The king and the cardinal : the emergence of majesty
Burlingham, Clay Elliott
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Even to contemporaries Louis XIII was an enigma, for he seemed to be the very embodiment of opposites. For example, when he overthrew his mother's Regency government in 1617, he claimed she had treated him as a child not as a son, yet the moment his 'coup' was successful he did not attempt to consolidate his authority, but sat on the floor "playing the child" he now claimed his mother had never allowed him to be. Further, he demanded the obedience of his nobility, yet continued to do things which elicited their scorn rather than their respect. After all, he fawned over court favorites, spoke with a stutter and seemed to enjoy his toy canons as much as he did the royal army he now ostensibly controlled. The purpose of this work is to show not only that Louis was a King without majesty, even though he was addressed as 'Your Majesty', but how he gradually came to acquire that majesty under the tutelage of Cardinal Richelieu. It does this first by drawing on the thought of Jean Bodin, the sixteenth century jurist, who showed that majesty flowed from sovereignty, and sovereignty meant that a ruler must not be subject to another in anything. Second, it applies this definition of sovereignty and majesty to Louis XIII, showing in detail how he did not even have control over his own life, much less over his court, country and coasts. It was Richelieu who gave him this control, making his rule unquestioned both in practice and in theory, separating him even from the scrutiny of the Catholic Church by making that Church subordinate to the state. Even more, Richelieu taught Louis how to carry himself like a King. Most of all, however, he taught Louis that the essence of majesty did not lie in demanding obedience but in exuding an authority that commanded it.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Copyright DateApril 1999
France - sovereigns
France - history - 17th century