(Compare and Contrast how Louis XIV, Peter the Great and the Hohenzollern family (btw. 1640-1740) created successful absolute monarchies through their use/manipulation of nobility, religion, bureaucracy, and economics. ) The absolute age of Europe (roughly 1600’s-1750) was a time when absolute monarchy had begun becoming more popular by countries such as Habsburg’s lands, France, and Russia.
There Is no one specific formula for an absolute monarchy however, in studying several such monarchies of the 17th century it is evident that the leadership of the country must address and control the countries nobility, economy, bureaucracy, and the countries religious attitude. By examining the policies of Louis XIV,Peter the Great, and the Hohenzollerns, one can see that these essential components of society and government are required to a successful absolute monarchy. Each of these absolute rulers believed in manipulating the nobility to better serve their governments however, each attempted to accomplish this difficult task differently.
Louis XIV mainly wanted to keep the French nobles from creating rebellion as they had during the Fronde (1649-1652), a civil war that began when Louis XIV chief ministers’ policies of centralization upset the nobility and caused great unrest among the people. Louis believed the sudden implementation of heavy-handed policies were counter productively affecting the people therefore, he believed in working around the nobility in order to make the monarchy the most powerful institution in France. The Hohenzollern’s and Peter the Great had different strategies of making their governments all powerful.
Peter the Greats main focus was keeping the tsar, his government, secure from the streltsy, the guards of the Moscow army, and secure from the boyars, Old Russian nobility. Peter reduced the boyar’s power by revoking their traditions, such as cutting their long beards and shearing their hand covering robes, which had always been a part of Russian nobility’s traditions. He also discouraged the streltsy from rebelling again, as they had when peter was overseas in 1698, by executing a great many of the rebels publicly and leaving their bodies on display.
These actions upon the nobility firmly established that the tsar was the dominant power in Russia. The Hohenzollerns, particularly Frederick William, created centralization of Junkers, or old German nobility, not by isolating them but through uniting them with the Prussian army. Frederick was also involved in a trade off with the Junkers, in which the Junkers requested that they be allowed to control their serfs in exchange for their obedience to the Hohenzollerns. The Great Elector, or Frederick William, then went on to tax his people and furthermore create a strong army, where the Junkers sons could become involved.
The nobility was then controlled by these absolute monarchies through Louis’s working around them, Peter the Greats reduction of their power, and the Hohenzollerns unification of them with the central army. All these absolute rulers believed that in order to create a successful absolute monarchy they must manipulate the economy to benefit their rule. Louis XIV relied mainly on Jean Baptisse Colbert, his superintendant of finances. Colbert identified that France’s bullion (gold, silver) was leaving the country more than it was coming in, also that the trade with the Dutch Republic was not working out.
He then had France rely heavily on domestic trade and increased tariff on imports from Dutch Republic to further discourage them. This action decreased the debt in France greatly and also sparked a fruitful economy for the kingdom to control. The grandeur of Louis XIV’s Versailles castle was also a French symbol of France’s economic splendor. Peter the Greats economy essentially relied on his armies recent possession of ports on the Baltic sea. These ports were the only ice free way to export and import goods.
In 1698, upon his travels and study of Western European success, Peter returned to Russia prepared to establish mercantilism, agriculture, industry, and commerce. He also firmly believed taxing the Russian citizens heavily would make the tsar richer and support his vastly growing army. The establishment of the ornate city, St. Petersburg, was a symbol of Russia’s economic prosperity and powerful progress. The city became the center of his monarchy and expansive trade center, which became a major source of Russia’s incoming revenues.
The Hohenzollerns major economic income was their army and the income of Huguenot workers from France after Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The vast number of highly capable Huguenot workers traveling to Prussia because of the Hohenzollerns religious tolerance, greatly benefited the Hohenzollern monarchy economically. Frederick also worked especially hard to promote trade in his construction of a canal between the Oder and Spree rivers. A successful absolute monarchy had a strong economy whether it was through trade, or army, each of these rulers established just that.
A hallmark of a successful monarchy is a highly functioning bureaucracy. Louis XIV put himself as personal government after falling out of his two chief ministers, Richelieu and Mazarin. He created the palace of Versailles as his central government headquarters where he and his aristocracy could reside in lush comfort. Louis’s devout tutor, Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, defended what he called the “divine right of kings”, which was the idea that kings were appointed by God and only God could judge them. These ideas further led to Louis XIV’s statement, “L’etat, c’est moi”or “I am the state.
” The implementing of these ideas in his subjects without being oppressive, led to his successful absolutism. After the death of Peter the Greats brother and sister, whom he shared the rule within his earlier years, he put himself at center and established two things. He established that the nobility must be secure under the tsar and the army must be strong. With these main goals, he undertook radical administrative reforms such as achieving secular control of the Russian Orthodox Church, Table of Ranks, and his establishment of administrative colleges.
The Table of Ranks inquired that the nobility work for their rank through service to the government. He established 8 colleges of his men; they followed written instructions and oversaw foreign relations, war, economic affairs, and collection of taxes. He also brought the Russian Orthodox Church under his complete control through making it a branch of his government. The centralization of bureaucracy/government proved most efficient way to rule an effective absolute monarchy.
Peter, Louis, and the Hohenzollerns each worked with religion differently; however they all adjusted their policies to fit best with the people and their absolute monarchies. Louis XIV was a firm believer in a unified religion. He was catholic therefore France was Catholic. He revoked the Edict of Nantes, which permitted religious freedom. This affected France negatively, causing hundred of Huguenots, or French Protestants, to flee France. He also suppressed the Jansenists and Puritans, not allowing any radical religious groups to affect his one religion in state rule.
Peter the Great, repudiated the freedom of the Russian Orthodox Church, by abolishing position of patriarch and creating church as a branch of government named The Holy Synod. The Holy Synod was controlled by several Bishops headed by a layman, following in accordance with the tsar’s secular requirements. The Hohenzollerns had little to no involvement in religion. They believed in religious tolerance and put little emphasis on religion in their government. However, religious tolerance worked well within Prussia, because of the flow of capable workers in exile from stern religious countries, increased Prussia’s power and expansion.
The religious policies differed, though they all benefited these rulers’ absolutist monarchies. The nobility, economy, bureaucracy, and religion are the essential components of any monarchy. A successful absolute monarchy will have policies in place to deal with these crucial issues. However, examination of Louis XIV, Peter the Great, and the Hohenzollerns one can conclude that each of these rulers accomplished functional absolute monarchies by specifically focusing on each of these 4 components.