Best Monarch of France?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mental_Wizard, Apr 18, 2017.

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Best French Monarch?

  1. Philip II Augustus

    38 vote(s)
    32.8%
  2. Napoleon I Bonaparte

    27 vote(s)
    23.3%
  3. Louis XIV the Great

    22 vote(s)
    19.0%
  4. Charles VII the Well-Served

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Charles V the Wise

    6 vote(s)
    5.2%
  6. Francois I the Roi-Cheavlier

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Louis XI the Universal Spider

    1 vote(s)
    0.9%
  8. Henri IV the Green Gallant

    12 vote(s)
    10.3%
  9. Louis VI the Fat

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. Louis VIII the Lion

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  11. Saint Louis IX

    5 vote(s)
    4.3%
  12. Louis XIII the Just

    4 vote(s)
    3.4%
  13. Other?

    1 vote(s)
    0.9%
  1. Mental_Wizard High King of the Sea Peoples. The Apostate.

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    Note: This does not include any Presidents. Contemporary politics have no place in this historical assessment.

    Second Note: France is considered to have started with the Capetian dynasty for the point of this poll. While Charlemagne and others ruled what is now France, they will not be included in this.

    If I left someone out who was the best, let me know! I am happy to add monarchs to the list.
     
  2. PoeFacedKilla Prussian Killer Bee

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    No love for Louis XIII, he did bring France back from the hundred years of civil war with the protestants.
     
  3. dcontreras Coach C

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    He has never been given the credit he deserves for teaming up with, as the senior partner, Cardinal Richelieu in making the crown the powerful entity that it became in France as well as making France the most powerful nation-state on the continent.

    I guess you should take heed about the scorn of a woman, as he dies while his son Louis XIV was still young (5 years old) and his widowed wife, Anne of Austria, whom he did not treat well during his lifetime, got her revenge by making sure he was not included favorably in the history books of the day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  4. Tyler96 Well-Known Member

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    The Three Musketeers might also have had a negative effect on how people see Louis XIII.
     
  5. dcontreras Coach C

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    I agree. The Louis XIII in the Three Musketeer movies especially always depict him as a bit of a baffoon. I recommend reading the biography of "Louis XIII the Just" by A. Lloyd Moote. It really delves into his role and partnership with Richelieu in the beginnings of absolutism in France.
     
  6. aegis03florin Well-Known Member

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    Philip II Augustus. Without him and his legacy, France cwillould not be the same.

    Louis XI, XIII and XIV are also very high on the top.
    I admire Napoleon but... I think he had done also a lot of harm to France....
     
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  7. Clandango Well-Known Member

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    Indeed. If he had managed to keep things as a republic and to somehow keep France to the land on the near side of the Rhine and Piedmont,,l well, he wouldn't have been Emperor if he didn't keep moving. Shame Napoleon III isn't here. Then again, he certainly had a few problems. Stretched so far, but that only meant he failed more often.
     
  8. Matteo Well-Known Member

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    I totally agree.

    Philip Augustus is THE Statesman that defined France. He turned what was just a nominal kingdom into the number one power in Europe and France's preeminence as number one power literally lasted 600 years. The way he organized the downfall of the Plantagenet "empire" is an incredible masterpiece.

    Charles V was also one of the greatest french kings. He took power, even before being crowned, in disastrous conditions (the battle of Poitiers and then the Bretigny treaty and the legitimacy of his dynasty being contested, and he reconquered most of the lost territories of his kingdom in barely a decade and at a minimal cost.

    Charles VII, as his contemporaries were well aware, was extremely well served and lucky but was a poor king.

    Louis XI seems way overestimated since his so called "masterpiece" as a universal spider led to the formation of the Habsburg-Trastamara coalition that would encircle France for 2 centuries. So whatever were his skills, his action literally ended in a disaster for France.

    Francis I probably was one of the worst kings of France. He just benefitted from good propaganda because he was a great arts sponsor.

    Someone else than Henry IV could very well have performed the end of the religions wars between catholics and protestants. Henry IV had indeed long been the head of the protestant party and he in fact finally opted for the national reconciliation only because he needed it to become king since he was the legitimate heir but was rejected by the catholic majority.

    I agree on the fact that Louis XIII is very underestimated. He was not a puppet in Richelieu's hands. He was great at finding talents, hiring talents and irrevocably supporting the very talented people that served him. This an essential quality of a great Statesman.

