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bution of well defined powers and functions had been established. Nor did Richelieu develop such a system. His policy was directed toward the advancement of the kingly authority at the expense of the nobility, and to the exercise of power through officers appointed by the king for their fidelity, rather than their rank. The Parliaments, of which at the accession of Richelieu to power there were nine namely of Paris, Toulouse, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Dijon, Rouen, Aix, Rennes and Pau and to which he added Metz, at times manifested some degree of independence and assumed powers to regulate taxation and give advice to the king. In 1641 Louis XIII published an edict prohibiting the Parliaments from interference in affairs of administration and confining them strictly to judicial functions. Though there were refusals to register edicts by some of the Parliaments, opposition was crushed and the king's unrestricted power enforced. There were, besides the states general of the whole kingdom, states provincial in Lauguedoc, Brittany, Burgundy, Provence, Dauphiny and Pau, through which these districts levied the taxes on themselves. These states provincial were convoked by the king and varied in their composition according to the district. Richelieu's policy was to curtail the power of the states and take away all restriction on the kings control of his finances. He established in each province overseers of justice, police and finance, chosen mostly from the burgesses, into whose hands the whole administration of local affairs was committed. By an edict of July 31, 1626, all the old castles of the great nobles were demolished, and through these overseers the powers of the nobility in local affairs were effectually curtailed. Only twice in his time did Richelieu convoke the Assembly of Notables, in 1625 and 1626. On Feb. 24, 1627, the last Assembly separated and was never again convoked till the revolution of 1789.
On the death of Richelieu another cardinal, Mazarin, an Italian, took his place and, though he encountered intense hostility and much internal commotion and external war, he died with the full confidence of Louis XIV and as primier wielded the actual power of the king. On his death in 1661
Louis assumed the duties of his office and notified his ministers that they were only to act on his command. In his reign was commenced the systematic distribution of administrative functions, with a secretary for foreign affairs, one for war and the army and another for finance. Neither of these had independent authority, but all worked under the king. Louis XIV had ideas of order and method superior to those of his predecessors. He labored to gather information and to direct the action of all his officers. He was the sole source of authority, and in the selection of his agents he sought to humble rather than elevate the great folks. The nobles however still held title to the land, and through its ownership were able to grind the poor to starvation. Louis with the aid of able ministers greatly curtailed the diversion of moneys collected as taxes into private pockets. By this means his revenues were increased and taxes lightened. The beginnings of the actual exercise of kingly power by Louis contained much that was good. He did much to develop an orderly government, with a head laboring daily for the welfare of the state, as he understood it. But Louis sought first of all his own aggrandizement. He was lavish in the expenditures of his court, but he built palaces and public works that were both useful and ornamental. Like most despots however, he sought to extend his power over his neighbors. The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy were subjected to his encroachments, and no sooner had his country begun to feel the advantages of his firm rule than he plunged it into war. The early period was one of glory (so called), for France. Her boundaries were advanced, and she took her place as the first power in Europe. But however great the successes in battle the drain of men and money in great wars necessarily impoverishes the nation, and the later years of the reign of Louis were years of misery among the people and disaster, defeat and loss of prestige in war. Religious toleration, established by the edict of Nantes and which had done so much to pacify France, came to an end in 1685, when Louis revoked the edict and drove out the Huguenots, to become either soldiers in the armies of his enemies or industrious
workers, furnishing money and supplies to them. The long reign of Louis was one of thoroughly recognized right of the king to rule, freed from all dictation and interference by the aristocracy. Obedience to him was considered the duty of all. The plentitude of the king's power and his love of displaying it drew to his court all the rich and high born of the kingdom. The magnificence of his court was noted throughout Europe. Nowhere else was there such an exhibition of wealth and luxury. Internal peace was the marked evidence of advancing views of social duty. Foreign war and military glory still offered the most alluring field for the ambitious, yet the age was one of intellectual awakening and the great names are not alone of soldiers, but of authors, artists, scientists and philosophers. Though nothing like attacks on the established system was tolerated, writers and teachers did not fail to discover and declare some of the moral truths bearing on the obligations of the ruler to the ruled. Priests taught virtue a little more and persecuted heresy far less. The