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THE AGE OF ABSOLUTISM (1550-1800). Absolutism. Form of monarchical power when a ruler has a complete authority over the government and lives of the people Two types of A.: 1. Ruler 2. Ruler + Chief Minister A. took place in: Spain, France, Prussia, Russia, Austria .

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  • Form of monarchical power when a ruler has a complete authority over the government and lives of the people
  • Two types of A.: 1. Ruler

2. Ruler + Chief Minister

  • A. took place in: Spain, France, Prussia, Russia, Austria
setting the stage
Setting the Stage
  • Europe was in a period after Reformation. Still divided religiously.
    • Catholic territory: Spain, France, Italy, Southern Germany.
    • Protestant territory: England, Netherlands, Northern Germany
  • Spain, France, and England had colonies in Asia, the Americas, and Africa.
cardinal richelieu
Cardinal Richelieu

Louis XIII became king when Henry VII died

Louis was sickly

Cardinal Richelieu was chosen as his adviser

cardinal richelieu1
Cardinal Richelieu
  • A political genius
  • Goal: to make the king supreme in France and France supreme in Europe
  • To do this:
    • Take power from noble
    • Take political rights away from Huguenots
setting the stage1
Setting the Stage

The edict of Nantes gave the Huguenots certain religious freedoms

They lived in fortified cities

Making a strong central government would be difficult

Richelieu attacked the cities

After a year the Huguenots asked for peace

Richelieu then took away certain rights in the fortified cities

setting the stage2
Setting the Stage

He strengthened the authority of the intendants

They took the administrative and financial power for governors and military leaders and gave it to the king

the thirty years war
The Thirty Years’ War

Starting as a Protestant rebellion in Prague, it was a great opportunity to strengthen France

Richelieu worked to keep the war going and keep France out

Other countries became weak while France stayed strong

the thirty years war1
The Thirty Years’ War

France eventually joined the war

The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648

France and their allies had accomplished most of their goals



Louis XIV

The Sun King


louis xiv
Louis XIV

France's Sun King

Longest reign in European history (1643-1715).

During this time he brought absolute monarchy to its height

Established a glittering court at Versailles

Fought most of the other European countries in four wars.

louis xiv1
Louis XIV

Had the palace built and moved the government there

Financial strain on France

He believed in the divine right of kings

Used the palace for control

Had the most important nobles live there to keep an eye on them

They could only advance by gaining his favor

He adopted the sun name because the rays reached far and wide like his power

louis xiv2
Louis XIV

Absolute power to him meant he made all of the decisions

He was directly involved with the French government

Advisers worked under his direct supervision

One of the best was

Jean-Baptiste Colbert

jean baptiste colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
  • Expert in finance
  • Promoted economic development in France
  • Strengthened industries
  • High tariffs in imports
  • Improved transportation
  • Encouraged colonies
  • Trade
    • Canada
    • West Indies
    • East Asia
jean baptiste colbert1
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
  • Trade and commerce grew
  • France became a leading economic power
  • Economic improvements
    • Large army
    • Overseas exploration
  • Became a leading naval power
  • Became a strong force in overseas trade and colonization
unity of france
Unity of France

Louis XIV believed Huguenots hurt French unity.

Did away with Edict of Nantes.

More than 200,000 protestants fled France rather than become Catholic.

Their loss weakened France’s power.


Louis XIV increased power of military. Most powerful army in Europe by 1700s. 400,000 strong.

Believed France’s power rested upon its natural borders. Pyrenees Mtns., English Channel, Med. Sea, Alps.

Next he wanted the land up to the Rhine River.

  • Countries united against him.
    • Netherlands
    • England
    • Sweden
    • Austria
    • Spain.
  • Wanted balance of power in Europe, so no one country could dominate.
  • Wars took huge financial toll on France.
  • Lost a lot of lives.
war of spanish succession
War of Spanish Succession
  • Spanish Hapsburg dynasty died out in 1700.
  • Throne went to Phillip V, Louis’ grandson.
  • Other European countries did not want Spain and France controlled by Bourbon rulers.
  • Attacked France.
  • France met defeat again and again.
  • Treaty of Utrecht
    • Phillip V became King of Spain
    • France and Spain’s monarchies could not be united.
    • England received French lands in North America.
france in americas
France in Americas

Settled in areas of present-day Canada.

Fur trade.

Settled colonies in Haiti and other West Indian islands, Asia, and parts of India.

Settled at mouth of Mississippi River. Louisiana is named for Louis XIV

louis xiv3
Louis XIV
  • After Louis died, the nobles gained back power.
  • Followed by weak rulers
  • Royal authority died.

France became main power in Europe.



Tsar Peter

peter the great
Peter the Great

In 1682, Peter became czar at age of 10.

