, Marshal Luxembourg won the battle of Fleurus from Waldeck with his German and Dutch troops. In Piedmont catinat inflicted a grave defeat on Victor Amadeus at Satffarda. Still, the war of 1690 was in the end indecisive, thanks to the battle of the Boyne. In 1691 Louis seemed determined to make a greater effort, and himself besieged Mons, which he took in spite of the attempts of William to relieve it. Little, however, followed after the fall of Mons; the year was marked by the death of Louvois, whose brutal energy had done much to sustain the war. The campaigns of 1692 were to be differently planned; in Catalonia, in Piedmont, and in Germany, there should be no offensive movement; the whole energy of the nation should be staked on a fresh descent of King James in Ireland, and on a land-attack on the Netherlands. The war was therefore to be a duel between Louis and William. Tourville was ordered to engage the English fleet wherever he might meet it; it was believed that Admiral Russel and half the ships would desert in action. The experiment was tried off Cape La Hogue, and with disastrous results to the French arms; it was the ruin of the French fleet, the shipwreck of King James’s cause. In the Netherlands Louis in person invested Namur, and again baffling William III., took that strong place, which carried the line of the Meuse, in June. This, which might have been the decisive success of the war on land, brought with it no results; the victory of Steenkirke, in which Luxembourg defeated William, ended the Netherlands campaign. Elsewhere, as had been planned, the operations of the war were insignificant. The campaigns of 1693 were also indecisive; although Luxembourg again defeated William at Neerwinden, the capture of Charleroi was the only result. The aggressive period of the war was coming to an end. In 1694 it became almost entirely defensive; and the death of Marshal Luxemborug in the first days of 1695 took from Louis his most fortunate general. Villeroy, who succeeded him, was a poor officer; the ancient credit of the French army was upheld by Vauban and Catinat. The war in that year was exceedingly languid. The generals were afraid of the court; the king rewarded and promoted the less able over the heads of the more capable. The recovery of Namur by William III. in this year showed how France had lost strength since 1692. in 1696 Louis succeeded in detaching Victor Amadeus from the allies by abandoning Casale and Pinerolo to him, and securing to him his Savoyard territory; and the duke’s daughter was betrothed to the duke of Burgundy, the eldest son of the dauphin, the father of Louis XV. This defection of Savoy, the appearance of Catinat in the Netherlands in 1697, the renewal vigor of the French arms, the difficulty of governing England now that Queen Mary was dead, at last led William III. to accept the mediation of Sweden.

