Essay about France: The Most Powerful Nation during the 17th Century

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France: The Most Powerful Nation during the 17th Century

As Spain ended its reign of the being the most powerful nation in the 16th Century, France took its place soon after. Three kings ruled France throughout the century; Henry IV, Louis XIII, and Louis XIV. They all played a huge role in France becoming the most powerful nation during the 17th century. First, Henry IV strengthened the economy. Secondly, Louis XIII made the government more efficient and centrally controlled. Lastly, during Louis XIV’s reign, French culture dominated Europe and he organized the government with an improved economy. King Henry IV was in power from 1589-1610. During his reign, with the help of the Duke of Sully who was the financial minister, they implemented mercantilism. This meant that France was exporting many goods, such as gunpowder, salt, silk, and precious metals. However, they would limit importation of goods. This system generated huge amounts of money for France, while having to spend little to no money on importing. He also reduced the royal debt by making budgets and reforming the tax system to make it more equitable and efficient. King Louis XIII reigned from 1610-1643. Aided by Cardinal Richelieu, they issued the Intendant System. This system weakened the nobility and replaced local officials with civil servants, called intendents. These intendents were responsible for finance, justice, and police, in each of France’s 32 districts. They report directly to the king. Because of this, the government became more efficient and centrally controlled. Additionally, Louis XIII signed the Peace of Alais, which revoked the Huguenots political rights. The Protestant cities could not have walls also. Furthermore, Louis XIII and Richelieu both wanted to weaken the Hapsburg Empire because they wanted France to be the strongest country in Europe and because the Hapsburg Empire ruled land around France. Therefore, France involved itself in the Thirty Years’ War to weaken them. Lastly, King Louis XIV ruled from 1643-1715. His nickname became the “Sun King”, because he was the center of French power. He was also an Absolutist, which is one person that has unlimited power that God has given them. First, France culture dominated Europe. French became the international language in Europe, with France being 20% of Europe’s population. With the large population and a higher tax, France could easily maintain a standing army. France got a large amount of their tax money from controlling the peasants, which was around 95% of the population. The peasants paid around 80% of their income to the property owner, government, and the church. With this in…