Absolutism in Easter Europe

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, Undergraduate November 1996

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Between 1400 and 1650, nobles and rulers reestablished

serfdom in the east (Bohemia, Silesia, Hungary, eastern Germany,

Poland Lithuania, and Russia). These countries gained economic

unity but serfs lost rights, and were bound to the land and

their lords. A runaway peasant was punished by having his ear

nailed to a tree and given a knife to cut it off. These land

lords could force peasants to work for up to 6 days without pay.

The reason for this was that new law codes set by weak kings to

comply with nobles gave them complete control over the serfs.

Though there were some peasant uprisings none had any effect, so

condistions didn't improve. The middle class was also

diminished greatly with the cutting of the middle man in foreign


In Austria and Prussia the Hapsburg king, Ferdinand II,

drastically reduced power of the Bohemian Estates. He had a

strong control over Bohemia and gave land from Protestant nobles

to Catholic nobles.

This gives him an advantage in that that

powerful nobles now owe him a great debt. Though generous to

the wealth he cared little about the fact that the peasants

worked at least 3 unpaid days a week and were under such harsh

treatment. Ferdinand III, his son, centralized the government

in the hereditary German-speaking provinces. For the first time

a permanent standing army was created there.

A new threat to all of Europe was also arising as the

Ottoman Turks came out of Anatolia (now Turkey) and under

Suleiman. They ruled the most powerful empire in the world

(from west Persia to North Africa to Central Europe), under him.

During this period all of Europe was in the grip of fear for no

one knew if they would try to expand into their regions.

Everyone/everything in the...