    Without a Louis XIV, France could have had an other great king in his younger brother Philip of Orleans who also was a very good general. Philip of Orleans was as fond of arts as Louis XIV, would have benefited form the same skilled people as Mazarin, Louvois, Vauban, Colbert, ... etc, and he would probably have avoided the terrible mistake of repealing the Edic of Nantes.

    And as far as Napoleon is concerned, he could have been the best monarch France ever had if he had not made fatal mistakes because of his hubris but he finally sealed the end of France's position as number one power in Europe.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  9. aegis03florin Well-Known Member

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    I agree with your analyze, however I will nuance it a little bit.

    You are so right with Louis XI. I will add also the fact that he was a terrible son and fought against his father who tried to curb the power of the great seigneurs.

    Francis I was the worst of the decent kings, as France had a hell a lot of worse ones....

    Louis XIV also make critical mistakes (Versailles, the exacerbated cult of personality, revoking edict of Nantes, rejecting the Netherlands proposal to split Spanish Low countries between themselves, the Spanish succession could be settled differently, etc) but he also makes more good than harm (significantly expanding French borders, breaking the Hapsburgs surrounding, curbing the nobles, bringing stability the country, pushing France to its heights in terms of prestige and glory) . It was not his fault that his grandson and successor was so idiot. He also lived too long.
     
  10. Matteo Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you on the fact that, although overestimated, Louis XIV still was indeed one of the great kings of France.
     
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  11. darthfanta THE MAN WHO WILL BE KING

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    Feb 15, 2015
    Personally,I think Louis XIV spent too much money on wars that yielded only a small amount of territory,as well as antagonizing a large part of Europe in doing so.
     
  12. Mental_Wizard High King of the Sea Peoples. The Apostate.

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    I misspelled Chevalier.

    facepalm.

    Please excuse this.
     
  13. The Undead Martyr Make Prussia Great Again

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    Philip II Augustus.

    Started his reign as primus inter pares of over mighty vassals, ended it as king maker for the HRE and with the Angevins broken and bloody, establishing France as the premier power of Europe for the next 600 years.

    His son wasnt too shabby either. I don't think any other French monarch actually invaded England, that's got to win him some points.:biggrin:
     
  14. Yorel Well-Known Member

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    I voted Napoleon because there are a great deal of reforms he made that are still being used in modern-day France. That and I'm kinda biased towards him: I know he had his failings but I can't help but admire the man. It's also the last time France was the First World Power arguably: after that it was still among the Great Powers but no longer #1.

    If I had to make a Top 5 of all the propsed ones, here is the one I'd give:
    1. Napoleon I - For reasons already stated.
    2. Philip II Augustus - The man who turned medieval France into a major power.
    3. Louis XIV - The Sun King did a lot and he basically made France into the major power of the XVIIth Century
    4. Charles V - Set the basis that would turn the tide in the Hundred Years War
    5. Saint Louis IX - The great continuator of his grandfather's reforms. A very respected figure in his time also thanks to his piety and care for justice.
    I think he pays a bit too much the fact that he was a very distant man and a complex character. He also pays the fact of not having been as flamboyant as his father Henri IV and son Louis XIV. And then there is the fact his right-hand man was none other than Armand Jean Du Plessis de Richelieu, one of the most cunning and effective politicians France ever had, and a very romanesque characters. Add in Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers where he is protrayed in a rather unfavorable light and you basically have the reason Louis XIII is probably the least well-known character among the Kings of France from the House of Bourbon.
    To be fair, I think this should more be blamed on his successors than on the Spider King himself. Charles VIII especially since he's basically the one who threw everything out of the window: he rejected his marriage to Maximilian I's daughter despite the fact it would have brought back a good deal of Charles' the Bold inheritance into the realm (I admit his new wife allowed Britanny to become part of France but still) and is the one who started the mess known as the Italian Wars, just because he wanted Naples. That more than anything is why the Spanish and the Habsburg got closer.
    Politically, Francis I wasn't the greatest admittedly. Still, he was a huge patron of the arts: it doesn't make up for all his mistakes but gotta give him credit for that. He's basically one of the reasons France has always been held as a bastion of culture.
    To be fair to Louis XIV, some of his mistakes can be explained by his personnality and his life. Him creating Versailles and his obsession with making the King the center of everything are directly linked to the trauma the Fronde left on him. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes happened at a time where he had become more religious (following the Affaires des Poisons and his relationship to Mme de Maintenon) though it also followed a certain pre-existing logic (Louis XIII and Richelieu had curtailed the Protestant's power, this was one step further), his dealings with the Netherlands were linked to his personnal distaste of William III and the Spanish Succession War got the way it did because he was too proud of his family (though Carlos II's insanity and last minute will can also be blamed). As for the fact he lived too long, it's more the fact the end of his reign ended in bad luck: the smallpox epidemic that killed his sons, two of his grandsons and the eldest of his great grandsons and left only the future Louis XV as a successor to the throne, a boy of five at the time. Things would have turned out quite differently if there had been no smallpox to decimate Louis XIV's family.

