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Documents relating to Louis XIV EUH 2021 Paper Two DOCUMENT ONE Jacques Benigne Bossuet (1627-1704, French) “A French bishop and theologian, renowned for his sermons and other addresses. He has been considered by many to be one of the most brilliant orators of all time and a masterly French stylist. “Court preacher to Louis XIV of France, Bossuet was a strong advocate of political absolutism and the divine right of kings. He argued that government was divine and that kings received their power from God. He was also an important courtier and politician.” (The above biography is drawn directly froménigne_Bossuet.html Accessed 10/31/2013) Political Treatise By Jacques Benigne Bossuet Excerpted from J.H. Robinson, ed. Readings in European History 2 vols. (Boston: Ginn, 1906), 2:273-277. Hanover Historical Texts Project [Page 273] We have already seen that all power is of God. The ruler, adds St. Paul, "is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." Rulers then act as the ministers of God and as his lieutenants on earth. It is through them that God exercises his empire. Think ye "to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David"? Consequently, as we have seen, the royal throne is not the throne of a man, but the throne of God himself. The Lord "hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel." And again, "Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord." Moreover, that no one may assume that the Israelites were peculiar in having kings over them who were established by God, note what is said in Ecclesiasticus: "God has given to every people its ruler, and Israel is manifestly reserved to him." He therefore governs all peoples and gives them their kings, although he governed Israel in a more intimate and obvious manner. [Page 274] It appears from all this that the person of the king is sacred, and that to attack him in any way is sacrilege. God has the kings anointed by his prophets with the holy unction in like manner as he has bishops and altars anointed. But even without the external application in thus being anointed, they are by their very office the representatives of the divine majesty deputed by Providence for the execution of his purposes. Accordingly God calls Cyrus his anointed. "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him." Kings should be guarded as holy things, and whosoever neglects to protect them is worthy of death . . .


There is something religious in the respect accorded to a prince. The service of God and the respect for kings are bound together. St. Peter unites these two duties when he says, "Fear God. Honour the king." . . . But kings, although their power comes from on high, as has been said, should not regard themselves as masters of that power to use it at their pleasure; . . . they must employ it with fear and self-restraint, as a thing coming from God and of which God will demand an account. "Hear, O kings, and take heed, understand, judges of the earth, lend your ears, ye who hold the peoples under your sway, and delight to see the multitude that surround you. It is God who gives you the power. Your strength comes from the Most High, who will question your works and penetrate the depths of your thoughts, for, being ministers of his kingdom, ye have not given righteous judgments nor have ye walked according to his will. He will straightway appear to you in a terrible manner, for to those who command is the heaviest punishment reserved. The humble and the weak shall receive mercy, but the mighty shall be mightily tormented. For God fears not the power of any one, because he made both great and small and he has care for both.". . . Kings should tremble then as they use the power God has granted them; and let them think how horrible is the [Page 275] sacrilege if they use for evil a power which comes from God. We behold kings seated upon the throne of the Lord, bearing in their hand the sword which God himself has given them. What profanation, what arrogance, for the unjust king to sit on God's throne to render decrees contrary to his laws and to use the sword which God has put in his hand for deeds of violence and to slay his children! The royal power is absolute. With the aim of making this truth hateful and insufferable, many writers have tried to confound absolute government with arbitrary government. But no two things could be more unlike, as we shall show when we come to speak of justice. The prince need render account of his acts to no one. "I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not on an evil thing for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing." Without this absolute authority the king could neither do good nor repress evil. It is necessary that his power be such that no one can hope to escape him, and, finally, the only protection of individuals against the public authority should be their innocence. This conforms with the teaching of St. Paul: "Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good." I do not call majesty that pomp which surrounds kings or that exterior magnificence which dazzles the vulgar. That is but the reflection of majesty and not majesty itself. Majesty is the image of the grandeur of God in the prince. God is infinite, God is all. The prince, as prince, is not regarded as a private person: he is a public personage, all the state is in him; the will of all the people is included in his. As all perfection and all strength are united in God, so all the power of individuals is united in the person of the prince. What grandeur that a single man should embody so much!