Ruled until 1725.

He wanted to make Russia more like Western Europe.

Russia was landlocked

He needed to increase power to take coastal land from the Turks.

Toured Western Europe to create an alliance against the Turks.

He failed, but learned a lot.

westernizing russia
Westernizing Russia

Influenced by France, he improved army and weaponry.

Fought Sweden 1700-1721.

Gained territory on the east coast of the Gulf of Finland giving access to Baltic Sea.

st petersburg
St. Petersburg

Built a new city in this area named St. Petersburg.

Moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg expected to be a model of the westernizing of Russia.

This progressive city was Peter the Great’s “ Window on the West.”



Peter controlled the nobles

Reformed the government

Became ruler of very strong central government.

Controlled the Orthodox Church.

service nobility
Service Nobility

Peter’s new system

An individual noble’s rank depended on the performance of government service.

Czar granted large estates and thousands of serfs to nobles.

Increased the overall number of serfs.

Poor condition for serfs.

Nobles served king to stay in his good graces for reward


Angered the nobles. Made most powerful live in St. Petersburg and spend time at court where he could watch them.

Angered the Church. Tried to control clergy.

Increased Russian military power. Modeled after France.

Increased power of Czar. Made Czar the Absolute Ruler.

Failed to completely westernize Russia

Expanded Russian territory to the Baltic Sea

england the tudors parliament
Power was maintained far differently in England than in France and Spain.

Tudor dynasty reigned from 1485-1603.

Henry VII believed in divine right, but valued Parliament and maintained good relationships.

Elizabeth I was popular and successful thanks to good Parliamentary relations.

England (The Tudors & Parliament)
english parliament
House of Lords:

Upper house

Hereditary rule or appointed by sovereign

Lord Spiritual and Lord Temporal lead this house.

House of Commons

Lower house

Democratically elected body.

Prime Minister leads this house.

English Parliament
england the stuarts parliament
England (The Stuarts & Parliament)
  • When Elizabeth died without a direct heir, the throne passed to the Stuarts, the ruling family of Scotland.
  • James I, the first Stuart monarch contested Parliament and sought absolute rule.
  • Leaders in the House of Commons (body of Parliament) resisted his claim to divine right.
  • In 1625, Charles I inherited the throne. Also behaved like an absolute monarch. Imprisoned foes without trial and created bitter enemies.
  • For 11 years, he ruled the nation without Parliament. When he finally summoned Parliament to get help suppressing a Scottish rebellion, it launched its own revolt.
parliamentary rebellion and civil war
Parliamentary Rebellion and Civil War
  • When Parliament finally reconvened they staged the greatest political revolution in English history.
  • Charles lashed back against the reforms they proposed.
  • When he attempted to arrest the most radical leaders, they escaped and formed an army.
  • A civil war ensued, lasting from 1642-1649. In the end, revolutionary forces triumphed.
  • Oliver Cromwell led the triumphant New Model Army for Parliament, and by 1647, the king was in the hands of parliamentary forces.
execution of king charles
After the war, Parliament set up court to put King Charles on trial.

He was condemned as tyrant, traitor, and public enemy, and beheaded.

1st time in history that a monarch had been tried and executed by his own people.

Sent clear message that in England, no ruler could claim absolute power and ignore the rule of law.

Execution of King Charles
the commonwealth
After execution of Charles I, House of Commons abolished monarchy, House of Lords, and Church of England.

Declared England a republic called the Commonwealth, which was led by Oliver Cromwell. Enforced strict military rule.

Under the Commonwealth, Puritans replaced the Church of England. Strict piety.

After Cromwell died, Puritans lost their grip on England.

The Commonwealth
charles ii
Charles II
  • Many English were tired of military rule and strict Puritan ways
  • After a decade of kingless rule, Parliament invited Charles II to return to England from exile.
  • Unlike his father, Charles II was a popular ruler who avoided his father’s mistakes in dealing with Parliament.
  • Restored Church of England and promoted religious tolerance.
james ii william mary
Charles II’s brother James II inherited the throne.

Unlike Charles II, he angered Parliament and attempted to restore Catholic Church.

Parliament invited his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange to become rulers of England.

When they arrived, James fled to France. Non-violent overthrow known as the Glorious Revolution.

James II, William & Mary
english bill of rights
English Bill of Rights
  • Before they could be crowned, William and Mary had to accept several acts passed by Parliament that became known as the English Bill of Rights.
  • It ensured superiority of Parliament over the monarchy.
  • Required monarch to summon Parliament regularly and forbade monarch from interfering with debate or suspending laws.
  • Also restored trial by jury and affirmed principle of habeas corpus in which no one could be held in prison without first being charged with a specific crime.
  • Created a limited monarchy form of government. Set England apart from the rest of Europe.