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Absolutism

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The rise of absolute monarchies dates back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when several monarchs in western and Eastern Europe increased the power of their central governments. In doing so, these kings and emperors secured their position as the supreme ruler and possessor of all power. They surrounded themselves with followers and advisors who were strong advocates of royal absolutism. For those that opposed their behavior and seizure of power they replied that they had been granted the divine right of kings.

In several countries an absolute monarchy appeared to be the only viable solution to dealing with the problems that plagued it. France, for example, had been torn apart from religious wars, the citizens had no respect for law and order, the feudal nobility had seized control and the finances of the central government were in chaos. Furthermore, French status was at an all time low and when Henry of Navarre became king he was determined to change all of this. Once in power he restored the authority of the central government, curtailed the power of the nobility, launched a comprehensive program of economic reconstruction and dealt with the religious turmoil that had been tearing the country apart. His goal was to strengthen France and then have it become the supreme power in Europe. Unfortunately, he was never able to fulfill these dreams because he was assassinated as he was preparing for war. His vision for the future, however, was not lost.

After the death of Henry IV, his wife and his son, Louis XIII, became the new rulers of France. Although they proved to be very incapable leaders a prominent figure did emerge during their reign, Cardinal Richelieu. Similar to Henry IV, he wanted to make the royal power supreme in France and France supreme in Europe. He followed this policy strictly and crushed any apparent threats to royal absolutism. However, it was not until the rule of Louis XIV that the French

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