Era #7 The Age of Absolutism, the Enlightenment & World Revolutions

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ERA #7

The Age of Absolutism, the Enlightenment & World Revolutions

  1. Big Picture/Essential Understanding:

As Renaissance ideas continue to take hold throughout Europe and the Catholic Church continues to lose power with the citizens, strong rulers begin to take advantage of this loss of power in their societies. The 1500-1800s marks a time of absolutism, in which kings and queens rule all aspects of their society, including religion, government, military, economics, etc. These absolute monarchs ruled their society as they deemed fit, at the expense of the nation’s population.

As new ideas of government begin to emerge, philosophers question the role of power in their societies. This questioning of authority and inquiry of reason leads to the protest of citizens in European societies.

Revolutions sweep across the world in America, France, Haiti, etc. based on enlightened ideas of democracy, individual rights and freedoms, economic stability, etc. The causes of these historical revolutions are consistent throughout the world still today.

  1. Why do people revolt?

    1. Think back to the American and French Revolutions of the 1700s. Why did the colonists and the 3rd Estate of France revolt against authority?

  • Unfair Taxes * Abuse of Power * Political Conflict * Loss of Rights and Freedoms * Inequality

    1. Do people today revolt/protest for the same reasons? What reasons do people revolt in today’s society?

  • Yes

  1. The Age of Absolutism:

    1. Absolutism – a governmental system in which a king or queen have unlimited power and seek to control all aspects of society.

      1. Examples include:

        1. King Louis XIV of France and the Palace of Versailles

        2. King Henry VIII of England

        3. Peter the Great of Russia/Westernization (European ideas, culture, clothing, architecture) and building of St. Petersburg

      2. The king/queen controls religion, government, military, economics, etc. of their nation.

    2. Divine Right Theory – the belief that God created the monarchy and the king/queen act as God’s representative on Earth. An absolute monarch answers to God only, not to the nation’s people/population.

    3. Thomas Hobbes supported a monarchy. He felt that giving the people too much freedom would lead to chaos.

    4. Effects of Absolutism:

      1. Bankruptcy of the nation (War, Extravagant lifestyle…)

      2. Religious oppression

  1. The Age of Enlightenment: The Enlightenment – an intellectual movement that stressed logic, reason, thought, and the power of individuals to solve societal problems. A new questioning spirit and attitude emerged.

Examples include:

      1. Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei’s Heliocentric (sun-centered) Theory

      2. John Locke’s ideas of democratic government influenced the US Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

      3. Montesquieu believed in 3 branches of Government in order to remain fair to its citizens, and that people should be able to vote for their leaders.

      4. Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion and gravity.

  1. Effects of the Enlightenment:

    1. Reforms in government

    2. Increased rights of thePeople

    3. Revolutions!

  1. Revolutions of World History: American Revolution 1765-1783

    1. Due to the Glorious Revolution (1688), England had become a Constitutional Monarchy, which limited the power of the monarch. Britain’s American colonies were thriving economically and the people began to argue for freedom and independence.

    2. Causes:

      1. Enlightenment ideas of government

      2. Unfair Taxes

      3. Strong population unity

      4. Governments who failed to meet the political and economic needs of their people.

    3. Democracy:

      1. After independence was achieved, the Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc.) drafted the U.S. Constitution that highlighted democratic ideas of government. They took from Enlightenment figures such as Locke (Life, Liberty and Property) and Voltaire (freedom of speech).

      2. Since its creation, the U.S. Constitution has allowed for elections of its governmental leaders.

    4. Effects of the American Revolution:

      1. Worldwide spread of Enlightenment and democratic ideas of government.

      2. Inspired the rising up of the 3rd Estate of French society beginning the French Revolution (1789).

      3. Beliefs of individual rights, democratic ideas of government, and social progress continue to be catalysts for Democracy around the world today!

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