Take-Home Essay #1
After about 1450, the advent of completely sovereign rulers started a shift from divided feudal governments to cohesive countrywide monarchies. The characteristics of the feudal system did not disappear, but merely molded into the shape of the new monarchies. Territorial rulers still existed and representative organizations even grew in influence. Throughout 1450 to 1550, a reformation of the governments of Western Europe created “new monarchies”. These new monarchies contained very distinct characteristics that distinguished them from the old feudal governments, such as the complete power of kings and the massive growth of economic power. All of these characteristics can be seen in the states of France and England. The feudal system of the High Middle Ages was characterized by the division of governmental power between the king and his vassals. In the time of the new monarchies, however, kings had a large of power over their kingdoms. In feudal monarchies, towns would be governed by representative assemblies, such as the English Parliament and the French Estates of General. This all changed after the Hundred Years’ War and the Great Schism. The nobility and the clergy were in decline and became less and less able to avert the growth of national monarchies. Towns now began to ally with the king and the common citizen slowly began to fill his royal offices. Parliament and the French Estates General slowly became less powerful and began to meet with decreasing frequency. In fact, the only time that the French Estates General met was during times of great crisis. Henry VII managed to raise revenues without going pleading to parliament, which had designated him customs revenues for life in 1485. Rulers did not have complete power over every part of their country, but in the last half of the fifteenth century, they realized the law was under their control. Another characteristic of the new monarchies that distinguished it from the old feudal...
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