Democracy and Absolutism Dbq

There were many forms of government through the 17th and 18th century. Two forms of government that were mainly used; were democracy and absolutism. Both of these government types were affective in their own ways, but also had various similarities and differences. Philosophers also helped with changing 17th and 18th century Europeans way of thinking; and view the teachings of the Catholic Church. One of the more common forms of government was absolutism.

Rulers believed they should have complete control over the country. An excerpt in document 1 states that Prince Machiavelli believed the best way to rule was to be aggressive and feared and thought that the only way the citizen would follow his rule was if he emulated his power and social status. He thought that if he showed kindness and generosity that he would be overthrown. Most of the monarchs believed in divine right, this meant that they thought that they were chosen by God to rule.

One of rulers that believed in divine right was King James 1st, his ideas were expressed in document 2 one of his quotes: “…. God has the power to create and destroy, make or unmake” this implies that he thinks divine right is the only way to lead by. Many others think that democracy is the superior form of government. One of these people, Voltaire, preferred democracy as their Method of rule. In document 4 Voltaire expressed his thoughts on leadership “the best government seems to be that in which all ranks of men are equally protected by the laws….

” This philosopher is trying to convey his beliefs on democracy and this will get citizens to question the churches methods in the future. The same can be said about document 5, another philosopher john Locke, wrote about his ideas. Both john and Voltaire share the same ideas on government: this is a quote from johns Two Treatises on Government “Men being by nature all free, equal, and independent no one can be subjected to the political power of another without his consent” in this quote he wants the system of government to be centered around the people, democracy.

One final point that you might not have come across in the previous paragraphs is that the rulers supported absolutism and the philosophers supported democracy. This led to the enlighten period where the people became influenced by the philosophers and started to follow them and overthrew the kings. So even if you don’t approve of the ideas of absolutism, it was important because it led to a new way of thinking an showed that the ideas of the church was wrong at times. This is what led to revolution.