Thursday, November 15, 2012
When Louis XVI was Still Exalted
History remembers Louis XVI as the husband of Marie Antoinette and king of France during the French Revolution, which stripped him of power then his crown and finally his head. Because of this Louis XVI's reputation has tended to vacillate between the tyrant overthrown by the people of France to the incompetent aristocratic living in a fantasy world, who failed to realize that he was on the wrong side of history. It is difficult to imagine a Louis XVI without the French Revolution as an absolutist monarch and not necessarily a bad one at that. He had his budget problems, but that was not completely his fault and modern democratic governments seem hardly better in that regard. As did many monarchs of his era, he supported the Enlightenment on the assumption that it supported strong centralized states. In that he was correct; his only mistake was to assume that a hereditary monarch would remain at the helm.
Here is the title-page of Hakham David Nieto's Kuzari Sheni, printed in Metz 1780.
Stated at the bottom is "with the kindness of our master the exalted king Louis XVI, the king of France and Navarre."