What was the life of monarchs, nobility, etc. in the 17th century in Western Europe?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The life of nobility in the 17th century had reached its highest point of glamour, importance, as well as danger and corruption.

In France, the 16th century saw Kings Henry IV, Louis XIII and Louis XIV. As you may know, Louis XIV, was a.k.a The Sun King. His court was the most opulent, expensive, self-centered and rank oriented in the entire Western Europe. He built Versailles as a fortress to accommodate EVERY nobleman and woman of France so that he could keep and eye on each and every one of them.  As for the nobility, they assigned themselves jobs to do for the King which were dependent on what title they held. In the court of Louis XIV there was all the cattiness, pomp, circumstance, and snobbery possible in a kingdom.

In England, the 17th century began with the downfall of the monarchy by Oliver Cromwell only to have him deposed from being England's so-called "Protector" (a king in all but name), and re-implanting a king to re-establish the monarchy with Charles James Fox, or Charles II. He and King Louis XIV were the most scandalous of kings. Charles II literally slept with about 2,000 women in court and he also tried to keep a tight court. They were also quite lavish, but nowhere near the French court. They were also always in danger of war, poisoning (a common form of attack) and being accused of treason. So, nobility was not all sweet and pretty.

Contrarily, in Spain, the country was ran by Don Carlos.This man was literally the poster boy of inbreeding. Had a massively deformed face, was impotent, mentally retarded, had eating problems, and was basically a human wretch. He lasted more than expected ruling Spain, but then he died of his many maladies. However, the Spanish nobility was no party group. They were staunch catholics with strong rules and a massive sense of patriotism. Ever since their defeat of the Armada, they had a huge slap in the face, so they stuck to their ways in a form of false bravado. They suffered more than 100 years of inbred kings and queens such as Juana the Mad and Philip the Fair, and their children.

thewanderlust878's profile pic

thewanderlust878 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Salutatorian

Posted on

Much like the first answer, I immediately thought of King Louis XIV of France, better known as "The Sun King". Louis XIV lived a lavish life filled with parties, money, and power. He respected art and loved it so much that the Hall of Mirrors was built, paintings were made of him and what he wanted, and much more. 

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