Louis Vi's Consolidation Of Power

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In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli, a prominent Florentine advisor, wrote The Prince, a treatise in which he provides the council necessary for a prince to rule. He provides a plethora of advice, often distilled to that ends certainly justify means in matters of state, it is better to be feared than loved, and a monarch ought to do whatever is necessary to protect his power. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of a king that demonstrates such a philosophy advocated by Machiavelli is Louis XI, reigning in the middle of renaissance France, from 1461 to 1483. He is partly responsible for bringing about the absolute monarchy that keeps France from instability for centuries to come and is one of the most influential powers in defining the modern state.…show more content…
His focus during his reign was to instill power into the monarchy, and he did so by reducing the power of the Dukes and by dealing with his old co-conspirators, despite them being prior friends, in order to protect his position. Machiavelli claims that the choice of advisors reflects upon the prince, thus he ought to choose those that will best serve him. Knowing this, Louis XI imprisoned many of the prior officials, removed many nobles from office, and appointed many ministers of lower rank if they could prove useful. Just as Machiavelli writes that officials should not be too comfortable in their places, Louis XI removes many government positions in order to create demand and make law more efficient. In order to increase the monarchy’s funding, he practiced extreme miserliness, a virtue that Machiavelli promotes due to its use to the state, and passed extreme tax reforms. He constantly held a presence in all his territories, a practice which Machiavelli supports, by often surprising local magistrates and inspecting their rule to see if it was up par, passing regulation where necessary. Just as the Romans had done, he created a large system of roads, which partially gave him his nickname as “The Spider King”, in order to keep the reaches of the Kingdom in close contact, for which…show more content…
Domestically, the Duchy of Burgundy was a thorn in the side of the monarchy historically, as it often fell into revolt. During Louis XI’s reign, after he purchased land from Philip III, the Duke of Burgundy, Charles I, Philip III’s son, soon usurps his father’s position and attacks Louis XI, resulting in a stalemate. Charles I then creates a league with other discontent Dukes to oppose the monarchy. When the people of Liège later rebelled against their duke, Louis XI initially sided with them and stirred up the riot with his men. However, after being captured by Charles I, Louis XI was forced to make a truce and ruthlessly put down the revolt, massacring thousands and betraying those he sided with, as the ends of protecting his power overruled the evils he had to perform. However, as soon as Louis XI escapes Charles I’s reach, he immediately breaks the truce and mounts an army, just as Machiavelli advocates that a prince ought to break any promises if beneficial. Following this, Louis XI hires many Swiss mercenaries in exchange for his own men, a move which Machiavelli firmly disapproves, as mercenaries have little allegiance. Charles I subsequently fights the mercenaries, attacks Switzerland, and is destroyed by Swiss forces. Louis XI then comes, takes control of the conquered land, and executes many of the officials. As Machiavelli claims that the king ought to do things for his people

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