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France; Southern Europe; the Pre-revolutionary Age.

Modern History. (a.d. 1492-1898). Peace of Westphalia to French Revolution (1648-1789).
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The death of Louis XIV. brought to the throne, at five years of age, his great-grandson as Louis XV. During eight years (1715-1723) Philip, duke of Orleans, a man of most profligate character, was regent, having as his chief minister the infamous Cardinal Dubois. A policy of friendship with England and of religious tolerance was favoured by these men. From 1726 to 1743, under the honest, well-meaning Cardinal Fleury, an economical and peaceful policy was carried out, until court-intrigues forced him into the wars of the "Polish Succession" and the "Austrian Succession," with no advantage to the country. After his death, affairs fell into the hands of the debauched king's favourite, the marquise de Pompadour, with the most deplorable results. The issues to France of the Seven Years' War, in Europe and America, have been given. After Fleury's day, in Macaulay's words, "the downward progress of the monarchy recommenced. Profligacy in the court, extravagance in the finances, schism in the Church, faction in the Parliaments, unjust war terminated by ignominious peace - all that indicates and all that produces the ruin of great empires, make up the history of that miserable period. Abroad, the French were beaten and humbled everywhere, by land and by sea, on the Elbe and on the Rhine, in Asia and in America." De Pompadour, on her death in 1764, was succeeded by the still viler comtesse du Barri, a woman of low origin. In 1771 the last relic of constitutional government passed away in the abolition of the Parliament of Paris, the chief law-court of the country. It was only under the due de Choiseul's administration, from 1758 to 1770, that anything was done to improve the naval and military forces, and matters went again to ruin under the influence of Du Barri. The political and social conditions were appalling to discerning observers. The higher clergy were mere greedy landed proprietors and creatures of the court, a pampered caste, leaving all the duties of religion to the village cures. The nobles had become a set of vicious courtiers, wielding local influence and authority on their estates, for the most part, only in the interests of oppression and self-indulgence, neglecting all duties, never forgetting to enforce their fiscal rights. The privileged classes - the nobles and clergy - paid little in taxes, and to them most offices of emolument were confined. Sinecures in every province, in all branches of administration, preyed upon the earnings of the classes who created the wealth of the country. The man who tilled the soil was mulcted in half its produce. In bad seasons he and his wretched wife and children fed on roots, boiled nettles, and even on grass. Strange diseases, due to starvation and improper food, appeared. In the chateau all was luxury; in the cottage leanness prevailed. At Versailles idleness, extravagance, pompous etiquette, heartless frivolity, profligacy of the vilest character, unbelief in the very men who were paid to maintain the state-religion, were presided over by one of the worst of worthless kings, a man who knew what was coming in the latter days, and who predicted, half in callous scorn, half in a feeble fit of remorse, "After me, the flood." Some accession of territory came in the annexation of the duchy of Lorraine, and the conquest of Corsica in 1769, after its rising against Genoa under Paoli.

The death of Louis XV. in 1774 left the throne to his grandson Louis XVI., with a hopeless prospect of affairs, past remedy, in all probability, by any man or set of men of whatsoever ability in government or devotion to duty. The new sovereign, a dull, well-meaning sort of man who might have been a good artisan in machine-work, was already married to the frivolous and indiscreet Marie Antoinette, daughter of Maria Theresa. She never interfered in political affairs without doing harm, and she paid a fearful penalty for her faults in supporting the old system of favourites and in resisting, reforms The Sandal difficulty was taken in hand by the able and honest Turgot, but he was driven from power in 1776, when he proposed to tax the nobles and the clergy on an equal basis with the trading classes and the tillers of the soil. The Church and the aristocracy "would not have reform, and they had revolution. They would not pay a small contribution to the state-expenses in place of the odious corvees (or enforced labour of the peasants on the lord's estate and on the public roads without pay), and they lived to see their castles demolished and their lands sold to strangers. They would not endure Turgot; and they were forced to endure Robespierre." Necker, a Swiss banker of Paris, was finance-minister from 1777 to 7781, and abolished some hundreds of superfluous offices. His reforms were not far-reaching enough to stay the continual deficits, and only irritated the privileged classes. The gap between income and expenditure was ever increasing, and the country went swiftly down the slope. Under Calonne, a favourite of the queen, from 1783 to 1787, the debt grew largely from the extravagant expenditure of the court, the position of affairs having been already greatly aggravated by war with England after the revolt of the American colonies. No more suicidal step could have been taken by a French government than one which increased the financial difficulty; encouraged rebellion of subjects against a sovereign; aided the American colonists to a success which greatly stirred the rising democratic spirit in France; and brought back to the country troops infected with the revolutionary poison. The "Assembly of the Notables," a meeting of the chief nobles, officials, and distinguished persons of every rank, in 1787, was a feeble attempt to stem the tide. Calonne was dismissed from office when he urged the nobles and clergy to yield their privileges and pay a land-tax; the assembly was dissolved; and in August, 1788, Necker was recalled, and it was resolved to summon a States-General, or national parliament, a body unknown since 1614, in the days of Richelieu. There, on the edge of the precipice, we leave the French king and privileged classes.