Louis XIV. was at least as willing to come to terms; France was worn out with the long war and its great sacrifices; and, above all, it was seen that Charles II. of Spain had not long to live. To be ready to deal with the great questions of the Spanish succession Louis agreed to terms which he otherwise would not have granted. The peace of Ryswick in 1697 was soon agreed to. Louis recognized William III. as king of England, and Anne, second daughter of James II., and a decided Protestant, as his successor. He ceded to the allies all places won from England, Holland, or Spain since the peace of Nimwegen, and consented to a Dutch garrison in each of the Spanish-Netherland barrier-fortresses. These three powers had no fault to find with the treaty of Ryswick; Germany, however, was not so well pleased. She had made war chiefly to reduce the French hold on the Rhine; William had pledged himself that Strasburg should be restored; but, as neither England nor Holland would support him in demanding this of Louis, he was fain to make peace without it. The emperor and the princes were very unwilling to come in; at last, however, they signed a separate peace, in which they got back all places taken by France since Nimwegen, excepting Strasburg, and recovered all the strongholds on the right bank of the Rhine. Lorriane was restored to its German duke; the French candidate for the electorate of Cologne was abandoned; and the claims of the Princess-Palatine on the Lower Palatinate commuted for a sum of money. Germany had fair cause therefore to be well pleased with the result. Louis now turned all his attention to the Spanish question; and the failure of his candidate for the throne of Poland, the prince of conti, in 1697, perhaps made his all the more anxious to prepare the way for the great triumph which he hoped might be won at Madrid. The closing years of the century were passed in active negotiations for this object. The three houses which hoped to gain by the death of Charles II., - for nations were now treated as the private inheritance of princes, - were the house of Bourbon, the house of Austria, and the house of Wittelsbach. Austria and France desired to acquire the whole heritage; the Bavarian elector would have been satisfied with a partition. The emperor Leopold, head of the house of Austria, desired the Spanish throne for his younger son the archduke Charles, nephew (by marriage) of Charles II., and grandson of Maria of Spain, spouse of the emperor Ferdinand III,; he was therefore only very distantly related to the dying king. Louis XIV. claimed, in spite of renunciations, for Philip his grandson, grandson of Maria Theresa, half sister to Charles II., - Philip’s elder brother, Louis duke of Burgundy, waiving his claim on his behalf. Lastly, Maximilian Emmanuel, elector of Bavaria, claimed for his son Joseph Ferdinand, on behalf of the child’s mother, Maria Antonia, daughter of Leopold I. and Margaret Theresa, daughter of Philip IV. of Spin. Leopold I. was the only male cousins of the Spanish king, and his nearest male relation; and Charles II. had also married Maria Anna of Neuburg, Leopold’s sister-in-law. Moreover, his rights had never been renounced, while Maria Theresa, on marrying Louis XIV., had renounced hers, and so also had Maria Antonia, mother of the Bavarian electoral prince. The knotty question, however, was not to be solved by paper-considerations; it was a matter for the law of the stronger, and the more unscrupulous; Louis XIV. therefore won. William III., earnest in his desire for peace, and anxious that France should get no additional strength, threw in his lot with the Bavarian prince, and thought that such a partition might be made as would satisfy all. Charles II. also was strongly in favor of the same cause, and made a will in favor of Joseph Ferdinand. This, however, pleased neither Austria nor France, and Count Harrach, the Austrian envoy, got the will annulled, though he could not persuade the king of Spain to recognize the archduke Charles as his heir. Directly after the signature of the peace of Ryswick, Louis XIV. sent the Marquis d’ Harcourt, a most successful choice, to represent his interest at Madrid, and ordered Tallard to amuse William III. with a scheme for a partition-treaty. Harcourt was to intrigue for the whole succession at Madrid, while Tallard should make sure of a part at St James’s, in case Harcourt’s difficult mission failed. William III. was only too glad to enter into the scheme; and a first partition-treaty was drawn up, by which France, Austria, and Bavaria each should get its part. This treaty Louis used against itself; for it was one of the most cogent arguments by which Harcourt succeeded in persuading the Spanish court and people that if they would keep the great inheritance unbroken, and not destroy the ancient kingdom, they must have the French prince as their future monarch. In spite of much ill-will and great discouragement, Harcourt won his way into the complete confidence of the court of Spain, and utterly outstripped the rough and unwise Austrians. Early in 1699 the young electoral prince died, and the first partition-treaty became void. A second treaty followed, though it was not accepted by Austria; and Louis XIV. in accepting it had no intention of keeping his word, unless it suited him to do. French influences, from the moment that this second treaty became known at Madrid, were omnipotent with the Spanish court; and in 1700 Charles II. signed another will, in which he left the whole of the grand inheritance to Philip duke of Anjou. After some simulated, and perhaps a little real hesitation, Louis XIV. accepted the will for his grandson, and enjoyed for a brief while the triumph that it brought, - the triumph of successful diplomacy and of a vastly enlarged influence and power. As time went on, it became clear that the king of Spain would not always be the obedient servant of the king of France, and that the connection between the monarchies was a source of weakness rather than of strength.