luxury and magnificence of the court, to which all the great landowners gathered, withdrew from their estates whatever advantage might have resulted in their management from the education and intelligence of the owners, and left them to the care of impoverished peasants. To maintain great houses at Paris and Versailles, buy the gorgeous and expensive costumes of the time and give costly banquets, required the whole product of the estates. The peasants who did all the work were mercilessly robbed of the fruits of their toil, in order that the butterflies at the palace might appear in dazzling brilliancy. Order, obedience and law prevailed, but applied law in its aggregate results meant monstrous injustice, systematically and mercilessly enforced. Unfortunately this is by far too true of all systems of human laws. The idle favorites, who swarmed about the court fawning on the king for favors, were mostly quite without merit. True there were some such lofty natures as Fenelon, Pascal, Bossuet, Madame de Sevigne, La Bruyere, Moliere, Corneille, Racine, La Fontaine and other thinkers and writers, who were more or less about the court, whose plantings in the moral vineyard have
borne good fruits, but the recipients of the great bulk of royal bounty were worse than mere idlers. They were conspicuous examples of the corruption of a despotic system, living not merely useless, but debauched and vicious lives, not from the bounty of a rich king as the historians usually state it, but from the fruits of the labors of the needy poor, wrung from them either by the public tax gatherers on pretense of payment for public service, or as the share of the produce belonging to a landowner through a most unjust legal theory of ownership of the earth. Viewed at large the nation exhibited a brilliant court, permeated with moral pestilence, and a vast multitude of ignorant and spiritless toilers, who labored and died in misery and degradation. Happiness had no abiding place. At court all was a fever of hopes and fears, hanging on the smiles and frowns of a king.
Though Louis was king till his death, and though he never ceased to give personal attention to public affairs, the idea contained in the memorable expression “I am the state," gained a constantly increasing force in his mind, till the welfare of the people he should have served ceased to be a matter of consideration, and France became in his eyes but a setting to display his grandure and power. As his life drew towards its close he witnessed without profit the necessary results of his policy. The peasants, artisans and traders were impoverished and reduced in numbers by wars and oppressive burdens. The court demanded increased favors to sustain its gaieties. Foreign enemies combined against him, and his exhausted armies retired before them. Lack of troops and of money paralyzed the state, and famine and pestilence scourged the people.
In 1715 after reigning seventy-two years Louis XIV died, leaving the crown to his great grandson, a child five years of age. The will of the King, which made his illegitimate son, the Duke of Maine, guardian of the young King, and appointed a council or regency, was promptly swept aside by the Duke of Orleans, who, with the approbation of the Parliament of Paris and the populace, assumed the regency, freed from the restrictions with which the late King sought to circumscribe it. The regent attempted to organize a ministerial system with six boards, for foreign affairs, army, navy, church affairs, home affairs, and finance. To these were afterward added one for commerce. At the head of these, instead of men chosen on account of their fitness for work, he selected persons of rank, under whom men of inferior degree, but more capacity, were placed. The plan proved unsuccessful through lack of merit in his appointees. The scheme of Law to relieve the financial difficulties of the time, which has met with such severe and oft repeated condemnation, and which was productive of so many imaginary fortunes and so much real misery, yet had within it the idea, which has since been often utilized, of substituting credit paper for coin. His disastrous failure resulted more from the avidity with which the people took his shares and turned in their money, than from the inherent vice of the scheme. Most of the business of today is transacted on the theory that there is coin on deposit to pay credit balances due from banks and other financial institutions. As a matter of fact there is ordinarily about one dollar for every ten of debt in the aggregate of the banks, but this in ordinary times is sufficient. Confidence now supplies the place of coin. In Laws time confidence was excessive at first, but the panic quickly followed, and against panic there is no security. The Mississippi company might have been given a basis of real value equal to the wildest dream of Law, but it was in fact but a bubble too frail to stand the first prick of criticism.
In 1724 an edict was issued in the name of the young King, ostensibly as a tribute to the memory and to carry out the design of Louis XIV to extinguish heresy. This edict condemned “Preachers to the penalty of death, their accomplices to the galleys for life, and women to be shaved and imprisoned for life. Confiscation of property; parents who shall not have baptism administered to their children within twenty-four hours and see that they attend regularly the catechism and the schools, to fines and such sums as they may amount to together, even to greater penalties. Midwives, physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, domestics, relatives,