Inventing a French Tyrant: Crisis, Propaganda, and the Origins of Fénelon's Ideal King Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • Cooper, Kirsten L.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • In the final decades of the seventeenth century, many voices across Europe vehemently criticized Louis XIV, the most well-known coming from the pen of François Fénelon from within Versailles itself. There were, however, many other critics of varied backgrounds who participated in this common discourse of opposition. From the 1660s to the 1690s the authors of these pamphlets developed a stock of critiques of Louis XIV that eventually coalesced into a negative depiction of his entire style of government. His manner of ruling was rejected as monstrous and tyrannical. Fénelon's ideal king, a benevolent patriarch that he presents as an alternative to Louis XIV, was constructed in opposition to the image of Louis XIV developed and disseminated by these international authors. In this paper I show how all of these authors engaged in a process of borrowing, recopying, and repackaging to create a common critical discourse that had wide distribution, an extensive, transnational audience, and lasting impact for the development of changing ideals of sovereignty.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Smith, Jay
  • Master of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2014

This work has no parents.