Sie sind auf Seite 1von 7

4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera.

IES La Madraza (Granada)

POLITICAL SYSTEMS IN EUROPE

In the Modern Erathe political ideas of the Middle Ages began to change. There no longer existed the ideal of
a Christian Empire, becouse the Reformation diminished the power of the Catholic Church, and also because
monarchs were no longer prepared to tolerate an emperor's authority over them. On the other hand the defeat
of feudalism was clear – because of the socio-economic changes that had reduced the traditional powers of
the nobility.
These developments also changed the concept of monarchy. Feudal kings became more authoritarian, and
during the following centuries even more changes were destined to happen.

ABSOLUTISM: LOUIS XIV OF FRANCE and PHILIP V OF SPAIN

In France, Louis XIV was establishing himself as the most absolute monarch that Europe had seen. The basis
of Louis' success as a monarch was:

– Occupying himself personally with the running of the country.


– He had many ministers, but he insisted on making all the decisions, both legislative and executive. He
controlled everybody and everything.
– He stopped the meetings of the Estates General (like the Cortes).
– Hi gaves his nobles money, titles and lavish pensions, but only so that they would be grateful to him,
obey him and depend on him.
– He moved his court to Versailles (1682) and took all his ministers with him. The total administration
numbered 20.000 people!
– He centralised the bureaucracy, the laws and the taxes, localised the court and made it the centre of
French life.
– He formed a “personality cult” around his image.
– He reduced regional administrative powers.
– He created a professional “royal” army – loyal to him.
– He expelled all religious dissidents (Calvinists) so that the church was unified and subordinate to him.

The major representation of absolutism in Spain was Louis XIV's grandson


PHILIP V, who ascended to the Spanish throne as the first of the Bourbon
line in Spain (after the War of Succession in 1714). This absolutism also
tended towards the French centralisation system of government, unifying
and centralising the administration and legislation (laws) of all the kingdoms
with the New Model Decrees. With these decrees the fueros and all the
institutions of Aragon, Valencia, the Baleares and Catalonia disappeared to
be replaced by Castilians ones.

This started when the war finished because these territories had fought
against Philip in the War of Succession but the subsequent laws were even
more centralist. The only fueros that continued were the Basque ones,
because the Basques had fought in favor of Philip V, but they still suffered
some centralist decrees.
4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera. IES La Madraza (Granada)

ACTIVITIES

1. You are going to read a variety of quotations. Some are by Louis XIV but two are not. Find the two that
were not said By Louis and be prepared to justify your choices:

- “I have no intention of sharing my authority.”


- “I am the State.”
- “Delegation of power is extremely important.”
- “One King, One Law and One Faith.”
- “One must work hard to reign.”
- “I would like to stimulate more regional autonomy.”
- “The interest of the State must come first.”
- “Up to this moment, I have been pleased to entrust the government to the late Cardinal. It is now time that
I govern. You will assist me. Execute no orders except by my command, and render account to me
personally.”
L'état – c'est moi
2. Read the short text below, look at the portrait,
then answer the following questions:

This is the famous portrait by Hyacinthe


RIGAUD of the French king Louis XIV
(King of France from 1661). Rigaud
painted it in 1701 and it was intended as a
gift for Philip V of Spain. But Louis liked it
so much he decided to keep it!
It is now in the Louvre gallery, in Paris.

a) In the picture he is pronouncing his famous


saying. Write down two translation, one in English
and the other in your language.

b) What did Louis mean? Explain in one sentence.


Begin: Louis meant that he...

c) Louis referred to himself as “Le Roi Soleil” (The Sun King). Why do you think he wanted to associate
himself with the sun?

d) Look at the portrait and think of three adjectives that describe how the king looks.
4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera. IES La Madraza (Granada)

e) Three symbols are used carefully in the painting. Find them, according to the following descriptions, and
try to name them. Use a dictionary, if necessary, to find the English terms.

- It is the symbol of royal power, and it sits independently of Louis because it is general, not specific.
- It was born at the investiture of French kings, and represented continuity, or royal lineage.
- It was the royal symbol of control, of dominance, of the king as master.

f) What do you think was the objective behind the painting of this picture?

