Chapter 16-17

when a nation has complete control over its own affairs. As it applies to absolutism, it means that the monarch has complete control over the state.
A single ruler has control over all functions of government. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it refers to a monarch with complete control over the state. In truth, the monarch had centralized control, but not complete control over every aspect of his subjects’ lives. Best-known examples of absolutists are Louis XIV, Catherine the Great, and Frederick the Great.
A single ruler or group controls every aspect of life in the nation. Totalitarian regimes were not common in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries because the monarchs did not yet have the resources to control every single part of their subjects’ lives. However, the argument could be made that Ivan IV and Peter the Great were totalitarian rulers. Best-known examples of totalitarian rulers are Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini.
Henry IV
(r. 1589-1610). He was the King of France who ended the French Wars of Religion (a.k.a. French Civil Wars) that lasted during most of the 16th century. Though he came to the throne as a Huguenot, he realized that since over 90% of his subjects were Catholic, he needed to convert to Catholicism. He famously said, “Paris is worth a Mass,” meaning that the throne of France was important enough for him to give up his Protestant beliefs. His conversion ended the wars, and he guaranteed religious freedom to the Huguenots in the Edict of Nantes (see #10) in 1598. Henry worked hard to revitalize France. He and his finance minister, the Duke of Sully, balanced the budget in only three years (after 35 years of war)! The two men reduced taxes on the poor and raised them on the other classes. Sully restructured the tax system, revived trade, and built highways and bridges. Henry IV also sought to reduce the power of the nobles over the regional courts (known as parlements). Henry is sometimes known as Henry of Navarre and Henry the Great, and was probably the best-loved leader in French history. Unfortunately, a crazed Catholic stabbed him to death in 1610.
Marie de’ Medici
Since Henry’s son, Louis XIII, was only 9 years old, Henry’s wife became the regent (person ruling in place of the King). She was weak, caring little about governing. As a result, the nobles, who had lost power under Henry, worked to regain their standing. She spent the surplus gathered by Sully (who resigned in disgust) on her court and her favorite nobles.
Louis XIII and Cardinal Richeleau
Louis was almost the opposite of his father – weak physically and mentally. He suffered numerous ailments, but did survive his doctors’ attempts to help him (he was bled 47 times, had 215 enemas, and took 212 drugs – in one year!). He was very strongly Catholic, and never read a book other than prayer books. Louis pushed his mother aside in 1617 by forcing her into retirement. Even though he had been declared of age in 1614, his mom kept him from running the government. Realizing his weakness, Louis in 1624, appointed Cardinal Richelieu as his chief advisor. From then on, Richelieu really governed France, not the King.
Richelieu had two goals for France:
1. To make the King supreme in France. To meet this goal, Richelieu set up a spy system and imprisoned or executed nobles who defied the King, and their castles were destroyed. He also began the intendant system (see #7) and crushed the Huguenots (see #11). And, he further weakened the nobles by raising taxes without the permission of the Estates General (a legislature composed of nobles).
2. To make France the supreme power in Europe. Richelieu involved France in the Thirty Years War, a war in the German states) to weaken the power of the Habsburg family. Richelieu believed that the German states must be kept weak else they threaten France (he was right)! Ironically, even though Richelieu was doing everything he could inside France to crush the Protestant Huguenots, he sided with the German and Swedish Protestants fighting against the Catholic Habsburgs in the 30 Years War. His policies made France the #1 power in Europe, but drained the royal treasury. Some of the officials hadn’t been paid in four years! When Richelieu died in 1642 and Louis XIII in 1643, they left France a more centralized, militarily powerful nation, yet they also left it a financial wreck. Taxes were high, upsetting the peasants, and the nobles were anxious to get their authority back.
royal officials who collected taxes, recruited soldiers, and carried out government policies in the provinces, intendants were the eyes and ears of Richelieu. These officials took over functions that had been done by the old nobility (nobles of the sword), weakening the nobles. Intendants were middle-class men or newly-ennobled nobles of the robe. To keep them independent, Richelieu forbade men from serving as intendants for their home provinces.
Nobless de Robe
The new nobility, nobles of the robe were often judges and other administrators for the King. They owed their titles of nobility to the King, and were therefore loyal to him.
Nobles of the Sword
The old nobility, the nobles of the sword could trace their lineage all the way back to medieval times. They claimed that their blood was pure (i.e. not mingled with common blood), and they were superior to all others, inherently (at birth). They saw their power greatly reduced during the 17th and 18th centuries, yet still had many privileges, including exemption from taxation, the right to hunt on royal land, the right to carry a sword, and being generally above the law. They greatly resented the noblesse de robe.
Edict of Nantes
Huguenots gained the freedom of worship, assembly, right to attend universities, and the right to maintain fortified towns for their protection. This was put into law in 1598 by Henry of Navarre (IV).
LaRochelle and the Peace of Alais
Louis XIII looked at the existence of a separate religious faith in France as a challenge to his authority, especially after Huguenot towns met in LaRochelle in 1620 at their General Assembly. They divided France up into 8 “circles” and appointed for each of them a chief administrator and a council to levy taxes and raise troops. The King saw this as a direct challenge to his authority; he called it a “state within a state.” In 1625, Richelieu personally supervised the 14-month siege of the walled city of LaRochelle, and forced it to surrender. The Peace of Alais, signed in 1629, ended Huguenot political and military independence. All of the fortified castles were torn down. However, Richelieu did honor the terms of the Edict of Nantes, with his Edict of Grace. Huguenots were allowed to keep their positions in the army, navy, and civil service. They were allowed to keep their property, and free exercise of religion continued. Many historians feel that this generous treatment by Richelieu (which was heavily criticized by Catholics who wanted to exterminate the Huguenots) led to greater commerce and industry, as the Huguenots were skilled in those areas.
