Preparation for AT Euro II/
Good Review for AT Euro I

[ Index]

I. The Dawn of a New Era (Renaissance)

The themes of Renaissance Europe revolved around the decline of
feudalism (economic/political sphere,) growing secularization even in
the Church itself (spiritual sphere,) and the continuing interaction
and tension between spiritual and secular.

In the aftermath of the Crusades, Italian city states--especially Venice and Genoa--participated in Mediterannean trade and launched the prosperity that would finance the Italian Renaissance. Reconnection with the Eastern Mediterranean introduced Europe to spices and sugar; people, diseases (Black Death,) and "stuff" found their way to Venice and Genoa and then to the rest of Europe. Notice that there was a general commercial revival in Europe, but that Italy was at its center. Go to the wikipedia link (below) and look at larger version of map. Italian trade with the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean) and Constantinople helped to bring Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the "early modern era."

image source < >

A salient characteristic of medieval Europe was its domination by the Church. Holding the "keys to the kingdom of heaven," the popes could (and did) influence political leaders through papal powers of excommunication and interdict. Such power led ambitious "younger sons" to seek careers in the Church. In the image (left) of papal regalia, the triple tiara represents papal authority as "governor of the world, vicar of Christ, and 'father of kings."

image source < >


In the 14th century (1300s,) growing secularization--plus the catastrophic onset of the Little Ice Age, Black Death pandemic, Avignon Papacy, 100 Years War (and other calamities)--led reformers like Wyclif and Hus to criticize the Papacy's monopoly on salvation as well as the abuses in the hierarchy (simony, nepotism, etc.) Wyclif and Hus called for a bible in the vernacular, available to the community of the faithful (at least for those who could read.) They, and others, demanded a healing of the schism that produced rival popes (one in Avignon, one in Rome.) The Council of Constance (left image) branded Hus a heretic and burned him at the stake in 1415.

Little Ice Age < >
< >
Bubonic Plague < >
death of Hus < >
"Rap" on the Black Death by Gwen Stefani < >


Italian elites rediscovered the classics and moved from a God/Church centered focus to a secular man-centered one. Humanism--and its fascination with the classics and Greco-Roman antiquity--inspired Italian Renaissance elites to move out of the cloister and into the public arena. They took charge of their lives, engaged in commerce, sought fame and fortune. Humanists such as Petrarch and Bruni urged their contemporaries, to act reponsibly, to carry out their civic duty in the public arena. Raphael's School of Athens illustrates both fascination with the classics and the explosion of spiritual and secular art that characterized Renaissance Italy.

image source < >
for more on Renaisssance art, visit < >

Meanwhile, Northern Europe experienced its own version of the Renaissance, more oriented towards religion (Christian Humanism) and science/technology (Copernicus, Gutenberg.) Like Italy's commercial dominance in the Mediterranean, the cities of the Hanseatic League operated in the North and Baltic Seas. The commercial cities of the North linked with those in the South through reviving intra-European trade routes (see map above.)

image source < >
for a recapitulation and more on the art of the Northern Renaissance,
visit < >


II. The Protestant Revolution: Reformation

go to < >

Notice, as you peruse the Reformation pages, the continuing tension and interaction between
spiritual and secular. Take particular note of the Hapsburg, Valois/Bourbon, and
Tudor "new monarchs" as they worked to consolidate and centralize their
authority and power (some more successfully than others.) Note as well

that religious compromise became an option for Charles V(Augsburg,)
Elizabeth (Elizabethan Settlement,) and Henri IV (Edict of Nantes.)


III. Constitutional Crisis of the 17th Century

In the 17th century, the Little Ice Age continued to foster economic hardship
(crop failure, famine) and conflict. War over religion, power, and control of resources
(30 Years War, Wars of Louis XIV, English Civil War, the Raskol in Russia)
wracked Europe, unleashing, yet again the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (famine, plague, war, death.)
The influx of specie from the New World produced a price inflation
that worked additional hardship on the rural and urban poor.

