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Absolutism vs. Constitutionalism. Pre-conditions. Since mid-17th century new tendencies in political thinking and philosophy Connected with Enlightenment („Enlightened Absolutism“) Absolutism as system of modern statehood Absolutism as period: notion of despotism, unchecked monarchic power

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pre conditions
Pre-conditions
  • Since mid-17th century new tendencies in political thinking and philosophy
  • Connected with Enlightenment („Enlightened Absolutism“)
  • Absolutism as system of modern statehood
  • Absolutism as period: notion of despotism, unchecked monarchic power
  • Why different from earlier periods, forms of statehood?
the specificity of absolutism
The Specificity of Absolutism
  • Enlightenment as background
  • Increasing claim by monarchs for full authority over territorial state
  • No princely responsibility to higher authority (e.g. law)
  • „L‘état, c‘est moi.“
  • Legitimacy derived exclusively from God
modern elements in absolutism
Modern Elements in Absolutism
  • Centralised administration
  • New developments in warfare
  • Outer appearance of rule: e.g. royal palaces (Versailles)
  • Rationality as main principle, esp. in social and economic policy (mercantilism)
  • Religious tolerance
  • Goal: public wealth
  • Increasing importance of national principle
pre requisites
Pre-requisites
  • Increasing readiness of local nobility to cooperate
  • Reasons: desire for stability
  • Pre-history: ongoing warfare (30 Years War, French civil war „Fronde“ 1648-53, British civil wars, Oliver Cromwell)
characteristics
Characteristics
  • Royal power not really „absolute“
  • Ideological foundations (e.g. Louis XIV. as „Sun King“), „Gloire“ as motivation
  • Militant: expansionist wars in Europe (French-Spanish war 1668-72, Spanish succession war 1701-14, Silesian wars)
constitutionalist developments
Constitutionalist Developments
  • Enlightened political thinking: Voltaire, Locke, Robbespierre, Kant
  • Constitutional statehood: Poland (Szlachta, constitution 1791, USA 1776, French Revolution 1789)
  • Enlightened „restricted“ Absolutism survives in large parts of Europe until 20th century