October 8, 2012
18th century monarchy
Royalty and power has always been one of the major underpinnings of Western Civilization. Throughout the course of European history, empires have risen and kingdoms have fallen. The eighteenth century marks a time of great change and diversity for European empires and monarchs. It was a time of enlightenment, a break from custom and tradition, absolutism and constitutional rule. Based on this great rate of change, diversity and ultimate decline of monarchial rule, the definition of monarchy may be left to interpretation. Throughout the course of this essay I will analyze the different governing systems, the change, and decline in monarchial rule. With an analytical approach to this subject, we will then apply a working definition to the term “monarchy” and its implications in the context of eighteenth century Europe.
Europe, in the 1700s, consisted of two different types of government systems: constitutional monarchy and absolutism. Europe, as a whole, was predominately under absolutist rule, England being one of the expectations. Constitutional monarchy is a system in which the monarch has shared and limited power with the parliament. In contrast, absolutism is a system in which the monarch has unlimited power and control over his or her country and society. Absolutism, in theory, claimed that the monarchial position was acquired by social contract, inheritance and divine right. However, it is important to note that Eastern European absolutism differs from Western European absolutism but shared an ultimate goal for centralized power.
With the basic definitions of these different governing systems we will now examine these systems and the monarchs who ruled them. Western Europe included monarchs such as Louis XIV and Louis XV. Louis XIV, like the other monarchs, believed that he was in power because of divine rule. He is known as one of the most significant figures when it comes to...