Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Junko T. Takeda


Absolutism, Diplomacy, Louis XIV, Mediterranean, Seventeenth Century, Venice

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities



Historians of Louis XIV’s reign have debated evolutions in the king’s administration. Such studies, despite heterogenous conclusions, better define our understanding of absolutist authority in the ancien régime as manifested through a process of so-called bureaucratic centralization. Scholars debate to what extent the monarchy achieved centralization amid the interests of individuals and corporations suspended in traditional hierarchies and socio-cultural expectations. Recently, scholars have posited that Louis’s government accommodated the concerns of its ministers through gratifications and social advancement compelling obedience to the Bourbon dynastic state. This dissertation considers for the first time how a politics of accommodation characterized the Crown’s rapport with a selection of diplomats in the years of Louis XIV’s personal rule.

Specifically, I examine five ambassadors serving Louis XIV in the Republic of Venice. Focusing on French ambassadors in Venice accomplishes three tasks. First, ambassadors’ stories highlight how dynasticism perfused the personal ambitions of diplomats as much as it did those of the Crown. The dynastic imperative informed the choices of individuals within the diplomatic corps, and a desire to advance personal fortune and family honor fueled their participation in Louis’s foreign ministry. Secondly, diplomats’ correspondence from Venice elucidates French politics with Venice, other Italian states, and within the commercial and maritime spheres of the Mediterranean Sea. I consider how centralization facilitated or impeded Louis’s hegemonic strategies in Italy and in the sea. Finally, I argue that the Venetians maintained diplomatic relevance for the French until 1702. Traditional narratives claim that Venice “declined” on the international stage by the mid-seventeenth century, but I underscore that Louis XIV viewed Venice as a robust polity critical to the success of dynastic politics throughout most of his reign.


Open Access