After severing the majority of their ties with the Holy Roman Empire regional monarchies began the task of placing themselves on equal footing with their The Holy Roman Emperor and The Pope. If they were to have no superiors then they would need power equal to or greater than those that had ruled them. Absolutism stems from two beliefs: That Monarchs could rule without sharing power, and that God gave them authority to rule.
The first characteristic of the sovereign [all powerful] prince is the power to make general and special laws, but—and this qualification is important—without the consent of superiors, equals, or inferiors. If the prince requires the consent of superiors, then he is a subject himself; if that of equals, he shares his authority with others; if that of his subjects, senate or people, he is not sovereign.
JEAN BODIN, Six Books on the State
Absolute monarchy, admittedly, was not exactly new in Europe. Since the late medieval period, rulers had been attempting to centralize their authority at the expense of feudal nobles and the church. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, however, religious strife blurred political issues and somewhat restricted developing monarchies. After the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the era of disastrous religious wars, absolutism rapidly gained popularity because it promised to restore order and security. Parallel economic developments encouraged the maturing of absolutism. As the Spanish and Portuguese overseas empires declined, the Dutch, English, and French assumed commercial and colonial leadership, bringing the European economy to a second stage of expansion. The commercial revolution, centered in northern Europe, generated great wealth and brought increasingly complete capitalistic institutions, both of which furthered the process of state-building.
When the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War in 1648, it marked a significant turning point in European history. Peace, after such prolonged religious conflict and political chaos, renewed possibilities for centralizing royal authority within European states. The Shift In Fundamental European Values The era after Westphalia also saw a fundamental shift in European values. Although many Europeans - both Protestant and Catholic - were still concerned about personal salvation, they were now also apprehensive about prospects in this world. Like their Renaissance predecessors, they enjoyed sensual as well as aesthetic pleasures; but they put more emphasis on profits, power, and the need for security. With the memory of war and social upheaval still fresh, they were inclined toward a belief in order, which shaped their other values.
"Absolutism L'Etat, C'Est Moi": The Rise of European Absolutism. The World History Project. 1998 http://history-world.org/absolutism.htm. 9/15/15.
Objectives: 1. Identify the Characteristics of Absolute Monarchs 2. Use deductive reasoning to interpret historical context
Assessment: 1. What did Absolute Monarchs in England and France do to create a feeling of power in their courts? 2. What did Monarchs such as Elizabeth I and Louis XIV do with that power? 3. Would you have obeyed the will of an absolute Monarch, why or why not?