• European
monarchs created
even more
powerful nations
in the 1500s & 1600s
– Built up state
bureaucracies &
equipped powerful
– Ensured loyalty to the crown & used their growing
resources for bold ventures home & overseas
• Spain, Portugal, and The Netherlands quickly took
the lead in obtaining overseas empires
Extending Spanish Power
• In the 1500’s, wealth
from the Americas
helped make Spain
the most powerful
state in Europe
• Spain emerged as
the first modern
European power
• Under Isabella & Ferdinand, Spain expelled the last
Muslim rulers and enforced religious unity
– Financed Columbus’s voyage to the Americas
Charles V
• Charles V ruled an even larger
empire from 1519-1556
– Grandson of Ferdinand & Isabella
– Also heir to the Hapsburgs, the
Austrian rulers of the
Holy Roman Empire & the Netherlands
• Ruling two Empires involved Charles in constant
– Continued a long struggle with France over rival claims
in Italy
– Devout Catholic, fought to suppress the Protestant
• Biggest enemy was the Ottoman Empire
– The Ottomans occupied much of Hungary and their
forces advanced to Austria
• Hapsburg Empire was too scattered & diverse for
only one person to rule
• Exhausted Charles V, gave up his titles & entered
a monastery in 1556
• Divided his Empire:
– Gave Hapsburg land in central Europe to his brother
Ferdinand, who became Holy Roman Emperor
– Gave Spain, the Netherlands, southern Italy & huge
Spanish overseas Empire to 29 year old son Philip
Philip II
• Hard working like his father,
reigned from 1556-1598 and
wanted to expand Spanish
influence, strengthening the
Catholic Church & make his
own power absolute
• Devoted much time to
government work and
further centralized royal power,
making all parts of the government responsible
to him
• Became an
absolute monarch, a ruler
with complete authority over
the government & the lives
of the people
• Believed he ruled by
divine right, authority to
rule came directly from God
• Saw himself as the guardian
of the Catholic Church
• Used the Inquisition to turn on Protestants & other
• Wars of Philip II
– Fought many wars as he advanced Spanish Catholic
power throughout the world
– Battled Protestant rebels in the Netherlands
• At the time the region was made of 17 provinces that are
today: Belgium, The Netherlands & Luxemburg
• Richest part of Philip’s empire
– Both Protestant & Catholic subjects opposed high taxes
& the threats to their traditional self-government rule
– Riots against the Inquisitor sparked uprisings in the
– In 1581, the large North Province became known as the
Dutch Netherlands
• Gained official recognition in 1648
• Southern provinces remained part of the Spanish Empire
Fights with Elizabeth
• In 1580, Philip saw
Elizabeth as his chief
Protestant enemy
• Elizabeth supported
the Dutch against Spain
– Encouraged English
captains, Sea Dogs, to
plunder Spanish treasure ships
– Francis Drake, looted Spanish cities in the Americas
– Elizabeth made him a knight, Philip was outraged
• To end English attacks
and subdue the Dutch,
Philip prepared a huge
Armada, or fleet, to
carry a
Spanish invasion
to England
• In 1588, the Armada
sailed with more than
130 ships, 20,000 men, & 2400 pieces of artillery
– “Strange freak of weather” favored the other side
– Big Spanish ships took losses from the lighter, faster English
• In the 1600s & 1700s, Dutch, English, & French fleets
challenged & surprised Spanish power in Europe &
around the world
Economic Decline
• In the 1600s, Spanish power slowly declined
• Successors after Philip II were less able rulers
then he
• Costly overseas
wars drained
wealth out of Spain,
almost as fast as
it came in
• Treasure from the Americas led Spain to neglect
farming & commerce
• The government heavily taxed the small middle
class, weakening a group that normally supported
royal power
– The expulsion of Muslims & Jews from Spain deprived
the economy of many skilled artisans & merchants
– American gold & silver led to soaring inflation
• Eventually, France replaced Spain as the most
powerful European nation
France under Louis XIV
Rebuilding France
• From the 1560’s to the 1590’s, religious wars
between the Huguenots (French Protestants) & the
Catholic majority tore France apart
– Two groups, the Catholic Guises & the
