Essay, 10 pages (2500 words)

The rise of absolutism in france history essay

The peace revoked the right for Huguenots to fortify their towns, but they could keep their religion (Protestants would later lose all their rights in the Treaty of Fontainebleau)

Richelieu’s foreign policy: undermine the Habsburgs, weaken the HRE

Basically said the each individual state of the HRE was its own country so the HRE broke up into 300 pieces by Peace of Westphalia 1648

Cardinal Jules Mazarin

Successor to Richelieu

Continued Richelieu’s policies but resulted in the Fronde (1648-1653)

Fronde was the rebellion by the nobles

Civil wars broke out because the intendants felt that they were being used and the nobility resented the monarch’s power

Results: gov’t will need to compromise with the nobility; French economy was weakened and needed to be repaired; young Louis XIV was humiliated and never trusted nobles again

Louis XIV reigned 1643-1715 after Mazarin died

The Absolute Monarchy

Louis XIV was the poster boy for absolutism, “ The Sun King,” just as the planets revolve around the sun, France and the court should revolve around Louis

Louis ruled by the Divine Right of Kings which according to Bishop Bousset, the king was chosen by God to rule and the king was answerable only to God and not the nobles


Very elaborate palace meant to show off his power

Art and culture flourished here

Situated 10 miles away from Parris because Louis XIV was scared of what the Parisians would do to him after he was traumatized by the Fronde

Spent huge amounts of money on the army

Gov’t was highly centralized and reported directly to him

He reduced power of the Parlements- local courts controlled by nobles that could resist the monarchy

Made sure the nobility benefited from his increasing authority

Suppressed the Jansenests who were Catholics who believed in predestination

Financial and Economic Management Under Louis XIV: Colbert

Colbert was the finance minister for Louis XIV

Extensively applied Mercantilism, which reformed economic system to create a trade surplus so that gold would flow into France; this policy was enormously successful

The extra money was used to finance Louis’s many wars

Louis XIV’s Wars

Louis XIV warred for most of his rule

his foreign policy was to extend France’s boundaries to Pyrenees, Alps, and Rhine River

coalitions of other countries were formed to prevent him from reaching this goal in order to maintain the Balance of Power

Treaty of Pyrenees (1659) ended the Habsburg Valois War with Spain and resulted in marriage between Louis XIV and Maria Theresa (daughter of Philip IV of Spain and half-sister of idiot-king Charles II)

Louis appointed François le Telier (marquis de Louvois) as secretary of state for war

François created a professional army

Soldiers were employed directly under the King, not the private nobles

Jean Martinet turned the soldiers into tough, and obedient fighting machines

War of Devolution (1667-1668), Louis XIV lost

Maria Theresa gave up her claim to the Spanish throne in exchange for a large dowry to be paid to Louis XIV

Louis was not paid, Philip IV died (who left Charles II as king), and Louis went after Charles’s inheritance, especially the Spanish Netherlands

Louis claimed that in some parts of the Netherlands, inheritance law stated that property be “ devolved” to the first-born child, regardless of gender, which meant that Louis’s wife was entitled to the inheritance. This was called the Custom of Devolution.

Louis invaded Netherlands and England, Sweden, and Dutch formed the Triple Alliance to defeat Louis

Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668) brought peace and Louis got a few towns bordering the Spanish Netherlands but Louis abandoned Franche-Comté and gave up land

Invasion of the Netherlands/Dutch War (1672-1678)

Louis bribed England to exit the Triple Alliance with the Secret Treaty of Dover (1670)

Dutch were divided over whether the United Provinces should be a republic or a monarchy ruled by William of Orange

He invaded Holland directly in 1672 which brought William of Orange (later William III of England and great-grandson of William the Silent) to power

William united the United Provinces, HRE, Spain, and others against Louis

Dutch let the dykes go and flooded the countryside to stop Louis

Both sides had huge losses and made peace with Peace of Nijmwegen (1678, 1679), resulting in the United Provinces keeping all its land and Louis got Franche-Comté

Louis made the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685) which revoked the Edict of Nantes

Protestants lost all rights

Eliminated Huguenots as a threat to his autocracy and made Protestantism illegal

“ One law, one faith, one king”

was used by the absolutist state in order to control religion

the revocation was lauded by contemporaries

War of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697)

France invaded Germany and League of Augsburg was created to fight him

League consisted of HRE, England, Spain, Sweden, and United Provinces

War ended with Peace of Ryswick (1697), resulted from a stalemate in military battles, thwarted Louis’s attempt to conquer Germany

War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714)

Louis’s fourth attempt to get Netherlands

In 1700, Charles II died and left throne to Phillip of Anjou (Louis XIV’s grandson)

Another candidate for the throne was Charles VI (grandson of HRE Leopold and Margaret Theresa who was Charles II’s sister)

Louis knew that if he accepted the will, there would be another war, if he didn’t, France would be surrounded by Habsburg power which could lead to a war too

Philip V became King Philip V of Spain and Louis started to incorporate Spain into his French Empire; “ The Pyrenees exist no longer.”