[Page 276] The power of God makes itself felt in a moment from one extremity of the earth to another. Royal power works at the same time throughout all the realm. It holds all the realm in position, as God holds the earth. Should God withdraw his hand, the earth would fall to pieces; should the king's authority cease in the realm, all would be in confusion. Look at the prince in his cabinet. Thence go out the orders which cause the magistrates and the captains, the citizens and the soldiers, the provinces and the armies on land and on sea, to work in concert. He is the image of God, who, seated on his throne high in the heavens, makes all nature move. . . . Finally, let us put together the things so great and so august which we have said about royal authority. Behold an immense people united in a single person; behold this holy power, paternal and absolute; behold the secret cause which governs the whole body of the state, contained in a single head: you see the image of God in the king, and you have the idea of royal majesty. God is holiness itself, goodness itself, and power itself. In these things lies the majesty of God. In the image of these things lies the majesty of the prince. So great is this majesty that it cannot reside in the prince as in its source; it is borrowed from God, who gives it to him for the good of the people, for whom it is good to be checked by a superior force. Something of divinity itself is attached to princes and inspires fear in the people. The king should not forget this. "I have said," - it is God who speaks, - "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." "I have said, Ye are gods"; that is to say, you have in your authority, and you bear on your forehead, a divine imprint. "You are the children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." "I have said, Ye are gods"; that is to say, you have in your authority, and you bear on your forehead, a divine imprint. "You are the children of the Most High"; it is he who has established your power for the good of mankind. But, O gods of flesh and blood, gods of clay and dust, "ye shall die like men, and fall like [Page 277] princes." Grandeur seperates men for a little time, but a common fall makes them all equal at the end. O kings, exercise your power then boldly, for it is divine and salutary for human kind, but exercise it with humility. You are endowed with it from without. At bottom it leaves you feeble, it leaves you mortal, it leaves you sinners, and charges you before God with a very heavy account. Hanover Historical Texts Project DOCUMENT TWO Jean Domat (1625-1696, French) “Jean Domat (1625-1696) was a renowned French jurist in the reign of Louis XIV, the king who perfected the practice of royal absolutism. Domat made it his life's task to explain the theory behind this absolutism by setting French law and social structure into the wider context of the law of nature and the law of God. Louis XIV regarded Domat's work so highly that he assigned him a pension, and in effect the royal government sponsored his publications. Public Law, the


treatise that dealt most directly with the origin of social order and government, and with the rights and duties of kings, appeared in 1697, the year after Domat's death.” On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy By Jean Domat Text Source: Jean Domat. Le droit public, suite des lois civiles dans leur ordre naturel, vol. 3, Oeuvres completes, nouvelle edition revue corrigée, ed. Joseph Remy (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1829), pp. 1-2, 15-2 1, 26-27, 35, 39, 40, 44-45. Translated by Ruth Kleinman in Core Four Sourcebook There is no one who is not convinced of the importance of good order in the state and who does not sincerely wish to see that state well ordered in which he has to live. For everyone understands, and feels in himself by experience and by reason, that this order concerns and touches him in a number of ways ....

Everyone knows that human society forms a body of which each person is a member; and this truth, which Scripture teaches us and which the light of reason makes plain, is the foundation of all the duties that relate to the conduct of each person toward others and toward the body as a whole. For these sorts of duties are nothing else but the functions appropriate to the place each person holds according to his rank in society.

It is in this principle that we must seek the origin of the rules that determine the duties, both of those who govern and of those who are subject to government. For it is through the place God has assigned each person in the body of society, that He, by calling him to it, prescribes all his functions and duties. And just as He commands everyone to obey faithfully the precepts of His law that make up the duties of all people in general, so He prescribes for each one in particular the duties proper to his condition and status, according to his rank in the body of which he is a member. This includes the functions and duties of each member with respect to other individuals and with respect to the body as a whole.

[Necessity and the Origin of Government]

Because all men are equal by nature, that is to say, by their basic humanity, nature does not make anyone subject to others .... But within this natural equality, people are differentiated by factors that make their status unequal, and forge between them relationships and dependencies that determine the various duties of each toward the others, and make government necessary ....

