European Absolutism study guide summary chapters




European Absolutism study guide summary chapters


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European Absolutism study guide summary chapters

Overview and review guide for European Absolutism 1400-1789.

The 17th century was a period of great upheaval in Europe. Religious and territorial conflicts between states led to almost continuous warfare.  This caused governments to build huge armies and levy even heavier taxes on an already suffering population. Then pressures in turn brought about widespread unrest. In response to these crises, Monarchs tried to impose order by increasing their own power. As absolute rulers, they regulated everything from religious worship to social gatherings. Their goal was to free themselves from the limitations imposed by nobility and by representative bodies such as Parliament. Only with such freedom could they rule absolutely.

Pre-conditions of Absolutism

Impact on Europe

Impact on world

Characteristics of  a Divine Right Absolute Monarch

Holy Wars

 +increased trade
+new Technology (gun powder, compass)
+ Learned from Muslim’s

+ culture exchange
- Holy Wars

* Breakdown of the Churches
* Decreased power of the nobles
* Increase size of Army/Navy
* Gained wealth from taxes
* Warfare
* Wealthier (all social classes)
* Increased population of European nations
* Kings claimed power of God on Earth and ruled with total power


Reformation- changes to the catholic church


Renaissance – rebirth of knowledge

+Improved military technology  (Wars)
+weakened Pope
+Monarchs powers increased- (the Prince- Machievilli ) 
+colonization to spread faith

- Forced cultural change
-loss of land


+European increase power, wealth and military
+ new trade routes improve quality of life in Europe

- Forced cultural change
-loss of land
-slave trade

Columbian Exchange

+ new trade routes improve quality of life in Europe
+New foods lead to longer and better lives

-death to 40+  million
-loss of land/culture
-slave trade

Commercial Revolution

+ mercantilism allows for European nations and kings to grow in power
+ new trade routes improve quality of life in Europe

-death to 40+  million
-loss of land/culture
-slave trade

Themes to understand:  By the end of this unit you should be able to answer the following tasks.

  • How did rulers use their power?
  •  What was the impact on their nations, peasants and nobles?


  • Evaluate the changes each Monarch made to their nations. 

Political Systems

  • What are the basic characteristics of Absolutism?
  • Compare and contrast Absolutism and Constitutional monarchy.
  •  Identify the ways in which monarchs consolidated power and evaluate the positive and negative results of their rule.

Human and Physical Geography

  • Explain how Geography impact historical events leading to Absolutism.





Divine Right  
Absolute Monarch
Edict of Nantes
St. Petersburg
Constitutional monarchy
English Bill of Rights

Sun King
Phillip II
Peter the Great (Romanov)
Louis the 14 (Bourbon)
Oliver Cromwell
John Locke
Thomas Hobbes
Ivan the Terrible          
William & Mary

War of Spanish Succession
Magna Carta
English Civil War
Glorious Revolution

Chapter 21.3
Thirty Years War 1618-1648
In 1617, Protestant and Catholic states in Germany go to war

  • The Thirty Years War causes great destruction- 4 million killed- Germany economy ruined- Hatred and distrust between the states
  • The Peace of Westphalia ends the war in 1648, with major effects on central European states and their allies
  • Weakened Spain and Austria- 2) Strengthen France 3) ended religious wars in Europe

Central Europe differs from the West

  • The formation of states in central Europe occurs slower than in western Europe
  • Central Europe nobles hold down serfs and block the development of strong kings- prevent the development of capitalism and the growth of towns that made western Europe strong.
  • The Holy Roman Empire loses strength after the Thirty Years’ War , but Austria remains a powerful force in Central Europe

Prussia and Austria Clash

  • Prussian challenges Austrian rule in central Europe
  • Prussian rulers Frederick William and Frederick the Great forge a military state that limits the power of nobles
  • In the 1700s, Prussia battles Austria in wars that involve other European powers ( England and France) these wars are fought for control of territory in Europe and of their colonies 
  • Maria Theresa- imposed limits on nobility- built up army to defend against Prussia,  improved working conditions for serfs-


Chapter 21.2
French Absolute Monarchs
Louis the 14th (1639- 1715)

  • Cardinal Mazarin rules France during Louis XIV’s childhood
  • Mazarin raises taxes and strengthens the central government
  • Louis’s finance minister Jean Bapriste Colbert, tries to make France economically self-sufficient
  • “L’etat c’est moi,”- “I am the State.” 

