Age Of Absolutism English Civil War 7th Period
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“Apology” - During James I’s rule in England, Parliament found it difficult to deal with this Stuart monarch. He was originally the King of Scotland, and as he attempted to become an absolute monarch in England, he largely ignored the English tradition of working closely with Parliament in order to keep the representatives and the English people happy. In response to this and to James’ demands for more taxes, Parliament issued “The Apology” which was a polite defense of the traditional role of Parliament, and essentially lectured the Scottish king on English tradition. The Stuarts saw working with Parliament as a sign of weakness, which was a stark contrast to the rule of the Tudors who so effectively ruled while consulting Parliament regularly. If James were willing to work with Parliament, the English people probably would not have hated him so much. ~Ashley

Blue Laws – Cromwell Cromwell's Blue Laws were strict Puritan moral guidelines enforced by the government that contributed to the interregnum's reputation as the "joyless era." The laws were Cromwell's attempt to force his religion on everyone in England and to bring order to the chaotic state of the nation after the Civil War. Charles II, the "Merry Monarch" later repealed the Blue Laws. -Grace

The Blue Laws were an extreme example of Crowell utilizing his unchecked power. He was trying to enforce his religious values on all of England, and he did so by passing these laws that banned such things as dancing, drinking, and swearing. These were not laws to be disobeyed, as one could be greeted with a fine or jail-time for disobeying these laws and trying to have fun. -Sam Schell

Bishop Bossuet (1627-1704) Who later became the Bishop of Meaux, was the educator of Louis XIV’s son from 1670 to 1681. He wrote several documents concerning God and humanity, one of which outlined the position of the absolute monarch. He wrote that there were 4 qualities essential to royal authority: that the monarchy is sacred, paternal, absolute and submitted to reason. Overall, he concluded that the monarch is nearly a god because “the royal throne is not the throne of a man, but the throne of God himself,” and because he derives all of his power from the one God. However, this God-given power idea also acts as the check for royal authority, because if the monarch were to misuse those powers, he would pay for them in hell. -Alexis

English Bill of Rights - This Bill of Rights was not like that of the United States, but instead a document that contained the rights of Parliament. It was passed in 1689, after James was thrown out. It contained the power of the King and also allowed Parliament to operate freely from the King. Taxation could not be decided by the King, and he could not interfere with Justice and in courts of law. It was similar to many of John Locke's ideas, and is still used today in England's unofficial government "constitution". - Hayes

Cardinal Mazarin - Cardinal Mazarin was the regent for young Louis XIV. He continued the trend of consolidating power in the monarchy, though he was very corrupt. He angered the nobility so much, that it sparked a war: the Fronde. It was the last attempt of resistance by the nobles against the monarchy, as they tried to limit the authority of the king. Louis had memories of being chased during this war, and as a result, he was always fearful of the power of the nobles. ~Ashley

Catherine the Great

Charles I of England- son of James I, Charles I is a symbol of arbitrary power in England. With Catholic tendencies and lingering resentment of Scottish James I, Anglican England harbored no popular support of Charles. Charles signs Parliament’s Petition of Right then promptly ignores it and continues to collect a higher tax. Charles and Parliament do not get along whatsoever. Charles dismisses Parliament after the Petition of Right and does not call them until he needs more money. Charles also uses English forces to arrest Puritan members of Parliament more vocal in their disagreement with Charles’s rule. Basically, Charles’s lack of ability to compromise with Parliament and the general public leads to the outbreak of war and eventually his execution on January 30, 1649…OMG REGICIDE. -Becca

Colbert, Jean-Baptiste - Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, strongly believed in mercantilism, which influenced France getting involved in colonization. For instance, France colonized Louisiana, named after Louis, in America. Colbert also increased the efficacy of tax collection. Prior to Colbert, ¼ of royal revenue ended up in the royal treasury, but Colbert increased that ratio to 4/5 – Erin :)