However, other countries did not like this and sought to balance Louis’s power

1701-England, Holland, and HRE formed Grand Alliance and defeated the ill-equipped French who already had to deal with other problems that brought chaos to France

Treaty of Utrecht brought peace in 1713, Philip V was confirmed as King of Spain

no one person could be both king of Spain and France at the same time

From then on, the Spanish Habsburg were replaced by the Spanish Bourbons

The war had nearly bankrupted and depopulated France

The Rise of Constitutionalism in England

Constitutionalism limits the power of the gov’t by law. The power and authority of the gov’t is balanced with the freedoms of the people. Constitutionalism can take two major forms: Constitutional republic (the electorate representing the people has sovereign power) and Constitutional monarchy (monarchs are the heads of state but the electorate has the real power). However, a constitutional gov’t is different from a democratic gov’t because in a democracy, everybody has the right to participate in gov’t therefore the democracy relies on the franchise or the vote.

James I 1603-1625

Charles I 1625-1649

Civil War 1642-1649

Oliver Cromwell 1649-1658

Richard Cromwell 1658-1660

Charles II 1660-1685

James II 1685- 1688

William & Mary 1689

James I and the Decline of Royal Absolutism 1603-1625

King James I Stuart succeeded the childless Elizabeth I in 1603 as monarch of England but was not as successful as her. He inherited a large royal debt and a divided church. He was at first, a Presbyterian but later converted to Anglicanism (an event that was analogous to Henry IV of France’s conversion to Catholicism) The Puritans wanted a representative Presbyterian church instead of the Episcopal hierarchal church. In response, James I promoted the Anglican Episcopacy stating “ No Bishops, No King.” He was considered soft on Catholicism so England declared war against Spain

James made a political mistake when he asserted to the House of Commons that the king had absolute power over everybody. He believed that he ruled by Divine Right of Kings which made him a Louis XIV wannabe (though Louis’s personal rule did not begin until about a decade after Charles I’s death). He wrote on the subject of divine right in his book A Trew Law of Free Monarchies in 1598. However, House of Commons held power to the country’s treasury (the “ purse strings”) which they used to have a greater say in the gov’t. Throughout his rule, his policies on increasing royal power caused him to clash with Parliament many times.

Charles I 1625-1649

Parliament denied Charles I (son and successor of James I) enough money to continue the war with Spain so Charles I levied taxes that were very unpopular. Parliament met in 1628 and was angry. They gave Charles money in exchange that he signed the Petition of Right which was basically a mini-bill of rights. The Petition forbade the king from levying taxes without asking Parliament, proclaim martial law in peacetime, imprison anyone without trial, and quartering troops in private homes without permission. Charles then ruled w/o Parliament 1629-1640. During this time, he made taxes that were hated by the English including changing the ship money tax so that inland people still had to pay it.

Puritans thought that the Protestant Reformation did not go far enough; they wanted the Anglican Church to get rid of all Catholic influences especially elaborate ceremonies. Archbishop Laud attempted to force Anglican doctrine Book of Common Prayer onto the Presbyterian Scots who rejected it and revolted in 1637. Charles I was forced to call Parliament to finance the war to bring down the Scots in 1640 which was known as the Short Parliament (April-May 1640), led by John Pym. A list of demands was presented to Charles who promptly dissolved Parliament. Then, the Scottish invaded England and Charles was forced to call Parliament which was known as the Long Parliament. However, Parliament wasn’t willing to trust Charles with the army and managed to pass laws that limited the king’s power. It supported the Grand Remonstrance, a list of more than 200 grievances against the crown.

Charles saw division in Parliament and formed an army to fight Parliament in order to arrest Pym and other leader, but they had already escaped. House of Commons passed the Militia Ordinance which gave Parliament the power to raise its own army, resulting in the English Civil War

English Civil War (1642-1649)

The major issues in the civil war were whether sovereign power should be held by the king or Parliament and whether England should use the hierarchy of the Anglican church or a decentralized Presbyterian system. Major factions were the Cavaliers (loyal to Charles) and Roundheads (loyal to Parliament). This issue was not solved by the end of the war.

