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Honors Summer Assignment
Course: Honors World History
Overview: The topic of Absolutism or the reign of Absolute Monarchs encompasses ¾ of what is
discussed during freshman honors world history. The course begins with a detailed explanation of how
absolute monarchs were able to restore order to a crumbling European front that has suffered from years
of lack of order. For most European nations, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Black Plague, and the
Hundred Years War all created years of despair known as the Dark Ages. Absolute monarchs are able to
restore law and order to many of the European countries, though their methods are held in question by
the people who served under them. Absolute monarchs can be compared to dictators who rule with
absolute authority. This method of leadership leads to new forms of adversity for the people who live
under these forms of government.
The second and third marking periods are focused on the revolutions that occur throughout the world as
a result of Absolutism. The Renaissance, Reformation, scientific revolution, and birth of democracy are
all fueled by the people’s will to fight back against the oppression of Absolutism. The summer assignment
will help each individual student gain some understanding of what life was like for those who served
under Absolutism.
Writing Prompt:
“ The best thing we can do for our laws is preserve them, never question them. The horror of the
French Revolution is the purest example of the failure with the experiment known as democracy.”
~ Klemens Von Metternich
Writing Prompt Introduction:
This was a quote from the Austrian Emperor at an official meeting known as the Congress of Vienna in
1815. The meeting represented the gathering of all the leaders from the major powers of Europe to
determine how to deal with a war ravished Europe which was simply devastated by the damage created
by the French Revolution, which had spilled into most other parts of Europe. In the early stages of the
French Revolution many European nations were drawn into the war. In later years under the leadership
of Napoleon Bonaparte, France tried to conquer all of what is considered to be modern day Europe. At
the conclusion of these wars, the powers of Europe gathered at the Congress of Vienna to create a plan
that would prevent something like the Napoleonic wars from ever happening again. One of their main
ideas was to maintain the established monarchies of Europe that had been in place prior to the
Napoleonic wars. Absolute Monarchies had started to establish themselves all throughout Europe during
the mid 15th century at the end of what was known as the Dark Ages. The idea of Absolutism is as
follows: ( Read the below Information )
The Theory of Absolutism
When seventeenth-century political writers such as Jean Bodin refer to the
king as having absolute power, they mean that he did not share the power
to make laws with national representative assemblies; in other words he was
"sole legislator." Absolute monarchs claimed that they held power by divine
right (god granted them power). They also claimed that they were above the
law and as the highest judge in the land could not be held accountable for
their actions. This meant that they acted for reasons of state, i.e. the benefit
of the entire kingdom, and therefore could not be expected to observe the
rights and liberties of their subjects.
The Practice of Absolutism
In the seventeenth century, European monarchs took several steps to
ensure their authority was held supreme within the state. First, they
eliminated or weakened national representative assemblies. Second, they
subordinated the nobility to the king and made them dependent on his favor,
while excluding him from positions of power. Third, the kings established
centralized bureaucracies that collected taxes, recruited soldiers, and
operated the judiciary.
Introductions continued…
The French Revolution, like the American Revolution, represents moments in history when society stood
up to the power of the king. It’s when the common man said he deserved natural rights, such as life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s when society said that the role of the government was to serve
the people. Ideas such as these, born in a time period known as the Age of Enlightenment, represent the
birth of modern democracies like that in America and many other nations throughout the world today.
Before democracy could be established throughout the world it encountered several obstacles. Obstacles
that were mostly created by democracies opponents such as Klemens Von Metternich as well as many
other powerful kings throughout Europe. Kings who truly believed that man was naturally wicked and
needed a strong ruler to govern them.
So, your assignment is to use the below documents to figure out if you agree or disagree with the Quote
by Klemens Von Metternich.
Step 1: Write a one paragraph summary of the Writing Prompt Introduction. Be sure to represent a
fundamental understanding of the general overview of the time period as well as a general understanding
of what made these kings “Absolute.”
Step 2: Use the 3 documents to complete the Writing Prompt Charts
Step 3: Using the Introduction, the 3 documents, and any additional research, write a five paragraph
essay either supporting, refuting, or modifying Metternich’s quote “ The best thing we can do for our
laws is preserve them, never question them. The horror of the French Revolution is the purest
example of the failure with the experiment known as democracy.” When citing the material simply
identify which document was used at the end of the sentence ( Document 1 ). Original thought and ideas
are welcomed, as is any additional research. When using additional research please provide a works
cited page listing the resources used.
