Absolutism and Constitutionalism in Europe
Divine Right Theory- The idea that
the monarch ruled because of the will of god. In other words god placed the monarch as king
of a given country.
Absolute Monarchy- The idea that
the monarch has absolute power over his/her country. They control every aspect of life from law
making to religion. They created new
state bureaucracies and standing armies, regulated all the institutions of
government and secured the cooperation of the nobility.
Constitutionalism-This was the idea that the monarch
does not have absolute power. There are
checks on the monarch that limits his power.
The people, some form of parliament, or the nobility makes these checks.
Also there is a constitution that grants certain rights and freedoms to the
developed a constitutionalist state, while the rest of Europe
developed a strong absolute state of monarchy.
XIV- also known as the “sun king” was a Catholic who believed that God
had made him king. Louis was the king of France. When Louis was little he was caught in
the middle of a rebellion started by the nobility known as the
Fronde. Louis was never able to
trust the nobility because of this.
Therefore he created the court at Versailles
to watch over the nobility and to centralize the government. Louis was able to awe his subjects and
foreign powers with Versailles. It wasn’t just a palace but a device to
undermine the power of the aristocracy.
Louis also revoked the Edict of Nantes, which gave toleration to
Protestants living in France. This was a mistake because it drove many
French Protestants out of the country.
lost a valuable middle class. Louis
was also able to create a bureaucracy with the formation of the office of
intendant, which employed individuals to collect taxes on behalf of the
monarch. Louis fought many wars for
territorial expansion. The foreign
policy was very successful in his early years, but very unsuccessful in
his later years. Louis’s most
famous quote was “L’etat, c’est moi” or “I’m the state.” Louis ruled from 1643 to 1715.
was a cardinal that ruled France
under King Louis XIII. He wanted
total subordination of all groups and institutions in France. Richelieu helped create
the indentant system. He was very
efficient at limiting the power of the nobility, often times destroying
their castles and lands. Richelieu
wanted to destroy Habsburg power in Europe and
supported many rulers, including Swedish King, Gustavus Adolphus, against
the Holly Roman Empire. He also
crushed all opposition in France
such as the Protestants with his standing army. He established Absolute
Monarchy in France.
IV- was the king of Spain. Spain
lost much of its power when he became king. He was best known for fighting costly
wars with France,
and the Netherlands. During a time of strong monarchs Philip
IV was a very incapable administrator.
He was king of Spain
until 1665. Philip IV is important
for what he did not do then for what he actually did. When Spain
became weak the balance of power in Europe shifted
allowing developing countries to expand and became leg mate powers.
was the leader of the Puritan Revolution in England
and helped over throw the King Charles I. He eventually would become the
leader of England. The time he ruled was known as the
Interregnum, which is really the 20 years that England
didn’t have a monarch. Cromwell was
known for new model army, which one many battles in the English Civil
War. When Cromwell became the
leader of England
or head of parliament he was known as the protector and council of
state. He reaffirmed the rights of
parliament and created a standing army.
He also divided England
into five districts. Cromwell,
although he was not a constitutionalist, was a military dictator that
censored the press and closed the theaters.
the Great- was the Tsar of Russia.
Peter, when growing up learned about western culture and
ideas. He eventually overthrows his
sister, Sophie and mentally changed brother, Ivan to become the Tsar of
Russia in 1689. Peter is an
absolute monarch that tries to Westernize Russia. He sent Russians to study in the west
and brought westerners to Russia,
while adopting western court systems.
Peter traveled to the west often and held many jobs there. While ruling Russia
he ignored the Russian parliament known as the Duma and instead build a strong bureaucracy. He limited the power of the nobility
with the coercion, a secret police group and created a controlled social
order with taxes and forced public works.
Peter wanted a warm water port for Russia
and fights the Great Northern War against Sweden. Russian wins the war by using scorched
earth tactics. They gain Baltic provinces.
the Great- was the King of Prussia from 1740 to
had a great sense of duty and realized that only an absolute state could
better the country. Under his rule
he was able to establish religious toleration and judicial reform. Frederick
also desired to gain more territory to secure the nation. In 1740 he attacked the Hapsburg province
of Silesia, throwing most of Europe
into war. He was able to keep the
territory after the War of the Austrian Succession. "Take what
you can; you are never wrong unless you are obliged to give it back”, are Fredericks words about gaining new territory. Frederick was a great military leader that made Prussia a major power in Europe.
Frederick was also able to annex West Prussia.
was the financial and economic adviser for Louis XIV. Louis XIV would not have been successful
with out the help of Colbert.
Colbert favored the idea of mercantilism, which was the idea that
the motherland imports more then they export. All colonies under the control of the
motherland was suppose to help the motherland as
much as they possible can, or in other words the motherland took all of
the colonies resources. Colbert
tried to achieve a favorable balance of trade. He encouraged industry, and invoked high
foreign tariffs, while creating a strong merchant marine group. However; as industrial and commercial
economy grew, agricultural declined due to high taxes, and poor harvest.
I – was the King of England from 1603 to 1625. He was a complete believer in divine
right monarchy and felt that parliament should have no power. James was a
Protestant and alienated both Catholics and Puritans in England. One reason for this was because of the
gunpowder plot conceived by Catholics to assassinate the king. James writes the “True Law of Free
Monarchy”, which clearly explains his ideals. James’s reign is known for his conflicts
with parliament over money, religion and foreign policy. He creates new taxes and prints the King
James’s version of the Bible. Also
James has a son Charles I (even though he was a known homosexual). James wants Charles to marry a Spanish
Princess, who is Catholic. James
and Parliament come into conflict because they don’t wish to have a Catholic
queen, when England
was primarily Protestant.
of Orange- was the
king of the Netherlands,
but became the king of England
in 1688 after the glorious revolution.
