why is henry Navarre the ruler of france considered an "absolute monarch" and how did he rise to power?
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When Louis XVI succeeded to the throne in 1774, he was 19 years old. He had an enormous responsibility, as the government was deeply in debt, and resentment to 'despotic' monarchy was on the rise. Louis also felt woefully unqualified for the job.
As king, Louis focused primarily on religious uniformity and foreign policy. While none doubted Louis's intellectual ability to rule France, it was quite clear that, although raised as the Dauphin since 1765, he lacked firmness and decisiveness. His desire to be loved by his people is evident in the prefaces of many of his edicts that would often explain the nature and good intention of his actions as benefiting the people. He aimed to earn the love of his people by reinstating the parlements. When questioned about his decision, he said: "It may be considered politically unwise, but it seems to me to be the general wish and I want to be loved." In spite of his indecisiveness, Louis XVI was determined to be a good king, stating that he "must always consult public opinion; it is never wrong." He therefore appointed an experienced advisor, Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas who, until his death in 1781, would take charge of many important ministerial functions.
"Le Couronnement de Louis XVI" by Benjamin Duvivier honoring the 11 June 1775 coronation of Louis XVI
Among the major events of Louis XVI's reign was his signing of the Edict of Versailles, also known as the Edict of Tolerance, on 7 November 1787, which was registered in the parlement on 29 January 1788. This edict effectively nullified the Edict of Fontainebleau that had been law for 102 years. It granted non-Catholics – Calvinists Huguenots, Lutherans, as well as Jews – civil and legal status in France, and gave them the right to openly practice their faiths. The Edict of Versailles did not legally proclaim freedom of religion in France – this took two more years, with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 – however, it was an important step in eliminating religious tensions and it officially ended religious persecution within his realm.
Radical financial reforms by Turgot and Malesherbes angered the nobles and were blocked by the parlements who insisted that the King did not have the legal right to levy new taxes. So, in 1776, Turgot was dismissed and Malesherbes resigned, to be replaced by Jacques Necker. Necker supported the American Revolution, and he carried out a policy of taking out large international loans instead of raising taxes. He attempted to gain public favor in 1781 when he had published the first ever statement of the French Crown's expenses and accounts, the Compte rendu au roi. This allowed the people of France to view the king's accounts in modest surplus. When this policy failed miserably, Louis dismissed him, and then replaced him in 1783 with Charles Alexandre de Calonne, who increased public spending to "buy" the country's way out of debt. Again this failed, so Louis convoked the Assembly of Notables in 1787 to discuss a revolutionary new fiscal reform proposed by Calonne. When the nobles were informed of the extent of the debt, they were shocked into rejecting the plan. This negative turn of events signaled to Louis that he had lost the ability to rule as an absolute monarch, and he fell into depression.
As power drifted from him, there were increasingly loud calls for him to convoke the Estates-General, which had not met since 1614, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIII. As a last-ditch attempt to get new monetary reforms approved, Louis XVI convoked the Estates-General on 8 August 1788, setting the date of their opening at 1 May 1789. With the convocation of the Estates-General, as in many other instances during his reign, Louis placed his reputation and public image in the hands of those who were perhaps not as sensitive to the desires of the French public as he was. Because it had been so long since the Estates-General had been convened, there was some debate as to which procedures should be followed. Ultimately, the parlement de Paris agreed that "all traditional observances should be carefully maintained to avoid the impression that the Estates-General could make things up as it went along." Under this decision, the King agreed to retain many of the divisionary customs which had been the norm in 1614, but which were intolerable to a Third Estate buoyed by the recent proclamations of equality. For example, the First and Second Estates proceeded into the assembly wearing their finest garments, while the Third Estate was required to wear plain, oppressively somber black, an act of alienation that Louis would likely have not condoned. He seemed to regard the deputies of the Estates-General with at least respect: in a wave of self-important patriotism, members of the Estates refused to remove their hats in the King's presence, so Louis removed his to them. This convocation was one of the events that transformed the general economic and political malaise of the country into the French Revolution. In June 1789, the Third Estate unilaterally declared itself the National Assembly. Louis's attempts to control it resulted in the Tennis Court Oath (serment du jeu de paume), on 20 June, the declaration of the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and eventually led to the storming of the Bastille on 14 July, which started the French Revolution.(Louis' "diary" entry for 14 July, the single word "rien (nothing)" has been used to show how out of touch with reality he was, but the document was more of a hunting log than a personal journal. When he did not go hunting, he wrote "rien". He did not mean nothing important had happened that day). Within three short months, the majority of the king's executive authority had been transferred to the elected representatives of the people's nation.
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