Cromwell, Oliver- He lead Parliament in the English Civil War that lasted from 1642-1649. He formed their New Model Army which was based on a new model in which rank was determined by merit. After the revolution was over, he served as Lord Protector in the interregnum period. He abolished the monarchy, the House of Lords, and the Anglican Church. He invaded Ireland and crushed their rebellion, and instituted the Act of Settlement, in which 2/3 of all Catholic land owners in Ireland lost their land to English Protestants. He was a hypocrite because he passed laws without the approval of the Parliament he strove to strengthen. He allowed religious dissenters to practice: the Puritans, Jews, and Quakers. He passed the Blue Laws (see above). He died in 1649, and his republican experiment failed and the monarchy was restored the next year. -Sam Schell

Divine Right of Kings - The divine right of Kings was an idea that was popular among the absolutist rulers. They believed that their power stemmed from god himself and that their rule was the word of god. They were practically deified in their own eyes. Bishop Boussuet, court preacher of Louis XIV, was a major advocate of this idea and published several widely read writings about it. - Hayes

English Bill of Rights, 1689

English Civil War – Cavaliers v. Roundheads-Under the heading of "Cavaliers" were the Royalists (believed in the legitimacy of the monarchy but weren't in favor of Charles), Anglicans, Catholics, Nobles, and rural communities. The Roundheads were typically supported by Parliament, Puritans, the Gentry, merchants, and urban communities. The New Model Army and the leadership of Cromwell allowed the Roundheads to emerge triumphant and abolish the position of the monarchy, although it was quickly reinstated after Cromwell's death. -Sam Schell

Frederick William, the Great Elector of Prussia- Frederick William (r. 1640-1688) was the first of the Hohenzollern dynasty in Prussia. Frederick takes advantage of a weak Holy Roman Empire to build up an army that would define the state of Prussia. Frederick sets up a system that ensured the loyalty of the nobles and a strong army at the same time. Unfortunately this exchange is to some extent at the expense of the peasants, as nobles are given greater authority in their region. Frederick essentially lays the groundwork for the rise of Prussia as a militarily competitive and dominant state as well as the rule of his son Frederick II, The Great. -Becca

Frederick the Great (1740-1786) of Prussia- criticized by his own father, Frederick II was surprisingly cultured for a ruler of a militaristic state like Prussia. Frederick was very much interested in the goings on of Louis XIV’s Versailles, naming his own court Sans Soucy. Frederick was an intellectual and a musician. Voltaire, prior to their falling out, said of Frederick, “He turned a sad Sparta into a brilliant Athens.” Militarily, Frederick II is able to ‘prove the power of Prussia’ taking Silesia in the War of Austrian Succession and holding its own against major European powers in the Seven Years War. Prussia also undergoes significant expansion into Poland during Frederick’s reign. -Becca

Fronde - The Fronde was a war beginning in 1635 between the nobility in France versus those loyal to the monarchy. One of the contributing factors to the war were how incredibly corrupt Cardinal Mazarin, a regent for Lois XIV, was. His corruptness, and his attempt to consolidate power, angered the nobility and sparked war. The king won the war and thus successfully eliminated to obstacles for absolute power. The nobles did, however, almost kidnap teenage Louis XIV, which scarred him and made him wary of nobles in the future. – Erin :)

Landed Gentry (England) - Most of the Puritans that were gaining power in Parliament during James I’s rule were members of the Landed Gentry. These people were non-nobles, but they were landowners, and thus, fairly wealthy. While the nobles thought that they were too classy to be involved in commerce, the gentry immersed themselves in it and profited. They were elite members of Parliament in the House of Commons, and they wanted more power; they saw James’ monarchy as a threat to this. Also, being Puritans, they hated the Anglican James (even more so, because his mother was a Catholic). Needless to say, the gentry were not huge James fans, and this will lead to problems. ~Ashley