French Academy
A group of philologists (people who study grammar and rhetoric) standardized the French language (no matter where a person is in France, the language is at least roughly similar). They created a dictionary to do this. The Academy is still around today; every so often it’s in the news protesting words like “Le hamburger” and other intrusions on the superior French culture by America! French did end up being the language of diplomacy and was the hip way of speaking in monarchs’ courts across Europe.
Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Austria
When Louis XIII died, he was succeeded by his son, the 4-year-old Louis XIV. Since Louis was so young, his mother, Anne of Austria, served as regent. Anne chose Cardinal Mazarin to replace Richelieu as chief minister. Mazarin was a Sicilian and Anne was a foreigner as well. The French people, rather xenophobic, did not accept them. To add to their problems, the peasants were unhappy (see #6), and the nobles plotted to regain their authority.
Le Fronde
the Fronde was a series of civil wars in France from 1648-52. “Fronde” means “slingshot” – poor kids in the streets threw mud and stones at the carriages of the rich as they passed. The event began in 1643, when the Parlement of Paris met. This group of nobles called for the abolition of the intendant system, a habeas corpus law (the right of the accused to be informed of charges against him), and the right to approve of taxes raised by the King. This would have severely limited the King’s power and made France a constitutional, instead of an absolute, monarchy. So, Mazarin arrested the leaders of the Parlement of Paris. This led to the civil wars. Peasants, angered by high taxes, joined the revolt of the nobles against royal authority. The nobles sought to use the peasants to gain power, but the civil war quickly spiraled out of control and civil order collapsed completely. The nobles realized that they had more in common with the King than with the dangerous peasants; they preferred absolute monarchy to anarchy and sided with the King to end the Fronde. The Fronde was significant because:
1. It badly disrupted French trade and the economy. 2. It traumatized young Louis XIV, who was treated roughly by nobles -they invaded his bedchamber several times – a fact he would never forget.
Louis XIV
(r. 1643-1715). His reign of 72 years is the longest in European history. From 1643-1661, he ruled under Mazarin. After Mazarin, Louis ruled by himself with no minister. He is so important to history that the 2nd half of the 17th century is called the “Age of Louis XIV.” Because all the events in France and Europe seemed to revolve around him, he was called the “Sun King.” It was said, “When Louis XIV sneezed, Europe caught cold!” He believed in divine right monarchy – he was chosen by God to rule. He believed that he was France and France was he – “L’etat c’est moi” (I am the state) is a famous quote by Louis XIV. He loved being King and worked very hard at ruling. It is said that he was “every inch a King.” He used secret police and the intendant system to control the nobility, and used letters de cachet (orders to imprison or exile someone without trial). He reduced many of the nobles to the role of servants at his awesome palace of Versailles (see #17). Louis is best known for his quest for glory – La Gloire – which resulted in almost constant warfare during his reign. Though Louis was a great king, his rule ultimately bankrupted the nation and laid the foundations for problems that would culminate in the French Revolution in 1789
Domestication of the nobility?
Many historians have traditionally argued that Louis XIV had complete control over the nobility, reducing them to little more than servants who argued amongst themselves over who would have the privilege of holding the King’s candle as he prepared for bed. Recent research, though, suggests that Louis was able to get the nobles to cooperate, but he did not completely control them.
Originally Louis XIII’s hunting lodge, Louis XIV turned it into one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world. It is located 12 miles from the old palace of St. Germain in Paris. The façade of the structure is nearly 2000 feet long, and it was built to house 10,000 nobles. The grounds of the palace include 1,400 fountains! Nearly 60% of the royal tax revenue went to maintain Louis’ court at Versailles. The traditional historians claim that the expense was worth it – instead of plotting against the King, nobles were involved in court intrigue and gossip and fought over who got to wipe the King’s bottom!
A French term meaning “middle class.” Louis used members of this class instead of the aristocrats to run his government. In fact, no member of the nobility of the sword (“Upper Nobility”) attended the daily council sessions at Versailles. The members of the bourgeois owed their jobs, and therefore their allegiance, to the King.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Louis XIV’s finance minister until 1683, Colbert was a financial genius. He wanted to make France self-sufficient, and worked hard to accomplish that goal. Colbert subscribed to the economic theory of mercantilism (see #20), and he insisted that France export as much as possible and import nothing. Sounds like China! To accomplish this, Colbert gave money to industries in France to help them grow and be able to compete with foreign companies. The Gobelin tapestry industry, cloth, firearms, and many other industries benefited. Colbert regulated industry to ensure quality products by setting up an inspection system. He even encouraged skilled immigrants to move to France. The famous Canal des Deux Mers was completed during Louis’ reign, and roads and bridges were improved all over the country. He abolished internal tariffs (taxes as a product moved from one province to another), since they made French goods too expensive to buy. Colbert also created a merchant marine to carry French goods all over the world, and worked to increase the emphasis on colonies. He sponsored the voyages of LaSalle and Marquette and Joliet, and sent 4,000 peasants to Canada. He was very successful in improving France’s trade – France was #1 in the world in industrial productivity by the time of his death. Unfortunately, much of his work was for naught, as Louis spent the extra revenue on war and on Versailles.
the central goal of this economic system was to build up the nation’s supply of gold by exporting goods to other lands and earning gold from their sale. Part of mercantilism was a reliance on foreign colonies to be a market for the mother country’s exports. With the wealth of the nation increased in this way, its power could then be increased – use the gold to create armies!
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes
In 1685, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes (see #10). Louis believed that more than one religion could not exist and that religious unity was essential for absolute control (“one king, one law, one faith”). Louis XIV destroyed Huguenot schools and churches and took away their civil rights. The Huguenots escaped France and settled in Holland, England, and America. The traditional historical interpretation of the importance of this event is that the removal of the Huguenots greatly hurt the French economy, since many of the Huguenots were craftsmen and businessmen. Revisionist historians have claimed that the effect wasn’t that great at all.