The first distinction that subjects people to others is the one created by birth between parents and children. And this distinction leads to a first kind of government in families, where children owe obedience to their parents, who head the family.

The second distinction among persons arises from the diversity of employments required by society, and which unite them all into a body of which each is a member. For just as God has made each person depend on the help of others for various needs, He has differentiated their


status and their employments for the sake of all these needs, assigning to people the place in which they should function. And it is through these interdependent employments and conditions that the ties binding human society are formed, as well as the ties among its individual members. This also makes it necessary to have a head to unite and rule the body of the society created by these various employments, and to maintain the order of the relationships that give the public the benefit of the different functions corresponding to each person's station in life.


It is a further consequence of these principles that, since all people do not do their duty and some, on the contrary, commit injustices, for the sake of keeping order in society, injustices and all enterprises against this order must be repressed: which was possible only through authority given to some over others, and which made government necessary.

This necessity of government over people equal by their nature, distinguished from each other only by the differences that God established among them according to their stations and professions, makes it clear that government arises from His will; and because only He is the natural sovereign of men, it is from Him that all those who govern derive their power and all their authority, and it is God Himself Whom they represent in their functions.

[The Duties of the Governed]

Since government is necessary for the public good, and God Himself has established it, it is consequently also necessary for those who are subject to government, to be submissive and obedient. For otherwise they would resist God Himself, and government, which should be the bond of peace and unity that brings about the public good, would become an occasion for divisions and disturbances that would cause its downfall.

The first duty of obedience to government is the duty to obey those who hold the first place in it, monarchs or others who are the heads of the body that makes up society, and to obey them as the limbs of the human body obey the head to which they are united.

This obedience to him who governs should be considered as obedience to the power of God Himself, Who has instituted [the prince] as His lieutenant ....


Obedience to government includes the duties of keeping the laws, not undertaking anything contrary to them, performing what is ordered, abstaining from what is forbidden, shouldering public burdens, whether offices or taxes; and in general everyone is obliged not only not to contravene public order in any way, but to contribute to it [positively) according to his circumstances.

Since this obedience is necessary to maintain the order and peace that should unite the head and members composing the body of the state, it constitutes a universal duty for all subjects in all cases to obey the orders of the prince, without taking the liberty of passing judgment on the orders they should obey. For otherwise, the right to inquire what is just or not would make everyone a master, and this liberty would encourage seditions. Thus each individual owes


obedience to the laws themselves and [even] to unjust orders, provided he can obey and follow them without injustice on his own part. And the only exception that can qualify this obedience is limited to cases in which one could not obey without disobeying the divine law.

[The Power, Rights, and Duties of Sovereigns]

The sovereign power of government should be proportionate to its mandate, and in the station he occupies in the body of human society that makes up the state, he who is the head should hold the place of God. For since God is the only natural sovereign of men, their judge, their lawgiver, their king, no man can have lawful authority over others unless he holds it from the hand of God .... The power of sovereigns being thus derived from the authority of God, it acts as the arm and force of the justice that should be the soul of government; and that justice alone has the natural claim to rule the minds and hearts of men, for it is over these two faculties of men that justice should reign.


According to these principles, which are the natural foundations of the authority of those who govern, their power must have two essential attributes: one, to make that justice rule from which their power is entirely derived, and the other, to be as absolute as the rule of that justice itself, which is to say, the rule of God Himself Who is justice and Who wishes to reign through [princes] as He wishes them to reign through Him. For this reason Scripture gives the name of gods to those to whom God has entrusted the right of judging, which is the first and most essential of all the functions of government....

Since the power of princes thus comes to them from God, and since He gives it to them only as an instrument of His providence and His rule over the states whose government He delegates to them, it is clear that they should use this power in accordance with the aims that divine providence and rule have established for them; and that the material and visible manifestations of their authority should reflect the operation of the will of God.... [The will of God Whose rule they ought to make visible through their power, should be the governing principle for the way they use that power, since their power is the instrument [of the divine will] and is entrusted to them only for that purpose.