3. The diagram is wrong, because the underlined words are in the wrong place. Re-arrange all the
underlined words so that they are in their correct places.

Absolutism is...
“Increasing the power of royal authority until the Monarchy=the State”
No limits on power

Total control of
Permanent, professional
System bureaucracy taxation efficient,
and maintain army
which is centralised

Concentrate and loyal power by...

- Reducing the honours of other governmental bodies (courts, Estates General,


Assemblies)
- Reducing the power of the nobility by guaranteeing their Church interests
- Extending royal power to the cities through the “villas” - giving powers to nobles
- Controlling the authority of the financial.
4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera. IES La Madraza (Granada)

PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEMS: ENGLAND

In England, as in the United Provinces, the prosperous middle-class developing from the expansion of
maritime trade wanted more freedom, and wanted greater participation in political life. These countries were
also protestant – and the ideas of Protestantism encouraged hard work. This was
because Protestantism (based on the preachers Luther and Calvin) emphasised
individual effort and suffering, if necessary. English Chancellor Thomas More, executed
by Henry VIII for disagreeing with his reformist and centralist policies, said famously:
“We cannot go to heaven in feather beds ”,

These countries developed after 1688 into Parliamentary Governments where the power
was shared between the monarchy and the Parliament. But it required a long process of
complex events before this system appeared. In the Middle Ages the English monarchy reigned with a
Parliament as in almost all of Europe, but in 1215 the English king was obliged to sign the Magna Carta, a
famous document which defined the relationship between the parliament and the king, and which limited
royal power. These parliaments continued throughout the Middle Ages and into the Modern Era, for example
in the 16th century with Elisabeth I of England, but when James VI of Scotland becamen James I of England,
he brought adsolutist ideas to England – ideas that his son Charles I, king in 1625, tried to convert into
reality. He wanted to limit parliamentary power, and so like other European monarchs he stopped convoking
parliament.

The English parliament was dominated by the Protestant “Puritan” bourgeoisie


who were opposed to the Catholicism of Charles I. The Parliamentarians, led
by Cromwell, tried to recover their power and to limit the king's. In 1640,
Charles I was obliged to convoke parliament because he needed money for the
Scottish war. But the parliament was more interested in recovering its power.
Charles I didn't agree and the confrontation became a Civil War between the
“Parliamentarians” and the “Royalists”. Many nobles were in favour of the
king because the Parliament had already tried to limit heir power. The Civil
War lasted between 1642-48, resulting in a victory for the Parliamentarians.
England became a republic, with Oliver Cromwell in power. Charles I was
executed in 1649, after being accused of high treason.

England became a republic between 1648 and 1660, but on the death of Oliver Cromwell England returned to
the previous royal model (“The Restoration”). The monarchy was restored but the problems didn't end there.
In 1679, the English Parliament wrote the Habeas Corpus Act, a very important law which gave an arrested
person (a detainee) the “right of trial”, literally to be judged before the law – to decide wheter he was guilty
or innocent. This law was important because it limited the (previous) arbitrary law of royal authority.

In 1685 the new king, James II, tried again to reduce parliamentary power, but because he was a Catholic,
when he had a young son, parliament feared a new Catholic dynasty. In 1688 parliament rose up against him,
and in the “glorious revolution” the king fled to France, and his son-in-law, the Dutch Prince Willian of
Orange was invited to be the new English king. But he had to accept new parliamentary monarchy, written in
the Bill of Rights of 1689, which limited his powers.
4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera. IES La Madraza (Granada)

OTHER PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEMS: NETHERLANDS AND POLAND

When it became independents, the political system chosen in the Netherlands was a parliamentary republic,
composed of seven provinces, each with its own parliament.

Another exception to absolutist monarchy was Poland. In this kingdom the system of elective monarchy
continued. This political system created many internal problems among the nobles who elected the monarchs
- and these problems were exploited by its neighbours Prussia, Austria and Russia to share out the territory at
the end of the 18th century.