In Spain, we left Philip V., first of the Bourbon kings, settled on the throne by the Treaty of Utrecht, with the loss of Spanish possessions, as we shall see, in Italy, and of Sardinia, Minorca, Gibraltar, and Flanders. The supporters of his rival, the Archduke Charles of Austria, in Catalonia and Aragon, were severely punished, and all their old constitutions and rights were abolished. For a few years, from 1714 to 1720, under the able Italian statesman Cardinal Alberoni, much was done to develop the resources of the country, to increase foreign trade, and to remodel the military and naval forces, but his ambitious foreign schemes, against England and France and Austria, seeking to involve all Europe in war, caused his downfall. Ferdinand VI. (1746-1759), son of Philip, kept the country generally at peace, and his half-brother Charles III. (1759-1788), who had been successively duke of Parma and king of Naples and Sicily, was a wise ruler who called to his councils the best Spaniards of the age; reformed the grossly corrupt colonial administration; promoted manufactures and trade; and failed only in his attempt to recover Gibraltar. The population and wealth of the country increased, and Spain was enabled to take a considerable part in the naval warfare of the later years of the century and of Napoleon's earlier time as emperor.

We saw Portugal recover complete independence in 1668, under the regency of Dom Pedro, married to the queen on her divorce from the wretched Alfonso VI., who was dethroned and banished to the Azores. On this man's death in 1683 he became king as Pedro II., and maintained the same course of strict economy and peace, enabling the country to recover from exhaustion due to past troubles. In 3 703 a close alliance was formed with Great Britain in the famous Methuen political and commercial treaty, whereby the Portuguese wines, notably port, entered England at lower duties than those of France and Germany, in exchange for manufactured goods on the same terms, while friendly relations of great advantage to Portugal were established. English colonies of merchants arose in Lisbon and Oporto; English capital caused an increase of wealth; and the importation of English articles of luxury and comfort gave Portugal a marked difference in domestic display from the other southern countries of Europe. No advance, however, was made towards political freedom' and representative institutions, and the ignorant people remained sluggishly content under absolute rule. Under Joseph I. (1750-1777) there was a temporary increase of vigour in national life through the influence of the able and resolute marquis de Pombal, the greatest of all Portuguese statesmen, and one of the chief men of mark in the 18th century. He was the Richelieu of Portugal, supported in all his measures by the sovereign whose power he made greater than ever in breaking down the authority of the nobles The army was remodelled; the internal administration was reformed; slavery was abolished; the Jesuit order was suppressed. After the memorable earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, which laid the capital in ruins, with the loss of at least 30,000 lives, Pombal displayed his admirable energy in the work of restoration. In later years, hundreds of useless petty offices were abolished; the Inquisition was made almost powerless for harm; education, agriculture, and, especially, the growth of the vine, were encouraged; and Pombal was equally admired by king and subjects. Banished from court by Joseph's successor, his eldest daughter, Maria Francisca, Pombal died, at an advanced age, in 1783. The new ruler was almost an imbecile, and was practically deprived of power in 1792.

