Absolutism in Europe - Summary

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During the 17th century two future rulers, Peter the Great of Russia and Louis XIV of France, were born who would push absolutism to new heights. Absolutism is a form of government where all the power is in the hands of one individual. Absolute monarchies are the most common form of absolutism.

Peter the Great and Louis XIV had similar traumatic experiences involving people with traditional power during their childhoods. Louis’ was the Fronde, a rebellion by nobles. The Fronde began in 1650 when Louis was a young boy. Many times during the uprising his life was put in danger as his mother and himself were occasionally treated as prisoners. They also had to retreat from Paris.

Peter the Great’s traumatic childhood experience was the Streltsy uprising of 1682. The Streltsy, the traditional guards of the nobles in Russia, mobbed the Kremlin after rumors were circulated that Peter’s half brother, Ivan, had been killed. They lynched many nobles including two of Peter’s uncles. The killings were quite brutal, including some being thrown off of balconies unto the Streltsy’s bayonets. The young Peter witnessed this and it began his deep mistrust and hatred of traditional ways in Russia.

Another similarity of Peter and Louis was their handling of their nobles. They both took power from them in different ways. Louis built the luxurious palace of Versailles. The grand building project of Versailles employed many artisans and common builder for a lifetime. Thus it was supported by the population of France. Many of the most prominent nobles were forced to live there for about half a year in apartments. Their actual power was essentially traded for social pomp and court life. They filled their days with various social acts like watching the rising of the King in the morning and the pursuits of the frivolous fashions of the day. Another purpose of Versailles was to show the sheer might of Louis XIV.

Peter the Great pushed very hard for modernization of Russia. His...
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