War did not break out in consequence, as had been expected; the English, who had disliked the partition-treaties, even preferred the acceptance of the will by Louis XIV. to the cause for which William, with his larger views of European politics, desired to fight; and Philip of Anjou became king of Spain. Louis XIV. protested at once against the view that the two crowns of France and Spain should never be united, - though he had used their certain separation as an argument to influence Spanish opinion, - and reserved the rights of Philip V. to the French crown; in 1714 there was only one person, and he a sickly child, between him and the hereditary right to the crown of France. Though war did not follow at once, it could not long be delayed, and meanwhile Louis XIV. did all he could to strengthen himself. Early in 1701 he made an agreement with the elector of Bavaria, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, and ejected the Dutch troops from the barrier fortresses. It was a haughty denial of the validity of the peace of Ryswick; and, in open violation of the spirit of the same treaty, he soon after, on the death of James II., recognized James Stewart, his eldest son, the "Old Pretender," the "Chevalier de Saint George," as king of England, under title of James III. About the same time the Germans and Dutch, thoroughly alarmed, signed at the Hague a great treaty, "the Grand Alliance," with William III., and bound themselves to restore the Netherlands barrier, to regain the Milanese territory for the empire, to win for the emperor all the Italian and Mediterranean possessions of Spain, to attack and take the Spanish Indies. The emperor, without delay, sent Prince Eugene, his greatest general, to begin the war in Italy; the double-dealing Victor Amadeus, the skilful strategy of the prince, the excellence of the fresh troops under his command, were too much for Catinant, who was obliged to fall back. Louis, who never had liked his best general, was not at all sorry, and sent Villeroy, one of his worst, to supersede him. Villeroy speedily justified his choice by losing the battle of Chiari (1701); almost the whole of the Mantuan territory fell into Prince Eugene’s hands. After the surprise of Cremona, early in 1702, Vendome, who, indolent as he was, was a good general, replaced Villeroy, and by the indecisive battle of Luzzara (August 1702) recovered some of the lost foothold of France in Italy.

Ere this war had broken out on all sides. The death of William III. and the accession of Queen Anne, early in 1702, made no change in the arrangements of the allies for their four campaigns,- the Italian campaign, which was least in importance; the Belgian, in which they aimed at the fortresses; the German, chiefly on the Danube; the Spanish, in which the archduke Charles struggled for the crown. Catinat, transferred to the Rhine, and ill-supported by an unfriendly court at home, the ill-will of which was reflected in the conduct of his officers, could not make head against the prince of Baden, who crossed the Rhine and took Landau. Catinat, who soon after this sent in his resignation, was coldly allowed to withdraw, and France thus lost the most prudent and capable of her remaining generals. The elector of Bavaria was the only strong and true friend the courts of France and Spain had in this war; he bore the brunt of the early periods of it. Louis of Baden had occupied in force the strong elbow of hills and forests between the valley of the Rhine and that of the Danube, thereby threatening the elector, and hindering him from joining the French. His position was very strong; yet Villars, who was ambitious and lively, and longed for the marshal’s staff, determined to attempt the task of driving him out. He accordingly crossed the Rhine, and attacked the Germans at Friedlingen (14th October 1702), and by good fortune rather than by skill defeated them. His success, however, was not such as to enable him to shake Louis of Baden; he could not even penetrate into the Black Forest. In the Netherlands Malborough strengthened his position by taking a group of towns, and keeping Marsahl Boufflers and the duke of Burgundy actively employed, as they retreated before him from point to point. The defeat of the French fleet in Vigo bay, and the out burst of the Protestants of the Cevennes mountains, both added largely to the difficulties of France. In the winter Marlborough enlarged his base of operations by occupying the electorate of Cologne, and early in 1703 he had cleared out all the Spaniards in his rear or on his flank. Before the end of 1703 everything was ready for that great advance which was destined to raise his fame to its highest point. And it was time that he went, as he said, "to teach the Germans how to beat the French;" for in 1703 Villars had been very successful in Germany; he had forced his way through the Black Forest, and had joined the elector of Bavaria in the upper valley of the Danube; and the elector had already driven the Austrians down the valley to below Passau. A threatened attack on Vienna came to nothing. Towards the end of the campaign the elector and Villars drove Louis of Baden from his positions, and defeated Styrum at Hochstatt; Tallard, with the army which had watched Louis of Baden in the lines of Stolhofen, returned to the Rhine and took Old Breisach and Landau, as well as won the battle of Spires. On this side the war had been very favorable to France, - an advantage against which the transfer of Savoy and Portugal to the side of the allies had to be set.

