By F. L. Carsten
This quantity, the 6th to be released, covers the age of Louis XIV, while France performed the prime position not just within the political and army sphere, but additionally in tradition, literature and artwork.
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Extra resources for The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 5: The Ascendancy of France, 1648-88 (v. 5)
The sixteenth-century upsurge of population seems to have spent itself by the 1630's, in some areas still earlier, and there followed, in the middle and later decades of the seventeenth century, a period of decline, stagnation, or at best only slow growth over most of Europe. From the 1630's to the 1690's, plague, war, famine, and other agents of death struck periodically, and with more than usual harshness, at the peoples of Europe, though their incidence varied markedly from area to area. 19 Cambridge Histories Online © Cambridge University Press, 2008 2-2 THE ASCENDANCY OF FRANCE After the severe attacks of plague in the 1630's, many parts of Europe were again visited in the following three decades.
Yet this was the age of the great overseas companies, and colonial conflicts began to play an increasingly important part in the struggle between the great powers. In the East, the Dutch East India Company had ousted the Portuguese from the Indonesian archipelago and established a monopoly of the valuable spice trade and of the trade with Japan; just after the middle of the seventeenth century it occupied the Cape of Good Hope and the island of Ceylon, thus securing the route to the Indies. In the trade with the East the English East India Company occupied but the second place; in 1682 it was expelled from Bantam in Java by the Dutch and thus lost its principal foothold in Indonesia.
As the governing class, the Regents, was closely connected with the merchants and the money-lenders, the policy of the Republic could be shaped in accordance with their interests. Success in trade and enterprise led to an astonishing prosperity, still visible in the patrician houses and along the grachten of Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Haarlem, Leiden and other towns. It also led to a great flowering of the arts, partly caused by the demand of the wealthy Dutch burghers for portrait groups and interior decorations and their investment in paintings.