Glorious Revolution, 1688 - In 1688, William of Orange of the Netherlands and Mary II of England invaded England. Many in England disliked James for his religious views (a secret catholic) and his favor for the French. When he produced a Catholic heir, Protestant Nobles conspired to force him out of the throne. William was called upon to seize power with Mary, who was James' daughter. The revolution was won without a shot fired, and James was exiled. - Hayes

Guy Fawkes (Gunpowder Plot) was a Catholic who planned the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in order to blow up the Puritans in Parliament. His plan failed, and he was sentenced to death. However, Guy Fawkes day is still celebrated in England on November 5th! -Alexis

Hanoverian Kings (England)

James I of England - James I (r. 1603 – 1625) was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, and was therefore culturally Scottish. This was a problem because he never appreciated unique political systems, like Parliament, that existed in England but not in Scotland. James I was also Anglican, though his Puritan enemies claimed he still defended Catholicism. James I also wanted to be an absolute ruler; meaning he did not want to have to be approved by Parliament. – Erin :)

Joseph II of Austria

Junkers The Junkers were the Prussian nobles, who supported the monarchy and formed an elite military class. Unlike the nobles in other nations, the Junkers were not a threat to the power of the monarch because they had an outlet in which they could compete and prove themselves to elevate their status. (They did not have to be Royal Candlestick Holders!) The Prussian military culture was a meritocracy, a somewhat rare system for Europe at the time because most military positions in other nations were determined by title or heredity rather than skill and bravery. The nobles had a purpose in the military that kept them from seeking power within the government, in which they had no place (Frederick's Civil Service was purposefully made up of non-nobles). As soldiers and officers, the Junkers were fighting for the state and were therefore loyal to the king. -Grace

Long Parliament - The English parliament was in session only as long as the king called them to be. Charles called them in 1640 so he could receive funding from taxes for the wars in northern England and Scotland. It sat until 1648 when Cromwell and the New Model Army took power. After the Interregnum, it was restored to it's previous members. It was constantly at arms with Charles, as he sought to hold greater power like Louis. However, the English political system prevented him from doing that, and he instead was seen as a power hungry ruler who tried to dissolve Parliament entirely several times. - Hayes

Maria Theresa of Austria Inherited the throne of Austria from her father King Charles VI in 1740 and reigned until 1780. She was Catholic and focused on strengthening the state of Austria. Queen Maria Theresa strengthened the army by doubling the number of troops from her father's reign, reorganized the tax structure to insure a predictable annual income to support the costs of the government and army, and centralized an office to assist in the collection of the taxes. These acts proved to be beneficial to the nation of Austria and she provided a strong foundation for the continuation of the Habsburg Dynasty into the modern era. - Chuka

Maria Theresa of Austria — Her father, Charles VI, had no male heir, but leaving a female heir may have been seen as a sign of weakness, so he travels across Europe and gets rulers of neighboring nations to sign the Pragmatic Sanction (1738) promising not to invade Austria after his death. Of course, after he died, Frederick II of Prussia invaded. Although Prussia walked away with Silesia, which was both minerally and commercially rich, it is to be noted the Maria Theresa held her own. —Connie

Mary II, Queen of England She was the wife of William of Orange and was a Protestant. She and William jointly ruled England after the Glorious Revolution in 1688, after Parliament asks them to stage a coup because they don't want another Catholic Stuart ruler and James II flees because of lack of support. The results of the Glorious Revolution signified that ultimately, power comes from Parliamentary invitation and the Parliament officially has political superiority. William and Mary didn't actually care much about England; they wanted control because then the Catholic Stuarts couldn't ally England with Louis XIV (and because they had never been King/Queen before). —Connie

Partitions of Poland Partitions of Poland – Poland was a considerably weak nation due to the fact that the nobility had most of the power and wouldn’t allow a Polish monarch to centralize power. When a reform minded king was in power in 1772 nobles asked for Russia to undermine this king and instead Russia occupied the eastern territory and wouldn’t leave. Prussia and Austria also would do the same thing in 1793 and finally in 1795 on the western side of Poland until there was no state of Poland to speak of. - Chuka

