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HIST Lecture #26 11-29

HIST Lecture #26 11-29 - Absolutism and the Modern French...

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Absolutism and the Modern French State England and France are both models for centralization of state power. It was absolutism in France and constitutionalism in England. Up until now, leaders within states also had to deal with other powers (such as princes, the Church, etc.). States gradually, and then quickly eroded the autonomy of the other powers. Under absolutism, total power is in the monarch’s hands. In a constitutional monarchy, the power of the king is limited by a certain set of written laws. Constitutional states tend to be more powerful than absolutist states in many cases. They are able to tax their citizens more. Absolutist states fall short in this regard. The centralization of state power is a key feature of the Early Modern Period and carries through to the Modern Period. Many argue that it culminates in the totalitarian dictatorships of the 20 th century (Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Communist China). Even in the U.S., the power of the government has gained power in the country over the last century. Modern states have their roots in the states that develop in Europe during the 16 th and 17 th centuries. Today, we are at a crossroad. The modern state is increasingly subject to economic, political, economic forces beyond its control. Absolutism refers to a system of government in which sovereignty (the power to enact and execute laws) resides in the monarch. Their laws and their decrees are legitimate across their realm. The term absolutism is created in the 18 th and 19 th centuries by the liberals and hated those monarchies. The idea of the divine right of kings and that God had invested power in the monarch helped to justify absolutism. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet popularized this belief in Politics Drawn from the Words of Holy Scripture. He said the monarch wouldn’t be a tyrant because God’s Will wouldn’t allow it. In turn, opposing the king was opposing God. Obedience to the king was a sort of religious act.
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