CNN Millennium--Little Ice Age < >
begin here <>

A. The Hapsburgs and the Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

The Thirty Years War--between Protestant Princes and HRE Catholic emperors over religion and power--segued into a generalized European conflict that absorbed manpower and materièl from Bohemia, Denmark, Sweden, and France. It began with the Defenestration of Prague when Calvinist, Bohemian nobles threw the emissaries of Emperor Ferdinand II out the window of Prague Castle. The bizarre event began the Thirty Years War, which lasted--duh--until 1648.

image source < >
Youtube versions of Defenestration
Defenestration of Prague < >
Defenestration of Prague cartoon <>

As the war wound its horrific swath of death and destruction across central Europe, it smashed Hapsburg hopes for Catholic Hapsburg Imperial Absolutism, opening the door for new players in the European balance of power, namely France. While the Hapsburgs looked strong on paper (see map,) they faced internal enemies (Brandenburg--Protestant, of course) and external ones (France--same old same old.) The territories in lavender (Austria, Hungary, Bohemia) comprised the hereditary crownlands where the Hapsburgs exercised fairly absolute authority and enjoyed primogeniture. Although they were also emperors (dark red outline,) their authority and power were limited by the princes. IR students should know about the importance of the Peace of Westphalia and the emergence of the European state system. The answer to the question, "where does sovereignty lie?" was, "with the Princes." The Emperor could neither levy taxes nor raise an army without the consent of the Imperial Diet.

image source < >
helpful map <>

B. King v. Parliament in Stuart England--Religion/$/Power
"These are the Stuarts
Here are their names
James and Charles
Charles and James"

Stuarts favor d.r.r.a. and "high Anglicanism"
Parliament (House of Commons) favor shared power and "low Anglicanism/" Puritanism
Issues of religion and power are inseparable.

Meanwhile in England: Elizabeth's legacy was o-p-u-p; she accompanied her benevolent absolutism with periodic recourse to Parliament, as summarized on Reformation page. James Stuart ascended the throne--at Parliament's invitation in 1603--and faced challenges in the areas of religion ("high" v. "low" Anglicanism,) power (did sovereignty lie with King or Parliament,) and money (who controlled the purse strings.) James VI&I presided over the beginning of English colonial expansion and the Jacobean Renaissance that produced the King James Version of the Bible (1611) and Shakespeare's greatest plays. The religion-money-power issues remained unresolved at the time of his death in 1625.

image source < >

Guy Fawkes Day cartoon < >
More Guy Fawkes < >

Charles succeeded his father in 1625 and dealt unsuccessfully with the religion-power-money issues. His "high" Anglicanism (Laudian Reforms) offended Puritans and Scots; his "personal tyranny" enraged many in the House of Commons; his expansion of the Ship Money tax seemed to violate the Petition of Right ("no new taxes wthout the consent of Parliament.") Opposition to Charles coalesced around Cromwell, Pym, Ireton. In the ensuing civil war, royalist ("high" Anglican) Cavaliers fought Roundheads ("low" Church/Puritans) in a bitter conflict that was a kind of microcosm of the Thirty Years War on the Continent. A contemporary cartoon (left image) lampoons both Cavaliers and Roundheads.

image source < >
good summary of "personal tyranny" < >

The Puritan faction won the English Civil War. Cromwell and an accommodating "Rump Parliament" abolished monarchy, the Anglican Church, and Parliament in its two-house configuration. Like many revolutionaries, Cromwell went too far: the Rump tried the King on a charge of treason and sent him to the bloc. For many, he became "the Blessed Martyr." Cromwell, as Lord Protector of the "United Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland" after 1653, talked about the popular will, but he ruled as a military dictator. Because Ireland and Scotland rallied to "Charles II," Cromwell (and the Army went after them), earning the nickname "Bloody Ollie" in Ireland where, perhaps, 1/4 of the population died. Cromwell faced the same challenges as had his Stuart predecessors. While Puritans fled England under Charles I, cavaliers fled Cromwell's Commonwealth and Protectorate. After 1653, Cromwell dispensed with Parliament, raised taxes, quartered troops, divided the land into military districts, ruled by decree, etc.

image source < > TMI? Maybe.
Cromwell as "Lord Protector" < >
English Civil War "3 Minute Histories"
< >
Execution of the King excerpt < >

Cromwell died in 1658; the Army (Thank you, General Monck) wasted no time in recalling the Rump and instructing it to bring back Prince Charles. The "Cavalier Parliament" hastily enacted the Restoration Settlement: it brought back monarchy (Charles II,) the Anglican Church, the House of Lords, and "fun." For a decade or so Crown and Parliament cooperated/compromised on issues of religion-money-power. Under the "merrie monarch," (see right) political parties emerged with the Whigs tending to favor Low Church/House of Commons/fear of Catholics and the French; the more royalist Tories favored High Church/the King and did not fear either Catholics or France. Charles II's heir and successor was his brother, James the Duke of York. James II's overt Catholicism irritated the Whigs in Parliament. When James' wife gave birth to James Charles Edward Francis--a son, a Catholic who displaced his elder Protestant half-sisters--Parliament ousted him from the throne and invited his daughter Mary and her Dutch husband, William of Orange, to take power, which they did under the constitutional constraints of the Glorious Revolution.

image source < >
Restoration < >

The Glorious "Bloodless" Revolution marked a decisive moment in the development constitutional government (pop sov, lim gov, equality under the law--at least for male eltes) in England; it signaled the end of royal claims to divine-right-royal-absolutism and made Parliament the senior partner. William and Mary acceded to Parliamentary demands; in addition to the terms of the Petition of Right: the crown must be Anglican, regular sessions of Parliament, freedom of speech in Parliament, no cruel or unusual punishment, etc. As well, the Toleration Act provided for freedom of religion, though Catholics and Dissenters could not hold public office. The Glorious Revolution settled the power and money issues, but religion continued to plague the last Stuarts.

