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By J. H. Shennan

Appears on the king and his ideals, family difficulties, and international coverage.

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Sample text

They therefore represented a divisive, unreliable element among his subjects, an affront to royal dignity and authority. Indeed, there was evidence to link some Jansenists with the Frondes: this distinguished them from the Huguenots, who remained loyal throughout the civil wars. Louis also distrusted the movement because of its democratic spirit. It emphasized the role of ordinary priests in the government of the Church, and of laymen in the conduct of church services. The spread of such ideas would threaten to undermine the authoritarian, strictly regulated hierarchy of Church and State over which Louis presided.

France’s weakness on the eastern frontier was eased by the acquisition of Franche-Comté in the same settlement, but the situation in that region remained confused and potentially dangerous. There were still a number of gateways from the Empire through which enemies of France might threaten the state’s security. The three imperial bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun were strategically situated on the north-eastern frontier. They had been occupied by French troops since 1552 but it was only at the Peace of Westphalia (1648) that they were finally acknowledged as sovereign possessions of the French king.

By this arrangement a single syndicate took over responsibility for the indirect taxes raised from internal customs dues and from the sale of salt, food and drink. The immediate effect of this re-organization was to improve the tax yield sufficiently to enable Colbert to reduce the taille. All these fiscal measures were introduced between 1661 and 1671, and as a result the king’s real income doubled. With the exception of the relatively small-scale War of Devolution (1667–8) these were years of tranquillity for France.

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