Protestant Bourbons committed terrible atrocities
against each other
– On St. Bartholomew's day, August 24, 1572, Huguenot &
Catholic nobles attended the same wedding, violence
erupted, led to a massacre of 3,000 Huguenots
• Next few days, thousands more were slaughtered
– St. Bartholomew's Day,
for many
symbolized the
of order in France
Henry IV
• 1589, a Bourbon prince
& Huguenot leader,
Henry Navarre, inherited
the French throne
• Knew he would face
problems ruling a largely
Catholic land, he converted
to Catholicism
• In 1598 he granted the Edict of Nantes
– Gave religious toleration to the Huguenots
• Wanted peace for all
– Administered justice, improved roads, built bridges &
revived agriculture
• Led the foundation of royal Absolutism
• Henry IV, fell victim to an
assassin in 1610,
his 9 year old son Louis XIII,
inherited the throne
• 1624, Louis XIII appointed
Cardinal Armand Richelieu
as his chief minister
– Strengthened the
central government
• Richelieu destroyed the power of the nobles & the
– Two groups that did not bow down to royal authority
• Defeated the private armies of the nobles &
destroyed their castles
• Took away the nobles independence but also tied
them to the King by giving them high posts at court
or in the Royal Army
• Richelieu handpicked his successor, Cardinal Jules
– When 5 year old Louis XIV inherited the throne, Mazarin
was in place to serve at the young King’s Chief Minister
From Boy King to Sun King
• Soon after Louis XIV
became King, disorder
again swept in France
• In an uprising called
the Fronde, nobles &
merchants, peasants, &
the urban poor rebelled
– All for their own reasons
• The rioters drove the young King out of his palace
• Mazarin died in 1661 and Louis resolved to take
over the government himself
I AM the State
• Louis believed in Divine Right,
like his great-grandfather,
Philip II
• He took the sun as the symbol
of his power
– Like the sun stands as the
center of the Universe, Louis
(the Sun King) was the center
of the French nation
• Louie is quoted in saying,
“L’etat, c’est moi”- “I am the State”
• Bishop Jacques
Bossuet, tutor to
Louis son, summed
the theory of
divine right, in his
Universal History
– Stated that the King was God’s representative on Earth
• Louis XIV, never called a meeting of the Estates
General, representatives from all 3 Estates: Clergy,
Nobles & Townspeople
– The Estates General did not meet between 1614-1789
– Unlike the English Parliament, the Estates General
played no role in checking royal power
• The Business of Government
– Followed the policies of Richelieu
– Louis XIV expanded the bureaucracy & appointed
intendants, royal officials who collected taxes, recruited
soldiers & carried out the policies of provinces
• Jobs with in the office of intendant & other gov’t jobs went to
wealthy middle class men
– Louis cemented ties between the middle class & the
– The French Army became the strongest in Europe
• The State paid, fed, trained & supplied up to 30,000 soldiers
• Louis used this highly disciplined army to enforce his policies at
home & abroad
• Colbert & the French Economy
– Louis found an expert
organizer, to be his chief
finance minister:
Jean Baptiste Colbert
• Followed mercantilist policies,
to bolster the economy &
promote trade
• Had new lands cleared for farming
• Put high tariffs on goods, to protect French manufacturers
– Louis XIV was still short for cash
• Huge costs of court & foreign wars
The Splendor of Versailles
• In the countryside
of Paris Louis XIV
turned a royal
hunting lodge into
the immense
palace of Versailles
– Spared no expense
– Halls & salons displayed the finest paintings & statues,
glittering chandlers & mirrors
– Royal gardens had millions of flowers, plants, & trees
• Versailles
became the
perfect symbol
of the Sun King’s
wealth & power
• As both the King’s
home & the seat
of gov’t, it housed
at least 10,000 people, from nobles & officials to
• Ceremonies of Daily Life
– Louis XIV perfected elaborate ceremonies that
emphasized his own importance
– Each day began with, “ la leve’e”, the King’s rising
• High ranking nobles competed for the honor of holding the
royal was basin or handing the King his diamond buckle shoes
• Wives of nobles vied to attend upon women of the royal family
