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The Age of Absolutism

Chapter 16

Dan Priest

on 10 March 2014

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Transcript of The Age of Absolutism

ab-so-lut-ism: noun
In Europe,
dominated the political and social world of the continent from the 1500s until the Age of Revolution began in the 18th century.
Philip II of Spain, r. 1554-1598
The principle or the exercise of
complete & unrestricted power in government
The monarch holds executive, legislative & judicial powers.
Monarchs also believed in the
"Divine Right Rule"
Because monarchs received their
power from God, they could not be challenged
Critical monarchs of the time, such as Louis XIV, James I, Charles V, and Philip II, added
significantly to their territories
centralized their governments
, and
constructed buildings and cities
that stand to this day.
King Philip II was an important monarch who
controlled Spain at the height of its power
. By this point, Spain had become fabulously wealthy during the Age of Exploration from the steady stream of
coming from the Americas.
So when the
Dutch Protestants revolted against Catholic Spain
, Philip sent an army that started the
Court of Blood
: the torture and execution of thousands of suspected Protestant rebels. Here's how:
Like most people in Spain, Philip was also a
devout Catholic
and was intensely opposed to the
Protestant Reformation
initiated by Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.
Remember this guy?
The Rack
Victims would be stretched until the victims ligaments, cartilage, and bones would snap
The Head Crusher
"the victims head would slowly be crushed killing the victim, but not before the victim's jaw was crushed, and their eyes popped from their sockets."
The Spanish Tickler
The sharp prongs would tear at the victims flesh causing severe pain, and later infections causing death
Most torture victims would eventually
confess to being heretics
to escape further punishment. They then however, would be sent to be 'relaxed' which meant being
burned alive at the stake
To help their fellow Protestants, the
English sent aid to the Dutch rebels
. This infuriated King Philip and to make matters worse, the English Queen Elizabeth I was
allowing her ship captains to attack Spanish treasure ships coming from America
Sea Dogs
King Philip II decided it was time to stop the English from raiding his ships, and to convert England back to Catholicism.
He decided to invade England
Using the New World gold and silver
, Philip constructed an immense fleet called the
Spanish Armada
. It consisted of about 130 ships, and 20,000 soldiers and sailors. The invincible fleet sailed to the English Channel in 1588.
On their way to England,
horrible weather conditions had damaged the Armada
, and Drake's smaller, faster boats were better for battle. Then the English set eight ships on fire and aimed them at the remaining Armada ships. In a panic, the
Spanish Armada fled
from the fire ships
This humiliating defeat devastated the Spanish state. Spain eventually
went broke from constant warfare
, and the money from the New World dried up.
Spain had declined as a major power
The Age of Absolutism
Louis XIV of France, r. 1643-1715
Also known as the "Sun King"
While the
Protestant Reformation
began in Germany with the help of Gutenberg's Printing Press, it soon spread to
This threatened the Catholic French monarchy who believed in the idea of "un roi, une loi, une foi"
Like the Spanish, the French Monarchy was Catholic and they were appalled to find that
one in ten Frenchmen were Huguenots
, or French Protestants.
"one king, one law, one religion"
And just like the Spanish, the Frenchmen reacted with
violence and discrimination
. Fighting broke out between the Catholics and the Huguenots all throughout France.
In 1572, the violence came to a boiling point when the
Catholic queen of France ordered the mass killing of Huguenots in Paris
. This day became known as the
Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Catholic mobs were estimated to have killed 10,000 to 70,000 Huguenots in the streets of Paris.
It was no longer safe to be a Huguenot in France and many began to
leave or convert back to Catholicism
One famous convert was an important noble by the name of Henry of Navarre.
Henry of Navarre survived the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre by
denying his religion
. By turning Catholic, Henry gained strong allies and eventually became
Henry IV
, the next king of France. Henry explained his decision with, "
Paris is well worth a mass
Henry IV knew that in order to gain control of France, he needed to
restore peace
. In 1598 he granted some rights to Huguenots through the
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes granted the Huguenots certain freedoms like:
Freedom to worship
Right to hold office
Protection from the Inquisition
The edict became Henry IV's
most successful achievement
. Henry created peace, eliminated France's debt, created new industries, and created trade. He became one of France's most respected monarchs.
Unfortunately for Henry, he was
10 years later by a fanatical Catholic who
hated how the Edict of Nantes protected the Huguenots
. Henry's carriage was stopped in traffic and he was stabbed to death.
This allowed Henry's grandson,
Louis XIV
, to rise and become history's best example of an absolute monarch.
Louis XIV reigned in France for
72 years and 110

making it one of the longest in European history! He had absolute power which he wielded with supreme confidence. He chose the sun as his symbol to show that
everything revolved around him
By become the center of the French state, Louis made sure that the
nobles lost their influence and power
. One way Louis did this by creating the immense
Palace of Versailles
, and forcing the nobles to either live or visit regularly at the palace.
By living at the palace, the king could keep a closer eye on the nobles which kept them from
causing trouble far from Paris
Louis also forced the nobles to

spend their money

through clothing, fine dining, and gambling which

kept them poor
But spending time at the Palace of Versailles wasn't such a bad thing. It was a mini city with massive buildings and gardens. It represented Louis'
beauty and power as the king
The palace was full of thousands of beautiful works of art, and was big enough to hold 20,000 officials, servants, and nobles. It took 36,000 workers and 6,000 horses fifty years to build.
Finally, Louis showed his absolutist side by completely defeating the Huguenots once and for all.
He revoked the Edict of Nantes
and outlawed Protestantism in France. Over 200,000 Huguenots fled France.
James I of England, r. 1603-1625
The Tudor family led England for more than 100 years. They believed in
divine right
but also had a decent relationship with
Provided Henry VIII with money for wars, made him head of the Church of England
Elizabeth generally got along with Parliament
Elizabeth died with no direct heir to take over

The Stuarts, rulers of Scotland, took over England. King James I claimed
absolute power
, which angered Parliament.

Parliament refused to give him money before discussion
James dissolved Parliament
Protestant dissenters (Puritans) demanded changes James disagreed with
King James did issue the creation of a new translation of the Bible: The King James Bible, which is still widely important today.
This kind of fighting went on for awhile. Kings would reject the powers of Parliament and vice versa. Eventually a civil war breaks out, kings are beheaded, and the monarchy is dissolved.
After a brief experiment in strict Puritanical rule, the monarchy is revived and religious "stability" is achieved through the
Act of Toleration
, which granted religious freedom (except to Catholics, Jews, and Unitarians).
And as the reign of William and Mary was beginning, Parliament passed the
English Bill of Rights
in 1689, which said Parliament was superior to the monarch.

The monarch was required to allow Parliament to regularly meet
The House of Commons controlled the money
Monarchs couldn’t interfere with Parliament
Forbid Catholic monarchs
Freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and excessive bail
The new changes to England created a
limited monarchy
; the powers of the king or queen are no longer absolute, a constitution or legislative body (like Parliament) now have some authority over the monarch.
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