Western European Absolutism: The Unexpected Twist

Western European Absolutism: The Unexpected Twist

A twisted combition of politics and divine power.
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As European countries slowly moved out of the age of the Renaissance and the Reformation, deeper internal reforms were taking place behind closed doors, only to emerge prominently in France and England in the age of absolutism in Western Europe. From the development of absolutist ideas of Louis XIV of France, this type of development differed greatly from that of Eastern Europe and these societies were more complex and governed with a strong economy.

Unlike that of the English, French absolutism was compounded by effects of the French Wars of Religion in which Henry IV brought about the use of politique and the issue of the Edict of Nantes in 1598 that provided religious tolerance to the rising protestant unity of the Huguenots. The establishment of the Bourbon Dynasty rid the Valois family, strengthening the French monarchy and moving toward more secular views.


Henry IV

After ending the French Wars of Religion, Henry IV greatly enacted religious tolerance across the land, bringing temporary peace between the Catholics and Protestant worshippers. Meanwhile, he also established a new nobility called "nobility of the robe," who purchased titles from the monarch in order to gain high ranking titles and remain loyal to the king. This purchasing granted a new source of revenue for the French monarchy, capable of paying off royal debt caused by the wars and create a stronger military. The Duke of Sully, the finance minister, also advocated mercantilism, the increased role of a state in its economy in order to achieve desirable trade. This granted the monarch the power to place monopolies on spices such as sugar and salt, giving more power and control over prices.

Cardinal Richelieu

Like Henry IV, Richelieu too was a politique who placed the interest of the state before all others. By creating the Intendant system which replaced local officials with civil servants, Richelieu was able to ensure the loyalty to the monarchy by the civilians. This also lowered the power of the nobility as Intendants were mainly composed of middle-class citizens, creating a more direct link between the monarch and the people. Thus, the government became more efficiently controlled. He increased taxation to fund a stronger military; however, under the Peace of Alais, he revoked Huguenot lands and armies as the Cardinal tried to reinstitute Catholicism in France. Cardinal Richelieu's work became the basis for absolutism in France.

Louis XIV, "Sun King"

Finally, the quintessential absolute ruler in European history, Louis XIV of France sanctioned the official idea of absolute rule in Western Europe. He personified the idea of a sovereign state, leading to the rise of nationalistic ideals; however, claiming the divine right of kings, Louis XIV's famous saying goes, "I am the state." He believed that he was appointed by God to the throne; thus, anyone who objects him would ultimately be rejecting the word of God, granting him the longest reign of European history — 72 years.

Why was he so successful?

Firstly, as a child, Cardinal Mazarin had taken over his spot as Louis XIV had inherited the throne as a toddler. During that time, because of religious intolerance and noble disputes caused by Richelieu, the nobles revolted against Mazarin in the Fronde. Faced with humiliation, Louis XIV vowed to never let this happen again.

A governmental organization was key. Louis recruited chief ministers from the middle class to keep societal order to keep aristocrats from rising from power and continued the Intendant system to keep the nobility in check. Parlements were fearful of Louis XIV as they had already failed during the Fronde; therefore, the French monarch had little opposition. The Estates General was never called into session. He also took control over the peasantry and instituted corvée, a forced labor required of peasants to work on public projects.

To enforce unity among the French, he created a system of one king, one law, one religion. He created a unified law throughout France, uniting the two halves together. Additionally, he also revoked the Edict of Nantes with the Edict of Fountainbleu claiming that the Protestants were the main cause of chaos; therefore, it must be eliminated. Over 200,000 Calvinists fled France, leading to a downfall of its economy.

Versailles Palace

This was Louis XIV's greatest achievement. A palace created of Baroque architecture and a royal court of over 600 people cost 60 percent of the entire French revenue. Using grandeur and gold, he proclaimed himself as the one king and elevated his status. This was a symbol of his wealth and power, attracting more people into his realm and his reign. Here, he gained absolute power over the nobility as they all had to live in the palace as Louis could keep an eye on what the nobles were doing. Here was the epitome of an effective absolute rule.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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High School Seniors Should Be Excited For College, Not Scared

Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.

Cassidy
Cassidy
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Going into the summer after my high school graduation, all I could think about was college, and how I was going to prepare to go to a new school and move away from home. Just know, it is not as stressful as you prepare yourself for it to be. You don't need to worry about not having any friends or not knowing how to get to all the different buildings because you have to remember everyone else on campus has been in the exact same position you are in, and there are tons of people on campus to help you.

One of the things I was most worried about was classes and how to know which classes to take. My advice is to go to counseling and plan out your classes before you register. Planning out classes will drastically help you stay on track and the counselors will help you make a balanced schedule that you can actually handle.

Another piece of advice would be to not bring as much stuff for your dorm as you think you will need. By all means, bring the essential things that you will need, but remember a dorm room is very small and you share it with another person. You won't have a ton of space for extra stuff and you want to have space to move around and actually live in your dorm.

Finally, if you are concerned about meeting people and making friends, just try and be as outgoing and open as possible. Everyone else in the dorms is just as nervous as you are too meet people, it really helps to try to branch out. Joining clubs or greek life also helps you meet people around campus with common interests as you.

College is not something to be scared of. Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.

Cassidy
Cassidy

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