Throughout world history many forms of political systems have been used. In countries like France and Russia they had an absolute monarchy. This is when one person had all the power and wealth. In England, people believed in a democracy. This is when there was a limit to royal power to protect the rights of the people. Although both forms of government had their strength and weaknesses, absolutism was the most effective during this time. Absolutism was more effective than a democracy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
An absolute monarch is when there was one ruler over the land. One person that believed in absolutism was Machiavelli. He wrote a book called The Prince. This was a guide for rulers on how to gain and maintain power. His books states one should rule with fear. He believed that if you trusted others they would disobey you. In document 1, Machiavelli “when danger approaches they turn on you”. (Doc. 1) Another ruler that believed in absolutism was King James I. He believed in a divine right. Kings should be like Gods. A king should have the same power over everyone.
King James I stated, “Kings are justly called Gods, for that they exercise a… divine power over earth”. (Doc. 2) When Parliament did not agree with King James he dissolved it. He also took matters into his own hands and collected taxes. The last ruler to display an absolute monarch was King Louis XIV of France. He believed that all control should be in one state. (Doc. 3) He used the sun as a symbol for absolute power. Just like the sun is at the center of the solar system, he was at the center of government. To show his wealth and power he built Versailles. This was a magnificent palace where nobles lived.
Overall, an absolute power was more effective because all the power was in one person’s hands. With the king being so strong and powerful it was often difficult to overrule him. That is why absolute powers are stronger and more effective during this time. While absolute power was more effective, some rulers still believed in democracy. A democracy is when there was a limit to the power one had. These rulers believed in protecting people’s rights. During the Enlightenment, philosophers like Voltaire, Locke, and Montesquieu believed in a democratic government.
In document four Voltaire writes about a democracy. He believes in freedom of speech. Voltaire states “the best government seems to be that in which all ranks of men are equally protected”. (Doc. 4) Voltaire worked to expose corruption, injustice and inequality, to promote democratic ways. In John Locke’s 1690 book called Two Treatises of Government, he wrote about democracy. He states a government is established to protect the natural rights of people. These natural rights include life, liberty, and property.
He states “when legislator try to destroy or take away the property of people… people can refuse to obey the laws”. (Doc. 5) By this he is saying people have the right to rebel or revolt against a government that does not protect them. Lastly, Montesquieu also believes in democracy. In an excerpt from The Spirit of the Laws he states there should be a limited monarchy. The power should be separate to protect the people. There also should be a system of checks and balances. Overall, in a democracy the government protects and defends the rights of the people and everyone has a part in their government.
In conclusion, an absolute monarch was more effective than a democracy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Both forms of government had benefits however an absolute monarchy had more control. By having one person decide on all the rules and regulations they became wealthy and powerful. It was hard to override an absolute ruler. In a democracy the ruler was not as powerful. When people did not agree with the rule they rebelled and overturned the ruler. That is why an absolute was more dominating and effective in this time period.