Absolutism in the 17th century

Essay by BrantHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 2002

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It is said that Louis XIV proclaimed "I am the state!" Whether or not he really said it is debatable, but the meaning of such a statement is clear. Through the course of the 17th Century various regimes across Europe began to model their states of off the very theme of "I am the state,"; that is, the monarch personified and had absolute control over his nation. Prior to the 17th Century such absolute control precluded this absolutism. By the time of the 17th Century, however, the conditions were in place for monarchs to take absolute control to shape their nations. The conditions and forces that made absolutism a desirable form of government were the necessity of centralized control, the political instability of the time, and the rise of single sovereignty over a country.

Before one goes into what causes states to adopt absolutism, one must understand it. Absolutism is defined as a form of government where "sovereignty is embodied in the person of the ruler."

The Monarch felt that he had a Divine Right, that is he was responsible to only God, and though he may respect the natural law of where he governed, generally the Monarch attempted to place his realm under absolute control. Measures included elimination of certain freedoms, centralization of power, and the creation of a bureaucracy loyal to the Monarch to help oversee the country. Through these measures, the Monarch was able to control the nobility that always threatened. The Monarch became more and more powerful as he or she began to assert power and institute absolutism.

The first reason why absolutism seemed to be a desirable government form was the necessity of centralized power. War was a constant threat to a nation and it's people. In a country divided into kingdoms and realms ruled...