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Scotland and Ireland were having none of William and Mary and rallied to
ousted James II and then to his son, "James III, the Old Pretender,"
in a series of Jacobite rebellions. Parliament, dictating first to
William and Mary (1689-1702) and then to Anne (1702-1714,)
enacted the Act of Settlement in 1701 (succession to pass to George of Hanover)
and the Act of Union in 1707 (fully united Scotland and England = Britain.)
The answer to the question, "Where does sovereignty lie?" With Parliament!

Here come the Dutch!
(perfect segue since William was Dutch!)

The Dutch enjoyed their golden age in the 17th century, more or less before France and England/Britain got their acts together to dominate maritime trade and colonial expansion. The United Netherlands achieved full sovereignty and independence from Spain according to the terms of the Peace of Westphalia. Spain retained the Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium) on the Dutch frontier. The most important province of the United Netherlands/United Provinces was Holland.

image source < >
Holland vs. Netherlands < >

Salient characteristics of the United Provinces: prosperity based on manufacturing and commerce; sophisticated financial institutions--including the Bank of Amsterdam and a stock market. The Staats General sponsored joint stock companies (e.g. Dutch East India Company) that enriched the burghers. Dutch ships dominated global commercial networks carrying spices (from the Spice islands) and slaves (from West Africa to the New World.) The Dutch established bases in North America (New Amsterdam) and the Caribbean. The Dutch East India Company's prize possession was Batavia in the Spice Islands; the Company founded a "victualing station" at the tip of southern Africa to provision their ships on the long voyage between Europe and Asia.

image source < >

Unlike the flurry of activity around religious uniformity and d.r.r.a., the Dutch practiced religious toleration and maintained a more-or-less representative Staats General. The result was a cultural flourishing, a golden age. Dutch artists, especially Rembrandt (The Masters of the Cloth Guild, aka Syndics of the Cloth Guild--left) and Vermeer celebrated the men and women of the Dutch middle class--bourgeois, sober, and hard-working folk; Dutch art also honored the Netherlands' global prominence. Daily life and Calvinist values rather than heroic illustrations of power characterized Dutch art.

image source < >
Tulip Mania < > (cartoon)
The Golden Age of the Dutch/CNN Millennium 17th Century
< > go to 28:30
Begin here for Netherelands Golden Age < >

See also < >
and scroll down to discussion of Rembrandt
For Vermeer visit < >
strongly recommend

C. The Triumph of Divine Right Royal Absolutism in France


Although Henri IV--like Elizabeth--brought o-p-u-p to France, things "fell apart" after his assassination in 1610 and the accession of the boy king, Louis XIII. Cardinal Richelieu (right image) exercised authority in his name. The king reigned but Richelieu ruled. Richelieu's internal goal: make the king supreme in France. He intended that sovereignty rest in the hands of the monarch, according to a d.r.r.a. rubric. To achieve this goal, Richelieu enforced restrictions on the nobles (no duelling, no moats, no castle walls, no private armies); in return he exempted the nobility from direct taxation. He humbled the Huguenots (convert if you want a lucrative government appointment.) He reached out to middle class intendants to serve as royal bureaucrats, tax collectors, and the like. The Estates General did not meet between 1614 and 1789. The answer to the question, "where does sovereignty lie?" was, "with the Prince/King." To put it another way, what Charles I (BMK) failed to achieve in England, Richelieu secured for Louis XIII in France.

image source < >

Richelieu's others goals called for making France supreme in Europe and "humbling the Hapsburgs." The latter goal was achieved by his successor and protégé Cardinal Mazarin at the Peace of Westphalia. In 1648, England was wracked by Civil War, and HRE lay in virtual ruins. France emerged as the dominant power on the continent at the end of the Thirty Years War. The Peace of Westphalia confirmed Toul, Metz, Verdun to France, and added Alsace. Richelieu worked to expand France to its natural frontiers--Rhine, Alps, Pyrenees--at the expense of Austrian and Spanish Hapsburgs. Richelieu helped Louis XIII (left) to secure the dynasty by arranging a marriage with the Hapsburg princess, Anne of Austria (right) Anne gave birth to the future Louis XIV, the Sun King, in 1638.