In Italy we find Venice, in the latter half of the 17th century, much engaged in conflict with the Turks. In 1645 the Ottomans, without any declaration of war, sent a great armament against Candia (Crete), composed of over 400 galleys and 50,000 troops. Canea, at the north-western point of the island, was forced to surrender, after the Venetian commandant of the citadel had blown up the fort with himself and the garrison. From this secure base of operations, the invaders spent 24 years in subduing the whole of Crete. Great exertions were made by the republic, and her appeals for aid brought volunteers from all parts of Europe, with troops and money from the Pope, soldiers under the Knights of St. John from Malta, and some help from Louis of France and the duke of Savoy. Great heroism was displayed by the Venetian commanders and men, and some brilliant naval victories were won, in the Dardanelles and off the island of Paros. In 1660 Francesco Morosini took the command of the republic's forces in Crete, where the chief town, Candia, had been for years besieged. From May to November in 1667 the place underwent 32 assaults; 17 sorties were made; 618 mines were sprung by the assailants and defenders; over 3,000 of the-besieged, besides 400 officers, perished, and the Turks lost 20,000 men. During the whole operations, extending over 20 years, the loss of the Turks much exceeded 100,000, and that of the Christians was over one-fourth of that number; the fortress fired above half a million cannon-shot, and 9,000 tons of lead were used for musket-balls by the besieged. It was towards the end of this remarkable leaguer that the Due de la Feuillade, as we have seen, headed a body of French "crusading" nobles, but their fiery valour was vainly expended in attacks on the enemy's trenches, contrary to Morosini's advice, and the remnant died of plague and other disease. Then Louis sent a reinforcement of 12 regiments of foot, a small body of cavalry, and some of the famous " household" troops, under the Due de Noailles as general, the Due de Beaufort being admiral of the fleet. They found Candia reduced to the last extremity - every building in utter ruins or much injured; mines ever springing; the streets strewn with the dying and dead; pestilence rife. The new-comers, with a rashness again vainly opposed by Morosini, at once made a sortie against the Turkish lines, only to be defeated. 200 heads of fallen Frenchmen, including those of the Due de Beaufort and some of his chief officers, were cut off and borne in triumph before Kiupergli, the grand vizier; and this disaster caused the other French troops, with the Maltese, Papal soldiers, and other foreign contingents, to abandon the enterprise in despair. The end of Morosini's heroic defence was come. He received honourable terms, due to the respect inspired by his conduct and that of his countrymen, and in September, 1669, Crete passed into the possession of Turkey.

The Venetian republic was fast decaying through an obstinate adherence to the old oligarchical system, and was verging on bankruptcy when the long Cretan warfare ended. During 14 years of peace the finances were somewhat restored, and in 1684 Venice joined a new league against Turkey, and, with the same Francesco Morosini in supreme command, gained glory in the struggle. In 1685 a series of victories at Navarino, Argos, Nauplia, and other places gave possession of the Morea (Peloponnesus) in Greece. Then came the attack on Athens, with results to be lamented by lovers of art. In a bombardment of six days the whole town was fired. The glorious statue of Athena by Phidias was destroyed, and the Parthenon, turned by the Turks, on their capture of the city in 1456, from a Christian church into a mosque, and then into a powder-magazine, was greatly damaged by an explosion. Morosini, eager to save a few trophies, sent the marble lions from the Piraeus to Venice, where they yet guard the entrance to the arsenal. The victor was received at home with rapturous delight, and had an unprecedented honour in the placing of his bust, during his lifetime, in the Hall of the Council of Ten. This "last of the Venetians" was chosen Doge in 1688, by the unanimous public voice, and died at Nauplia in 1694, in command of a fleet on its way to the Archipelago. Many naval victories were won by the Venetians before the Peace of Carlowitz ended the war in 1699. During the War of the Spanish Succession the republic was neutral, but her territory was again and again overrun by the armies of Villeroi and Catinat, of the Due de Vendome and the Duke of Savoy, and of Prince Eugene. In 1714 Turkey declared war, and Venice lost, town by town, her possession of the Morea, where the people had not come to love their new masters. Corfu was saved to the republic, after a brave defence, and the Peace of Passarowitz, in 1718, left her in possession of the Ionian Islands; of parts of Albania and Dalmatia; of 1stria and Friuli; and of Bergamo, Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, Rovigo, and other places on the Italian mainland. During the rest of the 18th century, down to the wars following on the French Revolution, Venice presents the melancholy spectacle of decay. The nobles, from whose ranks glorious leaders had emerged in the past days, became mere lovers of pleasure, sunk in indolence and vice. Impoverished members of the aristocracy kept public gaming-tables, and even, in some cases, begged in the streets. The Council of Ten, with popular support, ruled with an iron sway, and put to death, without public trial, known conspirators and suspected men. Some useful reforms were made in the opening of the port to free trade; in the curtailing of donations and legacies to religious institutions; in the restriction of the absurd number of festivals and holidays; in the expulsion of the Jesuits; and in the suppression, in 1780, of the Ridotto, or chief public gaming-house. Four years later, the expiring state gave a last sign of life in vigorous action against the corsairs of Tunis, Algiers, arid Tripoli. A fleet was dispatched to the African coast, and in a three-years' war much was done to rid the Mediterranean of a long-standing peril and disgrace.

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Pictures for France; Southern Europe; the Pre-revolutionary Age.

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