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The Burgundy Circle’s plans to undermine Louis XIV’s ‘absolute’ state through polysynody and the high nobility

Mansfield, Andrew. 2016. The Burgundy Circle’s plans to undermine Louis XIV’s ‘absolute’ state through polysynody and the high nobility. Intellectual History Review, 27(2), pp. 223-245. ISSN 1749-6977 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Louis the duc de Bourgogne (1686 – 1712), grandson of Louis XIV, was briefly Dauphin of France before his premature death from measles. Advised by a group of noted former tutors and members of the court, Bourgogne’s Circle devised a range of plans to reform the French state under his future rule. Opposing the centralising model of sovereignty pursued by Louis XIV, the Circle intended to expand government, decentralise power into the provinces, reform an ailing economy, and resurrect the fortunes of a high-aristocracy believed to have been excluded from meaningful government. The Circle’s conviction that Louis XIV had circumvented the ancient nobility by tyrannical (‘absolutist’) means challenges revisionist interpretations of absolutism in ancien régime France. This article will therefore test revisionist claims that ‘absolutism’ did not exist in France, by assessing the contemporary opinion of the Circle’s key members. In so doing, it will reveal the divergent reform agendas of its members and contest previous historiographical notions that depict the group as possessing a cohesive ideology.

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Burgundy Circle, Louis XIV’, absolute state, polysynody, high nobility

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5 August 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Jan 2016 10:20

Last Modified:

06 Nov 2017 14:33

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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