New Monarchs

During the mid-fifteenth century, European governments were weakened by the war and rebellion which was a direct result of their feudal structure. In order to make their government stronger, numerous leaders known as the New Monarchs tried to bring about civil peace. These western European monarchies wanted to create a centralized government in which the king gained more power. The monarchs had their own motives for recreating their governments. Therefore, in doing so, they made sure to include laws which gave them wealth and power. Through methods of taxation, the kings were able to build secure armies to control feudal nobles.

This then created more peace within the empires, as the conflicts between nobles no longer existed. Within England, France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, rulers were able to successfully warrant their label of the new monarchies through divine right. They created well-built, centralized governments, which came with accomplishments specific to each monarch. Understanding the historic origins, features, and accomplishments of England, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire allow the differences in their downfalls to be distinguished along with the aspects which made each monarchy powerful.

Throughout the fifteenth century, a group of people known as the Tudors set up a dynasty in England, led by King Henry VII. In doing so, England created what is recognized as a new monarchy. History played an important role in the success of the Tudor Dynasty. The War of the Roses was an important event in history which allowed the Tudor Dynasty to become the family of the new monarchs in England. Prior to the War of the Roses, England was split up into two houses, the House of York and the House of Lancaster. Because of their signature badges, each house was named after a rose.

The House of York was known as the White Rose, and the House of Lancaster was named after the Red Rose. In the process of fighting for control and power over the English monarchy, both houses became very weak. Since war had weakened both baronial families, the Tudors were able to conquer England and set up a strong dynasty in which the new monarchy was established. In defeating those involved in the War of the Roses, Henry VII ended civil problems throughout England. During his reign, (1461-1483) Henry VII and the people of the Tudor Dynasty managed to bring forth many accomplishments in regards to making a powerful government.

He used a royal council in order to discuss disturbance of the peace within the monarchy and the punishments which would be enforced because of those disruptions. Henry VII met with his council in a room called the Star Chamber. Inside the Star Chamber, Henry VII displayed his true authority, and there was not a jury involved in the council. The Star Chamber brought about order, justice, and basica peace to the new monarchy in England. Because of this, the people living in the Tudor Dynasty considered Henry VII a strong king and a successful ruler.

Nationalism was also known as a big success in the Dynasty of Tudor, because people had similar views on the king and his new monarchy. Because people agreed that Henry VII was an influential and important leader, peace was kept for a much longer period of time throughout England. The king defended his leadership with the argument that God had chosen him and granted him “the divine right to rule”. In using divine right as his ally, Henry VII firmly justified why he had become the supreme ruler of England. Through his achievements as a ruler, the king proved his authority over the English monarchy.

For these reasons, England warranted the title new monarch. In fifteenth-century France, the development of a new monarchy was also taking place. Before this new monarchy evolved, France was not much larger than one city, Paris. Since the first king of France ruled, it slowly expanded. After 500 years of war, conquest, marriage, and inheritance, monarchs were able to gain large amounts of land and establish a form of centralized government throughout the entire region. Louis XI was a specific leader of the new monarchy who made a very strong impact on the centralization of France’s government.

During his years as ruler of France, Louis XI united the country as a whole and took authority away from the nobles, which ultimately made him more powerful than the English Tudors. Because of his control over the nobles, Louis XI was able to raise taxes without any say from the assembly, the Estates General. The French monarchy also had more jurisdiction over the clergy. Because of the Concordat of Bologna, the king had the authority to appoint bishops and abbots of his own choosing. Louis XI succeeded in controlling a royal army as well.

He created a good reputation for his country while still becoming an absolute monarch. As king, Louis XI warranted his title as a new monarch by expressing his belief in the end as a justification of the means. He would do whatever it took to become an absolute monarch. Although he did not completely reach this goal, he still managed to rule the French monarchy with much success. He is known throughout history as one of the strongest leaders of his time. Through the achievements of its rulers and the features shown throughout its government, the French monarchy can simply be labeled as a new monarchy.

