Louis XIV and his motto

Louis XIV was both King of France and a global ruler with global ambitions. He founded colonies in America, Africa and India, tried to seize Siam (as Thailand was then known), sent missionaries and mathematicians to the Emperor of China and launched the struggle for France’s global markets which continues to this day.  The motto he adopted early in his reign, in 1662, expressed his hopes and desires: “Nec pluribus impar” (literally “Not unequal to more”), meaning “not incapable of ruling other dominions”, as well as “not unequal to many enemies”.

That is from the new Philip Mansel book King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV.

Comments

“Not unequal to more”
A century later,
"Liberté, égalité, fraternité"

"kind of France"? King not so kind...

Options: he was "sort of" France... he was kind to his country... he was immature and speaking in German, as a child of France ("Ich bin ein Kind!"). I LVOE typos.

Interesting to think if Kind of French was the intended text, as royalty then, like billionaires today, have little to do with the broader society in which most people live their lives.

Though the assumptions of royalty then and billionaires today to be above the law (just ask Mr. Pedo about his upcoming trial) remains amazingly consistent.

To be fair, everyone in France was only kind of French back then.

Well, that certainly applies to those living in Straßburg in 1662, which is 19 years before the man those Straßburgers would have likely referred to as König Ludwig XIV expanded his territory without bothering to inquire about what anyone living there might have desired.

But as so often utterly ignored when talking about Europe, Louis XIV was a man whose reign was notably marked by wars, as that is the way European monarchs traditionally considered the best to make their nations greater.

'The War of the Reunions (1683–84) was a conflict involving France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and their allies. It can be seen as a continuation of the 1667-1668 War of Devolution and 1672-1678 Franco–Dutch War, which were driven by Louis XIV's determination to establish defensible boundaries along France's northern and eastern borders.

Despite the peace established by the 1678 Treaty of Nijmegen, Louis retained a large army, an action extremely unusual in the period. In 1681, his troops seized Strasbourg and in 1682 occupied the Principality of Orange, then a possession of France's main adversary, William of Orange.

This was followed by the outbreak of war in 1683; French expansion was helped by divisions among its opponents but these actions combined to unite them in the 1688 Grand Alliance, the anti-French coalition that fought in the Nine Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession ' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Reunions

Sending mathematicians to China is like sending mariachis to Mexico.

...in 1491.

Funny. I thought Confucianism/Maoism was great and the Chinese were better than Westerners. Why did they need Western mathematicians?

Chinese mathematics were more advanced for a very long time but during the Ming dynasty they were really bad.

After the overthrow of the Yuan Dynasty, China became suspicious of Mongol-favored knowledge. The court turned away from math and physics in favor of botany and pharmacology. Imperial examinations included little mathematics, and what little they included ignored recent developments. From a publication quoted on Wikipedia: "At the end of the 16th century, Chinese autochthonous mathematics known by the Chinese themselves amounted to almost nothing, little more than calculation on the abacus, whilst in the 17th and 18th centuries nothing could be paralleled with the revolutionary progress in the theatre of European science. Moreover, at this same period, no one could report what had taken place in the more distant past, since the Chinese themselves only had a fragmentary knowledge of that. One should not forget that, in China itself, autochthonous mathematics was not rediscovered on a large scale prior to the last quarter of the 18th century."

During this time Japan was busy buying European textbooks and Japanese doctors were overturning Confucian anatomy with the new insights, performing some of the earliest human dissections. They were in full possession of true Chinese culture but this was more useful because it could be used *against* China. Had the Chinese availed themselves of Louis' gifts they might have been better able to stand against those same Europeans.

King Louis XIV isn't a big deal in the English-speaking world, but my impression is that French intellectuals are always thinking about him.

It’s hard to beat Robespierre. If one wants to ponder important Frenchmen.

Lafayette. He was the twice the revolutionary the American Founding Fathers were. A true hero.

A very likable historical character, for sure. His historical significance is perhaps somewhat overvalued, though. In the American revolution, his role was mostly symbolic. In the French one, he was one of the important men of the first phase (1789-1791). After he spent time in a sordid German jail, he never recovered any major influence.

He gets overshadowed by Napoleon, I think, and his much higher body count.

Louis XIV reminds me of what a cuck I am.

He was busy with wars against Spain and German little kingdoms. Britain enjoyed a relatively peaceful period with Louis XIV.

