Ch5Palm - Chapter V The Transformation of Eastern Europe...

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Palmer/Colton Chapter Five 1 Chapter V. The Transformation of Eastern Europe, 1648-1740 ( pp. 210-249) Three old, increasingly ineffective, loose and sprawling political organizations are in decline--the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Poland , and the empire of the Ottoman Turks . Newer and stronger powers are rising to replace them: Prussia, Austria, and Russia. Eastern Europe: more rural, less productive human labor, weaker middle classes. Peasants were governed by their landlords and were losing freedom. The Commercial Revolution strengthened great lords who produced for export and secured their labor through “hereditary subjection,” including forced labor. 23. Three Aging Empires: (211-221) Each of the three was different in origins and traditions but with basic resemblances: central authority was weak , with a nominal head and powerful local lords . All were outmoded ; none had an efficient administration. All were made up of diverse ethnic/language groups; none had been formed into a compact organization. The whole area was malleable, at the mercy of strong neighbors. A. The Holy Roman Empire after 1648: The area had been ruined by the religious divisions produced by the Protestant Reformation, with splinter groups demanding special safeguards. Large areas had suffered in the Thirty Years’ War, with vast losses in capital and savings, and a small, static burgher class. Lacking large-scale organization they could not carry on overseas colonization or trade, and internally their commerce was stifled by varying laws, tariffs, tolls and coinage. Culture was at a low ebb, in spite of Leibniz and J. S. Bach. B. Germany was composed of 300 sovereign states plus 200 sovereign “free knights”--a bizarre neo- feudalism. Each state was anxious to preserve its “German liberties,” and France and others were happy to oblige and weaken the potential threat of a unified nation. Electors required each new emperor to agree to “capitulations,” promises to safeguard those liberties. In theory, the Diet could raise an army and taxes, but in reality it was so evenly split between Protestants and Catholics that no decision was possible; the Diet was characterized by wordiness and futility. Each minor state was a petty absolutism, with a court and an army--a vast array of mini-Sun Kings. Ambitious states used the politics of marriage to increase power and territory. Hohenzollerns accumulated key territories while Bavarians used the church to gain key cities; Saxons gained the thrones of England and Poland. C. Poland was called a Republic because its king was elected; nobles were proud of their liberties. It was large, with a heterogeneous population--Lithuania, the Duchy of Prussia, and Ukraine. Townspeople were largely Germans and Jews. Jews had tended to live apart from religious reasons but were gradually forced to live in ghettos. Poland lacked a national middle class and language (except Church Latin). Aristocrats, 8% of the people, held sufficient power to prevent either absolutism or parliamentary government.

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