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Les armées de Louis XIV comme sociétés de cour

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This 10,000-word essay, based on original research in French archives and libraries, looks at the structural and cultural parallels between royal armies and princely courts, focussing as a case study upon the armies and court of Louis XIV during the king's "personal rule" (1661-1715). It suggests that the French standing army, as it developed in this reign, was of a very different kind socially and culturally from those of later, 18th-century states like Prussia, at least at the level of the high command and in the prevailing culture of command. With the presence of leading court aristocrats and princes in the French high command out in the field with the armies, the general staffs of the field armies replicated not only the actual tensions and disputes present at the apex of society, but a great deal - like in a princely court - depended upon access to the supreme figure in an army. And somewhat like Louis XIV's court, his armies might contain aristocratic factions within the high command, disrupting orderly management of the force and at times threatening its cohesion. Sometimes the principal commander himself, through favouritism, might make his force harder to deploy, with knock-on consequences on military effectiveness. For as long as military politics was closely connected with broader socio-political issues associated with "civilian society", this courtly culture in the high command would persist.


Translated title of the contributionThe armies of Louis XIV as court societies
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationCombattre et gouverner
Subtitle of host publicationDynamiques de l’histoire militaire de l’époque moderne (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles)
EditorsBertrand Fonck, Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac
Place of PublicationRennes
PublisherPresses Universitaires de Rennes
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9782753540446
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
EventConference - Vincennes, France
Duration: 1 Dec 20112 Dec 2011



    Research areas

  • France, Army, Louis XIV, court, high command

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