Albeit, Louis XIV once owned all the land between modern Louisiana (south) and New Foundland (north) , and between the Appalachians (east) and New Spain (from Texas to Idaho). The USA could buy Louisiana from Napoleon because this not-so-big-deal guy.

Louis XIV is also interesting for modern Catalonia.

Catalans love to tell the story about independence from Spain on 1640. Well, they emancipated from Spain, offer support to Louis XIV and demanded protection from him in the context of the Spain-France war at the time. Louis XIV was a smart guy, or actually listened to his smart advisors. He kept a piece of Catalonia (Roussillon) as a condition to end the war with Spain.

A story with a great morale: do not support the Sun King or similar in any war. The Sun King has no allegiance to peasants and you will only be used as a bargaining chip in high level negotiations =)

"The Sun King has no allegiance to peasants and you will only be used as a bargaining chip in high level negotiations"

Reminds me of the current buffoon in the Oval Office. HK fights for its democracy but the Orange Idiot uses them for better trade deals.

Let’s imagine how that would go:

Trump: We stand with the Hong Kong democracy protesters. Hands off, Xi!
Xi: I knew it all along. Foreign elements are backing these anti-Chinese hooligans. Send in the People’s Army and end the rebellion!

Jay: Oops!

Then you fight back the Reds like your father and father's father did. When has Americans become a nation of do-nothing cowards? I bleed red, white and blue. I'm not a nothingberger like you.

" I'm not a nothingberger like you."

ROTFLOL. Zing! Ok seriously, President Bone Spurs is the last person to do anything to defend democracy. He'd rather let the Saudis get away with murder and the Chinese beat up on their people then squander his precious but increasingly stupid trade deals. Trump's NAFTA replacement still isn't even done yet. Tariffs everywhere (now on Scottish whisky, French wine, and Spanish olives, you know important national security stuff) but nothing to show except $22B in bailout money to farmers and higher prices for everyone. There's no rhyme, reason, or rationality to his actions other than to say "I did it because I can". That's no way to run a presidency.

Trump’s NAFTA isn’t done or hadn’t been voted on? I wonder why?

It took 15 years and the blessing of the WTO to actually get those tariffs.

The Scots deserve it. The French always deserve it.

You have a rich entitled life if your complaint is that the President is interfering with you swilling single malt or French wines.

At this point I might just have to dig up what tariffs they put on our goods. I’m old enuf to remember the French trying to ban English words.

Since the NBA seems to be pro-China, this could get fun.

Both Trump and Louis XIV believe the sun rotates around their presence.

It's a litote, a French construction whereby a double negation is high emphasis. In this case, it means "superior to all".

Louis XIV's crowning achievement was to shatter the nobility (which had rebelled against him in his youth) by bringing them to Versailles and cutting them off from their provincial power base, as well as direct management of their estates, bankrupting them with elaborate courtly potlatches thus making them dependent on the king. Thus he set up the forces that produced the French Revolution.

"Louis XIV's crowning achievement was to shatter the nobility." +1. But perhaps the hardest part of the job had already been done by Henry IV,
Louis XIV's grandfather, who confiscated all nobility's land into the royal domain (the nobles kept the income of their former land, but only thanks to the "generosity" of the king, not to their property of the land). Henry IV's ability to do that came probably from the fact that he decisively won a 10-year civil war before climbing on the throne.

'It's a litote, a French construction whereby a double negation is high emphasis. In this case, it means "superior to all".'

So it was only a kind of French translation?

He seems to have ruled by psychology. I've heard Louis would not doff his hat for any man, but would for all women, even lowly servants. Thus he gained an advocate in every man's wife.

His worst blunder was the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685) . Look it up

No, it wasn't.

I dunno about that. Didn't the guy lose a lot of wars in his day to the British? Seems like those might have been a tad more impactful.

Military strength ultimately rests on economic strength, and economic strength ultimately rests on how many Protestants your country has.

Ancient politicians talked incessantly about morality and virtue; our politicians talk only about business and money. ...According to them, a man has no value to the State apart from what he consumes in it. Thus one Sybarite would have been worth at least thirty Lacedaemonians. Would someone therefore hazard a guess which of these two republics, Sparta or Sybaris, was overthrown by a handful of peasants and which one made Asia tremble?

