An Atheist Manifesto by Sam Harris

By Sam Harris

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From that time the king came to rely upon three men: Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Michel le Tellier and Hugues de Lionne. Along with Louis himself, this triade, as they were collectively known, developed a range of initiatives which would remain government policy for a number of years to come. Lionne’s contribution was exclusively in the field of diplomacy and can be assessed best in the context of foreign affairs. Jean-Baptiste Colbert Colbert is the best known of all Louis XIV’s advisers. He epitomized the new type of official, hard-working and dedicated, who thrived under the patronage of the king.

His teaching was taken up by some within the French Church and its adherents formed a close-knit and defiant group. Even the theologians found it difficult to define precisely what this group believed, so the king—who was no theologian—had very little idea at all. Nevertheless, throughout his reign he remained hostile to the Jansenists. His chief reason, which applied also to the Huguenots, was simply the fact that they did not conform. They therefore represented a divisive, unreliable element among his subjects, an affront to royal dignity and authority.

He was committed by upbringing and conviction to the belief that legal rights should justify political action. When the opportunity was presented unequivocally to embrace such a view the king was tempted. He did believe in the justice of his family’s claim to the Spanish Succession and he was too proud a dynast to turn his back on such a clarion call to glory. LOUIS XIV 45 And yet Louis’s acceptance of the will did not in itself make war inevitable, except with the Emperor. But in the months following his acceptance he was responsible for a series of actions which were at best indiscreet, at worst provocative.

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