17th century France  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
French literature of the 17th century, 17th century

France's pacification under Henry IV laid much of the ground for the beginnings of France's rise to European hegemony, although at his death in 1610, the Regency of his wife Marie de Medici suffered from internal conflicts with the noble families. France was expansive during all but the end of the seventeenth century: the French began trading in India and Madagascar, founded Quebec and penetrated the North American Great Lakes and Mississippi, established plantation economies in the West Indies and extended their trade contacts in the Levant and enlarged their merchant marine.

Henry IV's son Louis XIII and his minister (1624-1642) Cardinal Richelieu, elaborated a policy against Spain and the German emperor during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) which had broken out among the lands of Germany's Holy Roman Empire. An English-backed Huguenot rebellion (1625-1628) defeated, France intervened directly (1635) in the wider European conflict following her ally (Protestant) Sweden's failure to build upon initial success.

After the death of both king and cardinal, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) secured universal acceptance of Germany's political and religious fragmentation, but the Regency of Anne of Austria and her minister Cardinal Mazarin experienced a civil uprising known as the Fronde (1648-1653) which expanded into a Franco-Spanish War (1653-1659). The Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) formalised France's seizure (1642) of the Spanish territory of Roussillon after the crushing of the ephemeral Catalan Republic and ushered a short period of peace.

For most of the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), France was the dominant power in Europe, aided by the diplomacy of Richelieu's successor (1642-1661) Cardinal Mazarin and the economic policies (1661-1683) of Colbert. Renewed war (the War of Devolution 1667-1668 and the Franco-Dutch War 1672-1678) brought further territorial gains (Artois and western Flanders and the free county of Burgundy, left to the Empire in 1482), but at the cost of the increasingly concerted opposition of rival powers.

French culture was part of French hegemony. In the early part of the century French painters had to go to Rome to shed their provinciality (Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain), but Simon Vouet brought home the taste for a classicized baroque that would characterise the French Baroque, epitomised in the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, in the painting of Charles Le Brun and the sculpture of François Girardon. With the Palais du Luxembourg, the Château de Maisons and Vaux-le-Vicomte, French classical architecture was admired abroad even before the creation of Versailles or Perrault's Louvre colonnade. Parisian salon culture set standards of discriminating taste from the 1630s, and with Pascal, Descartes, Bayle, Corneille, Racine and Molière, French literate culture swept Europe.

Following the Whig establishment on the English and Scottish thrones by the Dutch prince William of Orange in 1688, the anti-French "Grand Alliance" of 1689 inaugurated more than a century of intermittent European conflict in which Britain would play an ever more important role, seeking in particular to keep France out of the Low Countries.

The battle of La Hougue (1692) was the decisive naval battle in the Nine Years War (1689-1697) and confirmed the durable dominance of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "17th century France" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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