Wasn't France still a richer country than England in those days? The history I know of that era said that the British were poorer but were better able to marshal national resources in times of war due to the fact that they had a) a central bank to manage government debt and b) a central tax collection authority to raise revenues, whereas the French apparently relied on wealthy individuals making personal loans to government (often at high interest), and private tax collection agents, who were, as you might imagine, hopelessly corrupt in comparison. Not sure if you can credit either of those to Protestantism or not.

He fought mostly against the Spanish/Austrian/Dutch Habsburgs who encircled France, the English were an afterthought.

How about those Houston Rockets?

Why hasn't Trump come out in front and support Hong Kong democracy? Instead he's making impeachable, treasonous overtures towards China to spy on his political enemies. Trump admires too much the authoritarian ways of China unfortunately.

Compared to abandoning the Kurds, silence on Hong Kong is positively humane.

But hey, Jim Cramer just said Warren is anti-business, so both sides do it!

Update, Pat Robertson is "appalled" by Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria and says "The President of the United States is in great danger of losing the mandate of Heaven if he permits this to happen."

It's very "devine right of kings" to be talking about the mandate of Heaven, isn't it?

But very sad that American politics have gone this retrograde.

Isn't all the extreme weather we are experiencing God punishing the US for voting for Trump.

We know it is not climate change because Trump tells us that is fake news.

Louis XIV was the longest reigning European monarch (although that's a little misleading since he became king at the age of five upon the death of his father). His most notable accomplishment is the building of the palace at Versailles. His reign was that of an absolute monarch, so he was capable of ruling his own dominion as well as the dominion of others. Indeed, warfare (he fought three major wars) defined his reign: "Impelled "by a mix of commerce, revenge, and pique", Louis sensed that warfare was the ideal way to enhance his glory". Trump's favorite president is Andrew Jackson. In many ways Trump and Jackson are similar, in particular in picking their enemies well, Jackson picking native Americans and slaves, Trump picking immigrants and African Americans, and demanding absolute loyalty of his court (Jackson is known as the father of the party "spoils system"). But the better comparison would be Trump and a monarch and the divine right of kings, Louis XIV the absolute monarch of the past and the House of Saud the absolute monarch of today. Let's hope that Trump doesn't follow Louis XIV and adopt warfare as the ideal way to enhance his glory and, instead, follows the House of Saud and the occasional mob assassination.

Learning about and observing Trump's behavior and learning about the behavior of Brett Kavanaugh and other young men from affluent families, one might conclude that things have changed over the past 200 years only in degree and not of kind. That occurred to me as I read this article yesterday about the treatment of slaves by the young men who were students in the early years of Thomas Jefferson's university: https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/10/06/two-centuries-ago-university-virginia-students-beat-raped-enslaved-servants-historians-say/ Inequality makes monsters of the young men from affluent families. Why is that? Is it the inequality and the belief they are above the rest?

Or, for a more recent example, the behavior of the young Strom Thurmond.

Kavanaugh ? Bright guy, successful, good father and all around nice guy? What about him?

He may have groped a girl in high school. The horror.

Versailles his biggest accomplishment? What garbage. Unifying the realm as single state, setting the stage for the next 200 years? Colbert and modern scientific management? Cementing the French people around a language? Hello? He's the beginning of everything that's in place today and the definitive end to everything Middle Ages.

Some folks just can't wait for an American monarchy. Democracy is so passe.

From Adam Smith's TMS (251-2):

"It is a characteristic almost peculiar to the great Duke of Marlborough, that ten years of such uninterrupted and such splendid success as scarce any other general could boast of, never betrayed him into a single rash action, scarce into a single rash word or expression. The same temperate coolness and self-command cannot, I think, be ascribed to any other great warrior of later times—not to Prince Eugene, not to the late King of Prussia, not to the great Prince of Condé, not even to Gustavus Adolphus. Turenne seems to have approached the nearest to it; but several different transactions of his life sufficiently demonstrate that it was in him by no means so perfect as in the great Duke of Marlborough."

The Brits continually dishonor his memory by pronouncing his name "Mall-bruh." Terrible.

That wasn't the quote that I was expecting (but no one expects the French Exposition). It turns out the web is swarming with Louis XIV quotes, including some that are pretty good -- but contradictory.

"Laws are the sovereigns of sovereigns".
versus
"It is legal because I wish it".

"I am dying, but the state remains".
versus ... you know.

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