Peace of Utrecht (1713-14) Concluded the war of Spanish Succession and was a major landmark in European foreign policy history. This treaty allowed Philip, Louis XIV’s grandson, to succeed the Spanish throne, but forbade an alliance between France and Spain. However, Philip would probably still remain sympathetic to France, and the two countries would be allied in the future anyway. The Grand Alliance achieved their aim of preventing a union between France and Spain regardless, and England received Gibraltar, which was a major acquisition in that it increased English naval power and trade. The most important factor of the Peace was that it marked the emergence of the “Balance of Power” concept: the idea that when any one country gains too much power, problems arise, and that the way to keep peace throughout Europe is to maintain a balance of power between countries. -Alexis

Peter the Great- He was the Tsar of Russia from 1682-1725. Before his reign Russia was a closed off society that was deeply religious and fearful of foreigners. He took power (kind of) in 1682 at 9 years old and was co-Tsar with Ivan, his brother. During that time his half sister Sofia was regent and held the power. Ivan died in 1696 which caused a power struggle between Peter and Sofia which Peter quickly wins and sends Sofia to a convent. Once his authority was (seemingly) asserted, he went to travel in Western Europe to learn about other European nations to try to make Russia European. He technically travelled incognito, but everyone knew who he was. His main focus was learning how to build ships, which he later used to build up Russia's navy, and he learned this craft in England and the Netherlands. During his travels, his half-sister Sofia, from the convent, planned a coup. Peter received word of this and had to rush home to Russia where he crushed the rebellion and killed the conspirators, except for Sofia. To punish her, he took the bodies of her friends and conspirators and dangled them outside her bedroom windows for weeks while they decomposed. Peter was a brutal yet effective ruler. (To Be Continued) -Sam Schell

Petition of Right - The Petition of Right was drafted by Parliament and proposed to Charles II in 1628. Parliament agreed to allow Charles to raise a tax if he signed this document. It stated that there could be no forced loans by the government on the people (this had been Charles’ method for getting around the “no taxation by the king without Parl consent”). Troops could not be quartered with civilians (this had been a money-saver for Charles). No Martial Law could be exercised during peace time. Habeus corpus must be reaffirmed (cannot be arrested without probably cause). And finally, the king could not issue taxes without Parliamentary consent (previously this had been a tradition, but now it was in a document). Charles signs the Petition of Right and gets his money. However, Charles fails to uphold the pledges he made in signing this document, and animosity towards the king as a whole builds and builds. ~Ashley

Pragmatic Sanction (1738) Archduke Charles VI of Austria wanted this piece of legislation to be recognized by his neighboring countries because it enabled the safety of Austria’s borders and the acceptance of power being passed to his daughter Maria Theresa. He had to do this because the Salic Law precluded female inheritance at the time and Charles VI needed a legitimate claim for passing down power so he could avoid a succession dispute. France, Spain, Great Britain and Prussia accepted these terms for small prices but the Electorates of Saxony and Bavaria did not accept because it was detrimental to their inheritance rights. - Chuka


Revocation of Edict of Nantes - Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 not as an international crusade to restore Catholicism in France but because the Huguenot towns in France were basically black holes of French law. Louis wanted to use religion as a form of national unity, for as he said, “un roi, une loi, une foi,” which means one king, one law, one faith. Most Huguenots escaped to Prussia, where they were allowed to enter tax-free – Erin :)

Revocation of Edict of Nantes — Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes not to increase the power of Catholicism, but to expand and solidify his own power as an absolute ruler. The Edict of Nantes ultimately created several fortified cities in which French laws did not pertain, which was an affront to the unity of his absolute power. Ultimately, the Huguenots, many of whom were wealthy, educated, and business owners, fled to Prussia. This caused an economic boom in Prussia and laid a solid foundation for Prussian economy. —Connie