Due Date: First Day of School
Please Staple the documents together with your name on each document. Please place the summary on
top, the completed prompt charts second, and the five paragraph essay last. Both the summary and the
essay should be typed while the prompt charts may be completed with pen or pencil.
Questions: Email me at [email protected]
Document 1:
This report would have been written for Louis XIV by one of his government ministers.
Saint-Quentin. Of the 450 sick persons whom the inhabitants were unable to relieve, 200 were
turned out, and these we saw die one by one as they lay on the roadside. A large number still
remain, and to each of them it is only possible to dole out the least scrap of bread. We only give
bread to those who would otherwise die. The staple dish here consists of mice, which the
inhabitants hunt, so desperate are they from hunger. They devour roots which the animals
cannot eat; one can, in fact, not put into words the things one sees.... This narrative, far from
exaggerating, rather understates the horror of the case, for it does not record the hundredth
part of the misery in this district. Those who have not witnessed it with their own eyes cannot
imagine how great it is. Not a day passes but at least 200 people die of famine in the two
provinces. We certify to having ourselves seen herds, not of cattle, but of men and women,
wandering about the fields between Rheims and Rhétel, turning up the earth like pigs to find a
few roots; and as they can only find rotten ones, and not half enough of them, they become so
weak that they have not strength left to seek food. The parish priest at Boult, whose letter we
enclose, tells us he has buried three of his parishioners who died of hunger. The rest subsisted
on chopped straw mixed with earth, of which they composed a food which cannot be called
bread. Other persons in the same place lived on the bodies of animals which had died of disease,
and which the curé, otherwise unable to help his people, allowed them to roast at the presbytery
Document 2:
Louis XIV to his Nobles on the day he is crowned king:
The day after Cardinal Mazarin's death, Louis XIV, at the age of twenty three, expressed his determination
to be a real king and the sole ruler of France:
Up to this moment I have been pleased to entrust the government of my affairs to the late Cardinal. It is
now time that I govern them myself. You [secretaries and ministers of state] will assist me with your
counsels when I ask for them. I request and order you to seal no orders except by my command, . . . I
order you not to sign anything, not even a passport . . . without my command; to render account to me
personally each day and to favor no one.
Document 3:
From Prince Klemens von Metternich. Political Confession of Faith (1820)
The Source of the Evil
We are convinced that society can no longer be saved without strong and vigorous resolutions on the part of the
Governments still free in their opinions and actions. We are also convinced that this may yet be, if the Governments
face the truth, if they free themselves from all illusion, if they join their ranks and take their stand on a line of
correct, unambiguous, and frankly announced principles.
By this course the monarchs will fulfill the duties imposed upon them by Him who, by entrusting them with power,
has charged them to watch over the maintenance of justice, and the rights of all, to avoid the paths of error, and
tread firmly in the way of truth. Placed beyond the passions which agitate society, it is in days of trial chiefly that
they are called upon to despoil realities of their false appearances, and to show themselves as they are, fathers
invested with the authority belonging by right to the heads of families, to prove that, in days of mourning, they
know how to be just, wise, and therefore strong, and that they will not abandon the people whom they ought to
govern to be the sport of factions, to error and its consequences, which must involve the loss of society. The
moment in which we are putting our thoughts on paper is one of these critical moments. The crisis is great; it will
be decisive according to the part we take or do not take....
Union between the monarchs is the basis of the policy which must now be followed to save society from total
The first principle to be followed by the monarchs, united as they are by the coincidence of their desires and
opinions, should be that of maintaining the stability of political institutions against the disorganized excitement
which has taken possession of men's minds- the immutability of principles against the madness of their
interpretation; and respect for laws actually in force against a desire for their destruction....
Prompt: “ The best thing we can do for our laws is preserve them, never question them. The
horror of the French Revolution is the purest example of the failure with the experiment known
as democracy.” ~ Klemens Von Metternich
Source (which document):
Who is Involved:
What were their beliefs:
How is it connected to the prompt?
Source (Which Document):
Who is Involved:
What were their beliefs:
How is it connected to the prompt?
Source (Which Document):
Who is Involved:
What were their beliefs:
How is it connected to the prompt?