These changes, and the continued resistance of the Huguenots in the south of France, enabled Marlborough to arrange with prince Eugene his great campaign of 1704, in a conference near Heilbronn. Here the so-called triumvirate, - Marlborough, Eugene, and Heinsius – England, the empire, and the Dutch, - laid their plans to neutralize the French advantages in Bavaria, and by cutting the line of their communications, to relieve Vienna from all anxiety. The peril to Austria was great, for the French and Bavarians formed a long unbroken line from the Vosges to Passau. Quite early, therefore, in 1704, Marlborough began to move; he misled Villeroy and Boufflers, who were watching him, and crossed the Rhine at Cologne, with a view to joining Prince Eugene, who held the famous Stolhofen lines. The French and Bavarians drew together to meet this formidable attack; the elector entrenched himself near Donauworth; Villeroy and Tallard observed the Stolhofen lines. Marlborough, with Prussian and other help, passed through Mainz, crossed the Black Forest, and came out in the Danube valley, joining Louis of Baden near Ulm. Their united forces defeated the elector and took Donauworth. Thus doing, they had placed themselves between him and his French allies, Marsin and Tallard; and Marlborough, feeling his communication to be critical, and rather alarmed as to his position, drew back up the Danube, till he had effected a junction with Prince Eugene. The elector had also joined his French friends, and they lay in wait for their antagonists in a strong position on the left bank of the Danube, between Hochstatt and Blenheim. There, on the 13th August 1704, was fought the great battle of Blenheim. The French and Bavarians had the superiority in numbers and position; this, however, they neutralized by faulty arrangements, and by shutting up a large force in the village of Blenheim. The battle was hot and heavy, and the loss to the allies, who were the assailants, great. Eugene made little impression on the lines, but towards evening Marlborough succeeded in breaking through Tallard’s position. Thereby he cut the enemy in two, and the French cavalry fled in panic towards Hochstatt. Many were drowned in the Danube; Marsin and the elector drew off in good condition towards the Black Forest; Tallard was a prisoner, his whole force either dispersed or taken. It was the worst mishap that had ever befallen Louis XIV. Bavaria was entirely subdued; Austria and the empire saved; the elector took refuge in France. Louis of Baden was able to now to cross the Rhine; Landauagain fell into German hands; Marlborough returned to the Moselle, taking Trarbach and Treves. The war drew nearer to the frontiers of France, and Germany ran no further risk of invasion.

In 1705 the duke’s plans for an attack on France were neutralized by the slowness and jealousy of Louis of Baden, who did not care to play second to the "the handsome English man/" the Cevennes insurrection being now over, Villars was free to face the allies, and did so with such skill and success that Marlborough was obliged to fall back towards the Netherlands. On the other hands, Louis XIV. weakened Villars in order to strengthen Villeroy in the Netherlands ; so that the campaign of 1705 ended without any decisive operations. Not so 1706, the great year of the succession war, Louis XIV. fully intended that the Netherlands’ campaign should have in this year decisive results. It was unfortunate for him that his personal likings led him to place in command on that side the incompetent Villeroy, who had to grapple with the victorious troops and masterly generalship of Marlborough. The result was that the duke easily won the great victory of Ramillies (23d May, 1706), which was as decisive as Blenhiem; swept the French out of Bavaria, so Ramilies made them powerless in the Netherlands. The allies took Louvain, Brussels and Malines, Ghent and Bruges, all in the name of the archduke Charles, whom they proclaimed king of Spain as Charles III. Antwerp, Oudenarde, all Brabant, accepted him at once. His fortunes seemed equally good elsewhere. The alliance between England and Portugal in 1703 had given a turn to warfare in the Peninsula. The archduke in 1704 tried to penetrate into Spain from he Portuguese frontier this failed, partly from the difficulties of the country, and partly from the ability of the duke of Berwick, a natural son of James II., and nephew of the duke of the king of France at this time. on the other hand the English fleet under Rooke, which was waiting on the archduke, by a stroke of happy audacity surprised Gibraltar (4th August 1704), and occupied it in strength. The utmost efforts of the French, under the count of Toulouse, one of the natural sons of Louis XIV., failed to recover this all-important rock. The battle of Malaga, though the French fleet had the best of it, damaged their navy so seriously that they could attempt no more; and in the exhaustion of France it proved impossible to refit the ships, or continue the struggle on the seas. In 1705 Charles III., unmolested by them, sailed round Spain, and landed at Barcelona. The Catalans and Aragonese were inclined to support him, while proud Castile held by Philip V. These were the days of the romantic career of the earl of Peterborough. In 1706 the French and Castilian siege of Barcelona came to nothing; the party of Charles took heart, and supported by English, Portuguese, and French refugees, drove Philip out of Madrid, and placed their candidate on the throne.

