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AbstractCitation: Pancake, Clara. The administration of Louis XVI of France. Senior thesis, Kansas State Agricultural College, 1903.
Introduction: The conditions which faced the Monarch of France, in the reign preceding the Revolution, were such as would test the ability of the most gifted statesman. Such ability was not possessed by Louis XVI, nor was his training that which would develop any latent faculties with which he may have been endowed. The only son of Louis XV was born in 1754 and grew to manhood uninstructed in the affairs of government and the responsibilities awaiting him. Shy and awkward he avoided the court and was preserved from the contamination of its tainted moral atmosphere. Hunting and lockmaking were his favorite pastimes. Louis XVI came to the throne with a desire to serve his nation, and he labored more arduously than his father had done, at the duties which encumbered his position. However, Louis XVI was weak in will and yielded first to one and then to another of the influences brought to bear upon him. During the latter years of his reign, his queen, Marie Antoinnette, exercised considerable control over him. Of inferior mental capacity, tending to indulge his own inclinations to excess, and yet feeling to a certain extent the obligations of his position; such was the man to whom was entrusted the welfare of France at a critical period of its history. The king, while virtually absolute in power, was subject to some slight restrictions. One of these lay in the right of the Parlement of Paris to register the edicts of the sovereign. The highest courts of the monarchy were the parlements. Twelve of these were provincial. That of Paris held jurisdiction over central France. It was the most important of these bodies, and though not connected with the provincial organizations, was warmly supported by them. It was composed of about two hundred members and included the Peers of France, the legal profession, and church dignitaries.