This, without a doubt, is the foundation and first principle of all the duties of sovereigns, namely to let God Himself rule; that is, to govern according to His will which is nothing other than justice. Thus it is the rule of justice which should be the glory [of the rule] of princes.


Among the rights of the sovereign, the first is the right to administer justice, the foundation of public order, whether he exercises it himself as occasions arise or whether he lets it be exercised by others whom he delegates for the purpose ....


This same right to enforce the laws, and to maintain order in general by the administration of justice and the deployment of sovereign power, gives the prince the right to use his authority to


enforce the laws of the Church, whose protector, conservator, and defender [sic] he should be; so that by the aid of his authority, religion rules all his subjects....


Among the rights that the laws give the sovereign should be included [the right] to display all the signs of grandeur and majesty necessary to make manifest the authority and dignity of such wide-ranging and lofty power, and to impress veneration for it upon the minds of all subjects. For although they should see in it the power of God Who has established it and should revere it apart from any visible signs of grandeur, nevertheless since God accompanies His own power with visible splendor on earth and in the heavens as in a throne and a palace...

He permits that the power He shares with sovereigns be proportionately enhanced by them in ways suitable for arousing respect in the people. This can only be done by the splendor that radiates from the magnificence of their palaces and the other visible signs of grandeur that surround them, and whose use He Himself has given to the princes who have ruled according to His spirit.


The first and most essential of all the duties of those whom God raises to sovereign government is to acknowledge this truth: that it is from God that they hold all their power [sic], that it is His place they take, that it is through Him they should reign, and that it is to Him they should look for the knowledge and wisdom needed to master the art of governing. And it is these truths they should make the principle of all their conduct and the foundation of all their duties.


The first result of these principles is that sovereigns should know what God requires of them in their station and how they should use the power He has given them. And it is from Him they should learn it, by reading His law, whose study He has explicitly prescribed for them, including what they should know in order to govern well.


These general obligations ... encompass all the specific duties of those who hold sovereign power. For [these obligations] cover everything that concerns the administration of justice, the general policing of the state, public order, the repose of subjects, peace of mind in families, vigilance over everything that can contribute to the common good, the choice of able ministers who love justice and truth [sic], the appointment of good men to the dignities and offices that the sovereign himself needs to fill with persons known to him, the observance of regulations for filling other offices with people not subject to his personal choice, discretion in the use of severity or mercy in those cases where the rigor of justice may be tempered, a wise distribution of benefices, rewards, exemptions, privileges, and other favors; good administration of the public finances, prudence in conducting relations with foreign states, and lastly everything that can make government pleasing to good people, terrible to the wicked, and worthy in all respects of the divine mandate to govern men, and of the use of a power which, coming only from God, shares in His own Authority.



We may add as a last duty of the sovereign, which follows from the first and includes all the others, that although his power seems to place him above the law, no one having the right to call him to account, nevertheless he should observe the laws as they may apply to him. And he is obliged to do this not only in order to set a good example to his subjects and make them love their duty, but because his sovereign power does not exempt him from his own duty, and his station requires him to prefer the general good of the state to his personal interests, and it is a glory for him to look upon the general good as his own. DOCUMENT THREE “Because ruling over and maintaining such a centralized system required care and attention, Louis XIV in 1661 wrote a series of memoirs to his son, the dauphin. These memoirs not only provided practical advice for the king's heir, they also provide us with insight into royal attitudes and priorities. Sadly for Louis XIV, the dauphin died before his father, and it was Louis's great- grandson who became Louis XV in 1714.” (Take directly from 8.html) Letter to his Heir By Louis XIV Text Source: Louis XIV. “Letter to his Heir” in Western Societies: A Documentary History, Vol. 1. ed. Brian Tiernry and Joan W. Scott. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000. Inasmuch as my chief hope in these reforms was based on my will, their foundation at the outstart rested on making absolute my will by conduct which should impose submission and respect: by rendering scrupulous justice to all whom I owed it; but in the bestowing of favors, giving them freely and without constraint to whomever I would, and when it should please me, provided that my subsequent action should let others know that while giving reasons to no one for my conduct I ruled myself none the less by reason, and that in my view the remembrance of services rendered, the favoring and promoting of merit—in a word, doing the right thing— should not only be the greatest concern but the greatest pleasure of a prince. Two things without doubt were absolutely necessary: very hard work on my part and a wise choice of persons capable of seconding it… I gave orders to the four Secretaries of State no longer to sign anything whatsoever without speaking to me; likewise to the Controller, and that he should authorize nothing as regards finance without its being registered in a book which must remain with me, and being noted down in a very abridged abstract form in which at any moment, and at a glance, I could see the state of the funds and past and future expenditure. The Chancellor received a like order, that is to say, to sign nothing with the seal except by my command, with the exception only of letters of justice, so called because it would be an injustice


