What is Absolutism? Absolutism or absolute monarchy was a system in which the sovereign power or ultimate authority in the state rested in the hands of a king who claimed to rule by divine right. Sovereignty In the 17th century, having sovereign power consisted of the authority to: Why Absolutism? A response to the crises of the 16th & 17th centuries A search for order— As revolts, wars, and rebellions died down, the privileged classes of society remained in control of political systems.
The Theory of Absolutism: “Six Books of the Commonwealth” Absolute supremacy of the state based on divine will & natural law (1577) : “Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture” defended divine right (1679) drew a distinction between absolute & arbitrary government W. European Absolutism France under Louis XIV (1643-1715) was the epitome of the practice of absolutism in the 17th century. French absolutism began to develop under Henry IV as an attempt to secure his ascendancy to the throne. It was greatly developed by under Louis XIII. Prussia & Austria 1648:
Of these states, Prussia and Austria emerged as the strongholds of central Europe. Brandenburg-Prussia By the 17th century, the “H” family controlled 3 non-contiguous states–Brandenburg, W. Prussia, and E. Prussia. Government officials were from the “junker” class–the Prussian name for the nobility. Prussia 1st important ruler was Formed the nation in the midst of the 30 Years War Built an army of 40,000 men & established the “War Commissariat” which soon became the central government. Created Prussia as a military state Prussia finally became.
Basis of Absolutism was a deal between would grant the king complete control in running the government and wouldn’t challenge his sovereignty granted the nobles almost unlimited power over their peasants, exempted them from taxes, & awarded them the highest positions in the army & Commissariat were stripped of their lands & freedom & became serfs. Austria After the disintegration of the HRE, the Hapsburg family became the rulers of the Austrian Empire. Original States: After the defeat of the Turks by a combined army of Austria, Saxony, Bavaria, and Poland, the Hapsburgs took over:
After the War of Spanish Succession, Austria received the Sp. Netherlands and many territories in N. Italy Absolutism not as strong due to diversity of the population Many areas had their own laws remained strong & retained the right of serfdom Nobles supported , due to their positions in the army or government, and their need for protection. Absolutism in Russia A new Russian State had emerged in the 15th century under the leadership of the grand dukes of the principality of Muscovy. 16th century:
Ivan extended the autocracy of the czar by crushing the boyars (Russian nobility). Russia Following Ivan’s death, a “Time of Troubles” occurred which finally ended with the Zemsky Sobor choosing Michael Romanov as the new czar. 17th century: highly stratified society with a divine right autocratic ruler assisted 17th century Russia dominated by an upper class of who bound the peasants to the land– Merchants were bound to their cities and the government controlled their businesses.
Russia was plagued by merchant & peasant revolts, isolation from the west, & a schism in the Peter the Great (1689-1725) Wanted to “ ” Russia and import western technology and customs. Forced changes on the nobles by taking away privileges of intransigent aristocrats and cutting off their beards & sleeves with a sword. Modernized his nation & built a strong army & navy. 1st Reorganized bureaucracy and abolished the Required all boyars to serve either as a military officer or as a government official. “Table of Ranks” allowed non-nobles to serve the state & join the ranks of the nobility.
(14 levels–8th gave you noble status) Traveled to the west and adopted mercantilist policies. Built Russian Women Women in Russia benefited under the rule of Peter the Great: all large houses in St. Petersburg were required to have gatherings 3X/week and women were expected to mix with the men and engage in conversation, card games, and dancing. Scandinavian Monarchies Constant rivalry between & over Baltic control. Denmark had a centralized administration under the control of the king with the nobility as the chief officeholders.
Sweden: After the death of , a series of weak monarchs ruled. Finally ruled (1697-1718) and declared his family to be “absolute sovereign kings responsible for their actions to no man on earth. ” Conclusion By 1700, local institutions still controlled the lives of most European citizens, rather than national governments. Landed aristocrats with immense powers still played an important role all over Europe as military officers, judges, officeholders, & controllers of large untaxed estates & often they put severe limits on how effectively monarchs could rule.