Category Archives: Constitutional and Absolute Monarchies

Constitutional and Absolute Monarchies


Absolutism- the principle of absolute government where the ruler has limitless power of the state.

Constitutional Monarchy- a form of government in which a parliament balances the power of the king.

parlements- regions in France that were given enough power by Louis XIII to deal with local issues.

James I (r. 1603-1625)- king of England who gained rule to the throne unopposed after the death of Elizabeth I. James I was son of Mary Queen of Scots. Unified England, Ireland and Scotland due to his family line which allowed him to do so. Puritans- English Protestants who wanted simpler forms of church ceremony and stricter practices in the church.

King James Bible- is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the English Church. Work began in 1604 and ended in 1611 on the King James Bible.

Charles I (r. 1625-1649)- was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. During Charles’s reign, he was struggling with the English parliament for power. In 1649, Charles was tried, convicted, and executed by the English parliament for treason.

Petition of Right- was a document signed in 1628, made the king of England consent parliament before taxation, said no free man could be imprisoned without due process, and troops cannot be billeted in private homes.

ship money- was a tax on certain coastal areas of England which the king of England could tax without the consent of parliament.

The Short and Long parliaments- The Short Parliament lasted from April to May of 1640. Charles dissolved parliament after the rebellion in Scotland due to insufficient funds for war against Scotland.The Long Parliament met from 1640 to 1660. Many factions of England were represented in the Long Parliament. It represented the landowners and merchant classes who resented the king’s financial policies.

War with Scotland 1640- War between Scotland and England broke out in 1640 when the Scots rebelled against the English who had tried to enforce religious conformity. The Puritan English wanted to impose Anglicanism on the Presbyterian Scots.

Courts of Star Chamber and High Commission-The Court of Star Chamber regulated the nobility and kept fair enforcement of the law so that the nobility could not bribe the judges of the court. The Courts of Star Chamber was dismissed in 1641. The High Commission enforced uniformity through the English Church.

Grand Remonstrance Dec. 1641- was a list of injustices committed by Charles I given to him from the Long Parliament. This document was an instigator of the English Civil War.

Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan- was a major work published during the Scientific Revolution. This work refers to the structure of modern society and government. The Leviathan was published in 1651.

Roundheads- were the members of parliaments and were opponents of the Cavaliers. The Roundheads earned their name from their so called short haircuts.

Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658- Oliver Cromwell was an English politician and political leader. Cromwell conquered Ireland and Scotland and unified Great Britain. Cromwell was a religious man and the leader of the Puritan Republic.

New Model Army- the New Model Army established a full time professional army for not only England, but Scotland and Ireland. It was formed in 1645 by the English Parliament and with the help of Oliver Cromwell.

Puritan Republic 1649-1660- was England controlled by Oliver Cromwell from 1649 to 1660. The Puritan Republic gained control over Scotland and Ireland. Oliver Cromwell was the leader of the Puritan Republic. After Cromwell died in 1658 England was ready to switch back to its previous traditional government.

Charles II- Charles II (1630-1685) ascended the throne in 1642 after the rule of Oliver Cromwell. Charles II restored the traditional monarchy back to England.

Restoration- Charles II restored the traditional monarchy back to England by making people adhere to the Book of Common Prayer and The Thirty-Nine Articles. He also tightened his grip on the rich English colonies in North America.

Treaty of Dover 1670- The Treaty of Dover was a secret treaty between England and France in order to fight against the Dutch.

Test Act- the Test Act barred Roman Catholics from office by requiring royal officials to swear oaths against the Catholic Church.

James II (r 1685-1688)- was the son of Charles I. James II dismissed the Test Act by openly appointing Catholics to high government positions. James II scared English Protestants by the birth of his Catholic son. Days after the birth of James’ son members of parliament agreed to invite William and Mary to invade England and establish a new monarchy.

William and Mary- William and Mary were offered the English throne by the English Parliament in 1688. William and Mary replaced their predecessor, James II, who had fled to France during the Glorious Revolution.

The Glorious Revolution- was the change in power from James II to William III of Orange and Mary. William III successfully invaded England with his Dutch Fleet and Army which led to his ascendance to the English throne.

Act of Settlement 1701- The Act of Settlement signed in 1701 by parliament settled the succession of the English and Irish thrones. The act was created after the William and Mary did not produce an heir to the throne.

John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government- John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government defended the idea that government resided in the approval of those governed. Locke claimed that the relationship between a king and and his people was a mutual contract. If the king broke that contract the people had the power to overthrow him.

Henry IV & Sully- Henry IV (r. 1589-1610) came to the throne at the end of the French wars of Religion. Henry IV gained more power and control of the French nobles. The Duke of Sully was Henry IV’s finance minister. Sully succeeded in expanding the authority of the central government.

Louis XIII- (r. 1610-1643) was the son of Henry IV. Louis XIII was the monarch of France during the beginning of the 17th century in France. Louis XIII depended on Cardinal Richelieu to help rule France.

Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642)- Cardinal Richelieu was the chief advisor of Louis XIII. Richelieu was a devout Catholic. Richelieu helped implement centralized government in France. Richelieu suppressed the Huguenots by taking them out of key government positions.

Treaty of the Pyrenées 1659- the Treaty of the Pyrenées was a document signed as an agreement to end the French and Spanish war from 1635 to 1659. Louis XIII and Philip IV of Spain sent their chief advisors to sign the treaty.

raison d’état- “means reasons of state” in French. Cardinal Richelieu understood the importance that the French population would understand and accept the “reasons of the state”.

Louis XIV- Louis XIV ruled France from 1643-1715. Louis XIV succeeded Louis XIII. Louis’s religious policy was to crush the protestants in France with the help of the Catholics. Louis XIV strived for supremacy in foreign affairs.

Divine right of kings- was the belief of monarchs that they were appointed by god to be the ruler of their lands.

Versailles- was the home of Louis XIV on the outskirts of Paris. Versailles is grand structure. If was a temple to royalty which showed the extent of Louis XIV’s power.

Jansenists- are followers of the teachings of St. Augustine, who stressed the role of divine grace and predestination.

Jean-Baptist Colbert- Jean-Baptist Colbert was a French politician who served France under the rule of Louis XIV. Colbert is known for creating a strong manufacturing economy for France during the late 17th century.

mercantilism- is an economic theory where the main goal is to acquire wealth by maximizing a country’s exports and minimizing its imports.

War of Devolution 1667-1668- was the first foreign war for Louis XIV. French forces fought against the Habsburgs in the Spanish controlled Netherlands.

Revocation of Edict of Nantes 1685- the Edict of Nantes established the Huguenots as an acceptable religion in France. Louis XIV drove the Huguenots out of France by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

League of Augsburg and Nine Years’ War- the league of Augsburg included Spain, Sweden, Saxony, England, Palatinate, and Emperor Leopold. From 1689 to 1697 the League of Augsburg fought in the Nine Years’ War in Europe.

Wars of Spanish Succession- was a war that occurred in Europe from 1701-1714. The war was fought between European powers and Spain over who had the right to succeed to the throne after Charles II of Spain.

Treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt- were two peace treaties between Charles VI and France to try to end the Wars of Spanish Succession.

Pragmatic Sanction & Marie Theresa- the Pragmantic Sanction was and document issued by Charles VI in 1713 to ensure that the Habsburg territories were to be inherited to by his daughter, Marie Theresa.

Frederick, the Great Elector- was the Duke of Prussia (r. 1640- 1688). Fredrick William, The Great Elector created a centralized bureaucracy and strict army to mold the scattered lands into a powerful state. The pressing threat of invasion from Sweden and Poland motivated Prussia to evolve into a powerful state.

Junkers- were the nobles of Prussia. They demanded absolute obedience from the surfs on their land in return for their support of the Hohenzollerns.
Peter the Great- Peter the Great was a successful ruler who turned Russia into an mighty economic and militaristic power in Europe. Most Russians view Peter as a reformer.

Streltsy & Boyars- were the two political parties of the Russian Empire.

The Great Northern War- was a war fought by Peter the Great to establish a warm water port in the Baltic Sea for Russia. The war was waged between Russia and Sweden. The war resulted in Russia gaining warm water ports that stayed free of ice, and opened the door to Europe.

St. Petersburg- established by Peter the Great in 1703 in the Gulf of Finland. The construction of the city by Peter the Great showed his seriousness to open Russia to western influence.

Table of Ranks- in 1722 Peter the Great established the Table of Ranks. It made the rank in the bureaucracy or military not hereditary linage. This was a major reform from the previous tsars.


1. What were the sources of Dutch prosperity and why did the Netherlands decline in the eighteenth century? Why did England and France develop different systems of government and religious policies?

The most significant sources to the Dutch prosperity during the 17th century can be attributed to its urbanized cities and its merchant economy. Dutch ships moved much of the trade of Europe.

Shipbuilding in the Netherlands was a highly lucrative industry for the Dutch. The Dutch provided herring to all Europe. Shareholders in Europe funded companies such as the Dutch East Indies Company, which gained control of the Asian spice trade. The Dutch were tolerant of religion which gave them a significant advantage. While some states were prioritizing wars of religion the Netherlands focused and invested into their own economy. The decline of the Dutch can be sourced to a variety of reasons. After the death William III of Orange in 1702, the separate provinces of the Netherlands refused the rise of another monarch, and the Dutch suffered from the lack of a powerful monarch. The Dutch economy soon slowed and the fishing industry began to decline. Naval supremacy shifted from the Dutch to the English at the beginning of the 18th century.

England and France developed different systems of government because of religious and political factors. Louis XIV eliminated protestantism in France for religious uniformity. In England, powerful protestants called puritans limited the English monarchy. People in France followed Louis XIV, while in England four Stuart monarchs, who acted on impulse, had a difficult time making the English population trust them. The French population allowed the gradual development of an absolute monarchy while the English people were hesitant and instead slowly created a parliamentary monarchy. The English parliament and the monarch of England struggled for power in the early 17th century.