French Classicism
The reign of Louis XIV is considered the Golden Age of France. Louis was a great sponsor of the arts. Classicism was the French equivalent to the Renaissance in Italy – realism and attention to detail was very important. Also, themes of the art tended to be classical (Greek and Roman) themes, just like the Renaissance. After Louis became King, classicism was used to glorify the state (France).
Nicolas Poussin
Greatest French classicist painter. His most famous painting is Rape of the Sabine Women.
He was a playwright who poked fun at the bourgeois, female intellectuals, and the Catholic Church (he was careful to attack individual church officials he believed were hypocrites and not the Church itself). Moliere’s greatest plays were comedies.
Jean Rancine
Keeping in theme with classicism, he based his tragedies on Greek and Roman legends. Many of his plays were about women and passion (blech!).
Francois de Tellier (Marquis de Louvois)
He was the secretary of war for Louis XIV. Louvois was responsible for the creation of the French army to replace the private armies of nobles. Louvois found creative ways to get people into the military – passing out at a bar was a bad idea, for example, as many awoke as enlisted men in the military! He also used criminals, mercenaries, and beggars. Louvois also employed the draft, including the lottery system. He also created an ambulance system, and he standardized uniforms and weaponry. Finally, he created a “rational system of training and promotion.”
Jean Martinet
French drillmaster. He was known for demanding absolute, unquestioning obedience from the soldiers.
taxes in Spain, mostly on the poor.
Decline of Spain
Spain had been the greatest power in Europe during the 16th century, but it declined in the 17th century. Spain had become wealthy by enslaving the Indians in the New World and exploiting them for gold and silver. But, in 1588, the Spanish Armada was defeated by the English, and from that point on, Spain no longer controlled the seas. As a result, Spain eventually lost large parts of its empire to England and Holland. Royal expenditures increased, but income from the Americas dropped. Spanish kings were unfit during the 17th century, and seemed to lack the ability or will to reform. Spain had virtually no middle class, and the nobility thought that making money was virtually a sin. Adding to Spain’s problems was the fact that a large portion of its possible labor force lived in monasteries and did not work in industry.
Price Revolution
Another factor in the decline of Spain was the tremendous inflation (rise in prices) brought on by the huge influx of gold and silver from the colonies. The inflation made Spanish goods very expensive, and Spanish products could no longer compete on the world market.
Philip II and the Habsburgs
Philip was probably the greatest of the Spanish kings, and he ruled from 1556-1598. Phil considered himself the champion of the Catholic religion, and he saw it as his duty to stop the Protestants. Spain’s wealth was drained, as Philip tried to stop the Protestant Reformation, including in England, where his Spanish Armada failed spectacularly. He was also unable to stop the Dutch revolt against Spain (Spain ruled the Netherlands until the 17th century). Philip’s family, the Habsburgs, ruled Spain, much of the New World, the Netherlands, Austria, and many of the German and Italian states. Philip II’s father, Charles V, had ruled it all, but Phil and his uncle Ferdinand I split the Empire into Spanish Habsburgs and Austrian Habsburgs. Unfortunately for Spain, Philip’s heir, Philip III, was a weak King – he was more interested in prayer than ruling.
A convincing victory of the French over the Spanish in 1643, it occurred in Belgium (Spanish Netherlands). The battle was a culminating event of a long series of wars between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons (French royal family) over territory in Italy. The wars were resolved by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, which gave France extensive Spanish territories.
The actual ruler of Spain during the reign of the pathetic Philip IV, Olivares attempted reforms and tried to gain new sources of revenue, but was dragged into the Thirty Years War and a war with France.
Don Quixote
Written by Miguel de Cervantes, the novel is regarded as the greatest Spanish novel ever written and one of the great masterpieces of all time. Cervantes ridiculed Spanish society; his main character travels the countryside looking for adventures and military heroics. The phrase “tilting at windmills” to suggest futility comes directly from the novel, and suggests Spain’s plight during the 17th century.
It is the limiting of the power of a government by a written body of laws (a constitution). Unlike absolutism, it is a balance of government power on one side, and the rights of the people on the other. For example, when Richard Nixon claimed that the laws of the United States didn’t apply to him because he was president, he discovered that the Constitution said otherwise and he was forced to resign the Presidency. In the case of the 17th century, constitutionalism meant that the power of the King of England or the stadholders in Holland was limited; they could not do whatever they wanted. The transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy was sometimes rough, as monarchs didn’t like to give up their power.
James I
(ruled 1603-25). He followed Queen Elizabeth I to the throne of England. James faced a number of problems right from the start:
1. He followed Elizabeth, the best-loved monarch in English history and probably the shrewdest in handling Parliament. James lacked her tact or ability to make Parliament feel more important than they actually were.
2. He was Scottish. Since Liz died without an heir (she was the “Virgin Queen,” after all!), James, her cousin, assumed the throne. The Scottish Parliament, which James had dealt with for years, was a weak institution that did not limit the King’s power. The English Parliament was much more assertive.
3. He believed in divine right monarchy. In his very first meeting with Parliament, James said, “The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth: for Kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon earth and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God Himself they are called gods. As to dispute what God may do is blasphemy, so it is sedition in subjects to dispute what a King may do in height of his power. I will not be content that my power be disputed upon.” Whoa! Unfortunately for James, the House of Lords and the House of Commons held the power of the purse – they controlled the raising of revenue, and if the King wanted money he had to ask them for it.
4. James was accused by Puritans of being too Catholic. James was a Protestant, but the Anglican Church (Church of England) still had a lot of similarities with Catholicism. The Puritans wanted to purify the Anglican Church of all its Catholic beliefs. The King told them “no bishop, no king,” meaning that if the church was weakened, then so would be the monarchy. This refusal to fix the church of its Catholic ways made the Puritans extremists. On the other hand, James treated the Catholics very harshly. He wanted to rid England of Catholics. This action led to a plot by Catholics to try to kill the King, known as the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.
