Western Civilization from 1650 to the Present
Dr. Edrene S. McKay Website: Online-History.org Phone: (479) 855-6836
ABSOLUTISM V. CONSTITUTIONALISM
TWO MODELS OF GOV’T
During the 17th century, France and England moved in two very different political directions. By the close of the century, after decades of civil and religious strife, ENGLAND had developed into a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCH with a policy of RELIGIOUS TOLERATION. By contrast, FRANCE developed an ABSOLUTIST, CENTRALIZED FORM OF GOVERNMENT dominated by a monarchy that shared little power with any other national institutions and prohibited all religions but ROMAN CATHOLICISM.
In the second half of the 17th century, changes in military organization, weapons, and tactics sharply INCREASED THE COST OF WARFARE. Because traditional sources of revenue were inadequate to finance these growing costs – as well as the costs of government – monarchs sought new ones. Only monarchies that succeeded in building a SECURE FINANCIAL BASE that was not dependent on the support of noble estates, diets, or assemblies achieved absolute rule. The FRENCH MONARCHY SUCCEEDED in this effort after mid-century, whereas the ENGLISH MONARCHY FAILED.
In their pursuit of adequate income, ENGLISH MONARCHS of the 17th century THREATENED THE LOCAL POLITICAL INTERESTS and economic well being of the country’s nobility and others of landed and commercial wealth. These politically active groups invoked traditional English liberties. As a consequence, they effectively resisted the monarchs’ attempted intrusions throughout the country. The experience of Louis XIV, the French king, was different. During the second half of the 17th century, he would make the FRENCH NOBILITY DEPENDENT upon his goodwill and patronage. In turn, he would support their local influence and their place in a firm social hierarchy.
Religious Factors also affected the political destinies of France and England. A strong Protestant religious movement known as PURITANISM arose in ENGLAND and actively opposed the Stuart monarchy. Louis XIV, in contrast, CRUSHED THE PROTESTANT COMMUNITIES of France. He was generally supported in these efforts by Roman Catholics who saw religious uniformity enforce by the monarchy as working to their advantage.
There were also major institutional differences between the two countries. In PARLIAMENT, ENGLAND possessed a political institution that had long BARGAINED WITH THE MONARCH over political issues. FRANCE LACKED A SIMILARLY STRONG TRADITION of broad liberties, representation, and bargaining between the monarchy and other national institutions.
Finally, PERSONALITIES played an important role.
During the first half of the century, FRANCE profited from the guidance of two of its most ABLE STATESMEN, Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin. The four Stuart monarchs of ENGLAND, on the other hand, had trouble simply making people trust them.
In both England and France, the NOBILITY and large landowners stood at the top of the social hierarchy and SOUGHT TO PROTECT THEIR PRIVILEGES and local interests. In England, parliamentary government was the result of the efforts of the English landed classes to protect their concerns and LIMIT THE POWER OF THE MONARCHY to interfere with life on the local level. The FRENCH NOBILITY under Louis XIV, in contrast, eventually concluded that the best way to secure heir own interests was to SUPPORT THE MONARCHY. THE RISE OF ABSOLUTE MONARCHY IN FRANCE
THE SUN KING
Brought an end to religious...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document