2. Why did the English king and Parliament quarrel in the 1640s? Was king or Parliament more to blame? What role did religion play in the conflict?

The English king and Parliament quarreled in the 1640s due to rising tensions against the king and how much power he was allowed in government. Charles I and Parliament struggled for power during the early 17th century. Charles I imposed tariffs and import duties without the consultation of parliament. This made members of parliament furious. In 1649, parliament tried Charles I for high treason against the state of England. Charles was executed in 1649. Charles I and parliament were equally to blame for the long struggle for power. Charles could have prolonged his demise by trying to compromise with parliament.

During the power struggle between Charles I, and parliament, parliament accused Charles of wanting to strengthen ties with the Catholic Church after he

created peace between England and Spain in 1630. Charles had to end war with Spain because he did not have enough funds from parliament to wage war.

3. What was the Glorious Revolution and why did it take place? What kind of settlement emerged from the revolution?

The Glorious Revolution, also known as the Bloodless Revolution was the shift in power from James II, who was overthrown by parliament, to William and Mary. The revolution occurred because the belief that James II’s newborn son who was Catholic would restore Catholicism to England after James II. William III successfully invaded England with his Dutch Fleet and Army which led to his ascendance to the English throne. The Glorious Revolution was not a mass movement like some revolutions, it established a framework for a government. Parliament only represented the upperclass, but it still controlled the power of the monarchy. The settlement that emerged from the Glorious revolution was that parliament claimed that the relationship between a king and and his people was a mutual contract. If the king broke that contract the people had the power to overthrow him.

4. Why did France become an absolute monarchy? How did Louis XIV consolidate his monarchy? What limits were there on his authority? What was Louis’ religious policy? What were the goals of his foreign policy? How did he use ceremony and the royal courts to strengthen his authority? What features of French government might Europeans outside of France have feared?

During the 17th century France’s kings gradually took power away from the nobility, and enforced religious uniformity. King Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715) said “one king, one law, one faith”. Louis XIV consolidated his monarchy by establishing local parlements; small provincial governments. There were not limits on Louis XIV’s authority except money. Louis XIV had lavish ceremonies to flaunt his power. He dressed as Apollo, the sun god, because the sun is the center of the solar system. Louis XIV sought attention and respect.
He used his lavish ceremonies to express his power and wealth which helped strengthen his authority because people would look up to such a man.

During the 17th and 18th centuries France had the largest army in Europe; over 400,000 soldiers. Other powers in Europe feared the powerful nation.

5. How were the Hohenzollerns able to forge their diverse landholdings into the state of Prussia? Who were the major personalities involved in this process and what were their individual contributions? Why was the military so important in Prussia? What major problems did the Habsburgs face and how did they seek to resolve them? Which family, the Hohenzollerns or the Habsburgs, was more successful? Why?

The Hohenzollerns like the Habsburgs, controlled many scattered lands which they controlled through feudal ties. Fredrick William, The Great Elector created a centralized bureaucracy and strict army to mold the scattered lands into a powerful state. The pressing threat of invasion from Sweden and Poland motivated Prussia to evolve into a powerful state. The military of Prussia was essential to it’s survival. At the beginning of Fredrick William’s rule he knew that Prussia’s army wasn’t strong enough to threaten it’s neighbors.

Fredrick William make the army larger and made it stricter. Fredrick William ended up creating one of the most powerful armies in Europe.

There were several major problems that faced the Habsburgs. The territories ruled by the Habsburgs did not have a uniform religion or language. This made ruling those territories extremely difficult. The Habsburgs also faced the threat of the Ottoman and French armies. Even though the treat of the two nations was great the Habsburgs managed to hold them off. The Hohenzollerns were more successful at establishing a powerful bureaucracy and army. The Habsburgs could not gain total control over their lands.

6. How and why did Russia emerge as a great power but Poland did not? How were Peter the Great’s domestic reforms related to his military ambitions? What were his methods of reform? How did family conflict influence his later policies? Was Peter a successful ruler?

Russia emerged into the European political scene after the Peter the Great increased his power in the 17th century.

Poland failed at becoming a powerful political state because parts of it were controlled by the Habsburgs. Poland was squeezed together between Prussia, Russia, and the Habsburg territories. This ensured that it would never fully develop as a powerful nation state.

Peter the Great’s domestic reforms were to strengthen the Romanov Dynasty’s rule and gain leverage against other political parties. He gained control of the boyars and streltsy. Peter the Great brought the Orthodox Church under state control. Peter the Great’s military reforms were to strengthen the military and create a powerful navy. By the end of Peter’s rule there were over 300,000 soldiers in his military. Both Peter the Great’s domestic and military ambitions shared the goal of empowering Russia as a great economic and political power in Europe. Peter the Great’s successor Catherine the Great followed Peter’s military and economic ambitions by gaining control of small eastern territories and Crimea, from the Ottomans. Peter the Great was a successful ruler who turned Russia into an mighty economic and militaristic power in Europe. Most Russians view Peter as a reformer. According to the Russian poet A. S. Pushkin, Peter the Great “cut out the window into Europe”


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