James did have a few accomplishments:
1. He presided at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, which authorized the writing of the King James Version of the Bible.
2. He made peace with the Spanish (although many despised him for this and made worse the belief among Protestants that he was too friendly with Catholics), and he tried to promote religious peace in Europe by marrying his daughter off to Frederick V of the German states.
3. He avoided warfare in the Thirty Years War – the most destructive war of the 17th century.
Gun Powder Plot
Led by Guy Fawkes, the plot was organized by Catholics to blow up both houses of Parliament while the King delivered his address to them. The conspirators smuggled 1800 pounds of gunpowder in 36 barrels into the basement of Westminster Palace, but the plot was discovered. Fawkes was hanged, drawn, and quartered for treason. Guy Fawkes Day is still celebrated in British areas of the world today on November 5, where kids burn “guys” (dummies) in effigy!
Charles I
(ruled 1625-49). He was the son of James I, and had even less political tact than his father. He was the only ruler in English history to be executed. While intelligent, Charles had the reputation of being deceitful, dishonest, and treacherous. Just like his father, Charles faced religious dissent from both sides – Catholics and Puritans. He also claimed divine right like his dad. Foolishly, he wasted money on a failed military expedition to Spain. To pay for his mistake, Charles required the wealthy to cover his expenses. When several members of Parliament refused to pay, they were jailed. In 1628, Parliament forced Charles to sign the Petition of Rights, which forbade the King from:
1. Levying taxes without the Parliament’s consent. 2. Proclaiming martial law in peacetime. 3. Imprisoning anyone without a specific charge. 4. Quartering troops in the home of private citizens.
Charles signed the Petition to get the money, and then dismissed Parliament. He ruled without them for the next 11 years. To raise money, Charles collected ship money – money collected from coastal towns for their defense. He even charged landlocked towns the ship tax! Not popular!
In 1640, Charles needed money to put down a rebellion in Scotland, and he was forced to call Parliament into session. The Parliament, called the Short Parliament because it lasted only 3 weeks, agreed to give Charles the money he needed if he agreed dismiss Archbishop Laud (see #39) and meet some of their other grievances. Charles refused and dismissed the Short Parliament. Immediately afterward, the Scots invaded northern England. Charles, desperate, called another Parliament into session to raise money. This Parliament was the Long Parliament (see #40). When Parliament impeached Laud and the Earl of Strafford, abolished the King’s Court of Star Chamber, and passed the Grand Remonstrance (see #41), the English Civil War broke out.
William Laud
He was the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Charles I. He attempted to bring back a lot of the Catholic rituals as part of worship in the Anglican Church, which did not go over very well at all in Protestant England. In 1637, Laud tried to make a Scottish version of the Book of Common Prayer and force it on the Scots, who were strict Presbyterians (Calvinists). This caused the Scots to revolt, eventually forcing Charles to call the Short Parliament into session.
Long Parliament
This Parliament lasted for 20 years! Charles called it into session because of the need for money to deal with the Scottish rebellion. They immediately dismissed Laud (and executed him in 1645) and another of Charles’ ministers. They demanded that the King call Parliament into session at least every 3 years and that the King could not dismiss Parliament without their opinion (the Triennial Act). Then, Parliament presented the King with a list of 204 grievances, known as the Grand Remonstrance. Soon after, Charles charged 5 members of Parliament with treason and tried to arrest them. The 5 men were warned before the King arrived in person with 400 soldiers to arrest them; an outraged Parliament then demanded full control over the nation’s military (the Irish chose this time of chaos to rebel). Charles refused and fled to Nottingham to raise his own army to fight Parliament. This was the beginning of the English Civil War.
English Civil War
(1642-49). The war concerned two major issues – religion and sovereignty. The supporters of the King were called Cavaliers or Royalists, and they were the wealthy landowners, Catholics, and the Anglican clergy. The supporters of Parliament were called Roundheads, and they were middle class, merchants, small nobility, Puritans, and the Presbyterian Scots who opposed Charles’ efforts to impose his religion on them. The Cavaliers were named because of their expertise with horses, while Roundheads earned their name because of their cool bowl-shaped haircuts!
The Roundheads were led by Oliver Cromwell (see #43) and his New Model Army. In Phase 1 of the war, Cromwell defeated Charles at the Battle of Marston Moor. The King surrendered 2 years later to the Scots, who turned him over to Parliament. The war then entered Phase 2 – the victors fought amongst themselves. The Presbyterian Scots wanted to set up a constitutional monarchy with Charles as King and Presbyterianism as the official church. They were opposed by the army, who wanted a Puritan republic. Charles took advantage of the disagreement and fled London. In 1647, the Scots allied with Charles, but they were decisively beaten by Cromwell at the Battle of Preston in 1648. Charles was again captured. All the Presbyterians were removed from Parliament, and the Parliament was known as the Rump Parliament, controlled by Cromwell. In 1649, the war ended with the execution of the King and the establishment of the Commonwealth.
The period in English history between the reigns of Charles I and Charles II is called the Interregnum, Latin for “between Kings.” The Commonwealth was the republican government that lasted from 1649-1653. Power was supposed to be shared between the Parliament and Cromwell, but in 1653, Cromwell took the title of Lord Protector of England and became a military dictator. The Protectorate was unpopular with the English people as people resented the severe moral code of the Puritans (sports and theater were forbidden, as were card games and dancing, for example). When Cromwell died in 1658, people were tired of stern military rule and they kicked his son Richard out of power in 1660. The Interregnum ended when Charles II was invited to return from French exile and accept the throne.