In Italy, the death of the emperor Leopold having called Prince Eugene away, Vendome with unwonted energy defeated the Austrians at calcinato, and swept the allies out of all the Milanese territory. Turin alone remained in the hands of Victor Amadeus II., and was the object of a fierce siege. Prince Eugene, however, returned in time to save the capital; for Vendome, after Ramillies, had been ordered to the Netherlands, and the change of commanders was everything to the allies. Prince Eugene attacked the French lines at Turin; differences sprang up between Marsin and the duke of Orleans (the nephew of Louis XIV.) and the Austrians won a great victory. Marsin was killed; the French army would to obey the duke; the whole force melted away, and Italy fell completely into the hands of the allies. Thus in the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy, their fortunes, by the autumn of 1706 seemed to be completely triumphant. In Spain, however, the Castilians succeeded in ejecting Charles III., and in replacing their favorite Philip V., and in the opening of 1707, the victory of Almanza, gained by Berwick over Ruvigny, a French refuges officer of ability, finally settled the Spanish question in favor of the Bourbon dynasty. A treaty of neutrality for Italy, by which the emperor Joseph I. secured his conquests there, also released Louis XIV. from some of his anxieties.

The campaign of 1707 were as unimportant as those of 1706 had been decisive. The appearance of Charles XII. of Sweden in Germany paralysed both sides a while; Villars, in command on the Rhine, stormed the Stolhofen lines,and pushed into Bavaria, hoping that the Swede would join him with his invincible Scandinavians. Charles, however, cared not to unite his fortunes to the Catholic side, and after some delay marched eastward toward Poland. Villars feel back to the Rhine; Vendome quietly watched Marlborough ; on the sea Duguay-Trouin, the most brilliant of French captains, harassed the Anglo-Dutch commerce, and won very considerable advantages over the English fleet. In 1708 an expedition for Scotland failed completely; and in the Netherlands the duke of Burgundy and Vendome wre caught by Marlborough and Eugene at Oudenarde (11th July 1708), and utterly defeated. The allies crossed the French frontier and sat down before Lille,- Eugene besieging, malrborough protecting. By the end of the year the place had fallen into their hands, after a brilliant defnece, which, though unsuccessful, won for Marshall Bouflers the distinction of duke and peer of France. Ghent and Bruges, with all Flanders, were secured by the allies; their light cavalry overran northern France, and appeared almost at the gates of Versailles.

