By J. H. Shennan

Appears on the king and his ideals, household difficulties, and international coverage.

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French traders received favourable treatment in Spanish markets at the expense of their English rivals. In March 1701 a Franco-Spanish naval force was despatched to the West Indies and in October a French company acquired the asiento, the exclusive right to the lucrative trade in negro slaves from Africa to the Spanish colonies. 46 FOREIGN POLICY All these measures threatened the interests, either jointly or separately, of the Maritime powers, England and the Dutch Republic, and helped to shift opinion in both countries in favour of war.

Louis himself was happy to tighten his grip upon a social group whose recent record of loyalty had been mixed. PERSONALITIES AND POLICIES The most significant group of ministers summoned by Louis to assist at his High Council was the one assembled at the beginning of his personal reign in 1661. In September of that year Fouquet, Louis’s superintendant of finance, was dismissed on charges of peculation and subsequently imprisoned for life. From that time the king came to rely upon three men: Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Michel le Tellier and Hugues de Lionne.

Eventually the king decided on drastic action. A council decree of October 1709 ordered the community to be dispersed. The deserted convent then became a place of Jansenist pilgrimage so that in 1711 the king ordered its complete destruction. This brutal assault shocked some people in France just as, on a more significant scale, Louis’s treatment of the Huguenots had earlier affected opinion in Europe. As with the Huguenots, there is evidence that royal hostility to Jansenism was political rather than personal.

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