Portrait of Louis XIV of France, by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701.
The world of pre-revolutionary France was an enormously unequal one. This is true not only in the economic sense, but also in the social and political sense. Very few people could vote, while the existence of a complex system of clergy and nobility ensured that everyone knew their place to a precise degree. The social system, and the location of sovereignty, were enormously complex, as the king’s power was normally wielded by intermediaries. This all changed, Tocqueville suggested, with the advent of democracy. Here we see the crown of pre-revolutionary France: Louis XVI, the sun king. His bearing and dress assure us that no commoner could possibly be his equal. Andrew Jackson, of course, portrayed himself quite differently.