DEFINITON: Is the political doctrine and practice of unlimited, centralized authority and absolute sovereignty, as vested especially in a monarch or dictator. The essence of an absolutist system is that the ruling power is not subject to regularized challenge or check by any other agency, be it judicial, legislative, religious, economic, or electoral. King Louis XIV (1643–1715) of France furnished the most familiar assertion of absolutism when he said, “L’état, c’est moi” (“I am the state”). Absolutism has existed in various forms in all parts of the world, including in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. "Absolutism." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 6 June 2016. Absolutism is a political theory and form of government where unlimited, complete power is held by a centralized sovereign individual, with no checks or balances from any other part of the nation or government. In effect, the ruling individual has ‘absolute’ power, with no legal, electoral or other challenges to that power. In practice, historians argue about whether Europe saw any true absolutist governments, or how far certain governments were absolute, but the term has been applied – rightly or wrongly - to various leaders, from the dictatorship of Hitler, to monarchs like Louis XIV of France, to Julius Caesar. "What Was Absolutism?" About Education. Web. 6 June 2016. - Absolutism.htm THE ABSOLUTE AGE: Absolutist Monarchs: When talking about European history, the theory and practice of Absolutism is generally spoken about with regards to the ‘absolutist monarchs’ of the early modern age (16th to 18th centuries); it is much rarer to find any discussion of the twentieth century dictators as absolutist. Early modern absolutism is believed to have existed across Europe, but largely in the west in states such as Spain, Prussia and Austria. It is considered to have reached its apogee under the rule of French King Louis XIV from 1643 – 1715, although there are dissenting views – such as Mettam - suggesting that this was more a dream than a reality. Indeed, by the late 80s, the situation in historiography was such that a historian could write “…there has emerged a consensus that the absolutist monarchies of Europe never succeeded in Absolut
freeing themselves from restraints on the effective exercise of power…” (Miller, ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, Blackwell, 1987, pg. 4). What we now generally believe is that Europe’s absolute monarchs still recognised – still had to recognise - lower laws and offices, but maintained the ability to overrule them if it was to benefit the kingdom. Absolutism was a way central government could cut across the different laws and structures of territories which had been acquired piecemeal through war and inheritance, a way of trying to maximise the revenue and control of these sometimes disparate holdings. The absolutist monarchs
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- Fall '16
- Gabriel Potvin
- Absolute monarchy