Although the Spanish monarchy was governed differently than those in England and France, it was still considered a new monarchy. Before it became one combined kingdom, Spain was split up into multiple kingdoms. Over time, these various kingdoms came together to form those known as Aragon and Castile. In 1469, the two separate kingdoms of Spain were joined together through the marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Even though the land was now shared by the people of both Aragon and Castile, no nationalism existed. The Catalans of Aragon and the Castilians spoke different forms of Spanish.

The two monarchs were recognized by the people of both kingdoms, but they did not mix in their customs or governments. The biggest connection between the Catalans and the Castilians in the Spanish monarchy was that they both belonged to the Spanish Catholic Church. There was also a common institution where equality was expressed to both kingdoms. This institution was a church court known as the Spanish Inquisition. Within the Spanish Inquisition, the rulers of Spain tried to conform everyone to Christianity. They wanted the national feeling in Spain to be that Christianity is a part of being Spanish.

Religious toleration that once existed throughout Spain was slowly declining. Due to the excitement that came along with the reconquering of Granada, which added to Spanish domination, the leaders of the Spanish monarchy expelled both Jews and Muslims. After the Jews and Moors were forced to leave, the people living in Spain were expected to be Christian. Those who showed the smallest sign of not being Catholic, such as a distaste for pork, could be sentenced to torture by the Inquisition. This torture was meant to reveal confessions from those who did not believe in the Christian faith.

The people living in Spain continued to live within a series of crusades against Moriscos and Marranos. They invaded the Moors in Africa directly after conquering Granada, which only gave them more power as a monarchy. The Spanish monarchy was keen on keeping their opinions clear, and their reformation of Catholicity strict. Through their success in their government as a co-monarchy and their power throughout both kingdoms, the people of the Spanish monarchy warranted their label as a new monarchy. Also proving themselves to be a new monarchy were the people of the Holy Roman Empire.

Brought about and ruled by Charlemagne in AD 800, the Holy Roman empire included what is now Italy, Germany, and France. After his death in AD 814, the empire Charlemagne had created fell apart. The Holy Roman Empire was later made up of three kinds of states. The princely states were made up of continuing generations of hereditary monarchs. There were ecclesiastical states as well, in which the bishops or abbots controlled the government. The third form of states in the Holy Roman Empire were known as the imperial free states. These states conducted the financial and commercial lives of those living in the Holy Roman Empire.

After many centuries without the ruling of an emperor, the Archduke of Austria was elected in 1452. His family, known as the Habsburgs, managed to be reelected hereditarily as the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire from 1452-1806, aside from one exception. Many elements of a new monarchy were developed during the reigning of the Habsburgs. Through destroying feudal governments of the Middle Ages, gaining income from taxation, and taking control from the parliament, the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire achieved much success throughout their reigns.

In an attempt to become more centralized, Maximilian I (1493-1519) divided the empire into administrative “circles” and established the Imperial Chamber and Council. Through marriage, Maximilian and his son acquired land which was added to the Holy Roman Empire. In 1519, Charles V, the grandson of Maximilian I, was elected the Holy Roman emperor. Also, Charles’ brother, Ferdinand II, became the king of Hungary. After the annexations of multiple countries to the Holy Roman Empire, it had become the biggest empire in Europe since Charlemagne was in power.

The idea of a “universal monarchy” had now become a threat to those living in the Holy Roman Empire. Through the rulings of the Habsburgs, a secular and humanistic feeling had emerged, and the church lost most of its effects on daily life throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Also, leaders who wanted complete control of their kingdoms became successful monarchs. Because of these aspects of life, the Holy Roman Empire warranted the term new monarch. Ultimately, new monarchies within Europe were successfully formed during the late fifteenth to early sixteenth centuries.

Throughout England, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire, multiple accomplishments brought rise to the monarchies which were developed. Of these accomplishments were the formations of centralized governments and very powerful leaders. Also, the historic origins and features that came along with each monarchy helped to differentiate why each one fell. Within the concept of divine right and the ways in which each monarch ruled, England, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire warranted their title as new monarchies.