– Such ceremonies served another purpose
• French nobles were descendants of the feudal lords who held
power in the medieval times
• If they were at their estates, the nobles threatened the power
of the monarchy
• By luring the nobles to Versailles, Louis turned them into
courtiers, angling for privileged, rather than warriors battling
for power
• Louis carefully protected their prestige & left them free from
paying taxes
• Culture
– The King sponsored
musical events and
commissioned plays
by the best writers
– The age of Louis XIV was
the classical age of
French drama
– In painting, music, architecture & decorative arts, French
styles became the model for all of Europe
• A new form of dance drama, ballet, gained its popularity at the
French court
• Louis sponsored the French Academics, which set high
standards for both arts & sciences
Successes & Failures
• Louis XIV ruled France for
72 years, longer than any
other monarch
• During that time French
culture, manners & customs
replaced those of
Renaissance Italy, as the
standard for Europe taste
• In both foreign & domestic affairs, many of
Louis’s policies were costly failures
The Wars of Louis XIV
• Louis poured vast resources into wars to expand
French borders & dominate Europe
• At first he did gain some territory, but his later
wars were disastrous
– Rival rulers joined forces to check French ambitions
– Led by the Dutch & English, these alliances fought
to maintain the balance of power, a distribution of
military & economic power that would prevent any
nation from dominating Europe
• In 1700, Louis grandson, Philip V inherited the
throne of Spain
• Louis declared that France & Spain
“must regard themselves as one”
• Neighboring powers, led by England, were
determined to prevent this union
• The war of the Spanish Succession dragged on
until 1713, when an exhausted France signed
the Treaty of Utrect
– Philip remained on the Spanish throne, but France
agreed never to unite the two crowns
• Persecution of the Huguenots
– Louis saw the Protestant
minority as a threat to religious
& political unity
– In 1685, he revoked the
Edict of Nantes
• More than 100,000
Huguenots fled France, fearing
– Huguenots, had been among
the most hardworking and
prosperous of Louis subjects
• Their loss was a serious blow to the French economy, just as
the expulsion of Muslims & Jews hurt Spain
Triumph of Parliament in England
The Tudors & Parliament
• From 1485 to 1603,
England was ruled by
the Tudor dynasty
• Although the Tudors
believed in divine right,
they recognized the
value of good relations
with Parliament
– When Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic
Church, he turned to Parliament to legalize his actions,
which approved the Act of Supremacy
• Parliament was awarded land
• A constant need for money also led Henry to
consult Parliament frequently
– Henry used many funds fighting overseas wars
• To levy new taxes, the King had to seek approval
from Parliament
– Members of Parliament tended to vote as Henry’s
agents instructed, but were still consulted on
important matters
• Elizabeth consulted Parliament, but controlled it
as well
– Her advisers conveyed Elizabeth’s wishes to Parliament
& forbade discussion of foreign policy or the Queen’s
The Early Stuarts
• In 1603, after a 45-year reign, Elizabeth died
without a direct heir
• The throne passed to her relatives the Stuarts,
the ruling family of Scotland
• The Stuarts were neither as popular as the
Tudors nor as skilled in dealing with Parliament
• Stuarts inherited problems that Henry &
Elizabeth had long suppressed
– The result was, a “Century of Revolution”, that pitted
the Stuart monarchs against Parliament
The Royal Challenge
• James I (England)
& IV (Scotland),
was the first Stuart
monarch & agreed
to rule according
to English laws &
• Soon he was lecturing Parliament about divine
– Repeatedly, clashed with Parliament over money &
foreign policy
– He needed funds to finance his lavish court & wage
• Members wanted to discuss foreign policy
before voting funds & James dissolved
Parliament & collected taxes on his own
• Leaders in the House of Commons fiercely
resisted the King’s claim to absolute power
• Parliament Responds
– Charles I inherited the
throne in 1625 and like
his father, behaved like
an absolute monarch
– He imprisoned foes
without trial & squeezed
the nation for money
– In 1628, his need to raise taxes forced Charles to
summon Parliament
– Before voting any funds, Parliament insisted that Charles
sign the Petition of Right, which prohibited the King
from raising taxes with the consent of Parliament or
imprisoning anyone without just cause
• Charles did sign the Petition, but then he dissolved
Parliament in 1629
– For 11 years, he ignored the Petition & ruled without
– During this time he created bitter enemies
• In 1637, Charles & Archbishop Laud tried to impose
the Anglican prayer book on Scotland
– The Calvinist Scots revolted
• To get funds to support the Scottish rebellion,
Charles finally had to summon Parliament in 1640
– When it met Parliament launched its own revolt
• The Long Parliament
– The Parliament that Charles I summoned became known
as the, “Long Parliament” because it lasted on & off until
– Its actions triggered the greatest political revolution in
– Parliament tried & executed the Kings chief Ministers,
including Archbishop Laud
– Members of Parliament declared that Parliament could
not be dissolved without consent
– Charles lashed back, in 1642 he led troops into the
House of Commons to arrest its most radical leaders
• They escaped through a back door & soon raised their own
The English Civil War
• The Civil War would last from
– Like the Fronde that occurred about
the same time in France, it posed a
major challenge to absolute
– In France royal power won
– In England the revolutionaries
• Cavaliers & Roundheads
– At first the odds seemed in favor of the Cavaliers or
supporters of Charles I
– Many Cavaliers were nobles, were well trained in dueling
& warfare, also expected a quick victory
– The Roundheads were composed
of country gentry, town dwelling
manufacturers & Puritan clergy
– They were called Roundheads
because their hair was cut close
around their heads
– The Roundheads found a leader
of genius in Oliver Cromwell,
a puritan member and skilled general
• Organized the “New Model Army” for Parliament
– Cromwell’s army defeated the Cavaliers in a series of
diverse battles
• By 1647, the King was in the hands of Parliament forces
• Execution of a King
– Parliament set up a court to put
the King on trial
– Found him guilty & condemned
him to death, “As a tyrant,
traitor, murder & public enemy”
– In January 1649, the King was
executed by ax
– Execution sent shock waves
throughout Europe, for the first
time a King was tried & executed
by his own people
– Sent a signal that no King could
claim absolute power & ignore Parliament
The Kingless Decade
• After the death of Charles I,
the House of Commons
abolished the monarchy,
the House of Lords and
the Church of England
• Declared England a Republic,
known as the Commonwealth, under the
leadership of Oliver Cromwell
• Rebels in Ireland
– The new Republic faced many
– Supporters of Charles II, the
uncrowned heir to the
throne, attacked England by
way of Ireland & Scotland
– Cromwell led forces into
Ireland to crush the uprising
• Then took stern measure
against the Irish Catholic
• In 1652 Parliament passed a
law exiling most Catholics to
barren land in the west of
• The Levellers
– Fighting began with in the
– The Levellers thought that the
poor men should have as much
say in gov’t as the gentry,
lawyers, & other citizens
– Such ideas horrified the gentry,
who dominated Parliament
– Cromwell & his generals
suppressed the Levellers and
other radical groups that
threatened property ownership
– As challenges grew, Cromwell took the title of Lord
Protector in 1653
• From then on he ruled through the Army
Life in the Commonwealth
• In the 1650’s
laws were made
so that Sunday
was a day set
aside for
• Theaters and taverns were closed, dancing was
• Puritans felt every Christian rich & poor must be
able to read the Bible
The End of the Commonwealth
• Soon after Cromwell’s death in 1858, the
Puritans lost their grip on England
• Many people were tired of military rule &
strict Puritan ways
• In 1660, a newly elected Parliament invited
Charles II to return to England from exile
• The Puritan experiment ended with the
restoration of the monarchy
– Puritan ideas lasted and played an important role
in shaping the U.S.
The Stuarts Restored
• Young Charles II was a
popular ruler
• He reopened theaters &
taverns and ruled a lively
court, like Louis XIV
• Restored the Church of
England & tolerated
other Protestants such
– Presbyterians, Quakers &
• Accepted the Petition of Right but shared his
father’s belief in Absolute Monarchy, as well as
sympathized with Catholics
• Charles’s brother , James II inherited the throne
in 1685
• James flaunted his Catholic faith and angered his
subjects by appointing Catholics to high positions
• Afraid that James would restore the Holy Roman
Catholic church, in 1688 Parliament leaders
invited James’s Protestant daughter Mary & her
Dutch Protestant husband William III, to rule
The Glorious Revolution
• William & Mary landed
in England with their
army in late 1688
– James II fled to France
• This bloodless overthrow
of a King became known
as the Glorious Revolution
• Before they could be crowned William & Mary
had to accept several acts passed by Parliament
that became known as the English Bill of Rights
• Limits on Royal Power
– The Bill of Rights ensured the
superiority of Parliament over
the monarchy
• It required the monarch to summon
Parliament regularly & gave the
House of Commons the “power of
the purse” A King or Queen could
no longer interfere in Parliamentary
debates or suspend laws
• The Bill also barred any Catholic
from sitting on the throne
– England became a limited
monarchy, a gov’t in which a
constitution or legislative
body limits the monarch’s
– The Bill of Rights formally
restated the traditional rights
of English citizens, such as a
trial by jury
• It abolished excessive fines & cruel or unjust punishments
• It affirmed the principle of habeas corpus, no person could
be held in prison with out first being charged with a specific
Rise of Austria & Prussia
The Thirty Years’ War
• The French philosopher Voltaire noted that, by
early modern times, the Holy Roman Empire
was neither holy, not Roman, nor an Empire
• It was a patchwork of several hundred small,
separate states that paid little need to the
• Religion further divided the German states
– The north was largely Protestant, while the south
of Catholic
The War Begins
• The war had both
religious & political
• Began as a local
conflict in Bohemia
(present-day Czech Republic)
– Ferdinand,
the Hapsburg King, sought to suppress Protestants &
to assert royal power over local nobles
• In May 1618, rebellious Protestant noblemen
tossed two royal officials out of a castle window
in Prague
• The act signaled a revolt that Ferdinand
• Ferdinand had the support of Spain, Poland &
other Catholic states
– At first Ferdinand defeated the Bohemians & their
Protestant allies
– Protestant powers such as the Netherlands & Sweden
sent troops to Germany
– 1/3 of the German population died in the Thirty Years
• Peace at Last
– In 1648, a series of treaties, The Peace of Westphalia
was passed
– Since so many powers has been involved in the conflict,
the war ended with general European peace & an
attempt to settle other international problems as well
– France gained
territory on
both its Spanish
& German
– The Hapsburgs had
to accept almost
of all the princes of
the princes,
of the
Holy Roman Empire
– The Netherlands &
independent states
– Germany was left divided into more than 360 states
• Still formally acknowledged the leadership of the Holy Roman
• Each state had its own gov’t, coinage, state church, armed forces &
foreign policies
– Germany remained fragmented for another 200 years
Hapsburg Austria
• Weakened by
war the
wanted to create
a strong united
• Expanded their
land by adding
Bohemia, Hungary, & parts of Poland & Italy
• Unity & Diversity
– Was difficult to unite these lands
– Divided by geography, and the people had different
– In the 1700s the Hapsburg’s empire included:
Germans, Magyars, Slavs & others
• People spoke many languages including: Czech, Hungarian,
Polish & Italian
– Hapsburgs had some control over the people
• Sent German-speaking officials to Bohemia & Hungary
– The Hapsburg empire never developed a centralized
system like that of France
• Emerged as a Protestant power
• In the 1600s, the Hohenzollern
family ruled scattered lands
across northern Germany
– After Peace of Westphalia, Hohenzollern rulers united
their lands by taking over the states between them
• Imposed royal power on all subjects & reduced the
independence of their nobles
• Prussia formed an efficient bureaucracy & very well
trained army
• Frederick II, used Prussian military well, stealing
Silesia from Austria, his victories gave him the name
Frederick the Great
Keeping the Balance of Power
• By 1750, the great
powers of Europe
included: Austria,
Prussia, France,
England & Russia
– Formed various
alliances to maintain
the balance of power
– The powers would often team up with one power to
check another
Absolute Monarchy in Russia
Peter the Great
• Was 10 years old when he came to the throne,
but did not control the gov’t
• Was not well educated but was immensely
– Enjoyed learning in the “German Quarter”, the
Moscow suburb, where many Dutch, Scottish,
English & other foreign artisans & soldiers lived
– Heard of the advanced technology that was
helping Western European monarchs forge
powerful empires
• Journey to the West
– In 1697, Peter set out to study Western technology
for himself
– Spent hours walking the streets of European cities
• Studied the manners & homes of the people
• Visited factories & art galleries
• Disguised in shabby clothes and worked as a carpenter in
a Dutch Shipyard
• In England, Peter was impressed with Parliament
– Returned to Russia and brought back a group of
technical experts, teachers, soldiers & nobles
– Began to reshape Russia but convincing fellow
Russians to modernize was difficult
• Autocrat & Reformer
– Peter was determined to centralize Royal Power
– Brought all Russians under his control, including the
Russian Orthodox Church
– Under Peter, serfdom spread in Russia, long after it
died out in Western Europe
– Forced some
serfs to
soldiers or
labor on roads,
canals & other
gov’t projects
– Using autocratic methods, Peter pushed through social &
economic reforms
• Imported western technology, improved education, simplified
the Russian alphabet & set up schools for the study of Math,
Science, & Engineering
– To pay for reforms he adopted mercantilist policies &
encouraged exports
– After returning from the west, Peter insisted that
nobleman shave their beards & replace their oldfashioned robes with Western European clothes
– Peter had no mercy for those who resisted the new order
• When elite palace guards revolted he had over 1,000 tortured &
• To set an example, he left their rotting corpses outside the
palace walls for months
Russian Expansion
• Peter worked to build Russian military power
• Created the
army in
and set
out to
• Search for Warm-Water Ports
– In 1700, Peter began a long
war against Sweden, Russia’s
northwest neighbor, that
dominated the Baltic region
– Peter pushed the Swedes back
& won land along the Baltic
• Baltic seaports were frozen in the winter
– Peter turned south, seeking warm-water power that
would allow Russia to trade with the west all year long
• The nearest warm-water coast was that of the Black Sea
• Peter fought the Ottoman Turks to recover Russian lands, north
of the Black Sea
• Peter failed but later Catherine the Great succeeded
• Peter’s City
– The biggest symbol of
Peter’s want for a
modern Russia was his
new capital city,
“St. Petersburg”,
seeking to open,
“a window to
the West”
– Located the city on
the shores of the
Neva River, near the
Baltic coast
• Peter’s Legacy
– When Peter died in 1725 he left a mixed legacy
– He expanded Russian territory, gained ports on the
Baltic Sea, & created a mighty army
– However, when he died the nobles ignored his policy
of service
to the state
Catherine the Great
• Peter’s immediate successors
were ineffective
• A German princess by birth
came to Russia at the age of
15 to wed the heir to the
Russian throne
• She learned Russian,
embraced the Russian
Orthodox faith & won the loyalty of the people
• In 1762, her mentally unstable Czar Peter III, was
murder by a group of Russian army officers
– With their support she ascended to the Russian
• Catherine proved to be an efficient, energetic
• She reorganized the gov’t and embraced Western
– Embraced the French language and arts
– Also was a serious student of the French thinkers,
who led the movement known as the Enlightenment
• Catherine could be
– Granted Russian nobles
rights, such as the
exemption from taxes
and let them increase
the suppression of the
– When peasants rebelled against the harsh burdens of
serfdom, Catherine took firm action to repress them
• Catherine was determined to expand Russian’s borders
• After a war with the Ottoman empire, she achieved the
Russian dream of a warm-water port on the Black Sea
– Also seized land from neighboring Poland
• Partition of Poland
– Poland, once a great
power, was unable to
centralize power
– The divided gov’t wasn’t
prepared to stand up to
its strong neighbors:
Russia, Prussia &
– In the 1770s, Catherine the Great, Frederick the Great &
Emperor Joseph of Austria, eyed Poland
– Poland was partitioned in 1770s then twice in the 1790s
– By the time Austria, Prussia, & Russia had taken their
final slices in 1795, the independent Kingdom of Poland
vanished from the map
• Not until 1918 would a free polish state reappear

The Age of Absolutism - Wappingers Central School District