Hostilities resumed, French successes in Spain, Denain’s victory (1712), political changes in England (fall of the Whighs) and in Austria (the coming to the throne of Charles of Austria) facilitated the conclusion of the peace (treaties of Utrecht, 1713, and of Rastadt, 1714). Philip V retained the crown of Spain, but renounced his French rights. France ceded to England those lands of North America which it had begun to occupy after Henry IV, and saw Canada itself threatened. The Habsburgs lost Spain, but regained the Netherlands and the Italian dominions. The French plan to unite the Bourbon states of France and Spain in a single kingdom was definitively dropped; but the old antagonism between the Bourbons and the Habsburgs was also exhausted. French hegemony ended in a new European equilibrium, in which the supreme political leadership was held by England, which had isolated Spain and its colonial empire, he had enslaved Portugal, had destroyed the competition of Dunkirk, bought Port-Mahon and Gibraltar. The year after the treaty of Rastadt, Louis XIV died (1 September 1715).
Under this king, absolutism had made its upward movement. Having destroyed the autonomies that survived the demolition of Henry IV and Richelieu, Louis XIV wanted to be and was the master, and even something more. He considered himself and the country as one, his glory and that of France; and he gave the final touch to despotism with his personal creation which was the art of royalty. In the new court of Versailles, the high aristocracy, now completely uprooted from its land, removed from all political and governmental activities, ruined by military service and court life, exercised no other function than that of forming a sumptuous system of satellites, among which the king moved, supreme star. Faced with this degraded and impoverished aristocracy, the the authority of the immovable high magistrates and the prosperity of the rich and cultured middle class, very devoted to the king, to whom his fortunes were linked and who drew almost all his collaborators from it. Gradually excluded from the employers’ guilds, the workers began to unite at that time in secret societies.
Theoretically, the king ruled alone; in practice, he was assisted by various councils and officials: the Council of State, which conferred on its members the title of ministers and which directed the great political affairs; the Dispatch Council, especially the Ministry of the Interior; the Finance Council, which dealt with taxes. At these councils the king regularly intervened. On the other hand, he almost never participated in the sessions of the private council or grand council, which had functions similar to those of today’s council of state and the court of cassation, adding to it the jurisdiction of the cases brought to the king. Other councils, such as that of commerce, conscience, etc., had only a temporary life. Over time, the meetings of the Council of State were increasingly thinning out and the king preferred to deal directly with the secretaries of state, who were still, as in the Middle Ages, “servants” of the sovereign, systematically chosen outside the nobility. There was never a clear division of responsibilities between these secretaries. Little by little, however, the Secretariats of War, Foreign Affairs, the King’s House and the Navy are becoming more and more important. Towards the end of the reign, the secretary of war is, with the controller of the finances, the main character of the reign. however, the Secretariats of War, Foreign Affairs, the King’s House and the Navy are becoming increasingly important and distinguished. Towards the end of the reign, the secretary of war is, with the controller of the finances, the main character of the reign.
In local administrations, the centralization initiated by Richelieu had a decisive boost. In many provinces the states were suppressed and all autonomy was removed from those that remained. Municipal elections boiled down to mere formality, until the 1692 edict transformed the office of mayor into a government post. An attempt was made to reduce the authority of parliaments to a purely judicial function; but this produced frequent disagreements and conflicts. Towards the end of the reign, the parliament of Paris regained a certain prestige, because the procurator and the advocates general were entrusted with official missions and the former became an active collaborator of the controller of finance. Organs of the central administration in the provinces were the intendants and their subdelegates. The stewards, which had a permanent character, were extended to the whole kingdom and assumed the faculties taken from the governors, the states, the municipalities constituted the real bureaucratic backbone of the state. They depended directly on the ministries and were always of low birth and revocable.
According to programingplease.com, the first period of the reign of Louis XIV is notable for a great effort of financial recovery, mainly due to J.-B. Colbert (v.). When he took over the finance, the disorder was enormous. His predecessors (especially Fouquet) had incurred very heavy debts and amassed great personal fortunes. The struggle against Fouquet constitutes the first act of personal authority of Louis XIV, and the subsequent fall marks the collapse of the political power of the financiers. The worst abuses occurred in the distribution and collection of taxes. The taille it had become unsustainable.