The fortunes of France now seemed to be at their worst: famine and a bitter winter closed the disastrous year; everything was at a stand-still, trade completely ruined, finance in a dreadful state; even the king began to despair, and to negotiate for peace. He had felt his way thitherwards in vain in 1706; now in 1709 he made serious offers. The allies treated his proposals with great severity; he was willing to dismantle Dunkirk and ruin its port if Lille were restored to France, to give up his grandson’s throne of Spain if Philip might have Naples; he did not absolutely refuse to abandon the electors of Bavaria and Cologne. With such concessions peace was not impossible. The allies, however, insisted on stipulations which touched the old king’s personal honor, declaring that as Louis had placed Philip V.on the Spanish throne, he must, with his own troops, if necessary, dispossess him of it again. They also demanded the cession to Germany of Strasburg and Breisach, the erection of a new line of barrier-fortresses between Holland and France, and other lesser matters. To these Louis would not consent, and the negotiations broke down. He appealed warmly to the country to support him, and was answered by an outburst of patriotism which enabled him to send Villars, at the heads of a good army, into the Nethterlans. There he fought the great battle of Malphaquet (11th September 1709), in which Marlborough and Prince Eugene were again victorious, though their losses were tremendous, as they had been obliged to attack a very strong position held by a powerful army. The fall of Mons was the only advantage which resulted to the allies; with that the campaign came to an end. While the battle actually restored the spirit of the French soldiers, who had been skillfully and successfully withdrawn from the field by Marshall Boufflers, it produced a very bad feeling in England. There men were very weary of the war, and the carnage at Malphaquet had been terrible. Louis again offered large concessions to the allies in 1710, the triumvirate, however, were not content to make peace, and still demanded what they knew he would not consent to – his personal interference against Philip V. The campaign of 1710, which followed, was intended to strengthen the allies, with a view to their penetrating the next year into the heart of France. Douai, Bethune, and some lesser places were taken; Villars covered Cambrai and arras; in Spain Charles III. again entered Madrid, though he was unable to hold his ground there, and before the year’s end Philip V. was again triumphant.

In this gloomiest state of French affairs, when all was in confusion and despair, the old king at bay and too infirm to head the remnants of his armies, the allies firmly planted in northern France, it was believed that, if they could but hold together, they would in one more campaign succeed in entirely breaking the power of their great rival. In England, however, that change of opinion had begun which saved Louis from this last humiliation. The Tory party, vehemently opposed to Marlborough and the war, were gathering strength; the elections of 1710 went in their favor, and early in 1711 the fall of the duchess of Marlborough at court told everyone that the reign of the Whigs was over. The death of Joseph I., the emperor, by placing Charles III. on the imperial throne as Charles VI. (December 1711), changed the whole position of affairs, and made men still more unwilling to carry on the war. It was felt that Europe could no longer sacrifice herself to place him on the throne of Spain as well as that of the empire, and to create a power which might endanger the stability of Europe, and overthrow the balance at which men were aiming. The warfare of 1711 was languid; Prince Eugene was called away to the imperial election; Marlborough and Vilalrs long watched each other on the northern frontier of France. They only result was the capture by the allies of Bouchain, and the arrangement by Marlborough of "a grand project," – a plan for the invasion of France in the next campaign, when he hoped to have Eugene by his side. In the winter, however, the duke was overthrown at St James’s, and his plans came to nothing. Negotiations for peace were far more to the taste of the Tories than a vigorous foreign policy; and it was announced, late in 1711, that Utrecht had been chosen as a place of conference; the bases of an agreement were easily arrived at. In 1712 the duke of Ormond replaced Marlborough in the Low Countries; his business was to neutralized the Dutch and Germans, who were still eager for war; and in May England signed a separate truce, abandoning her allies. They continued the war a while, but after being sharply defeated by Villars at Denain (24th July 1712) they accomplished nothing more; the French retook Douai, Le Quesnoy, and Bouchain. Then the, Dutch gave up all thoughts of further war, and came in to the English truce; war ceased on all hands, and negotiations went on merrily at Utrecht. At last, in April 1713, peace was signed by all powers except the empire on the basis of the treaty of Ryswick. The Germans, thus one more abandoned by their allies, found it impossible to continue long. Villars outgenerated Prince Eugene, and by defeating him before Freiburg in the Brisgau, and taking that town, showed to the emperor that he also would do well to come to terms. In 1714 two more treaties were signed by the princes of the empire and the Austrians, and the Succession War at last came to an end.

