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Absolutism●Kings have different personalities○Peter the Great was 6’9”, Napoleon was 5’3” but they were powerful for different reasons●Christendom (Christian Unity) is beginning to fragment with the emergence of the state (between1400-1700?)●Kings’ power in the middle ages was limited by:○Church■Church had tons of power and also tons of wealth●Monasteries weren’t just places where people holed up to pray, they werefunctioning economic units■Also, the church had it’s own law even○Nobility/Nobles■They really run the armies■They control the land and all the serfs○Feudalism■Other monarchs■Individualism didn’t really matter in the middle ages, what mattered was belongingto a group○Contracts■Whether it’s between kings and nobles or kings and kings■Contracts can be broken■Kings had to recognize local laws, local customs, etc.○Cities/Towns■Were being revived during the late middle ages■Controlled by “small people” such as merchants and other people who “didn’tmatter”■Also had town/city walls, collect tolls that don’t go to the king, they go to the city○Universities■Even to this day, universities have their own police force and the regular police haveto ask permission to come on campus■So when people got rowdy, the king’s authorities couldn’t chase them onto theuniversity campus...this is a limiting factor○Geography■Self-explanatory, geography simply limited everyone more back then●Louis the XIV said “I am the State” (“L’Etat, c’est moi”)○This is a pretty risky thing to say considering everything mentioned above.■He didn’t actually say this publicly, of course●Absolutism doesn’t really mean that the king controls everything (only means this in theory)○Absolutism: uncontrolled monarchy, monarchy without the restraints of all the limitingthings mentioned above○Consecration of power in the king (unlike the medieval age) which signified the decline ofthe limiting government of the middle ages■This shift began as early as the 15th century●Most famous Absolutist Theorist: Thomas Hobbes (The Leviathan)●Jean Bodin wrote about sovereignty ○Argued that the sovereign could make law but not be bound by it○His power was absolute○He must be able to tax without consent○Should have their own permanent army, their own government (king’s men)○Should share their judicial power with no one○Might seek the advice of ministers or advisors, but the king’s decision was final●Bishop Bosseut was also an absolutist writer
●Absolutism is NOT the same as Authoritarianism○Difference is that absolutist kings have “divine right”■That is, they have been chosen by God to rule completely●Decline of representative institutions○In Spain, they were called “Cortes” and they completely disappeared●Subjugation of the nobility (old and futile)○