Student Question

Evaluate Louis XIV's "greatness" politically, economically, militarily, and socially.

Expert Answers

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Politically, Louis XIV was great in so far as he centralized power in the monarchy, reformed taxation, reduced national debt, and made administration more efficient, mainly by reducing the power of the aristocracy.

Culturally, he was  a noted patron of the arts, commissioning the magnificent Palace of Versailles and many works of visual art, patronizing the Académie Française, and supporting many classical French playwrights including Racine and Moliere.

Socially, by reducing the arbitrary power of the nobility, he allowed the bourgeois class to flourish.

Militarily, he expanded French territory to include several strategic areas on the French border that had previously been under foreign control and made (and remade) many strategic alliances.

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