Louis xiv, considered to be the greatest king of France, ruled the country from 1638 to 1715. King Louis exercised enormous powers not only in France but on the continent of Europe too. Though he inherited power in 1638, he assumed real power after the demise of Jules Cardinal Mazarin, The First Minister. King Louis amassed a lot of power to himself making him a personal ruler. Frederick William was the Duke of Prussia from 1640 to 1688. His intelligent domestic policies and reforms saw Prussia occupy a respectable position in North- central Europe political setting. The Great Elector’s efforts were rewarded by the elevation of Prussia from a duchy to a kingdom. Pyotralexeyevich Romanov assumed the reins of power in Russia 1682. He would later rule the Russian empire until his death. He is renowned for westernizing and expanding Russia.
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A notable similarity among the three rulers is that they all had a reform agenda in their respective jurisdictions. They were all military rulers of great repute. They all embarked in centralizing power and expanding it. It is important to note that none of these rulers relinquished power, death met them at the helm. Both their economic and military achievements are commendable. They were also characterized by imperialistic tendencies. Both King Louis and Peter the Great went ahead to build great empires. They transformed and their armies from small and not so influential entities to revered military powers.
It is possible to draw similarities of monarchs by looking at the three monarchs’ domestic and foreign policy. They all exhibited absolutism. The king makes decisions and they have to be followed to the letter. He centralizes and consolidates power and becomes a personal ruler. In monarchs, economic and a military power are the pillars of a great empire and determines its survival and expansion. Monarchs mainly have imperialistic ambitions.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was the first president of France. He seized dictatorial powers in 1851 and crowned himself the emperor. Napoleon proclaimed peace to foreign governments but this later proved to be a lie. His country (empire) was involved in a number of conflicts during his reign as president and emperor. He was determined to expand France and make it more powerful and more glorious. He had an overambitious plan of re-drawing Europe’s boundaries and creating a unified state. Though he believed in his plan, many saw it as adventurous and with minimal relevance to the interests of France.
Napoleon Bonaparte believed that military successes were only temporary but he succeeded in modernizing the military a great deal. He aspired to make France a great power and had a dream of forging an alliance with Great Britain so as to check Russian expansion. Napoleon III also signed a commercial treaty with Great Britain.
Most of Napoleon’s hopes were never to be realized. For one, he had an anti-papal policy, he hated Italy and went to war with Austria largely due to a personal grudge he had against an Italian assassin who made an attempt on his life. During his reign, the opposition expanded from five members in 1857 to thirty two in 1863. His venture in Mexico and Latin America proved to be costly. He had to withdraw French forces from this region soon after the end of the American civil war. Thus his dream of checking USA power and expansion failed. His unprecedented failures in Mexico and in Prussia and in foreign affairs in general strengthened the opposition. After conflict with the German principle Otto Van Bismarck war broke out and the ailing empire died during the battle of Sedan.
- Howard, Jones. Crucible of Power: A History of American Foreign Relations to 1913. Lanham, MD: SR Books 2002
- John Bierman. Napoleon III and His Carnival Empire. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1988,
- Fenton Bresler. Napoleon III: A Life. Carroll & Graf Publishers 1999