to refuse them… and to all my subjects without distinction I gave liberty to present their cases to me at all hours, either verbally or by petitions. At first petitions came in very great numbers, which nevertheless did not discourage me. The disorder in which my affairs had been placed was productive of many; the novelty and expectation, whether vain or unjust, attracted not less. A large number were presented connected with law-suits, which I could not and ought not to take out of the ordinary tribunals in order to have them adjudicated before me. But even in these things, apparently so unprofitable, I found great usefulness. By this means I informed myself in detail as to the state of my people; they saw that I was mindful of them, and nothing won their heart so much. Oppression on the part of the ordinary tribunals might be represented to me in such a way as to make me feel it desirable to gain further information in order to take special measures when they were required. One or two examples of this kind prevented a thousand similar ills…. I also made a resolution on a further matter. With a view better to unite in myself alone all the authority of a master, although there must be in all affairs a certain amount of detail to which our occupations and also our dignity do not permit us to descend as a rule, I conceived the plan, after I should have made choice of my ministers, of entering sometimes into matters with each one of them, and when they least expected it, in order that they might understand that I could do the same upon other subjects and at any moment. Besides, a knowledge of some small detail acquired only occasionally, and for amusement rather than as a regular rule, is instructive little by little and without fatigue, on a thousand things which are not without their use in general resolutions, and which we ought to know and do ourseles were it possible that a single man could know and do everything. It is not so easy for me to tell you, my son, what ought to be done in the choice of different ministers. In this matter, fortune plays always, in spite of us, as large or a greater part than sagacity; and in the part that sagacity is able to play, intuition can do far more than taking thought… To lay bare to you all that was in my mind, it was not to my interest to choose subjects of a more eminent quality. Before all else it was needful to establish my own reputation, and to let the public know from the very rank from which I chose them, that it was my intention not to share my authority with them. It was important that they should not conceive hopes of higher things than what it pleased me to give them—a matter which is difficult in the case of people of high birth. And these precautions were so necessary that even on that question the world was a fairly long time in getting to know me thoroughly. Several were able to persuade themselves that within a short time some one of those who approached me would take possession of my mind and my affairs. The greater number regarded the assiduity of my labours as a fervor which would soon relax, and those willing to judge it more favorably were waiting to form their opinions by results. Time has shown what to believe, and I have now been pursuing for ten years fairly consistently, as it seems to me, the same course, without relaxing my application; kept well informed of everything; listening to the least of my subjects; at any hour knowing the number and quality of


my troops, and the state of my fortified towns; unremitting in issuing my orders for all their requirements; dealing at once with foreign ministers; receiving and reading dispaches; doing myself a portion of the replies and giving to my secretaries the substance of the others; regulating the State receipts and expenditures; requireing those whom I placed in important posts to account directly to me; keeping my affairs to myself as much as any one before me had ever done; distributing my favours as I myself chose, and retaining, if I mistake not, those who served me in a modest position which was far removed from the elevation and poewr of prime ministers, although loading them with benefits for themselves and their belongings. Kings are often obligated to act contrary to their inclination in a way that wounds their own natural good instincts. They should like to give pleasure, and they often have to punish and ruin people to whom they are naturally well disposed. The interests of the state must come first. One had to do violence to one’s inclinations, and not place oneself in the position of having to reproach onesself as regards any important matter which …