The Court of Louis XIII, 1610-1643
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Louis XIII's reign has long garnered historians' and popular interest. The king of Cardinal Richelieu and the three musketeers, Louis is traditionally viewed as having presided over the development of the French state and facilitated the rise of absolutism. Yet his court has received comparatively little attention. Traditionally understood as the reflection of its master, Louis XIII's court has been assumed to be backwards and inconsequential. On the contrary, this thesis contends that Louis's court experienced substantial institutional development and expansion over the course of his rule. Neither Louis nor Richelieu was the principal instigator of this growth. The main drivers were the courtiers themselves who sought to expand their prerogatives and to find new ways of profiting from their offices. The changes that were initiated from the top down were not determined by a broad, sweeping agenda held by Louis or his minister-favourites but rather by immediate needs and contingencies. Cardinal Richelieu, nonetheless, recognised that Louis's court really mattered for high politics in this period: the royal households produced key players for the governance of the realm, either gravitating from court office to broader governmental office, or holding both simultaneously. Furthermore, Louis's court helped to bind the realm together, not just because it acted as a hub attracting people from the provinces but also because of the time it spent in the provinces. Richelieu, however, struggled to control this court — so vital to the direction of the French monarchy in this period — because its members were so active and vibrant. They shaped the cultural and social environment surrounding and associated with the court because they were heavily invested in the court as an institution. Indeed, the court did not only serve the needs of the monarch: courts could only operate because a large group of people had a stake in ensuring that they functioned. By establishing the importance of Louis XIII's court for the direction of the French monarchy, and his courtiers' role in moulding it, this thesis seeks to throw light on humans' fundamental relationship with power.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2027-10-17
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 17th October 2027
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