Oliver Cromwell organized the rebels as the New Model Army which defeated Charles. In an attempt to save himself, Charles fled to Scotland. Pym then persuaded Parliament to agree to the Solemn League and Covenant which allied the Parliament with the Scots. The Scots handed Charles over to Parliament. In England, Charles tried to win the Presbyterians and Scots over to him. However, Cromwell in 1648 had Colonel Pride physically prevent the Royalist Presbyterians, who held the majority in Parliament, from taking their seats during Pride’s Purge. The remaining 50-members became known as the Independent Rump Parliament (Independents wanted a centralized religion and religious toleration) which ordered Charles to be beheaded.

Cromwell and Puritan Absolutism (1649-1658) aka the Interregnum or “ time between kings”

After Charles I was executed, a commonwealth or republic was created. The head of the new gov’t was the Puritan, Independent Oliver Cromwell who was the leader of the rebel forces. Even though his rule was called the Protectorate, he was actually a military dictator. Because the army had control of Parliament, the Instrument of Government (1653) was created which gave power to Cromwell and gave him the title Lord Protector. His rule was a military dictatorship, absolutist, and puritanical. During his rule, he conquered Scotland and Ireland to create the unified Great Britain. He gave religious freedom to all except for Catholics. He censored the press, outlawed sports and theatre. After disagreements with the Rump Parliament, Cromwell dissolved it. When Cromwell died in 1658, his gov’t fell apart and the English never returned to military rule again. In 1660, the monarchy was restored.

Restoration of the English Monarchy

The Restoration of 1660 restored the monarchy by inviting Charles II (son of Charles I) to be king. Charles II agreed if the conditions under the Declaration of Breda were met. During his rule, the monarchy, Anglican Church, and Parliament (MAP) were fully restored.

Charles II secretly believed in religious toleration and was sympathetic to Catholics. However, Parliament did not believe in religious toleration. It passed the Clarendon Code from 1661-1665, that excluded Catholics, Presbyterians, and Independents from the life of the religious and political life of England.

Parliament did not give Charles II enough money to continue the war against the Dutch. This was the same war as Louis XIV’s invasion of the Netherlands. In 1670, Charles made a secret deal with the French (secret Treaty of Dover). Louis XIV would give him lots of money each year. In return, Charles II would slowly re-Catholicize England and agree to religious toleration. Charles II attempted to pass the Declaration of Indulgence that gave religious toleration to everyone including Catholics. Parliament rejected it and created the Test Act of 1673 which required that everybody in gov’t had to swear an oath against transubstantiation. It was meant to force everybody to belong to the Anglican Church. However, the act could not be enforced. Anti-Catholic feelings spread as a result of the Treaty of Dover and the Declaration of Indulgence.

The Glorious Revolution

Charles II’s brother James II (r. 1685-1688) succeeded him and he was openly pro-Catholic. He successfully passed the Declaration of Indulgence which sparked outrage. In addition, his wife gave birth to a male heir. Soon, the English feared that the Catholic dynasty would continue. The throne was offered to William of Orange and Mary (Protestant daughter of James II). In 1688, James II fled to France with his wife and son (who was baptized as a Catholic and known as the “ Pretender” to the English throne). William and Mary were crowned king and queen of England in 1689. These events are known as the Glorious Revolution because there was no bloodshed.

Triumph of England’s Parliament: Constitutional Monarchy

As a result of the Glorious Revolution, the rule by divine right was ended and the monarchs accepted shared power between the monarchy and Parliament. The Bill of Rights of 1689 was created and stated that Parliament must meet regularly, election can’t be under the influence of the crown, and the judiciary was to be independent of the crown.

Important Philosophers

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

Opposed to Glorious Revolution

wrote the Leviathan in 1651

believed in an absolute monarchy

unlike Bishop Bosseut, Hobbes believed that man, NOT God, gave power to the gov’t

argued that the people should never under any circumstances rebel because having a terrible ruler is better than the state of nature: the chaotic condition without gov’t

“ And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”

John Locke (1632 ‐ 1704)

wrote the Second Treatise of Government

man was innately good and had natural rights: life, liberty, and property.

social contract, where the people agree that they don’t like the state of nature and transfer their powers to a sovereign gov’t in order to protect the people’s rights.

rebellion was justified if the monarch was infringing on the people’s natural rights. Therefore, he supported the Glorious Revolution

Bodin was known for his beliefs on sovereignty

The Rape of the Sabine Women was a neo-classical painting, its focus was on the state, not religion, unlike Baroque art.

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