The new bourgeois middle classes


The Protestant religion
(in the north of Europe)
led to new political ideas
wanted more political power

The rise of Parliamentary Power

Absolutism was associated with The execution of a king (in England) showed
Catholicism and the concept of that royal power was conditional,
the “Divine Right of Kings” not absolute.

ACTIVITY

3. Below is a copy of an original extract from the English Bill of Rights, written by the Parliament in 1689.
The 13 articles are intended as a declaration of the new model of a parliamentary system, wich included the
ing, but within a constitutional framework. Read the text and answer the questions taht follow.

1. That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority
without consent of Parliament is illegal;

2. That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it
hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;

3. That the commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes, and all
other commissions and courts of like nature, are illegal and pernicious;

4. That levying money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative, without grant of
Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;

5. That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for
such petitioning are illegal;
4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera. IES La Madraza (Granada)

6. That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with
consent of Parliament, is against law;

7. That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions
and as allowed by law;

8. That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;

9. That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or
questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;

10. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual
punishments inflicted;

11. That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials
for high treason ought to be freeholders;

12. That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are
illegal and void;

13. And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the
laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.

Which articles (state the numbers only) are concerned with the following?

a) Parliament must be consulted if the King wants to collect taxes or to raise money.

b) That people can say what they want in Parliament.

c) That ordinary people can ask the King for things, and demand things from him, if necessary.

d) Parliament should meet often, to ensure that the laws are maintained.

e) That the King cannot change the laws without the permission of Parliament.

f) An army can only be recruited when there is war. No war, no army.

ENLIGHTENED DESPOTISM

In the 18th century, most of the countries that did not developed the parliamentary model developed instead
the model of Enlightened Despotism (or Enlightened Absolutism).
Whereas Louis XIV had justified his absolute authority on the divine right of kings (he was appointed by
God), the new Enlightened Despots justified their authority by saying that they were the servants of the state.
These kings continued to have unlimited powers -the difference being that they cared about the well-being of
their subjects. Some of these despots were Joseph II of Austria, Frederick II of Prussia, Louis XV in France,
Catherine the Great in Russia, and Charles III in Spain.
The ideas of the Enlightened, which we will see in the next section, were scientific, philosophical and political
and began in the 18th century in Europe. They influenced these monarchs to promote many changes.
4º ESO: HISTORY María López Cabrera. IES La Madraza (Granada)

ENLIGHTENED DESPOTISM
“Reforms for the people, but without their consultation”

INTERVENTION OF THE REORGANISATION / REFORM OF


(MONARQUICAL) STATE THE ADMINISTRATION
Stimulated... Resulted in...

- Health (Medical Research, University - Censused (to obtain more taxes)


Hospitals) -Territorial organisation (creation of provinces
- Education (Lay universities) in Spain)
- Basic education for more people. -Creation of provincial governors (with
- Science and research (Royal Societies) greater powers than previous “sheriffs”.
- Economic activity (Royal factories, -Creation of “Royal Advisory Committee”
Commerce, crop rotation and irrigating (noble ministers, but university
new lands) educated-”enlightened”)

ACTIVITIES

4. Think of three main contrast to distinguish absolute from despotic goverment

5. Correct or modify these sentences below. You cannot use the word 'not!

a) Louis XIV said that he was appointed by the people.


b) England is still a republic today.
c) Protestantism encouraged people to be lazy.
d) Despots had no interest in the welfare of their people.
e) Philip V of Spain was the son of Luois XIV.
f) Spain's wealth and power increased in the 18th century.
g) The Netherlands had one centralised parliament.
h) Enlightened despots had less power than absolute monarchs.
i) The English Bill of Rights said that the king could change the laws whenever he wanted to.

6. The absolutist and the parliamentary systems had many differences between them. In this activity we are
going to contrast them. Put each characteristic into the correct column

Legislative power resides in parliament / The king has to accept the will of the people / The king is only
responsible to God / The power of the king has no limit or control / Legislative power resides in the king /
The king's power is limited by parliament / The power is divided between the king and parliament / The
power of the king is controlled by parliament / The king alone has power / There are no limits to the king's
decisions.