Examples Of Despotism Vs Absolutism

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Several historians argue that Louis XIV was a more despotic than absolutistic ruler. Adhering to the theory of the divine right of kings, Louis XIV “stretched the [monarchal] system to its limits,” ignoring the “traditional restraints recognized by most absolutists” (Beik 223; Fox 141). Although despotism and absolutism are incredibly similar in regards to exercising absolutistic rule, despotism is perceived to be a distinctly oppressive and cruel form of ruling. The “restraints” that William Beik mentions refer to attempts made by absolute leaders to distance themselves from cruel actions in order to retain popularity, an attempt that was not always made by Louis XIV. Academic historian Paul Fox similarly argues that “Louis XIV fitted into the despotic class of monarch,” as opposed to the “royal” class (Fox 138). Fox demonstrates this idea through Louis XIV’s stance on property…show more content…
As Paul Fox states, “Louis was less than a complete despot, and no tyrant” (Fox 142). There is great value in Fox’s statement because in his writings, Fox examines and extracts Louis XIV’s political theory directly from his manuscripts in order to investigate his ideology. Through Fox’s exploration of a primary source that was tied directly to the King’s own accounts, it can be justly concluded that Louis XIV was not a “complete despot.” While Louis XIV’s incredible focus on aggrandizement distinguishes him from most absolutists, Louis was distanced from pure despotism through an acceptance of his own “subordination to the Divinity” (Fox 140). This submission to God restricted Louis XIV’s actions and barred him from acting in too brutal of a manner. Louis XIV pushed the oppressive limits of absolutism during his reign, yet remained wholly absolutistic, never fully crossing over into a branch of true
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