Oliver Cromwell
leader of the New Model Army, Cromwell became the Lord Protector of England in 1653 and ruled as a dictator for 5 years. He viciously suppressed rebellions in Ireland and Scotland, advanced English trade, and greatly increased English power.
Instrument of Government
This was the constitution that created the Protectorate. It did require Cromwell to call Parliament into session at least every 3 years, and they had the sole power to raise taxes. The Instrument also gave all Christians except Roman Catholics the right to worship freely. Cromwell refused to follow it, making one wonder what had been accomplished by getting rid of Charles!
Cromwell earned the everlasting hatred of the Irish people in 1649, when he laid siege to the Irish city of Drogheda. After the city refused to surrender (it had 20 foot walls and felt impregnable), Cromwell led 3 charges against it, finally breaching the walls. He ordered his soldiers to show the defeated Irish no quarter, and 3500 were massacred. The governor was beaten to death by English soldiers with his own wooden leg!
The Restoration of 1660 and Charles II
(ruled 1660-85) assumed the throne of England in 1660, ending the Protectorate and re-establishing the monarchy. He had much greater political skill and was much more personable than his father and grandfather. The English Civil War had solved nothing – the religious question and the sovereignty question still had not been answered. Charles dealt with the second issue by vowing to get along with Parliament, and he accepted Parliament’s right to levy taxes and agreed to call Parliament into regular sessions. Unfortunately, Parliament did not grant Charles II enough money, so he entered into the secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV of France. In exchange for money, Charles agreed to try to re-Catholicize England, fight the Dutch, and personally convert to Catholicism. When the English people found out, they weren’t happy. They went into hysterics! This all tied in with the first problem, the religious problem. Charles was more concerned with his love life than religion (he had 13 mistresses that historians know of by name and lots of anonymous ones), but Parliament passed laws restricting Catholicism (see #47).
Test Act of 1673
Parliament passed this act in 1673 to restrict the rights of Catholics. People who wanted public office and entrance to the universities or the military had to agree to take the Eucharist at church (something Catholics wouldn’t do).
Charles’ Secret Treaty
also known as the Treaty of Dover, it was signed with Louis XIV. The King would get 200,000 pounds annually in exchange for the things mentioned in #46.
James II
(ruled 1685-88). James, the brother of Charles II, confirmed the fears of the English people when he almost immediately appointed Catholics to high positions in his government. When his actions were challenged, the courts, which had been chosen by him, sided with the King. This reminded many people of Charles I and the Court of Star Chamber. James decided to try to gain support by issuing a declaration guaranteeing religious freedom. Bishops refused to read it, and the English people were in an uproar. The people did not revolt, however, because the King was old, and his heir, Mary, was Protestant. Miraculously, the 65-year old James and his 29-year old wife had a son (James) in 1688, which meant that the throne would be passed on to a Catholic. That was the last straw for Parliament!
William and Mary (Glorious Revolution) 1688
one of the most important events in the history of the world. The English Parliament invited the Protestant Mary, the eldest daughter of James II, and her hubby, William III, duke of Orange (a province in the Netherlands), to take the place of James II as monarchs of England. When William and Mary arrived in England, James II fled to France in exile. Before the King and Queen were crowned, they accepted as a condition of their crowning the Declaration of Rights (enacted as the English Bill of Rights in 1689). This event is momentous for several reasons, including:
1. It was the beginning of the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy. The monarchy had gone from absolutism to constitutionalism. No longer was the King above the law. This was a gradual event and was completed by the Glorious Revolution.
2. The Parliament, though representing only the wishes of the wealthy in 1688, came to represent “the people” as government came to be viewed as existing and functioning according to John Locke’s Enlightenment concept of “consent of the governed.” (see #52). This view had a tremendous effect on the development of the United States and republican government.
3. The people received basic liberties in the English Bill of Rights (see #51).
English Bill of Rights
Agreed to as a condition of ruling by Mary and William, it included the following:
1. Only Parliament can impose taxes. 2. Laws can be made only with the consent of Parliament. 3. A standing army (permanent army) can be maintained only with consent of Parliament. 4. The people have the right of petition. 5. The people have the right of free speech. 6. The people have the right to bear arms. 7. People have the right to due process of law, trial by peers, and reasonable bail. 8. Parliament is to be freely elected and dissolved only by its consent.
Second Treatise of Government
written by John Locke, it argued that governments exist to protect the natural, God-given rights of the people – life, liberty, and property. If a government fails to protect the natural rights of the people, then the people have a right to rebel. Locke was no democrat – he believed that property qualified a person to vote and hold public office. He felt that those with property were educated and would make decisions that would respect the natural rights of all the people. His ideas had a huge impact on the American colonies (Jefferson wrote the natural rights almost verbatim into the Declaration of Independence).
Robert Wapole
he was a famous royal minister who became the first prime minister. He and his successors all answer to the Parliament. The prime minister has executive power, but must have the confidence of the Parliament and be a member of Parliament or else be removed from power.
States General and Stadholder
The United Provinces (Netherlands/Holland/the Dutch) became free from Spanish rule in 1648 at the Peace of Westphalia that ended the 30 Years War. The Dutch had a decentralized system. While they did have a national body called the States General, the United Provinces’ sovereignty was held by provincial authorities. The representative from each province to the States General was called the stadholder. The most important of the 7 provinces in the UP was Holland, which was dominated by the House of Orange.
Dutch Tolerance
Unlike any other country in Europe, the UP had a very liberal policy toward religious tolerance. Because the UP was an urban society, it was more tolerant of religious dissent. Even Jews prospered in the Netherlands in the 17th century – a unique occurrence. As a result, the UP became the most metropolitan country on earth.
Dutch Economy
the Dutch led the world in banking, fishing, and commerce. The Dutch merchant marine was the largest in the world in the 17th century. The Dutch were like Walmarts – they bought in bulk and could sell for less than anyone else. The ports had the greatest diversity of products in the world. In addition, the Dutch set up companies to colonize to create new markets around the world. Because of their economy, the Dutch alone suffered none of the food shortages and riots that plagued the other countries of Europe.
