What were some of the successes and failures of absolute monarchy of the King Louis XIV of France?

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The early part of Louis' personal reign (after the death of Mazarin in 1661) was marked by several controversial changes to the government and council.

The period was highly successful in terms of both internal and foreign affairs. Within France judicial structure was reformed (however several contradictory and confusing laws were un-modified) and urban law was improved. Further afield, commerce, industry and colonies were tightly controlled and protected.

Louis was also successful in war. Throughout his reign he had fought wars with most European countries. During the 'War of Devolution' Louis was able to gain valuable towns in Flanders, while the 'Peace of Nijmegen' gained further territory in Flanders. However, wars in the final decades of Louis' reign weakened France and its resources.

Louis' love of the arts also provided the opportunity for France's classical age. Artists, literary greats and sculptors were all supported (or sponsored) by the monarchy. The Louvre and Versailles epitomise of this obsession.

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If we are looking at this from the perspective of Louis XIV himself, his greatest success was his ability to keep France stable, with himself firmly in control, for his long reign.  He (with the help of Colbert) was able to enact policies that made France economically powerful and allowed him to build the sort of court facilities at Versailles that made him the envy of other monarchs and emphasized his power.

The major failure of his reign was that he overreached, particularly in foreign affairs.  Louis fought too many expensive wars that did not really help France.  By doing so, he ended up impoverishing the country to the point where he died ruing how badly he had overspent on his wars.

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