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 PhilosophyJean Bodin
 First to provide basis for absolutist states
 Believed absolutism could provide order and force people
to obey the government
Bishop Jacques Bossuet
 Divine right of kings
 King placed on throne by God and therefore owed his
authority to no man or group
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
 Pessimistic view of man’s natural state (“solitary, poor,
nasty, brutish, and short”)
 Did not favor “divine right”
 Enlightened Despotism
Characteristics of Absolutism
 Monarchs not subordinate to national
assemblies, parliaments, etc.
 Nobility brought under the control of the
 Bureaucracies composed of career officials who
were responsible directly to the king
 Some gain control of the Church
 Maintained large standing armies
 Employed secret police to undermine enemies
Comparison of Methods
Comparing Medieval v. Absolutism
View of relationship between God and the King
The raising of finances
Changes in the bureaucracy
Changes in the military
Absolutism v. Modern Totalitarianism
Why does absolutism not qualify as a
totalitarian form of government?
In what ways to they share similar goals?
The Development of French
France in the 17 Century
Feudal Estates
First Estate: Clergy (1% of population)
Second Estate: Nobility (3-4% of population)
Third Estate: Bourgeoisie (Middle class)
Order of rank restored under Henry IV
Mostly agrarian 90%
Largest country in Europe (17 million)
Henry IV (Henry of Navarre)
 Strengthened social and
government institutions:
parliaments, treasury,
universities, the Church
 Edict of Nantes- some
recognition of Calvinism
 Weakened the nobility
Nobility of the sword- not
allowed to influence the royal
Nobility of the robe- new
officials who had purchased
Duke of Sully
 Finance minister
 Mercantilism- increased
the role of the state in
Granted monopolies on salt
and gunpowder
Encouraged new industry
Only royal government could
operate mines
 Reduced royal debt
 Reformed the tax system
 Oversaw transportation
Louis XIII
 Henry IV assassinated, Marie
de’ Medici rules as regent
 Regency is corrupt
 Cardinal Richelieu
Intendant System- replaced local
officials with civil servants
responsible directly to the king
Increased taxation for military
Subdue the Protestants: Peace
of Alais
Thirty Years’ War
Richelieu and Louis XIII sought to weaken
the Habsburg Empire
France supports Gustavus Adolphus with
money during the “Swedish Phase”
“International Phase”
Treaty of Westphalia
France under Louis XIV
Louis XIV
 “L’ etat, c’est moi”- “I am the state”
 Becomes known as the Sun King because he
was the center of French power
 Believer in Divine Right
 Longest reign in European history (72 years)
Inherited the throne at age 5
 France becomes undisputed major power
 French culture dominates Europe
French becomes international language
France becomes center of literature and art until the 20th
The Fronde (mid-late 1640s)
 Cardinal Mazarincontrols France while
Louis was a child
 Some nobles revolted
when Louis was 5-11
Mazarin defeats them
because they are not
Louis never forgets and
humiliates them in order
to control them
Government Organization
Louis recruited ministers from the middle
class- keep the nobles out
Continued the intendant system
Checked the power of parliaments
Nobles feared resisting him after the failure of
the Fronde
Never called the Estates General
Control over the Peasantry
Some were able to keep only about 20%
of their income after paying taxes to
landlord, government, and Church tithes
Corvee- forced labor that required
peasants to work for a month out of the
year on roads and other public projects
Idle peasants conscripted into the army
Rebellious peasants executed or used as
slaves on ships
Versailles Palace
Becomes a grand testament to his power
 Palace of Versailles Tour
2,000 acres of grounds
12 miles of roads
27 miles of trellises
200,000 trees
210,000 flowers planted every year
80 miles of rows of trees
55 acres surface area of the Grand Canal
12 miles of enclosing walls
50 fountains and 620 fountain nozzles
21 miles of water conduits
3,600 cubic meters per hour: water
26 acres of roof
51,210 square meters of floors
2,153 windows
700 rooms
67 staircases