Re-emergence of Eastern Serfdom
in Western Europe, the Black Death in the 14th century led to the eventual end of serfdom, as lord were forced to pay their peasants to work for them. In Eastern Europe, however, the lords pressured the Kings to pass laws that brought the serfs into virtual slavery, and they seized most of the peasants land. Punishments on runaway serfs were barbaric – serfs were nailed to posts by their ear and given a knife to cut themselves loose, for example. In many places in Eastern Europe, lords were free to issue the death penalty to any peasant any time they pleased. The difference between the development of Eastern Europe and Western Europe can be explained by politics – nobles were much more powerful in the East and Kings were generally weak and looked to the nobility for support. Whereas people like Richelieu and Louis XIV were weakening the nobles and elevating the middle class, the East did the opposite – there was no middle class! Weak kings allowed the nobles to do whatever they pleased to the serfs.
War and absolutism
By the 17th century, Eastern monarchs were finally beginning to rise in power. They achieved this through warfare. Several kings claimed they were “war kings” and that they needed special powers to save the nation! They felt that either you were with the King or you were with the enemy. Since armies cost huge amounts of money, Kings raised taxes without consent from any legislative body. They also used their standing armies as agents to spy on their own people to control them, and they conducted diplomatic relations with other countries without interference from congresses or parliaments. It worked great! The people lost all of their freedom and the Kings dominated.
The Holy Roman Empire
It was a confederacy (voluntary association) of over 300 individual states that lasted from 800 AD to 1806. It is also known as the German Empire, since most of the little states that made it up were of German-speaking people. The Habsburg family dominated the HRE. The HRE was torn by religious differences, as the south tended to be Catholic and the north Protestant. And, the Protestants were divided up into lots of different sects – Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, etc.
Battle of White Mountian (1620)
A major battle during the 1st phase of the 30 Years War, White Mtn. was a huge turning point in the history of the Czech people. The Czechs, centered in a region called Bohemia, were Protestants, but their Habsburg ruler was Catholic. When the ruler, Ferdinand II, won the battle against the Bohemians, he confiscated the lands of the Protestants and gave it to Catholic nobles. The native people were crushed under the Habsburg foot, as foreigners came to dominate the region. The Czechs would not receive their independence for 3 centuries!
After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Bohemian peasants became virtual slaves. The robot was between 3 and 6 days of unpaid labor per week that peasants had to perform for their lords.
Ottoman Empire
This empire controlled most of the Middle East, a strip of land all the way across North Africa, and the Balkan Peninsula (Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Hungary). Destroying the old Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) in 1453, the Ottomans were a very powerful state until the 19th century. The leaders of the Empire were called sultans, and the most powerful one in history was Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled in the 16th century. The Ottomans were enemies of the Habsburgs, and they battled twice over control of Vienna, Austria (Habsburgs barely won both times).
Slave Tax and Janissary Corps
when the armies of the sultan captured new lands, the sultan levied a slave tax whereby the local population had to give a certain number of their Christian boys away. The Balkan Peninsula gave between 1,000 and 3,000 male Christians each year! The boys were taken back to Turkey and trained to be soldiers or officials in the government. The bright ones worked in the government, the rest became soldiers. The Christian boys who became soldiers formed the sultan’s army, known as the Janissary Corps.
Seige of Vienna (1683)
The Turks 2nd attempt at taking Vienna, they besieged the city for 2 months before the Christians were rescued by fresh troops. The Christian armies counterattacked, and drove the Ottomans out of Hungary and Transylvania (where vampires killed thousands of Turkish soldiers). The rout resulted in the addition of Hungary as a 3rd part of the Habsburg state (Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary).
Pragmatic Sanction
Habsburg emperor Charles VI didn’t have any male heirs, so he wanted to pass his lands on to his daughter, Maria Theresa, but this had never happened before in Habsburg lands. He was concerned that other powers would try to take Habsburg territory if he couldn’t get them to agree to respect his female heir before his death. So, he drew up the Pragmatic Sanction to state that Habsburg lands could never be divided and were always to be passed along to a single heir, even if that heir were female. He went all over Europe getting rulers to sign the agreement.
Francis Rakoczy
he was a great rebel leader of the Hungarians against the Habsburgs. Even though he was defeated in the early 18th century, his rebellion succeeded in keeping the Hungarians somewhat separate from the Austrian Empire. They were ruled by Habsburgs, but unlike Bohemia and Austria, Hungary kept many of its own institutions.
the ruling family of Brandenburg-Prussia.
two German states that were part of the Holy Roman Empire. Before the 17th century, B-P were very minor states. Brandenburg contained the sandy, swampy land around Berlin, and Prussia was located between Poland and Russia. Following the 30 Years War, B-P was united into the state of Prussia, which became a world power in less than a century.
Frederick William, the Great Elector
(ruled 1640-88). One of the 7 Electors in the Holy Roman Empire, the Great Elector used the devastation of the 30 Years War to weaken the power of the representative assemblies (Estates) of Brandenburg-Prussia. FW made it his ultimate goal to unite the several separate parts of his lands (Prussia, Brandenburg, Mark, Cleve, and Ravensburg) into one nation. He forced the Estates to accept his seizure of the right to tax without their permission. By keeping people in a constant fear of invasion and war and multiplying the size of the army by ten(!), FW became an absolutist and welded the separate lands of Brandenburg-Prussia into one state (Prussia).
the name given to nobles and landowners in Prussia. They had the power of taxation taken away from them by the Great Elector and allowed him to become an absolutist.
descendants of the Mongol Horde and Genghis Khan, the attacked eastern Europe periodically during the 17th century. In 1656-57, Crimean (southern Russia) Tartars tore through Prussia, killing and kidnapping approximately 50,000 people. This attack was a reason that the Great Elector was able to use to scare the people into giving him more power.