England was the chief gainer: she secured her succession through the house of Hanover, which now became a ninth electorate; the Pretender was to be compelled to leave France; the crowns of France and Spain were never to leave France; the crowns of France and Spain were never to rest on one head; Dunkirk was dismantled; Newfoundland, Acadia, and the Hudson’s Bay Territory were transferred from France to her; a friendly commercial treaty followed. Holland got a strong barrier on the side of France; the Spanish Netherlands were handed over to the United Provinces, which undertook to transfer them to Austria on the final conclusion of peace. She, too, made a favorable commercial treaty with France. The duke of Savoy was made a king and got Sicily, while Austria received Naples and Sardinia. Prussia received part of Gelderland, and gave up to France all her claims on the Orange principality. England was recognized as mistress of Gibraltar and Minorca. France recovered Lille, and retained Strasburg and the whole of Alsace. Freibrug in the Brisgau, Breisach and Kehl, she had to restore to Germany; the rights of Philip V. to the throne of Spain remained unshaken; the resistance of Barcelona, which obstinately refused to recognize him, was overcome b Berwick in 1714. far lighter were the terms of peace than those which the triumvirate had tried to force on Louis XIV.; yet the aged monarch must have deeply felt the permanent retrogression which they involved. His splendid ambitions were shown to be unattainable, after they had well-nigh ruined France in the pursuit; she had paid already a terrible price for the glories of a grand monarch and a great age. It would require the awakening of the Revolution to restore her to her right place in Europe. Her old antagonists, Austria and Spain, were also losers by the war; north Germany, under the guidance of the new kingdom of Prussia, was destined gradually to reduce the supremacy of the south, and at last to take it place; England was fitted for the great destinies she was to fulfill in the course of the century; Holland, secure from all disturbance, withdrew from the political arena.

A short time before the conclusion of the peace, when things were almost at their darkest for France, domestic losses in appalling succession had stricken down the king. In April 1711 the dauphin died; early in 1712 the duke and duchess of Burgundy and their eldest boy were carried off by fever; in 1714 the duke of Berry also died. And now of the direct line of the Bourbons remained only Louis XIV. and his great-grandson, the duke of Anjou, the future Louis XV. If the arrangement as to the Spanish crown held good, the dissolute duke of Orleans, whom Louis XIV. disliked and shunned, was the next heir after the little Louis. The country was famine-stricken and most miserable, finance in hopeless confusion, the debt grown to vast size; an annual deficit had long been going on. The whole of the institutions of the country seemed to have fallen into ruin. The nobles had become needy hangers- on at court; they filled the army, and by making it impossible for merit to rise had contributed largely to the disasters of the Succession War.

The brief remainder of this long reign was of little importance. The ignoble persecution, which had overthrown Port Royal in 1710, continued against the Jansenists to the end; and in 1714 Louis tried to strengthen Madame de Maintenon’s party against that of the duke of Orleans by decreeing the legitimization of his bastard sons by Madame de Montespan – the duke of Maine and the count of Toulouse,-and by making a will to secure the regency to the duke of Maine and Le Tellier, his Jesuit confessor. Then on the 1st of September 1715 he died, leaving the crown of France to his great-grandson Louis, a child five years old. Madame de Maintenon, who had at last shown how wearisome was the task she had borne for thirty two years, and how thankful she was in her old age to be relieved from it, abandoned the king just before his death, and withdrew to St. Cyr. And so passed away a monarch who had certainly been great, though not in the highest sense of that word, - whose sould had been beneath the level of his circumstances. It was with an instinctive movement of relief and pleasure that France heard the tidings of his death. The load of misery he had laid on the shoulders of his people had become too great to bear. He had used them, their strength and the labor of their hands, without stint or regret; but had never done anything to solace their woes, and in the worst and most famine-stricken times the wasteful expenditure of the court remained undiminished, and the cares of the Great Monarch never descended so low as to the poor people, whose fortunes the steady growth of the absolute monarchy had placed entirely in his hands.


Read the rest of this article:
France - Table of Contents




Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries