By A. Lloyd Moote
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Extra info for Louis XIII, the Just
His was a personality devoid of conscience; his behavior leaned toward emotional solutions involving destructive and self-gratifying acts against others. Intellect and principle, whether personal or societal, seem to be sin- Page 11 gularly lacking in Marvick's provocatively somber recasting of the Tallemant-Dumas Louis XIII. 26 This does not mean that Marvick draws the same inferences as Tallemant and Dumas about Louis's rule. On the contrary, she stands those authors on their head: in her hands their flawed Louis XIII has been reshaped into an abnormal person whose very abnormalities contributed to significant acts of state.
In little more than a decade he achieved spectacular successes denied the last three, childless Valois monarchs, whose court debaucheries, inept handling of religious conflict, and murders of political opponents had culminated in the assassination of Henry's immediate predecessor, Henry III. By contrast, the first Bourbon monarch of France ended the forty-year Wars of Religion in 1598 through his delicately crafted Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed limited religious rights for the Huguenots. 2 Yet much remained to be done to restore political order and bind the religious wounds.
11 From his pre-Richelieu days I brought the king's penchant for standing on principle (his particular moralizing stand of tolerating Protestant Huguenot worship while opposing Huguenot rebellion, for example; and his dislike of Spaniards) and his interactions with and emotional reactions to other human beings. Knowing these factors about Louis allowed me to read the Louis-Richelieu correspondence in a way different from that of all the great Richelieu scholars, who rarely "knew" Louis. Like a detective, I sought out political acts previously attributed by historians to the chief minister which looked suspiciously like acts the king himself might have approved or undertaken.
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