13 Notes(OLD) - Revolutions and Nationalism, 1500-1900

13 Notes(OLD) - Revolutions and Nationalism, 1500-1900 -...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Chapter 13: Revolutions and Nationalism 1500 to 1900 Popular Sovereignty and Enlightenment Ideals In Chapter 2, we saw how both Plato , and Aristotle despised tyranny and mob rule. They both wanted a just and stable society. Plato felt that Philosopher Kings should rule and Aristotle favored Polity or a Constitutional Government dominated by members of the middle class. Aristotle developed the idea that rulers themselves are both the guardians of the law and subject to the law. This Rule of Law lies at the heart of the Enlightenment ideal brought forth a new political idea: Popular Sovereignty or the idea that legitimate political authority resides not in kings, but rather in the people who make up society. In the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 this idea is clearly stated: We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Throughout history, kings or emperors ruled almost all settled agricultural societies. Small societies (like Athens) occasionally instituted democratic governments, in which delegates or citizens represented the interests of themselves or various constituencies. Some societies, especially those with weak central leadership, relied on aristocratic governments, in which privileged elites supervised public affairs. Kings and nobility often justified their power by claiming that a deity sanctioned their authority; for example, the Divine Right of Kings or the Mandate of Heaven. On this basis, the kings and elite would claim sovereignty – that is, political supremacy with authority to rule. During the 17 th and 18 th centuries, the philosophes began to question long-standing notions of sovereignty; they rarely challenged the kings’ right to rule, but sought to make kings responsible to the people. They commonly regarded government as a contract between rulers and the ruled. In 1690, John Locke formulated the theory of contractual government in his Second Treatise on Civil Government . In the past, he maintained, people had given up their political rights to rulers in order to promote the common good. Locke was convinced that, although people had granted political rights to kings and elites, the people still retained their personal rights of life, liberty and property. Any ruler who violated these rights lost the right to hold his sovereignty and ought to be deposed. Furthermore, rulers logically derived their power or sovereignty from the consent of those whom they governed. If subjects withdrew their consent, they had the right to replace their rulers. Locke not only removed the divine out of the equation of government, he also set up the justification for revolution, or the overthrow of a government because the king or elite had betrayed the trust given to him or them by the people. Enlightenment thinkers also called for freedom and equality. They (Voltaire in particular) felt that a
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 17

13 Notes(OLD) - Revolutions and Nationalism, 1500-1900 -...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online