image source, Louis XIII < >
image source, Anne of Austria < >

Louis XIV was only 5 when his father (Louis XIII) and Richelieu died in 1643. Mazarin exercised power in the king's name (achieving Richelieu's goals at Westphalia) in the tumultuous 1640s. As French veterans came home from the Thirty Years War, they faced job loss, economic dislocation, and chafed under Mazarin's extension of royal power. The Parlement of Paris--dominated by aristocrats--protested Mazarin's absolutism whether or not in the king's name. French nobles noticed what was happening across the channel and the fate of Charles the Blessed Martyr. The outcome was the "slingshot" rebellion as the frondeurs attacked Mazarin's Paris home, where "little Louis" was staying. He had to flee in the night (in his "jammies") and never forgave the nobles or Paris for threatening his life.* Versailles would be his revenge!

image source < >
*fronde means slingshot--the frondeurs (slinghshot rebels) pulled up cobblestones from the streets
and hurled them with their slingshots at Mazarins's house.
(Madam Répellin argues that the original fronde (slingshot) was the David/Goliath model)

In 1659 Mazarin arranged Louis' marriage to Marie Thérèse, the Spanish Infanta, subsequent to the Peace of the Pyrenees, which ended war with Spain. From 1661 Louis reigned and ruled in his own name; he came to epitomize d.r.r.a. Heir to the political philosophy of Henri IV, Richelieu, and Louis XIII, he saw and commented not only, "L'état, c'est moi" ("I am the state",) but also defined his person and his reign as the fusion of authority, justice, and power. This famous portrait by Rigaud perfectly illustrates (pardon the pun) Louis' view of himself and his power.
image source < >
Internally, Louis XIV pursued mercantilist policies and supported his Huguenot finance minister, Colbert, in establishing the Five Great Farms as a tariff free zone, enforcing commerical codes, and expanding France's commerical and colonial endeavors in India, the Caribbean, West Africa, and North America. Louis confirmed the tax exempt status of the nobles and never convoked the Estates General. As head of the Gallican Church, he, of course preferenced Catholics in royal appointments. He revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685--not his most politique-y move. He reformed and reorganized his military to make it the most fearsome in Europe, as well as one that could travel on the roads and canals to crush insurrection or move quickly to the frontiers to defend the nation or expand its borders.

image source < >

In the early years of his reign, Louis--the Dieu-Donné--enjoyed the respect
and loyalty of his nation for o-p-u-p + s. He focused dynastic patriotism on himself and presided over a glorious flourishing of French culture, making him the envy of other European monarchs. He built a monument and temple to himself at Versailles. After about 1685, the nobles flocked there to enjoy an endless party on Louis' largesse. The opulent rooms, the exquisite gardens, the non-stop fun made Verailles the "happening place." There, 5,000 of them were under Louis' thumb and surveillance. Note what a different path they chose, in contrast to the gentry elites across the channel.

image source < >
Louis XIV in the garden with entourage < >
Development of Versailles < >

While Louis XIV consolidated power and entertained the nobles in a gilded cage, he waged war with gusto. In an effort to expand France to its natural frontiers and "humble the Hapsburgs," he spent most of his reign at war. His dream of continental domination grew to encompass the world! Of course, the b of p ground into operation against French universal monarchy. The Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces (William of Orange) formed early items on his agenda. Once William ascended the English throne, Louis' wars went global. The War of the League of Augsburg bled into King William's War in North America; The War of Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War in British colonies. Carefully compare France after Westphalia with France after Utrecht. Note a more comprehensive "ring of iron" around France.

image source <,_1714.png >


***2 Digressions--Not on 2015 Final***
Go to IV. ED/GWE

Digression to Paris--November, 2015

On Friday, November 13, 2015, ISIS activists launched six simultaneous attacks in Paris. Two--at Le Carillon restaurant and the Bataclan Club--were centered in the 11th Arrondissement; the third was at the Stade de France, in the Parisian suburb of St. Denis, about 5 kilometers North of Montmartre (in the 18th.) President Holland declared a state of emergency.

image source/larger view < >

Historically, the 11th was a working class area; Faubourg St. Antoine is in the 11th, also the 18th century home of the Bastille, which the Parisian sans-culottes stormed in the opening days of the Revolution. In the late 20th century, the 11th experienced gentrification and welcomed "hipsters"; it is filled with shops, boutiques, clubs, bistros, and restaurants, like Le Carillon and Bataclan. While Le Carillon is fairly new and trendy, Bataclan has been around since Napoleon III's renovation of Paris in the 1860s. Even then it represented entertainment and fun, especially light opera. You might remember that Charlie Hebdo, attacked in January, 2015, was also located in the 11th.

image source < >

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the carefully planned, orchestrated attacks;
Isis threatens to expand their activities to the United States and any European
nation that participates in the campaign of bombing Syria.