Louis’s Grand Style

  • Louis XIV surrounds himself with luxury brings nobles to his court and makes them wait on him (500 cooks)
  • He builds a lavish place at Versailles( 2.5-3 billion dollars) and becomes a great patron of the arts that glorified him

Louis fight disastrous wars

  •  Louis builds up a large army and wages war to expand French territory and influence
  • Other European nation join forces to equal French power (England, Netherlands, Spain)
  • France gains but eventually weakens from constant War
  • On his death the people of France rejoiced


Chapter 21.4: Russian Czars Increase Power

  • Explain the differences between Russia and western Europe
  • Describe the impact of Peter’ reforms on Russia

Setting the Stage
Ivan the third (III)  3 accomplishments

  1. Conquered territory around Moscow
  2. Liberated Russian from Mongols
  3. Centralized the power of the Russian Government

From Ivan to the Romanovs
The First Czar

  • Ivan the Terrible-(1533)- struggled for power with boyars- Russian nobles
  • Married Anastasia
  • (1547-1560)- Ivan’s “good period” –won victories increased Russian territory – code of laws and ruled justly

Rule by Terror

  • “bad period”  1560- Anastasia died- Ivan turned against Boyars
  • Ivan murdered traitors
  • Used secret police (dressed in black) –executed thousands of boyars
  • 1581-killed his son in an act of rage- left Russia with no heirs

Rise of the Romanovs

  • Time of Troubles- Struggle of Boyars for power- many czars are murdered

Peter the Great Takes the Throne

  • Peter the Great- one of Russia great reformers- came to power 1696

Russia’s Differences from Europe

  • Russian society: boyars and serfs
  • Serfs- controlled by landowners- illegal for them to run away
  • Constantinople was the model of Russia-
  • Mongol rule had cut Russia off from Renaissance and exploration

Peter Visits the West

  • Peter believed Russia’s future depended on a warm weather port
  • “Grand Embassy” – visit to western Europe to learn customs and industrial techniques

Peter Rules Absolutely

  • Westernization- using Europe as a model for change (modernization)
  • Peter increased his powers as an absolute monarch
  • Brought the Russian Orthodox church under his control
  • Reduced power of nobles and landlords
  • Modernized the army – increased the size to 200,000 men
  • Increased taxes

Westernization Russia

  • Introduced potatoes- improve diet
  • First newspaper
  • St. Petersburg- was built by thousands of serfs ( new capital)
  • Peter made Russia a power in European
  • Improved status with women
  • Ordered nobles to give-up traditional clothes and beards

A New Capital

  • Peter fought Sweden (most powerful army of the time) to gain access to the Baltic Sea and give Russia a “window to the west”







Chapter 21.5 Parliament Limits the English Monarchy

Objectives, I will be able to…

  • Identify conflicts between English rulers and Parliament
  • Explain the causes and results of the English Civil War
  • Describe the Restoration and Glorious Revolution
  • Explain political changes under William and Mary

Monarchs Clash with Parliament
Queen Elizabeth I – frequent problems with Parliament (fight over $$) 
*Parliament controls finances of England = why monarchs could never rule absolutely
King James I – Elizabeth’s cousin, becomes king 1603

  • Believes in “divine right” – doesn’t want to kiss up to Parliament
  • Calvinist (Protestant) but refused to reform Catholic Church in England
  • King James Bible, 1611 – still read by Protestants today

Charles I – 1625, always needed $$ from Parliament - @ war w/ France & Spain
*parliament finally refuses to give $$ unless Charles signs Petition of Right

  • “Laws were higher than the King”, contradicted absolute monarchy
  • Charles dissolves Parliament

English Civil War

  • Charles I recalls Parliament but the two sides clash

Oliver Cromwell (Puritan) vs. Charles I (Royalists)
Cromwell wins, executes Charles I and rules as a dictator
1649 – Abolishes monarchy & House of Lords
Cromwell = religious toleration for all Christians, except Catholic

  • During Cromwell’s rule more than 600,000 Irish/Catholics

die (Genocide). 

  • Puritan Morality reformed society based on Christian laws- sins: dancing, drinking, playing cards or going to a theater. (the English rejoiced the day he died) 

Restoration and Revolution
1659 – Parliament brought back, pick Charles II to become King
Parliament passes Habeas Corpus – prisoners are brought before a judge

1685 – Charles II dies, brother James II becomes king
James II = Catholic – people afraid of Catholic rule
Daughter, Mary (Protestant) & husband, William of Orange (Netherlands)
overthrow James II = Glorious Revolution, 1688

Political Changes (Major Turning point in English history)
William and Mary agree to govern with Parliament in a constitutional monarchy- Kings of England where now had to follow several laws- and all citizens had some rights.
English Bill of Rights

  • No suspending of Parliaments Laws
  • No levying of taxes without a specific grant from Parliament
  • No interfering with freedom of speech in Parliament
  • No penalty for a citizen who petitions the king about grievances

*After 1688, no British monarch could rule without the consent of Parliament
Problem = Monarch & Parliament disagree, no government à cabinet = link between the two


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European Absolutism study guide summary chapters