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Absolutism and Democracy

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Absolutism and Democracy

The political system in which the power of a ruler in unchecked and totally ones power is the theory of Absolutism. From the 1500s – 1800s, there was a period of time known as the Age of Absolutism in which rulers had complete control and authority over their governments and the lives of their people. In this time period many absolute rulers had different ways to justify their power. Besides justifying power rulers also had some accomplishments and failures that they experienced during their reign, such as Peter the Great and his establishment of St. Petersburg, the decline of Louis XIV overspending on war and luxuries and Catherine the Great conquering warm water ports.

During the reign of many of these absolute rulers, many have found an acceptable reason for an excuse for their way of power. One ruler Louis XIV, Henry IV’s grandson, claimed divine right and moved to take absolute control of France. Divine right was the belief that the monarch’s authority comes directly from God rather than being elected/chosen by the people, and by claiming Divine right Louis XIV became ruler. As quoted by King James I of England in 1603 “kings are called God’s because they sit upon god’s throne on Earth”, meaning that the monarch derives his power from God, which is the same theory that Louis XIV followed (Doc. 1). Louis XIV was also known as the Sun King because he felt that in his youth he was the radiant Sun King, driving the Chariot of Apollo across the heaven, thinking that he was as important as the sun and that God sent him to be with them, and if it was not under his rule that the country would fall, so he had a painting made just for him as the Sun King (Doc. 4). Unlike Louis XIV, Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, took over the noble thrown as empress when Peter III, her husband became weak. Catherine was a German princess but easily adopted the ways of Russians. Catherine also ruled absolutely, and according to her, the importance of absolute monarch is to establish order, and that empires are so large that they would need a central authority (Doc 3). Whether it was a message from God or inheritance, which led to being an absolute ruler, each had their own way of justifying it.

Besides justifying power rulers also had many accomplishment and failures that they had faced. During the reign of Louis XIV he had many accomplishments that he strived to succeed. He had the Versailles palace built, he ruled absolutely, created a 300,000 man army, and also turned the people into following French culture. Some mistakes on his behalf was persecuting the Huguenots, who were Protestants, overspending on war and luxuries, as he later says on his death bed to his heir trying to convince his great grandson not to follow in what he did but later we figure out that his wishes were not

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