Frederick William I
(ruled 1713-1740). The “Soldier-King,” Frederick William I greatly strengthened the Prussian army and made it the strongest in Europe for its size. He turned his nation into a giant boot camp – the highest virtue in Prussia was obeying orders without question, whether it was your parents, teachers, or other authority figures. He demanded unswerving obedience, and it was he who rid Prussia of the Estates once and for all. He also had complete control over the Junkers by forcing them to serve in the military as officers. During his rule, Prussia was known as the “Sparta of the North.” Oh, and Frederick loved tall soldiers! “The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers – they are my weakness.”
Potsdam Granadiers
An elite group of Prussian soldiers all over 6 feet tall, FW I collected them from all over Europe to serve. He loved them so much that he never sent them to war! In fact, Prussia was at peace for the entirety of FW I’s reign.
Eastern Orthodox
A Christian religion that is almost identical to Roman Catholicism, except that they reject the authority of the Pope and have a different-shaped cross. Instead of a Pope, they have a Patriarch. He, though, does not have the authority of the Pope. Instead, seven Ecumenical Councils govern the Church. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the center of the religion moved to Moscow.
Russian nobles. Ivan IV eventually smashed them!
Chinggis (Genghis) Kahn
One of the greatest conquerors in history, Genghis led his Mongol Horde to conquer all the land from China to Hungary. The Golden Horde was infamous for its barbarity – they killed every living being in entire cities and burned villages and cities to the ground. It was in 1242 that they conquered Kievan Rus (what we now call Russia). People who rebelled were slaughtered and people who served were rewarded!
Mongol Yoke
The rule of the Mongols for 2 centuries over Russia.
Ivan III
(ruled 1462-1505). A great prince of Moscow, he greatly increased the amount of territory under his control during his reign. For the first 18 years of his reign, he served the khan, but considered himself khan after that. He ruled with absolute power over his subjects.
“Third Rome”
A name given to Russia, 3rd Rome means that the Russians saw themselves as heirs to the Roman Empire. The 2nd Rome had been in Constantinople, but the Turks conquered it in 1453. To strengthen the belief of Russia as “Holy Russia” or the Third Rome, Ivan III married Sophia, niece of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Emperor. This made Ivan III heir to the Byzantine throne.
Service Nobility
– a class of new nobles created to serve Ivan III, the service nobility were rewarded with land in return for their allegiance to Ivan and for military service.
Ivan IV
(ruled 1533-84). Better known as Ivan the Terrible, he had a childhood similar to Louis XIV. After his mother was poisoned when he was 8 (which he ever after blamed on the boyars), Ivan endured mistreatment at the hands of the boyars until he came of age at 16. He became the first czar (meaning “Caesar”) of Russia. As a child, Ivan enjoyed throwing cats and dogs off the Kremlin, so his sanity has been questioned!
The early part of his reign was characterized by reform – he revised the law code, created the first Russian standing army, and established the Zemsky Sobor (Russian Parliament made up of three classes – nobles, clergy, and merchants and townspeople).
Ivan also opened up the White Sea and its port of Arkhangelsk (Archangel) to the English Muscovy Company of traders (unfortunately, the port was frozen for most of the year!) He seized lands from the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan to the east, and had St. Basil’s Cathedral constructed in Moscow to commemorate the seizure of Kazan. (Supposedly, he thought that the building was so beautiful that he had the architects blinded so they couldn’t create anything as beautiful again). This is most likely an urban legend, though. Also, Ivan restricted the movement of the peasants (see #57). Overall, he was a pretty good leader during the first part of his reign.
In 1553, Ivan fell gravely ill and nearly died, and his wife Anastasia Romanova did die of mercury poisoning. Ivan suspected the boyars of killing her. While sick, Ivan had asked the boyars to swear allegiance to his son, and many of them refused! They didn’t think Ivan would recover! Ivan went on to commit mass murders of people from all classes of society, wiping out many of the boyars and seizing their lands. He then created the oprichnina, a section of about 1/3 of Russia to be ruled directly by Ivan (no noble landowners). This land was policed by the oprichnik, a private army loyal to the czar. The oprichnik dressed all in black, bore the insignia of a dog’s head and broom, and rode black horses to inspire terror. They tortured and murdered thousands of innocent people. The oprichnik were the forerunners of the Gestapo and KGB of the 20th century. The czar used the oprichnik to destroy the boyars, and it is also a sign of his paranoia and probable insanity.
In 1581, Ivan beat his pregnant daughter-in-law for wearing revealing clothing severely enough to cause her to miscarry. His son, Ivan, confronted his father and the two engaged in a heated argument, ending when Ivan IV beat his son over the head with his staff, killing him. Ivan was grief-stricken, and his health declined rapidly. In 1584, he died, most likely poisoned by his advisor Boris Godunov, leaving the throne to his mentally retarded son, Feodor (Theodore). Historians believe that Ivan had attempted to rape Godunov’s sister (and Feodor’s wife) three days earlier, but Godunov walked in on them. Knowing that he was marked for death, Godunov killed Ivan. Feodor delighted in traveling around Russia to ring the church bells, so he is also called Feodor the Bellringer.
Many peasants fled from their lords in Russia to freedom in the south. There, they joined free groups of people to try to stay independent from Russia. During the Time of Troubles, they slaughtered lots of nobles in an attempt to regain the freedom of movement for serfs and reduce their taxes. They were defeated at the gates of Moscow by the combined forces of Russian boyars.
