Absolutism is a term that is often used in AP World History to describe a form of government that was prevalent in Europe during the 16th to 18th centuries. In this system, the monarch was believed to have absolute power, meaning they had complete control over all aspects of their kingdom. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of absolutism in AP World History.
What Is Absolutism?
Absolutism is a form of government where the monarch has complete power over all aspects of their kingdom. This means that they have the authority to make laws, collect taxes, and even declare war without any interference from other branches of government. The idea behind absolutism is that the monarch is chosen by God and therefore has divine right to rule.
The Rise of Absolutism
The rise of absolutism can be traced back to the 16th century when European monarchs began consolidating their power and centralizing their authority. This was a time when Europe was experiencing significant political upheaval, with many small kingdoms vying for power and influence.
One notable example of absolutist rule during this period was Louis XIV in France. He famously declared “I am the state,” emphasizing his belief in his own absolute power. Under his rule, France became a dominant world power with strong centralized governance.
The Characteristics of Absolutist Rule
There are several characteristics that define absolutist rule:
- Centralized Power: The monarch has complete control over all aspects of government.
- Divine Right: The monarch believes they are chosen by God and therefore have absolute authority.
- Military Dominance: An emphasis on military might is often used to enforce absolutist rule.
- Censorship: The suppression of information that is deemed harmful to the monarch or their rule.
- Merchants and the Middle Class: Often excluded from political power, these groups are permitted to grow in wealth and influence under absolutism.
Absolutism in Practice
Absolutism was not without its critics, and many saw it as a form of tyranny. However, for those who supported it, it was seen as a way to create stability and order in a time of political chaos.
One example of how absolutism operated in practice was through the use of royal courts. These courts were designed to maintain order within the kingdom by punishing those who broke the law. The monarch had complete control over these courts, and they were often used as a tool for enforcing absolutist rule.
The Legacy of Absolutism
While absolutism is no longer a prevalent form of government today, its legacy can still be felt in many ways. The idea that the monarch has divine right to rule has been replaced by democratically elected leaders who derive their power from the people they represent. However, debates about centralized power and military dominance continue to shape contemporary politics.
In conclusion, absolutism was a form of government where the monarch had complete control over all aspects of their kingdom. While it can be seen as an effective way to create stability and order in times of political upheaval, it was also criticized for being tyrannical. Today, its legacy can still be felt in many ways, making it an important topic for study in AP World History.