The XVII century marks the ascension of France on the European stage. The reign of Louis XIII and Richelieu re-establishes royal absolutism that reaches its full stature under Louis XIV, the absolute monarch par excellence. France then imposes her authority, culture and power on the surrounding countries, as much through diplomatic channels as by the force of arms. At the same moment, with the writings of Descartes, this nation where royal authority is so much embodied, begins to question this very principle. Indeed, they provoke a European crisis of conscience against all absolutism that is the forerunner of the philosophical movement of the following century.

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