In these simple, measured terms Montesquieu records the death of Louis XIV. An age was at an end. The old king having lived so long as to survive both son and grandson, the succession passed to a five-year-old boy. After the wearisome years of royal oppressiveness, suddenly the centre of authority was removed, and no one quite knew what form it would now take. True, a regency was certain, and also certain was that the duc Philippe d’Orléans would be regent, since he was the late King’s nephew and therefore nearest to the throne. But how he would act and with whom he would make common cause were total enigmas. It is not surprising that Montesquieu continues dryly: ‘Ne crois pas que ce grand’ événement n’ait fait faire ici que des réflexions morales. Chacun a pensé à ses affaires et à prendre ses avantages dans ce changement.’ Everything was possible at first under the Regency, even an alliance with the Jansenists or an amnesty for the Protestants.1


Eighteenth Century French Revolution Ancien Regime Feudal Lord French Writer 
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© Haydn Mason 1982

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  • Haydn Mason

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