Time of Troubles
After the death of Feodor in 1598, his brother-in-law Boris Godunov became czar. From 1598-1605, Boris led Russia very well. He increased trade with the English, had peaceful relations with neighbors, and even invited Western scholars into his realm to try to modernize the country. His leadership was challenged by Cossacks (see #82) and by boyars who supported the youngest child of Ivan IV, Dmitri. When Godunov died, Russia was plunged into complete chaos; Cossacks invaded from the south, Sweden and Poland occupied Moscow, and relatives of the czar killed each other. The event ended in 1613 with the election of Michael Romanov as czar.
Michael Romanov
The first of the Romanovs to rule Russia, Michael ended the Time of Troubles and re-established absolutism in Russia. His family ruled until 1917.
In 1652, the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Nikon, tried to reform the Church so that it would follow the Greek Orthodox model. The officials in the church followed his plan, but the masses of common people did not want to change their ways. The commoners were called the “Old Believers.” Nikon decided to force the changes on the people. Believe it or not, Nikon’s agents searched homes and gouged out the eyes of those with the wrong kind of icon (religious symbol of the cross)! About 20,000 of the Old Believers burned themselves alive in protest of Nikon’s policies, chanting hallelujah 3 times as they died (Nikon demanded that the hallelujah be chanted twice)!
Old Believers
See previous terms
Stenka Razin
The greatest rebel leader in Russian history before Lenin, Razin led the Cossacks in rebellion against the boyars and Czar Alexis in the late 17th century. His motive was to “establish the Cossack way so that all men will be equal.” Razin was captured in 1671 and tortured and quartered alive in equal parts!
Peter the Great
(ruled 1682-1725). He was responsible for trying to make Russia a part of Europe after centuries of domination by the Mongols. Peter’s efforts to Westernize Russia included introducing his country to Western ideas in science, education, military training, and industry. His motive to do these things was to increase Russia’s military power. A giant in Russian history, he stood at 6’7″, Peter towers above most other Russian leaders in significance. He led 250 Russian officials and nobles to a tour of Western capitals, working with his hands to learn how to do various jobs. Peter wanted to bring those skills back to Russia, and he also invited western artisans (skilled workers) to Russia.
Upon Peter’s return to Russia, he launched a war against Sweden known as The Great Northern War (1700-21). At that time, Sweden was a world power, controlling territory in northern Germany, Finland, and Estonia. They had even had a colony in America! Peter expected to win easily, since Sweden had a young, inexperienced King, Charles XII (see #89 and 90). He was wrong.
To meet the unexpected difficulty with Sweden, Peter made some reforms:
1. All nobles were required to serve in either the military or the government for life.
2. Schools and universities were created to provide skilled technicians.
3. All nobles were required to attend school away from home for 5 years.
4. Nobles and commoners alike had to start at the bottom when entering the military – some commoners made it all the way through the 14 ranks because the requirement for advancement was ability, not social rank.
5. Peasant boys were recruited into the army for life.
6. Taxes on the peasants were tripled.
7. Serfs were ordered to work in factories and mines.
Peter was very similar to Louis XIV in the sense that he was an absolute monarch and that he spent his country’s money like a drunken sailor on war and palaces.
Charles XII of Sweden
(ruled 1697-1718). The King of Sweden, he assumed the throne at the age of 18. Upon assuming the throne, Charles faced war from Russia, Poland, Saxony (a state in the Holy Roman Empire), and Denmark. The resulting war was called the Great Northern War, and it consumed the entirety of Charles’ reign.
The Great Northern War (1700-1721)
A war between Russia, Poland, Saxony, and Denmark on one side against Sweden on the other. Sweden, then a world power, won numerous victories early in the war; they crushed Denmark almost immediately, and then defeated the Russians in a surprise attack at Navra in a snowstorm in 1700. Eventually, however, superior Russian numbers and Peter’s reforms contributed to the Russian victory in 1721. Russia’s victory over Sweden gave it control for the first time over Estonia and Latvia, and Russia gained access to the Baltic Sea for the first time. This made Russia a great European power.
Battle of Poltava (1709)
The first major Russian victory in the Great Northern War, it took place in Ukraine.
An emotional, spiritual art form that dominated Europe during the 17th century, the baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church as a way to combat the Protestant Reformation. The style was also used by members of the upper nobility and by royalty to awe visitors to their palaces. The best-known masters of the period are Bernini (sculpture) and Rubens (art).
Prince Eugene of Savoy (Austria)
great Austrian hero who defeated the Turks at Vienna in 1683, Eugene is also considered a great hero in Austrian history for inflicting numerous defeats on the French during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13). Ironically, Louis XIV had turned Eugene down when Eugene attempted to join the French army. Eugene built the Belvedere, 2 baroque palaces in Vienna. The palaces are better known as the Winter Palace and the Summer Palace.
Baroque Cities
Cities built during the 17th century that included the following features:
1. broad avenues to allow soldiers to quickly move around the city to quell disturbances. The were usually lined with expensive shops. The avenues, interestingly, led to lots of deaths, as nobles drove at breakneck (literally!) speeds.
2. imposing government buildings to impress visitors. The buildings were covered with ornate sculptures.
3. mathematical layout – the city was geometrically-organized, with the avenues like spokes on a wheel with the hub at the palace.
St. Petersburg
Known as the “window on Europe” because of its location on an arm of the Baltic Sea, the city was created by Peter the Great in 1703. It became the capitol of Russia for 200 years. Peter ordered serfs to work for free for 3 months each summer to help complete the city, and an estimated 30,000 people died in its construction; the city has been called the “city built on bones.” Peter hired German engineers to direct the construction. Also, the city was baroque – it has broad and straight avenues, houses in straight lines, parks, stone bridges, street lighting – it was a modern city. The city was also divided by class; rich people lived in a section separate from the lower classes.
The Hermitage
museum in St. Petersburg that commemorates the baroque period and the age of Peter the Great, it was formerly the Winter Palace and home to the czar’s daughter, Elizabeth.

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