An Open Letter to Tsar Peter I from King Louis XIV of France
To my esteemed colleague Tsar Peter Alexeyevich, Emperor of all the Russias
It was with genuine pleasure that I dictate these words in response to your communication dated August last, 1714.
I was much pleased to watch over the last few years of the many reforms and cultural improvements that you have commenced to put into place with great enthusiasm and vigor. I know from personal experience the challenges and deft hand it takes to create great changes in social culture as well as the difficulties of controlling the wayward and selfish of those in our realms who would rebel against us and our divine responsibilities as rulers over those the Lord has put into our dominion. Controlling and appealing to the natures of the aristocracy- many of whom consistently seem to forget their place in society and endeavor to pull themselves up to heights that their God did not deem proper has been a challenge for both of us from our tender years to now. I wish to congratulate you on your tax reforms as well as your ingenuity in using the ideals of loyalty and meritocracy to control and distract those in noble stations who might distract you from continuing to improve the lives of those under your care. Your efforts towards a strong military have also been noticed and I compliment you highly on the strength and organization of it. It is quite a formidable force at this point and I would be quite shocked if it disappointed you in your quest for more liberal trading routes and partners.
One thing that I find myself quite puzzled and repelled by is your consistent desire to ignore or demolish ritual anywhere you can find it. Ritual is an important part of monarchical and universal law; important and clear to show and maintain the appropriate order as well as an example to those in society of the proper and necessary conduct to the monarch as God's 'lieutenant'. I know you have mentioned that I should address you as simply 'Peter'... as if I could possibly consent to such disrepute and impropriety. I, myself, have recently begun to wear a new ornamental clothing around my neck which is an accessory that I am using to show my high rank as well as wealth and importance. Already, many of the noble classes here have begun to wear these 'neckties' and I am confident that this new addition to my wardrobe and to social ritual will continue to become a symbol of importance and honor over time. My dear friend, please consider these things when continuing to confuse God's order between yourself and your subjects by such frivolity and informality.
I was distressed to hear through the courier channels and from your own pen of your challenges of health in the last winter and relived to know of your continued improvement and robust health. I have heard many tales of your legal reforms and the beauty of your new city of Saint Petersburg. I hope your inspiration for a grand residence in the style of my 'Versailles' is able to come to fruition in your lifetime. As to mine, I have little left and I am reluctant but ready to face my God when that time comes as it must soon. Please do not follow my example and leave the future of the state and your subjects as uncertain as I have. I think it may have been the mistake that may undo all I have managed to accomplish in my life. By outliving my heirs of legal succession, I have left a power vacuum that surrounds my grandson and I fear it could swallow him. Pray mind my advice in this matter.
With much thought and salutations,
King Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre