The Age of Absolutism When kings and queens had absolute power! What does “absolute” mean? • Something that does not depends on anything else and is beyond human control; – Absolute Loyalty – Absolute Silence – Absolute Truth Absolute Power? • Monarchs who have complete control of government and people. Absolutism? • It is a hard concept for Americans. – Since 1787 we have always put limits on power. • Power is temporary and checked by dividing power between branches of government and THE PEOPLE. Why would you give that much power to one person? • Divine Right Theory – God chooses our rulers. – Chosen by God, a monarch is accountable only to Him, and need answer only before God for his actions. Why would you give that much power to one person? • It was in your blood. • “Blue Blood” in English. • Other languages have the concept too: – Sange azul (Spanish) – Sang Bleu (French) Other cultures have the concept of blue blood • Bulgarian синя кръв (sinya krăv) • Catalan sang blava Czech modrá krev Croatian plava krv Danish blåt blod • Dutch blauw bloed Estonian sinivereline Filipino/Tagalog dugong bughaw • Finnish siniverisyys German blaues Blut Greek γαλαζοαίματος (galazoaímatos) • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Hungarian kékvérű Icelandic blátt blóð Italian sangue blu Latvian zilās asinis Lithuanian mėlynas kraujas Macedonian сина крв Persian Najabat or نجابت Polish błękitna krew Portuguese sangue azul Romanian sânge albastru Russian голубая кровь (golubaya krov’) Serbian плава крв (plava krv) Slovak modrá krv Slovenian modra kri Swedish blått blod or blåblodig Turkish Soylu Where does the concept of blue blood come from? • First Reference: Visigoths in the 9th Century Spain. – Used to hold up their sword arm before battle to show the blue veins on their paler skin than the more olive skinned opponents. Some Royal Families believed there was a “sign” of God’s will on them. • The Merovingians (ruled France 400 – 700) had people believing they were descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. • A birthmark identified their divine blood and to harm them was to harm God. • Covered the birthmark but never cut their hair – so people could see they were different. Blue Blood meant Nobility and Privilege • Rulers typically commanded resources from the lower ranks of society – Food – Money – Labor. • Religious or political power as well. To defy a king was to defy God! • We know how that often ended! Nobles also had similar powers They could tax the people, collect rents and food – but didn’t “owe” anything back to the people “beneath” them. Droit de Seigneur an example of how much power a noble had over their peasants, tenants, and people. Right to tax, right to hunt, right to land, rights to a bride on the wedding night. Time Period of Absolutism • 1550 – 1800 • Transition from Feudalism to Modern Times. Feudalism • “Loyalty” to one another. – Peasants gave oaths to the noble. • Vowed to work so many days for the lord or give a certain share of their labor or crops. • The noble vowed to protect them if there was an invasion and manage the estate so everyone would have something to live on. Feudalism • The noble swore loyalty to the king / queen. – Promised to fight for the ruler to protect the country. – The king promised to reward the noble with land, wealth, and protection from invasion. So why absolutism? • The last time a king actually went into battle was Henry VIII. • When kings began hanging back and letting others do the “dirty work” the loyalty oaths weren’t the same. So why absolutism? • Nobles weren’t spending time at their feudal homes. • Showing concern for those “beneath” them was a lack of class. • They collected taxes and spent a fortune on surrounding themselves with beauty while others starved. Why Absolutism? – FF to Queen Elizabeth • Elizabeth I (Tudor) ruled England from 1558 – 1603. • She died childless and the last Tudor. • Who should be next? As Elizabeth was dying – she named her cousin to succeed after her. James of Scotland. Elizabeth had made him an orphan by beheading his mother years before! ` Mary Queen of Scots. King James • Religious problems resurfaced. • This time it was Protestant v. Protestant – particularly PURITANS. – Wanted to “purify” the Church. • Problems with the Bible. • Problems with church ceremonies and how churches looked. King James thought if he showed understanding … • It would bring people together. • Brought Protestants together to create The King James Bible. – Used in many Protestant religions today. Do you think it worked? The “other” problem for King James • PARLIAMENT: – A group of nobles, merchants and churchmen who tended to “rubberstamp” what kings did. – But King James Parliament thought they had better ideas than their king about what was good for England. The English Parliament • Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Parliament building to have Catholics take over England again. – Found just before he lit the fuse. Guy Fawkes Day • Or – Bonfire Night. • November 5 every year. • Combination Halloween night with some anti-Catholic feeling. King James died in 1625 • His son Charles became king. • NOT a good choice for a king. – Wanted everything “his” way. – His wife didn’t help! • Henrietta Marie urged him to be a bully. Henrietta Marie • Proud of her French Catholicism and looked down on Protestants and the English. • Refused to be crowned Queen in a Protestant ceremony. • Urged her husband not to compromise. King Charles • Imprisoned his “enemies” without trial or cause. • Spent the nation’s money on palaces and art. • Showed sympathy for Catholics in a radical Protestant land. King Charles and his Parliament • 1629 – Charles is out of money. • Had to call on Parliament to raise taxes so he could continue his lifestyle. King Charles and his Parliament • Parliament agreed to get more money for the king - BUT …. – Wanted him to sign a PETITION OF RIGHT. • The king would agree to: – Not jail people without a trial. – Not try to tax the people without Parliament’s consent. King Charles? • He signed the Petition. – Agreed to not tax without Parliament’s consent. – Not to jail people without a trial. King Charles? • After he got his money … – He dissolved (disbanded) Parliament. – Ruled by himself for 11 years. – Kept arresting people without a trial. – Began putting “Catholic” ceremonies in Anglican churches. King Charles is in over his head. • 1640 – he is a war he needs money for. • Calls Parliament back. • This time, Parliament isn’t so nice! – The LONG PARLIAMENT: 1640 – 1653. • Refused to leave when the king saw they weren’t going to give him money. The English Civil War • 1642 – King Charles comes with his army to force out Parliament. • Parliament members escaped out the back door and went to raise their own army against the king. The English Civil War • 1642 – 1651 • Cavaliers v. Roundheads. Cavaliers • The rich nobles • Proud of their plumed hats and long hair. • Good at dueling with swords, pistols and horses. • Thought their blue blood meant they were natural leaders for the battlefields. • Strong loyalty to their king. Roundheads • Tended to be country gentry, town merchants, and Puritans. • Roundheads because they wore their hair short and close to the head so their helmets fit better. • Used guns and chose leaders based on skill rather than social class. The Roundheads get a leader • Oliver Cromwell – Came from lower gentry. – Good general who created a disciplined fighting force with skill making someone get promotions, not social class. – 1647 – captured the king! What happened to King Charles? • Parliament couldn’t trust him to make any agreement and stick to it. • But he is a Blue Blood Royal. • To kill a king is to kill God??? They executed King Charles in 1649 The reaction of Europe • Kings had been assassinated or killed in battle. • But commoners deciding to kill a king?? • Parliament and Cromwell wanted to say that not even a ruler can claim absolute power. Cromwell and the Commonwealth • Parliament abolished the monarchy. • Made Cromwell the Protector of England Oliver Cromwell • Strict Puritan • Forced his ideas of religion on the people. – No wearing of bright colors. – No lace or adornments. – Women covering hair. – No celebrations like Christmas or Easter – too Catholic. – Laughing on Sundays or singing anything but a hymn a crime. Cromwell • HATED Catholics. – Thought they were the children on Satan. – Executed them. – Went to Ireland and murdered thousands in battle, executions, and policies to force them to give up their religion. Oliver Cromwell and the Levellers Group of people that had fought in Cromwell’s army who wanted equality for all men – to LEVEL the social classes. People were terrified! • Cromwell found and executed the leaders of the Levellers. – But he did allow all Protestant religions. – Allowed Jews back into England after being banished for 350 years. Cromwell dies • 1658 • His son Richard and Parliament tries to continue – but people wanted a king back. Enter Charles II • Return of Charles II – the eldest son of the executed king. • Return to Royal Right. – A king was only answerable to God. The Age of Absolutism • Because of what happened in England, the thought in Europe was that the king had to be ABSOLUTELY in control and brought order for everyone. Absolutism • Depended on everyone knowing their “place” and following it without question. – Music followed that ideal. – Religion followed that ideal. – Art followed that ideal. Next: • Absolute Monarchs – The Good – The Decent – The VERY BAD.