Je m’en vais, mais l’État demeurera toujours. Dernière déclaration de Louis XIV sur son lit de mort, remettant la crédibilité de la citation le disant être l’État en questionThe Kingdom of France (French: Royaume de France) is a sovereign state comprising territory in western Europe and several overseas territories. The French Kingdom is one of the most powerful states in Europe, a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with significant possessions in North America.
France borders From northeast to southwest, Flanders, Holy Roman Empire, Switzerland, Kingdom of Sardinia (under Habsburg Spain), and Spain. The papal territory of Avignon is an enclave.
France in the early modern era was increasingly centralized, the French language began to displace other languages from official use, and the monarch expanded his absolute power, albeit in an administrative system (the Ancien Régime) complicated by historic and regional irregularities in taxation, legal, judicial, and ecclesiastic divisions, and local prerogatives. Religiously France became divided between the Catholic majority and a Protestant minority, the Huguenots. After a series of civil wars, the Wars of Religion (1562–1598), tolerance was granted to the Huguenots in the Edict of Nantes.
The long reign of Louis XIV (1643–1715)
No other French sovereign single handed shaped France's present and future as Louis XIV (1643–1715),also know as Louis the Great (Louis le Grand) or the Sun King (le Roi-Soleil), consolidating absolute monarchical rule, creating centralized state, forging an a major European power and starting a colonial power.
Louis XIV began his personal rule of France in 1661 after the death of his chief minister, the Italian Cardinal Mazarin. An adherent of the concept of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin of monarchical rule, Louis continued his predecessors' work of creating a centralized state governed from the capital. He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France and, by compelling many members of the nobility to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles, succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during Louis's minority. By these means he became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France.
During Louis's reign, France was the leading European power and it fought three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession. There were also two lesser conflicts: the War of Devolution and the War of the Reunions. Louis encouraged and benefited from the work of prominent political, military, and cultural figures such as Mazarin, Colbert, the Grand Condé, Turenne and Vauban, as well as Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Lully, Marais, Le Brun, Rigaud, Bossuet, Le Vau, Mansart, Charles and Claude Perrault, and Le Nôtre.
Under his rule, the Edict of Nantes which granted rights to Huguenots was abolished (1685). The revocation effectively forced Huguenots to emigrate or convert in a wave of dragonnades. Louis XIV managed to virtually destroy the French Protestant minority, which had survived more than 150 years of wars and persecution under previous French kings.
Warfare defined the foreign policies of Louis XIV, and his personality shaped his approach. Impelled "by a mix of commerce, revenge, and pique," Louis sensed that warfare was the ideal way to enhance his glory. In peacetime he concentrated on preparing for the next war. He taught his diplomats their job was to create tactical and strategic advantages for the French military
Colonial ventures and empire
During the 16th century, the French colonization of the Americas began. But Spain's jealous protection of its foreign monopoly, and the further distractions caused in France itself in the later 16th century by the French Wars of Religion, prevented any constant efforts by France to settle colonies. The story of France's colonial empire truly began in 1605, with the foundation of Port Royal in the colony of Acadia in North America. A few years later, in 1608 Quebec, which was to become the capital of the enormous, but sparsely settled, fur-trading colony of New France (also called Canada).
As the French empire in North America grew, the French also began to build a smaller but more profitable empire in the West Indies.
French colonial expansion was not limited to the New World but also included West Africa and India.
The French colonial empire consisted:
In the Americas
- New France (including Canada and Louisiana )
- French West Indies (including Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, La Grenade, St. Croix, St. Vincent, Saint-Christopher, Tobago and other smaller islands)
- French Guyana.
In the Indian Ocean
- Île de Bourbon
In India (before the Carnatic Wars)
- Chandernagore (1673)
- Pondichéry (1674)
- Yanam (1723)
- Mahe (1725)
- Karikal (1739)
In India (after the Carnatic Wars)
- French Carnatic Coast (capital Pondichéry)
- French Malabar-Kerala Territory (Capital Mahe)
- French Northern Circars (Capital Yanaon)
Protectorates and suzerainties after the Carnatic Wars:
Like all major colonial empires ( i.e.British Commonwealth and Dutch Republic), commercial enterprise and colonization of the colonies was organized in chartered companies, vastly reformed by Jean-Baptiste Colbert (minister of Finances).
- The Company of One Hundred Associates (formally the Compagnie de la Nouvelle France, or colloquially the Compagnie des Cent-Associés or Compagnie du Canada) was a French trading and colonization company chartered in 1627 to capitalize on the North American fur trade and to expand French colonies there. The company was granted a monopoly to manage the fur trade in the colonies of New France, which were at that time centered on the Saint Lawrence River valley and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. In return the company was supposed to settle French Catholics in New Colonies.
- The Company of the American Islands (Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique) a chartered company that in 1635 took over the administration of the French settlements in the Caribbean and was mandated to actively colonise other islands. It was dissolved in 1651 and most of its activities later taken over by French West India Company.
- The French East India Company (Compagnie française pour le commerce des Indes orientales) a commercial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch East India companies in the East Indies.
- Company of Senegal (Compagnie du Sénégal)
- Company of Guinea (Compagnie de Guinée)
- The French West India Company (Compagnie française des Indes occidentales) a trading company founded in 1664 by Jean-Baptiste Colbert. The company received the French possessions of the Atlantic coasts of Africa and America. It had its headquarters in Le Havre.
- The Mississippi Company (compagnie du Mississippi), a commercial and colonizing enterprise in Louisiana.
- The Royal Company of Africa (Compagnie royale d'Afrique), with its headquarters in Marseille, for trading in Algeria and North Africa.