6,000 paintings
1,500 drawings and 15,000 engravings
2,100 sculptures
5,000 items of furniture and objects d'art
150 varieties of apple and peach trees in
the Vegetable Garden
Religious Policies
 Considered himself head of the French Church
 Edict of Fountainbleau (1685)- revokes the Edict
of Nantes
Huguenots lost right to practice Calvinism
200,000 flee France for England, Holland, and the
 Supports the Jesuits by cracking down on
Jansenists (Catholics who held some Calvinist
 Jean Baptiste Colbert
 Economic self-sufficiency for
 Government supported
 Cracked down on guilds
 Reduced local tolls that inhibit
 Organized French trading
companies for international
 Developed a merchant marine
 By 1663- leading industrial
 Textiles, mirrors, lace-making,
foundries for steel, firearms
Poor peasant conductions result in large
emigration out of France
Creation of a massive army and little navy
France will lose naval battles to England
Wars of later years end up reversing the gains
The Wars of Louis XIV
Wars were initially successful but
eventually became economically ruinous
France develops the first professional
modern army
First time one country can dominate
politics in Europe
A balance of power system emerged
Initial Wars
 War of Devolution: (First Dutch War), 1667-1668
Louis XIV invades the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium)
without declaring war
Louis receives 12 towns but gave up the FrancheComte (Burgundy)
 Second Dutch War, 1672-1678)
Invades the southern Netherlands as revenge for Dutch
opposition in the first war
Peace of Nijmegan
 France takes the Franche-Comte and gains Alsace
War of the League of Augsburg, 1688-1697
Louis XIV invades the Netherlands again
in 1683
Opposed by the League of Augsburg
(HRE, Spain, Sweden, Bavaria, Saxony,
and Dutch Republic)
Balance of Power
William of Orange brings in England as well
War ends with the status quo
War of Spanish Succession, 1701-1713
 Cause: the will of Charles II (Habsburg king)
gave all Spanish territories to the grandson of
Louis XIV
European powers fear the thrones of Spain and France
will unite to create a super power
 Grand Alliance emerges (Engalnd, Dutch
Republic, HRE, Brandenburg, Portugal, Savoy)
 Battle of Blenheim (1704
Turning Point- series of military defeats for France
England and Savoy’s army are victorious
Treaty of Utrecht, 1713
 Most important between Treaty of Westphalia
(1648) and the Treaty of Paris (1763)
Maintains balance of power in Europe
Ends expansion by Louis XIV
 Spanish possessions are partitioned
Britain gains the slave trade from Spain, Gibraltar and
 Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) given to Austria
 Netherlands gain some land as a buffer from
 Prohibits the uniting of the Bourbon thrones
Cost of Louis XIV’s Wars
Destroyed the French economy
20% of the French subjects died
Huge debt would be placed on the
shoulders of the Third Estate
French government was bankrupt
Leads to the French Revolution
“Absolutism” in Spain
The Golden Age of Spain
Ferdinand and Isabella begin centralizing
Charles V and Philip II lay the foundations
for absolutism
Center capital in Madrid
Court life reinforces king’s power
Spanish Inquisition continue to persecute
those seen as heretics
Decline of the Spanish Economy (17 century)
Hurt by loss of middle class Jews and
Spanish trade with colonies fell 60%
English and Dutch competition
Treasury was bankrupt
National taxes hit peasantry hard
Price Revolution and inflation
Poor work ethic
Political and Military Decline
 Spanish Armada
 Poor leadership under three successive kings
Philip III, Philip IV, and Charles II
 Defeat in the Thirty Years’ War
 Treaty of the Pyrenees- end of Spain as a great
War with France
Lose territory to France (part of Spanish Netherlands
and territory in northern Spain)
 War of Spanish Succession
Discussion questions
 How did the theories of Bossuet and Hobbes
contribute to absolutism in France in the 17th
 Analyze the ways in which the absolutism of
Louis XIV impacted the: bureaucracy, nobility,
peasantry, economics, and religious issues
 To what extent did the balance of power remain
intact in Europe between 1600 and 1715?
 Analyze the way in which Spanish and French
absolutism developed.