History of Absolute Monarchy

Both Louis XIV and Charles I attempted to create an absolute monarchy Absolute Monarchy is a type of monarchy in which the monarch attempts to make royal power dominant over regional authorities such as aristocracies. Monarchs that abided by this theory typically also subscribed to the theory of the Divine Right of Kings. The Divine Right stated that kings were not subject to earthly authority and only God could judge kings since God had picked the kings, which in effect allowed the kings to do what they wished during their reign.

Although both subscribed to the theory of Divine Right, as well as attempt to bring religious unity, and both loved art and architecture, Louis XIV successfully managed to centralize his government while Charles I failed to centralize his government due to the fact that he failed to give his nobles a sense of power. Also Louis listened to his people, though specifically his nobles, while Charles disregarded his nobles and did not care about them. This is how Louis succeeded in creating a central monarchy – he managed to give his nobles a sense that they had power through the multiple committees he created as well as listening to his nobles’ complaints and because Charles had done the opposite he failed in creating an absolute monarchy.

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Both kings attempted to bring religious unity to their respective countries. Document 5 was written by Louis XIV himself to his heirs. Louis could have been biased for himself. A lot of people thought that they were doing the right thing which ultimately brings about their downfall. While Louis was extremely successful in converting the country to Catholicism, the repeal of the Edict of Nantes was the pebble that brought down the wall and brought down Louis after his many wars and subsequent failures. According to him, he extremely respected religion. Particularly, he respected the impact religion had on political power.

Because of this Louis repealed the Edict of Nantes and changed the state religion to Catholicism and demanded that everyone convert to Catholicism to promote religious unity so that Louis could create promote policies without having to worry about if those policies would offend one sect of Christianity while it did not offend others. Louis was very successful in doing this. Unfortunately, Charles I failed at the same task. Charles I happened to be king of Scotland as well as England. The Scottish did not like being told what to do by what they considered a foreigner. Furthermore, both the English and the Scottish refused to follow Charles. Even though Charles tried to convert countries to Anglicanism, he was viewed as a Catholic sympathizer because he made peace with both Spain and France, both of which were officially Catholic countries. Because he made peace with Spain and France, Charles was viewed as a hypocrite and people of both countries feared that Charles would demand the conversion to Catholicism.

Another similarity between the two governments was that both rulers accepted and promoted the Divine Right of Kings. Charles I, a king, would obviously not want to lose his power so he accepted and promoted the Divine Right which allowed him and other kings to do what they wanted because according to this, only God could judge kings. Document 10 says exactly that. This was the basis upon which Charles attempted to consolidate power for himself, though he ultimately failed. Louis XIV also promoted the Divine Right.

Like Charles, he did not want to get dethroned; however, he also wanted to do the best for his country, unlike Charles, who according to the House of Commons who wanted Parliament to have more power because Charles refused to acknowledge the nobles, in Document 8, called the king a tyrant who would not recognize civil liberties and called his office a danger to the people. Louis’ purpose in wanting the best for his state is presented in Document 11 when Louis declared that it was the duty of the head of state to decide rules and the duty of everyone else to listen because the king was always right. He also refused to give true power to the nobles because he believed that the more power that it is given to someone, the more they want. True to his word, Louis only gave minute power to the nobles in the form of committees, as stated in Document 1. This was the basis of his government.

A third similarity between Louis and Charles was that they both loved art and architecture. In Document 3, Saint Simons talks about Louis’ vanity and his great love for himself. Saint Simons is a newspaper editor so he would write what a majority of the commoners believed. Also, in any country during that time, one would not want to write bad things about the ruler. So he could have also been afraid and used his fear to write a description of him that maybe was not completely accurate. Saint Simon talks about the King’s great qualities and how his vanity was without restraint and how he was magnificent in everything.