    I would also mention that Louis XV hismelf can partially be excused by his personnality: he saw most of his family die at a very young age and was always a bit of a loner. Add to that he was a bit depressive and suddenly you understand why he wasn't so great in the great scheme of things. At least he left us with a pretty strong French XVIIIth Century in the art department.
    Louis XIV admitted on his deathbed that he had warred a bit too much. He even asked his great grandson not to repeat that mistake. You also have to remember that glory and demonstration of power was a huge deal in the XVIIth Century politics.
     
  15. longsword14 Well-Known Member

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    Charles V, now if only he had his son smothered...
     
  16. Skallagrim Not the Skallagrim from YouTube. Different fellow.

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    Philip II Augustus, for sure. Louis XIV is a close second. Both had their failings - as do we all - but both were indisputably great kings who in the end left an incomparable mark on the destiny of France. Philip II Augustus wins out because replacing him leaves eveything in boubt and uncertainty. Replace Louis XIV with a totally average do-nothing king, and France is still France, more-or-less with the same general shape and the same sort of wealth we know it to have. But replace Philip II in that way, and suddenly France may not exist. At least not in a way we would find really familiar. That makes Philip the "man who made the difference", more than any other French king.

    As for Napoleon: actually not that great for France. He blazed through the world like a meteor, and then he burned out-- leaving many things charred in his wake. Very dramatic, and certainly a "great man". A special and highly talented individual. But did his legacy do that much for France? His legal and institutional reforms certainly changed things, but did he make France greater or leave it with more power in the long run? No, not really. Of all the candidates here, Napoleon probably left the greatest mark on world history during his lifetime... but he wasn't the one who delived the greatest results for France.
     
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  17. Matteo Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, it is hardly questionable that Napoleon was by far the most talented, the most gifted man that France ever had as head of State.

    The man was :
    - a natural leader,
    - a visionary Statesman,
    - both a thinker and a man of action,
    - a great reformer and organizer (he implemented in just a few years all the reforms that the french monarchy had been unable to implement in decades, in almost a century,
    - one of the greatest generals of History.

    And however, his so many gifts was the main cause of his downfall because he finally came to think that nothing was impossible and took too many risks. It also drove him to think only he could perform decisive actions and he failed to delegate or to accept others' advice when it would have been sound to do so.
     
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  18. The Zeppelin Chevalier

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    Wow, that's a really hard choice. I considered naming Louis XIV and Napoleon I but, alas, both of them didn't achieve the goals they really could have. I admire both of them and Napoleon is my personal hero, but in the end his losses caused France to lose a great part of its greatness. Louis XIV certainly was a great kind who made France the most powerful state in Europe but he had his mistakes, as was pointed out earlier in the thread.

    So, for me, it boiled down to choosing between Louis XI - the man, who crushed the power of Burgundy for good and Henry IV, well, kudos for ending the Wars of Religion and bringing protestants into the realm. He cared for his people regardless of religion, fought against the Spanish, encouraged expedition to America and wanted his subjects to benefit from his rule. What is more, the French fondly remembered him. Ah, if only he was not assasinated, mayhaps, he would have enjoyed a great success against the Holy Roman Empire.

    Why isn't Philippe IV le Bel on the list? Surely he was a great king, even though his successors failed to uphold his legacy.
     
  19. aegis03florin Well-Known Member

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    Because the Templars.... :p

    True, Philippe IV was a great king. Still, not the greatest. He had many success but several fails.
    Among his fails and errors were:
    - Losing the grasp over Flandres
    - Pope affair (sending Guillaume to arest the pope.... who lucly died)
    - Templars, Jews and Lombards affairs (and to extension the financial issues)
    - Nesle Tower affair... he practically blow up his dynasty by making it public.

    And... I forget the last one: marring his daughter Isabelle to England ! :) Well, he could not knew what will lead to, but still. :)


    Concerning Louis XI yes, he destroyed Burgundy but what he give birth to was even worse (Habsburg Burgundy)
     
  20. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    How could you vote for Napoleon? He lost and left France smaller than he found it.

    I would go with Henri IV.