Rump Parliament -the Parliament of solely Independents the remained after Pride's Purge in 1648. The Roundhead of the New Model Army had split into two groups, the Presbyterians, who wanted to maintain the strict hierarchical structure of the Church, and the Independents, led by Cromwell, who favored local congregational rule. In 1648 Cromwell and the Independents surrounded the Parliament building and eliminated the Presbyterians and the nobles from Parliament. The Independent Roundheads, the so-called representatives of the people, compromised their egalitarian ideals because they disagreed over how a Church should be run. (I think) the Rump Parliament was the same group that passed the Act of Settlement and was later ignored and purged by Cromwell. -Grace

Seven Years War (French-Indian War) The war lasted from 1756 until 1763 and proved that Prussia had become a significant power in Europe. It is also considered by a few scholars as the first World War because it involved multiple nations and spread over two continents. The two main aggressors were Prussia and Austria, with England allied with Prussia and France, Sweden, and Russia allied with Austria. For over 100 years, Bourbon France had been a rival of the Hapsburgs in Austria; however, the shift in the European balance of power, namely the rise of Prussia, caused them to ally with each other. Austria's other ally, Russia was intervening in a major European conflict for the first time and became a significant player in the war. Even though England was preoccupied with the war in America, Prussia was still able to fight Austria, France, Sweden and Russia to a draw and maintain the territory of Silesia, demonstrating Prussia's new dominance in Europe. -Grace

St. Petersburg (Russia) Tsar Peter the Great makes St. Petersburg the capital city of Russia in 1703. Located at the Neya River, St. Petersburg was a western Russian city and acted as a cultural point of exchange between Russia and Western Europe, which Peter constantly sought to emulate. St. Petersburg was a planned city designed by European architects, and was also brilliantly built on a swamp. Peter the Great forces all of the nobles (boyars) to live in St. Petersburg, and they hated it. —Connie

War of Austrian Succession War of Austrian Succession – This war was from 1740-1748 and came about when Frederick II of Prussia invaded Austria and took Silesia. Austria appeared weak because Charles VI thought neighboring countries would abide by their promises in his pragmatic Sanction in 1738 since he was giving power to his daughter Maria Theresa. England and the Dutch sided with Austria while the French, Bavaria, and Spain sided with Prussia. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle ended this conflict and Prussia now had a firm grip on Silesia. - Chuka

War of Spanish Succession (1701-1715) Due to ridiculous amounts of Hapsburg inbreeding, Spanish king Charles II had no son to be his successor. It was decided that Philip, Louis XIV’s grandson, would be named the next king of Spain, though Philip was already in line to inherit the throne of France. Therefore, Philip would be able to unite France and Spain, which scared other countries. The English, Dutch Swedes, Danes and Portuguese, along with the Austrian Hapsburgs, formed the Grand Alliance against the Spanish, French and Bavarians, and engaged in a 14 year war over the succession of Philip. Though the French suffered terrible military disasters, Louis was able to preserve the throne for his grandson. The Peace of Utrecht was created in 1713 to negotiate the outcome of the war, in which each side won and lost in certain ways. (See Peace of Utrecht for more details!) -Alexis

Walpole, Robert

William III (1650-1702), Stadholder of the Netherlands, King of England- William and his wife Mary, daughter of James II of England, served as joint monarchs of England after being asked by Parliament to depose James II I what is known as the Glorious Revolution. Because of James II’s outward Catholicism and the guarantee of another generation of Catholic rule upon the pregnancy of his wife, Parliament asked William and Mary in Netherlands to claim the throne, Mary already being the heir. William is pretty much going with the flow so to speak (not that any world leader actually 'goes with the flow'). William, a Protestant Dutchman at heart, is primarily concerned with preventing an alliance between Catholic England and Louis XIV. William was of the House of Orange in the Netherlands and was Mary II’s first cousin. -Becca