William was only able to become king if granted parliament certain
rights and powers. He accepted and
became a limited monarch in a constitutional government. William of Orange is important because
he marks the end of Absolute monarchy in England,
and marks the beginning of constitutionalism and democracy in England. Under his reign the English Bill of
Rights was made and parliament passes the Act of Toleration that makes England
tolerant to other people’s religion mainly the Catholics and Puritans.
II and James II-was the king of England
after Cromwell’s rule. He came into
power in 1660 and was thought to solve the problems of religion and the
relationship between the king and Parliament. He didn’t. He was an absolute monarch. Charles issued the Test Act, which
stated that if citizens did not join the Church of England they couldn’t
vote or hold office. Charles was
best known for his Cabal or Cabinet.
He was one of the first to have this form of bureaucracy. Charles had a brother James II; he would
be the last of the Stuart monarchs.
He was a Catholic and violated the Test Act further damaging the
relationship between king and parliament.
James II was expelled from England
in the Glorious Revolution and was the last Absolute monarch England
Major Events and Changes
-The decline of Spanish power. Due to several weak monarchs, poor decisions,
and economic problems Spain’s
power greatly decreased. This disturbed
the balance of power in Europe, allowing other minor
countries to gain more power.
- French Classicism. The French culture and way of life became
dominant through out Europe especially in upper class
society. Louis XIV and his court at Versailles
had a certain eloquence and manner that many upper class people imitated in
other countries. French Classicism
affected everything: music, food, literature, manners, and art.
-The rise of Eastern European
and Russia, two
countries that were thought to be only minor powers became major powers,
because of their strong leaders. The
leaders of the countries took measured to modernize and develop their
countries. They took territories and
entered wars such as the Seven Years War.
-The development of a
constitutionalism in England. Through a series of civil wars and
developed a constitutionalist state.
This happened over a long period of time after the people and parliament
experienced military dictatorship and absolute monarchy. Parliament’s power was limited during these
times. Finally through the glorious
revolution, in which no one was killed, the absolute monarchs of England
were driven out. A Bill of Rights was
soon made after the revolution. The Bill
of Rights of 1689 was famous because it gave parliament more power then they
-The oppression of the people
and parliaments would eventually lead to revolutionary thoughts and ideas,
especially in France.
Map of Absolutist Europe
Timeline –Late 16 century to late 18 century
1589- Henry IV inherits France
1598- Edict of Nantes is issued
1603- James I becomes King of England
1610- Henry IV is murdered
1618- Thirty Years War begins
1625- Charles I becomes King of England
1628- Cardinal Richelieu becomes a minister under French crown
crushes Protestant town of La Rochelle
- Petition of Right is passed in England, which instates Habeas Corpus, and no
taxation without Parliament’s support.
1631- Richelieu signs treaty with Gustavus Adolphus
1640- Charles I, King of England calls long parliament to get more money
- Frederick William the Great Elector becomes
King of Prussia
1642- Richelieu dies
- English Civil War begins
(King vs. Parliament)
1643- Mazarin becomes cardinal and a minister of France
- Louis XIV becomes King of
France, Mazarin rules France for Louis
1648- The Fronde
- Peace of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years War
1649- Cromwell crushes a rebellion in Ireland
- Charles I is executed
- Interregnum begins, marks the beginning of
1660- Restoration of the Stuart monarchs, Charles II becomes king of England
- The end of the interregnum
- Frederick William establishes a standing army
1661- Mazarin dies, Louis XIV becomes ruler
- Versailles is built
1667- Louis XIV begins gaining territory
1670- Charles II and Louis XIV make a secret agreement
1682- Peter the Great becomes tsar of Russia
1685- France becomes the strongest and most centralized state in Europe
- Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes
- James II becomes King of England
1688- Glorious Revolution
- Frederick III becomes King of Prussia
1689- William of Orange is crowned King of England
- Bill of Rights is issued
1700- Spanish King Charles II dies
- Great Northern War begins
1701- War of Spanish Succession, which was a war fought to gain the
Spanish throne for Louis XIV
Petersburg is established
1709- Peter the Great’s army crushes Swedish King, Charles XII army
1711- Charles VI becomes King of Austria
1713- Peace of Utrecht ends the War of Spanish Succession
- Frederick William I
becomes King of
1714- France becomes bankrupt
1740- Frederick the Great becomes King of Prussia
- War of Austrian
Succession (France, Spain, Prussia vs. Austria. Austria looses
- Maria Theresa becomes
Queen of Austria
1756- Seven years war (Austria and France vs. England and Prussia)
1762- Catherine the Great becomes Tsar of Russia
1763- Seven years war ends at the Peace of Hubertusburg, which grants
Prussia Silesia and Austria gets Saxony.
1. Compare and contrast the rise of absolute
monarchy in France
2. Describe how England
developed a constitutionalist state. Be
sure to trace the documents and events that lead to its formation.
3. Why did Spain
4. In what way does the Louis XIV symbolize
absolutism? How was he able to control religion, the nobility and the law