Henry VIII and Louis XIV


Henry VIII and Louis XIV were both men whose accomplishments on a
national level for their respective countries of England and France were great,
but whose very different personal problems gave them a negative impression in
history.
The two leaders had very different ruling styles, but with a few similar
themes throughout. Perhaps the best thing to look at first is their very
different attitudes toward God and Godıs power in monarchy and state. Henry
VIII on England grew up as a very strong Catholic, at the insistence of his
mother and father. He was known to be ³a man of daily devotionals, setting an
example for his people² (Canon 76). His own writings, most especially a book of
Catholicism entitled The Sanctoreum earned him the title from Pope Leo III the
title ³Defender of the Faith.² His book had served as an answer to the
teachings of Martin Luther, a man whose principals Henry later put into effect
in his very own country, in the Protestant Reformation.
France, however, was a very strongly Catholic country where the Roman
church had a great deal of influence. Louis, although supposed not to be a very
fastidious devote of the religion, or any religion, took part in a minor
reorganization of the Roman Catholic Church inside France. It is apparent now
that Louis basically went along with the reforms dictated by the pope in regards
to religion.
In economic matters, the two rulers perhaps differed even more greatly.
Henry was a fastidious economist, often commenting about the expense of things
at the royal court, and taking action to have whatever the latest offense to the
treasury happened to be. Louis, however, spent extravagantly, sparing no
expense for himself or his nobles. His ultimate goal was once again to make the
court of France the center of fashion and art once again. He created Versailles,
a monstrosity of Baroque art, most of it gilded with pure gold and other
precious metal. It is a sprawling country estate with an even more spectacular
exterior than interior. Louis bankrupted the Treasury of France through another
extrvangance as well: his wars. Louis fought four major wars. His great aim
was to make himself supreme in Europe. As a start, he planned to conquer all
lands west of the Rhine River. He gained several important territories, but was
always checked by the alliances that other countries formed to oppose him. In
the War of Spanish Succession, England took an important part in defeating him,
leading to animosity between the two countries and their respective rulers.
This war, which ended in 1714, left France exhausted and weakened.
Both men had a common ability to see the goodness in other men as royal
advisors. Both hired surprisingly intelligent and wise men to run their affairs
for them, perhaps Henry even more than Louis XIV. One of Henryıs chief advisors
is immortalized in Shakespeareıs ³The Life and Times of Kind Henry VIII².
Cardinal Wolsey is spoken of there as ³a man such as history had never yet laid
their eyes upon, a man who could have others get his own will enforced²
(Shakespeare 78). Wolsey spent little time at the British court, but the time
he spent was valuable. He served as chief advisor to a young, newly crowned,
and impressionable King Henry. He formed Henryıs ideas about government, spoke
for the monarch in assembly, and reputedly taught Henry everything he knew about
economics from an early age. Two other advisors are also known to history as
serving in Henryıs later life, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More.
Likewise, Louis XIV, in a mark of true genius, was wise enough to
appoint someone wiser than himself to run the government. He had many, and
oddly, most of their names have been erased from history. Jean Baptise Colbert,
advisor to Louis in his formative years as a monarch, later wrote in prison, ³
The man was a fool, but would not surround himself with other fools² (Olivier
178).
In their personal lives, the monarchs had a great number of similarities.
Both Henry VIII and Louis XIV were fond of women, drink, and debate.
Henry is perhaps most famous for his six wives, and the bloody ends that
most of them came to. Out of six, only two were not banished, publicly executed,
or otherwise humiliated. A quick rundown: Katharine Aragon of Spain, Henryıs
first bride. She was banished from royal view and stripped of her title after
she failed to produce sons and Henry fell in love with a young lady in waiting
named Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn: was executed