This kind of vanity would lead a person to want to display his greatness and he did just that with Versailles. Twenty thousand acres is a lot of space and he filled his ‘hunting cottage’ with paintings and models of himself. In fact he had a whole room devoted to his exploits and his greatness. Charles was not much different. Lucy Hutchinson tells how Charles listened to the nobles in Document 4. Lucy Hutchison, however, was an English biographer who would have had a bias against the king due to the fact that she married one of the many who signed Charles’ death warrant. This bias comes out when she states that he banished nobles and olden customs. Still, regardless of her bias, and especially because of it, the fact that she stated that Charles encouraged artisans and paintings and carvings, especially if they promoted himself, means a lot more than if a person with a bias for him would have meant.

A difference between Louis and Charles is that Louis took the time to at least listen to his nobles, if not all his people, while Charles completely disregarded his nobles which angered them and caused them to revolt. According to Louis, he listened to everyone’s complaints. In Document 5, Louis’ goal is to be as considerate as possible to his people. He genuinely cared for them. According to him in Document 5, there should be no reason why conflicts should go unresolved so he let people come up to him and discuss problems, provided that they spoke urgently because the king had many things to do in the day. The reality though is much different.

Voltaire wrote Document 7, The Age of Louis XIV. Voltaire talks about how every citizen was free to present the king with petitions and that if allowed to be discussed, the authors would discuss it with the king and his ministers. However Voltaire was a very cynical man and usually was very sarcastic. So when he talks about how free the citizens were to consult the king, he really meant that Louis really didn’t listen to the commoners. This was true. However, this was also the only practical solution. Louis had to placate the nobles so that they would not revolt so he had to deal with their problems first before he could possibly get to the commoners’ problems. Charles, however, was completely different. Charles refused to hear his nobles’ demands, to the point that he disbanded Parliament for 11 years.

According to the House of Commons, who would understandably be angered by the fact that Charles completely ignored the nobles, were obviously biased against him, in Document 8, stated that the King had encroached upon the peoples’ rights and freedoms and created evil to schemes to rule the country without the say of the people and had then defended them with war, basically saying that the King refused to hear the nobles out. Not only that, in fact in Document 6, Charles, who wished to keep all the power to himself, himself stated that he and only he could pass the laws and no laws could be passed through Parliament without his personal consent to them. This would be the document that would provoke a response in the form of document 8. If people are not listened to they get irritated and angry and if they are completely ignored, the revolt. In fact, this was the number 1 reason that the nobles revolted and overturned Charles’ government and beheaded Charles.

Another similar difference between the two is that Louis gave his nobles an image an image of power to satisfy them and Charles refused to even do that, for it would mean he showed weakness. James E. King was a historian who analyzed the government of Louis XIV. If anything he would be the most un-biased of all the authors. King asserts that Louis made all the important state decisions and delegated small tasks into small committees consisting of nobles. Because of this, Louis maintained absolute control because he still made the final decisions, yet the nobles were pacified because they felt as if they had some power over the king though in reality they had little to no power. Charles refused to give his nobles any power. This made Charles a very unpopular king and tipped the nobles over in terms of launching a revolution.

According to document 2, written by an anonymous source, who according to his words, was clearly biased against Charles, probably because either they or a family member had something done to them by Charles. The author asserts that nothing Charles say is ever true and that he does not value history and precedence like the Magna Carta which had provided the nobles with civil liberties that Charles had trespassed upon, and that even though he had a regency and a kingdom, Scotland and England, he does not know how to rule and thus should be dethroned. This piece relays the feelings of most English and Scottish, who wished him dethroned. This showed in words how Charles refused to give nobles any consideration which was also voiced in document 8.

The revolution was probably justified by document 12 which was written Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes was an English philosopher which meant that he was really against the Charles, though not necessarily against the office of king in general. This is voiced when he states that if someone is being oppressive and refuses to listen to the people and he in general does a poor job of ruling, the people have the right to dethrone him. This was obviously aimed at Charles I. This created the moral justification sought by many people who were initially unsure if they wanted to revolt against the King, a being that for hundreds of years no one dared to question. Because of this document, during the revolution, the nobles believed they were doing right by dethroning Charles and beheading. They also followed this document quite strictly, refusing to abolish the office of king, as they wished to do back in document 8, even though they restricted the liberties of the king.

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History of Absolute Monarchy. (2017, Dec 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/absolutism-dbq/