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Monarchy: A Study of Louis XIV

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Original price $24.95 - Original price $24.95
Original price $24.95
Current price $19.96
$19.96 - $19.96
Current price $19.96
Publisher: Arouca Press
Publication Date:
Format: Paperback
Pages: 446
Availability: In Stock
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Monarchy or Plutocracy? This is the rousing question Hilaire Belloc placed before his readers in this masterly 1938 work. Belloc, grown old, saw the revolutionary dreams of his youth were naive. The great liberal insurrections, which supposedly led to Democracy, had yielded instead to secretive control by shadowy Capitalistic elites. As provocative as this thesis was in 1938, many today harbour similar suspicions of entities as varied as Wall Street, Washington, the European Union and the World Economic Forum. Could the only answer be Catholic Monarchy, which naturally favours Distributism and a true democratic spirit? Pondering these pages, today's readers may well wonder!

While this book tells the story of France's "Sun King," Louis XIV, it is not simply biography. Rather, it is a study of the mysterious nature of Monarchy. Moreover, Belloc stresses what "is central to this study ... is the natural conflict between Monarchy and the Money-power."

For in Seventeenth Century France, Louis XIV combatted the new financial elites with a certain success-unlike his Stuart cousin James II, the last Catholic king of England, who fell before the power of Protestant monied interests. Here is an epic tale, wherein Capitalism triumphed in the emerging Anglosphere, while a flawed, French King chose instead "a road less travelled." Here, too, is a profound Catholic meditation on matters as diverse as French royalty, European tradition, economic justice and the hidden roots of plutocratic Globalism.

This edition features an extensive foreword by Roger Buck, which penetrates Belloc's life and thought, while clarifying French history for the benefit of modern readers.

Hilaire Belloc:

Hilaire Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902, while retaining his French citizenship. Belloc wrote on myriad subjects, from warfare to poetry to the many current topics of his day. He has been called one of the Big Four of Edwardian Letters,[17] along with H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and G. K. Chesterton, all of whom debated with each other into the 1930s.

Editorial Reviews

"Monarchy: A Study of Louis XIV is the mature Belloc at his best. The young Belloc had been loyal to the notion of the French Republic, seeing it as a patriotic duty. The mature Belloc went deeper, considering the role of monarchy in resisting the rise of the plutocracy that would lead to globalism. Those wishing to understand history and political philosophy on a deeper level should read this book and learn the lessons it teaches." —Joseph Pearce, author of Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc

"An axiom that Belloc carried with him throughout his life was one he had heard in his youth (aged 22) from Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol, Oxford: 'You cannot have a Republic without Republicans.' In some respects, Belloc remained a republican until his death, but increasingly realized that there were not enough republicans to make a republic function effectively. Belloc thus felt that monarchy was the most practicable, superior form of government to-to use Napoleon's words-master the Money power in the State, and he explored this theme increasingly through his biographies and other histories in the later years of his life. Monarchy: A Study of Louis XIV is an important contribution to-and explanation of-this development in his thinking." —Michael Hennessy, Chairman of the Hilaire Belloc Society

"In many Catholic histories today, Louis XIV-due to his enmity toward the pious House of Habsburg-is portrayed unrelentingly as a villain. With his habitual flair Hilaire Belloc exposes for us the complexity of the Sun King, as well as his real triumphs and failures. On the one hand, he shows us Louis' actions according to the author's intentions (whether or not they were justified is another issues). On the other hand, he shows us Monarchy in the abstract through one of its foremost practitioners-independent of other political considerations. The reprinting of this book is indeed a great favour to us all." —Charles Coulombe, author of Blessed Charles of Austria: A Holy Emperor and His Legacy

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
A culmination of Belloc's career

Monarchy was written in 1938, only a few years before his debilitating stroke and of the same era as his books on the Reformation which, of all his historical works, have proved longest-lasting.

Whether the adulation Belloc shows for Louis is earned is questionable. Belloc was known for placing more hope certain figures than they actually earned, especially among his fellow Gauls. Napoleon, to Belloc, was a man who could have brought moral unity back to Europe lost in the Reformation; Danton was in charge of reestablishing the norm of government in the French state. These are very generous interpretations of the works of these men, and one wonders if Belloc isn't doing the same to King Louis. We get surprisingly little of Louis in the course of this long work, few of his actual statements, little of his actual way of thought. Belloc is quick to speculate about Louis' attachment to Mary Mancini, calling it a love that few mere mortals experience. He constantly refers to Louis as the proponent of the Catholic cause and stalwart against the Protestant money power. Whether Louis actually knew he held these affections and roles is questionable.

The description of the political struggles undertaken in the latter part of Louis' reign is probably the book's greatest aspect. The War of Spanish Succession is made coherent by Belloc, which is something more history textbooks fail at.

Still, while it is not Belloc's greatest work--it is too much Belloc, and too little Louis--it is essential to any real fan of Belloc. I am surprised it slipped under my radar so long. While his military writing, political analysis, and biographical detail is done better elsewhere, Monarchy still feels like a culminating work, and Louis, even if an inapt subject, in idealized form takes on the role of a summum of Belloc's beliefs and hopes. The introduction by Mr. Buck is not incredibly helpful, and not worth the price of admission, if you can find an older edition of the book.