State Bureaucracies



When, in France, Louis XIV. assumed absolute rule in 1661, declaring his intention to be his own prime minister, he established a new bureaucracy drawn not from the nobility, but from technocrats from the third estate. The status of these bureaucrats - they often were ennobled and had a good income - depended upon the king, to whom they were loyally devoted. The bureaucrats had to prepare decisions, which were to be made by the king himself. This system, during the lengthy rule of Louis XIV., worked well, and when Regent Philippe of Orleans in 1715 wanted to return to the old system and entrust the state administration to the French nobility, the measure was an utter failure - spoiled by the court life at Versailles, the nobility had lost interest.
In Denmark, King Frederik III. introduced absolutism in 1660. Following the French model, in the Danish state bureaucracy he and his successors employed technocrats, mostly Germans, many of whom he ennobled. This policy was resented by the Danish nobility, and this feeling of being ill-treated over a longer period of time in 1772 burst out in the political murder of minister of state, Johann Friedrich Struensee.
In Prussia, Frederick the Great also established a loyal, incorrupt bureaucracy. In contrast to the Kings of France and Denmark, he recruited the higher echelons of his bureaucracy, almost exclusively, from the Prussian nobility, the Junkers - mostly from ex-officers who were accustomed to obey. In return the Prussian King provided his state officials with lifetime employment. Prussian bureaucrats were taught to strictly follow the regulations, to be incorrupt, to always have the well-being of the state in mind. They developed an esprit du corps of obedience to the king, loyalty to the state, which later was taken over by the German Beamte. This esprit du corps required, as a solid foundation, a law which by-and-large treated people equally. Such a law was codified in 1794 as the Prussian LANDRECHT.






EXTERNAL
FILES
Article Johann Friedrich Struensee, from Columbia Encyclopedia
Diener des Königs - Diener des Staates (Servants of the King - Servants of the State), by Judith Mathes, in German
DOCUMENTS
REFERENCE



This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 17th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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