Unformatted text preview: Divine Right & the Rise of Absolutism SLMS/11 What is Absolutism? What led to Absolutism? •Absolutism , or Absolute Monarchy, is a
situation where Kings rule with total authority. European monarchs claimed to rule
by ‘Divine Right’, which suggested that God had placed them on
the throne, and as such, they
were responsible only to God —
not to nobles, or to a Church, or
to a Parliament. To question their
authority was to question God himself. Certainly, there was no separation of Church
and State! •The era of absolutism in Europe is generally
considered to have peaked in the 16th and
17th centuries. (Although several Absolute
Monarchies continued through the 18th and
•The Protestant Reformation had quite a bit
to do with the rise of Absolute Monarchs.
Following the Reformation was a period of
religious warfare that plagued much of
Europe. Many people looked
for order out of the chaos, and
national monarchs arose to
create that order.
•Also, the Reformation
weakened the two most
powerful political structures in Europe: the
Papacy (ie. The Church) and the Holy
Roman Empire. As these two institutions
weakened, regional national monarchs took
advantage and strengthened their positions.
•Additionally, many national monarchs
seized control of the Church and all its
lands (whether Catholic or Protestant) in
their kingdom. Some monarchs made
themselves head of the Church in their
nation. This began the solidification of
monarchical power. Divine Right vs. Mandate of Heaven
•People often like to draw a comparison to
16th & 17th century European absolutism
and traditional Chinese dynastic rule.
•Both claim the source of their authority or
power was supernatural, or heavenly, but
they differ on their interpretation of the
scope of that power.
•European monarchs tended to feel
that their power was unlimited,
and was not to be questioned. To
question the monarch was to
question God. The monarch was God’s
representative on Earth, and thus, was
responsible only to God.
•The Chinese looked at the Mandate as a
grant of power that might be
quite temporary. The Chinese
people looked for signs to tell
them that the dynasty had lost
heaven’s mandate. The rulers
had responsibilities to the people they ruled
— to keep them fed and safe. Europeans
were not subject to the same restrictions. Star Power
•Despite their power, most
successful Absolute Monarchs
were very hard working rulers
who enjoyed long, peaceful
reigns and were adored by their
people. These monarchs were especially
popular if they were able to create a stable
and prosperous economy! Global History
Divine Right & the Rise of Absolutism
1. Define: Absolutism -Absolute Monarchy. Name _____________________________________
5. How is European absolutist rule similar to
Chinese dynastic rule?
Both claim the source of their authority or
power was supernatural/ heavenly. Divine Right -God had placed them on the throne, and
they were responsible only to God. 2. Why did people hesitate to question the
actions of Divine Right Kings?
Because to question their
authority was to question God himself. 6. How did European monarchs interpret
their divine power?
European monarchs felt that their power was
unlimited and couldn't be questioned. God was
their power. 3. When was the era of absolutism in Europe?
16th and 17th centuries. 4. Explain how the Protestant Reformation
contributed to the rise of Absolutism.
a. 7. How did the Chinese interpret their divine
The Chinese looked at the Mandate as a
grant of power. National monarchs stood up to
create that order from the chaos. b.
The Reformation weakened the Papacy
and the Holy Roman Empire, national
monarchs took advantage and were able
to strengthened their positions. 8. Describe a successful Absolute Monarch.
Monarchs who were very hard working, who
enjoyed long, peaceful reigns and were adored
by their people. c.
National monarchs seized control of the
Church and its lands. Some monarchs made
themselves head of the Church in their
nation, this began the monarchical power. 9. What made Absolute Monarchs especially
if they were able to create a stable
and prosperous economy. Being an Absolute Monarch
The Goal of Absolute Monarchs
•Absolute Monarchs sought to
enhance the grandeur and status
of their nation through military
conquest, economic development,
territorial expansion and construction
•The economy held the (golden) key to total
political power for many monarchs. If they
could raise money without raising new
taxes, they could rule without a Parliament.
•Thus, monarchs became more involved in
growing the economy.
-First, they began to offer
military protection to business
ventures (especially those in
colonies), because the more
money businesses made, the more money
would flow into the treasury.
-Second, they offered incentives to
entrepreneurs to start new businesses. This
increased the tax base. Thus, without
raising taxes, they effectively raised
-Third, they often began building
economic infrastructure within their nation
to facilitate trade. This included
construction of roads and canals.
-Fourth, they streamlined tax
collection so that less money was lost.
•Increased revenues was an essential part of
successful Absolutist rule. It financed
military build-up which allowed for
territorial conquest. It also financed building
projects that reflected the power of the
monarch. SLMS/11 Solidification of Political Control
•Most monarchs, whether Catholic or
Protestant, were aided by the Protestant
Reformation and the weakening of the
Catholic Church. This helped gain some
•The most difficult political obstacle in most
nations was the power of the nobility, and
the existence of a Parliament.
•Most monarchs had to get the approval of
a Parliament before raising taxes (ie. raising
money). Absolute monarchs refused to
share their political power with a
Parliament, so they had to find a way of
raising money without raising taxes.
•Absolute monarchs also refused to
share their political power with the
nobles in their nation. Different
monarchs used different techniques
to subdue their nobles.
•Build-up of the military (especially the
construction of a navy by the 1600s),
became an essential part of
achieving an Absolute
Monarch’s goals of territorial
acquisition and expansion of
•Not unlike the Ancient
Romans, most Absolute
Monarchs engaged in
large scale building
projects of Palaces,
gardens, or other public works, designed to
represent their power and grandeur. Global History
Being an Absolute Monarch Name _____________________________________ 1. What was the goal of most Absolute Mon- 6. Explain four ways Absolute Monarchs
grew their economies.
To strengthen the status of their nation through military conquest.
Have good economic development, and construction projects. a.
They began to offer military protection to business
ventures, more money would flow into the treasury. 2. How were Absolute Monarchs aided by
the Protestant Reformation?
Most monarchs had to get the approval of a Parliament before raising
taxes, they also didn't want to share political power with anyone. b.
They offered incentives to entrepreneurs to start new businesses, this
increased the tax base. c.
3. What were two political obstacles to absolute power? They began building economic infrastructure within their nation
to facilitate trade. The power of the nobility, and the existence of a Parliament. d.
They streamlined tax collection so that less money was lost. 4. How did these two pose as obstacles?
Because it made things more difficult and confusing because the
monarchs didn't like interacting with anyone besides god. 7. Why were increased revenues essential for
successful Absolutist rule?
Because It financed military build-up and building
projects . 8. Why did Absolute monarchs build up their
5. Why was the economy the golden key to
absolute power? Because it created expansion for the economy. Because it was total political power for many monarchs. 9. Why did Absolute Monarchs engage in
Because it represented their power and grandeur. ...
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