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Enlightened Absolutism in Europe

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Jamie Lumley

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of Enlightened Absolutism in Europe

by CJ Lafleur & Jamie Lumley While most European Sovereigns discussed the political ideas of the enlightenment, absolutist and militant tendencies took priority whenever it was necessary to maintain the power of the state, bureaucracy, or individual rulers. Enlightened Absolutist Rulers of France Enlightened Absolutist Rulers of Austria Enlightened Absolutist Rulers of Russia Catherine the Great Enlightened Absolutist Rulers of Prussia Frederick William I Louis XV European Sovereigns and the Enlightenment Frederick II (The Great) Frederick William I Frederick II (The Great) Established the General Directory to oversee the civil bureaucracy. Maintained complete power over the workers in the bureaucracy who had undying loyalty to him. Enlarged the Prussian Military from 45,000 troops to 83,000. While the Prussian nobility took part in many military and bureaucratic offices, members of the middle class could become officers or political councilors (Spielvogel 548). He abolished the use of torture in law cases, established freedom of speech, press, and religious practice. He did little to diminish the class differences, giving political offices to nobles, and maintaining the harsh treatment of serfs in Prussia (Spielvogel 548). He enlarged the Prussian army to 200,000 troops. He used his army in the War of the Austrian Succession and the 7 Years War to conquer Silesia. Thesis Louis XVI Louis XV Was a weak ruler who was strongly influenced by his political advisers and mistresses. One mistress, Madame de Pompadour, had nearly complete power over Louis' political decisions. He lost the 7 Years War with the rest of Europe, significantly increases the national debt, and starved the poor while the Aristocracy financially flourished (Spielvogel 544). Louis XVI Went into the monarchy with little knowledge about the functioning of government. He and his wife, Marie Antoinette, lived a rich, lavish life style while being completely oblivious to the poverty of the French lower classes. The poor eventually revolted during the french revolution, overthrowing Louis' rule. Maria Theresa Had Count Friedrich Wilhelm Haugwitz as adviser. By his guidance, she was able to diminish the nobility's power in all her territory except Hungary. (Britannica.com) Joseph II Because he made many of the prominent figures in Austria resent him, his reforms were undone almost immediately upon his death. Enlightened Absolutism A method of ruling based off of a sovereign with absolute power making decisions in the best interest of their subjects to improve the living situation of everyone (Buzzle.com). All members of the state, peasants and aristocrats alike, should be treated equally under the law, be granted freedom of worship, speech, and press, as well as be granted the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property (Spielvogel 543). Maria Theresa Joseph II Was devoutly Catholic and opposed many of the reforms promoted by the philosophes. All her reforms made were in the interest of practicality and fiscal responsibility. Strengthened Austria's army and central government through mostly absolutist policy. She was involved in War of Austrian Succession, which (after she lost Silesia), motivated her to instigate reforms. Argued to be the most enlightened ruler of his time. Granted Austrians the freedom of speech, religion, and press. He abolished serfdom, which alienated the Austrian nobility. In his Ideal he wrote, “...Nobody shall any longer be exposed to hardships on account of his creed...” (Ideal Joseph II of Austria). He placed restrictions on the catholic church, which alienated the clergy. He attempted to impose enlightened reforms but his ideas were rejected with much hostility by the public (Bio.com). In the midst of a financial crisis, Louis is encouraged by his adviser, Robert Jacques Turgot, to not impose any taxes upon his subjects, take no loans to support his monarchy, and not to file bankruptcy (Anne-Robert Jacques Turgot). "Rulers should always remind themselves that they are men like the least of their subjects. The sovereign is the foremost judge, general, financier, and minister of his country" (Frederick II, Essays on the Forms of Government) Catherine the Great She wanted to adopt enlightened ideas, but was limited by the fact that she needed the nobility's complete support to rule. She tried to pass a law code abolishing serfdom, torture, and the death penalty, while instituting equal right under the law, but it was rejected. She subdivided Russia into 50 provinces ruled by a group of nobles, who had excessive rights and privileges under the law, formally declared in the Charter of the Nobility (Spielvogel 552). She experienced a massive peasant revolt, but successively and brutally put it down. After the revolt, she went on a military campaign and extended Russia's borders into Poland and towards the Black Sea (Catherine the Great). Conclusion The majority of the rulers who attempted enlightened reform either ceased trying due resentment among members of the state or because the new ideas would not benefit the state as well as the Absolutist ideas. Those who did succeed in making successful reforms, such as Joseph II and Frederick the Great, were not able to maintain widespread support of the reform among all classes, and still brushed aside the policies when they were of an inconvenience. In Europe, the reform desired by the Enlightened had little effect or success with the Absolutist rulers of the Era. Works Cited
"Catherine the Great." Catherine the Great. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
Dogra, Aastha. Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 04 Dec. 2010. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
Frederick, II. "Frederick II. Essay on the Forms of Government." Http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/18fred2.asp. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.
"Letters of Joseph II." The Pamphleteer,. Richmond: Franklin [et Al., 1819. N. pag. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. <http://facweb.stvincent.edu/Academics/History/HI%20251/18th%20Century%20Primary%20Sources/Government%20&%20Politics/The%20Ideal%20of%20Joseph%20II%20of%20Austria.htm>.
"Louis XVI Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
"Louis XVI Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
"Maria Theresa (Holy Roman Empress)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization. Minneapolis/St. Paul: West, 1994. Print.
Turgot, Robert J. "Turgot Prepares Louis XVI for the Resistance to Fiscal Reform and Budgetary Retrenchment." Letter to Louis XVI. 24 Aug. 1774. MS. Compeigne, France.
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