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Changes In Western Political Philosophy Essay

1356 words - 6 pages

The Age of Absolutism refers to the European history that comprises from the sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. The key element of Absolutism is having the national government solely in the hands of one person, the monarch. At the beginning, Absolutism appeared as a solution to the violent disorders and crises Europe was facing during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Furthermore, those who supported Absolutism justified the kingship by arguing that the king ruled by the will of God; “God establishes king as his ministers, and reigns through them over the peoples” (document 26, page 135). Anyone who opposed the king constituted rebellion against God itself because ...view middle of the document...

The king should protect public peace; “the prince must use his authority to destroy false religion in his State” (document 26, page 137). Through this, the king would impose order and unity, and there would be cooperation and peace in the State. Alexis and his son Peter the Great enforced an Absolutist government by imposing a central bureaucracy in Russia (page 140). Peter felt that Russia could only be preserved by adopting Western European culture; therefore, he “sought to transform his state and subjects through a process known as Westernization” (page 141). He started by bringing Western European industry to Russia, “for the general welfare and prosperity of his subjects” (document 28, page 143). Peter the Great send announcements to foreign courts, to “bring the attention of men of various profession and urge them to come to settle in Russia” (document 28, page 144). Moreover, he also demanded that the nobility and all people adopted Western cultural habits such as wearing European clothes and going beardless; “all…must shave their beards and moustaches” (document 28, page 143). Peter the Great envisioned that through complete absolutism and Westernization of the state, Russia would become a great power as those nations in Western Europe. The several responses to the institution of monarchy and the democratic sentiment during the Enlightenment led to a new form of absolutism know as ‘Enlightened Absolutism’. Monarchies started to make reforms on their governments based on Enlightenment principles; they revised laws to offer more equality, eliminated serfdom, decreed religious tolerance and allowed for free speech. For instance, the acceptance of the Bill of Rights in England illustrates this reformation because kings “accepted parliamentary limitations on royal authority” (page 138). People saw the power exercised by the parliament as a mean of limiting the power of the monarchy; “the pretended power of suspending of laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament [was] illegal” (document 27, page 139). The separation of powers was a way of preventing the abuse of power. Moreover, people started proclaiming the liberty and sovereignty of all people; they adopted “the principles of equality, and established a free and popular government” (document 33, page 161). Consequently, they discredited and dishonored monarchies and hereditary succession; “it [was] an insult…for all men being originated equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up how own family in perpetual preference to all others forever” (document 34, page 165). They claimed that “monarchy and succession have laid but the world in blood and ashes” (document 34, page 165); therefore, they called for a reformation, for a creation of a nation-state. “For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king, and there ought to be no other” (document 34, page 167). During the Absolutism era, people were...

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