Advanced Social Studies I, 6-7°
September 12th, 2014
DBQ: Absolutism and Democracy
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there were two forms of government in Europe: absolutism, which gave unlimited power to the monarchs, and democracy, which gave power to the people. Which was more effective for this time period? Well, while both absolutism and democracy had their strengths and weaknesses, absolutism was more effective during this time. Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince, King Louis XIV of France, and King James I of England all believed absolutism to be most effective.
Machiavelli felt it was best to be feared, not loved. He believed that if you trusted others, they would eventually disobey you. In his book The Prince, Machiavelli wrote, “For all men in general this observation may be made: they are ungrateful, fickle, and deceitful, eager to avoid dangers, and avid for gain, and while you are useful to them they are all with you, but when it [danger] approaches they turn on you. Any prince, trusting only in their works and having no other preparations made, will fall to ruin, for friendships that are bought at a price and not by greatness and nobility of soul are paid for indeed, but they are not owned and cannot be called upon in time of need. Men have less hesitation in offending a man who is loved than one who is feared, for love is held by a bond of obligation which, as men are wicked, is broken whenever personal advantage suggests it, but fear is accompanied by the dread of punishment, which never relaxes”. Machiavelli is saying that most men are afraid and with fear you forget your responsibilities, and since most men were afraid of the consequences of voting, they would theoretically run away. He believed absolutism was the way to go because in a democracy, all men would be controlling.
Absolutism worked because decisions were made quickly. King Louis XIV of France believed it was easier to have one head who...
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