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Political Order in the 18 th Century Of States, Enlightened Despots and Armies.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Order in the 18 th Century Of States, Enlightened Despots and Armies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Order in the 18 th Century Of States, Enlightened Despots and Armies

2 Europe in 18 th Century 1715 – 1789 : the final phase of the European old order 1715 : end of reign of Louis XIV 1789 : start of French Revolution Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment = new intellectual order based on rationalism and secularism Political, social, economic and demographic trends ushered a modern new order in Europe

3 Enlightened Absolutism? Can a ruler with absolute powers be enlightened? Idea of natural rights Equality before the law Freedom of religious worship Freedom of speech and press Right to assemble and hold property How should these natural rights be established and preserved? Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws : separation of powers Rousseau, The Social Contract : democracy and general will Idea of enlightened ruler who would Allow religious toleration, freedom of speech, right to private property Foster the arts, sciences and education Obey the laws instead of ruling arbitrarily and enforcing them equally for all subjects The enlightened ruler offered the best hope for social reforms Frederick The Great II of Prussia Catherine the Great of Russia Joseph II of Austria-Hungary

4 A Survey of the European States France of Louis XV Duke of Orleans and Cardinal Fleury as regents Expansion of commerce, trade and industry 1743, direct rule by Louis XV Madame de Pompadour Rule ended with mounting public debt, loss of French territories (colonies), heavy taxes and a hungry population Louis XVI (1774 – 1792) – indecisive, weak and ineffectual ruler and Marie Antoinette, queen

5 A Survey of the European States Prussia of Frederick William I Evolution of civil bureaucracy – the General Directory Role of Junkers, the landed aristocracy in the military Prussia under Frederick II the Great One of the best educated and cultured monarchs Well-versed in Enlightenment thought Established a single code of law that abolished the use of torture except in cases of treason and murder Granted limited freedom of speech and full religious toleration BUT he was a conservative at heart Expanded the Prussia army and led it into wars – the Austrian War of Succession and the Seven Years War which saw Prussian dominance over Silesia, a part of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire

6 A Survey of the European States Hapsburg Austria-Hungary Maria-Theresa (1740 – 1780) and reforms after loss of Silesia in the Austrian War of Succession Reforms sought to strengthen position of the Hapsburg monarchy She was staunchly Catholic and conservative Joseph II and his far-reaching reform program Abolished serfdom and gave peasants hereditary rights to their holdings Abandoned economic restraints such as monopolies, trade barriers and guild restrictions Instituted a new penal code that abolished death penalty and instituted equality before the law Introduced complete religious toleration and restricted the Catholic Church Effects of his reforms Alienated nobility and Church, confused the peasantry Alienated non-German nationalities with his attempt to impose German as working official language

7 A Survey of the European States Russia of Catherine the Great (1762 – 1796) German wife of Peter III, counted Diderot and Voltaire among her correspondents Claimed wish to reform Russia but knew she could not alienate the nobility 1767, called for election of an assembly to debate on new penal code In her Instructions, she questioned institutions of serfdom, torture and capital punishment Nothing came out of the negotiations Land policies favored the aristocrats Nobility became more involved in local government 1785 Charter of Nobility Repression of serfdom

8 Enlightened Absolutism Revisited Enlightened absolutism = relationship between ideas of Enlightenment and practicalities of government Of the three rulers, only Joseph II sought radical reforms based on Enlightenment ideals Catherine and Frederick were more motivated by political necessities Their reforms, even though subscribing to Enlightened thought, sought ultimately to strengthen the power of the state The hands of the so-called absolute monarchs were also tied by the presence and vested interests of the nobility upon whom their power base rested

9 War and Diplomacy System of Balance of Power Five major powers – Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Prussia and Russia War of Austrian Succession (1740 – 1748) War involving all the major powers in Europe Prussia gained territory of Austrian Silesia The Seven Years War (1756 – 1763) Britain and Prussia vs Austria, Russia and France Fought both in Europe and in the colonies (North America) Development of the European Army Professional standing army became standard feature in Europe Social hierarchies reflected in army hierarchies Change in the conduct of war Elaborate maneuvers instead of pitched battles

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