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Absolutism

Absolutism

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Published by marq
An essay for an honors world history class comparing the Machiavelli like qualities of Elizabeth I and Louis XVI.
An essay for an honors world history class comparing the Machiavelli like qualities of Elizabeth I and Louis XVI.

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Published by: marq on Oct 10, 2007
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12/16/2012

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Mike GerowBendelHon. World History10/10/07Machiavelli believed in a government leader that exhibited both lion-like qualitiesand fox-like qualities. Lion-like qualities show utter power, and a defense for territorythat strikes fear into a leader’s enemies’ eyes. Conversely, fox-like qualities exhibitsubtle actions taken to achieve a larger goal: acting sneaky and clever to weave throughthe traps of one’s enemies. Though Elizabeth I and Louis XIV exhibit political policiesthat utilize Machiavelli’s ideas by employing lion and fox like practices through their aggressive political actions and cunning means of solving daunting religious and political problems, Elizabeth tends to show more fox-like qualities, while Louis tends to showmore lion-like qualities.Despite Louis favoring more lion-like qualities, both Elizabeth and Louisovercome enormous obstacles using their fox-like qualities. Perhaps Elizabeth’s mostimportant fox-like action was her combining of the Catholic Church and the Protestantchurch into one Anglican Church.
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With great finesse, she satisfies both the Catholicsand the Protestants by drawing pieces from each religion. This action relieved Englandof much of the friction between Protestants and Catholics and led to religious stability for many years to follow. On the other hand, Louis XIV acted cleverly when dealing withthe nobles. Louis had decided to renovate the palace in the city of Versailles to make itmuch more beautiful and rich. This attracted the nobles, who wanted a way to show their wealth to the world. Nobles would live in this palace and compete with other nobles to
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 be highest in the King’s favor, which made the nobles focus less on politics. Louis wasthen able to reign uncontested (Littell 521). Conversely, Elizabeth proved to be wisewhen she tried to make peace with her sister, Mary queen of Scotts, in 1560. This waswise not only because Scotland was geographically close to England, but also becauseMary was also next in line to be the queen of England. This scared both Elizabeth andthe English people, as Mary was a devout Catholic, and the Anglican Church had already become the prime church in England. Elizabeth was thoughtful of being in favor with theScots throughout this, though. Mary was kept in a tower in Elizabeth’s castle, where shewould be imprisoned until her death, 23 years later, in 1583 (204-205). This all broughtstability to the church in England, and also brought stability to the relationship betweenEngland and Scotland, thereby accomplishing Machiavelli’s ultimate end: stability. Thisis not to say that both of these great leaders did not have fierce lion-like qualities inneeded situations.Both Elizabeth and Louis XVI showed aggressive qualities, but Louis tends to usethese tactics more often than Elizabeth. Louis XIV was known for being the pinnacle of absolutist rule of France, even boasting that “[he was] the state” (Littell 519). In fact,Louis was particularly defensive of his title, by making himself appear to be the “SunGod,” making his subjects fear him as if he were truly a God (536). Under Louis’ realabsolutist government he had supreme control. This fear of Louis made radicals andnobles afraid to act up, or point out the King’s wrongs, because doing so would beconsidered speaking out against a god and the divine right of kings. Louis simply makesthe people believe that without Louis, there would be no prosperity or light at all.Elizabeth shows these qualities too in her dealing with the want for reform in the
 
Anglican Church. With the harsher policies she passed, which required people to only believe in the Anglican Church, and required uniformity among all churches, moreradical Protestants, along with Catholics, suffered from persecution. One such catholic, aJesuit missionary, was tortured on the rack in 1581 and subsequently died, while in 1587a Puritan was executed for speaking about his religion in parliament (204). These twoacts seem harsh, as both of these people essentially still believed in Christianity, but if one looks at the possible outcomes of either of these paths, it is plain to see whyElizabeth wanted to scare the followers of these radicals as much as possible. First of all,either way would have led to change, and therefore a lack of stability. Second, and mostimportant of all, the people of England would become split amongst themselves, and civilwar would most likely occur. Elizabeth chose the quick decisive action of striking fear into anyone else who might think they can change the country. Louis proves to be morelion-like, though, through his revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Louis had already begunforced conversion of French Huguenots to Catholicism, but this revocation truly made itlegal under the state. With this revocation all Huguenots were forced to convert or beexiled and all Huguenot churches were destroyed (541). It is unclear to an outsider whyLouis would revoke such an old Edict—the Edict of Nantes had been put into act byLouis’ grandfather Henry IV. Under closer examination, a country with multiplereligions would not accomplish Louis’ goal of “one king, one law, one faith” (541). Also,this would conflict with Machiavelli’s theories, as tolerance would make Louis appear weak, and also the unification of religion would get rid of any tendencies for fighting between either of the religions. Aside from all this, the move was a popular one amongaristocrats of the time and helped Louis gain favor among his people.

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