18th century Music/Handel Digression

In the 18th century, European elites looked to France and the court of Louis XIV for models of sophisticated behavior. As noted, European wannabe monarchs built their own versions of Versailles and replicated court protocol à la francais. Russia's Peter the Great--a contemporary of the Sun King--built St. Petersburg (modestly named after himself) and required his nobility to dance attendance on him there. His Pedrovorets emulated Versailles, though with typical Russian exaggeration. Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa did likewise in Prussia and Austria respectively.

image source < >

In England, the 18th century opened with the accession to the throne of the Hanoverian (German) Georges, as provided for by the Act of Settlement (1701.) George I ascended the throne in 1714, and his son succeeded him as George II in 1727. George Friedrich Handel followed George I to England from Hanover and sought his and the court's royal patronage. Due to the Glorious Revolution and other Parliamentary enactments, George I and George II exercised limited power as constitutional monarchs. Handel composed the music for George II's coronation, Zadoc the Priest, which has been performed at every coronation since, including that of Elizabeth II.

image source of George II (1727- 1760) < >
Zadok the Priest < >
Begin here < >

Don't begin here < >

George Friedrich Handel was a German-born Baroque composer who spent most of his career in England, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1727. Handel was born in the same year as Bach (1685) and was influenced by the grandeur, size, range and complexity of the Baroque, which included opera and oratorio. In London, Handel successfully sought a popular audience and fame, as well as recognition by the Court. He cultivated his image and actively solicited fame and fortune. He made a special effort to make his music accessible to a broad audience. If he were composing and performing today, he would have an impressive following on Twitter or Snapchat. Handel's dates place him in the 18th century (1685-1759); he was one of the giants of the Baroque era but not among the "greats" of the Classical period (Haydn and Mozart.) Musicologist Winton Dean commented that Handel, "...was not only a great composer; he was a dramatic genius of the first order."

image source < >
Handel's Water Music < > You'll recognize!
Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah < >


IV. Enlightened Despotism and the Great War for Empire of the 18th Century
Refresh your memory on Scientific Awakening

< >
Pay close attention to Enlightenment ideas/Philosophes in Enlightenment Seminar

A. READ!! In the 18th century, Britain and the Netherlands led Europe in agricultural innovation, contributing
to sustained population growth--augmented by the influx of New World food crops--
that had profound economic and social consequences for the continent.
The backstory to the demographic transformation of Europe included the waning of both the Little Ice Age and Plague;
as well, expanded state power and new technologies changed the nature of warfare,
making it more expensive and technologically advanced,
Actuarial records indicate improvement in life expectancy (up) and infant mortality statistics (down.)
Bingo! Sustained population growth.

New World food products revolutionized diet and nutrition in Europe (and across the globe.) Corn (maize) fed the animals and the potato brought important calories and nutrients to Ireland and Eastern Europe. Fodder crops such as clover and turnips enriched the soil and enabled English farmers to fence in the common land and end fallowing. Crop rotation and a veritable "manure revolution" further contributed to replenished soils and increased the supply of milk and meat, at least in the Netherlands and Britain (mainly England.)

image source (b/w)/left < >
image source/cornucopia/right < >

Two significant factors contributed to the decline of Plague, though it continued to plague (!) Europe periodically: Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year described the last great outbreak in England in 1665. Rigorously, harshly enforced quarantine policies by city fathers isolated individuals and their families to prevent spread of the dread disease. One controversial theory suggests that brown rats (rattus norvegicus) were not as friendly as hosts to Yersina pestis (the deadly bacillus) as were black rats (rattus rattus.) Brown rats overcame the black rats and dominated European cities in the 18th century, which by the way, the city fathers were cleaning up. Hence, a decline in the incidence of plague.

image source for Remy < >

Agricultural and manufacturing innovation increased the production of food and textiles. Farmers altered traditional practices such as the medieval "3 field system" and participated in "cottage" industries known as the "putting out" or "domestic" system. Urban entrepreneurs provided looms for rural men to weave the woollen cloth that had previously been sent to the Netherlands. The rising population created increased demand for food, which the farmers and peasants produced thanks to innovations and New World crops. The famers, in turn, had a demand for consumers' goods, which the entrepreneurial capitalists were quick to supply.

image source < >

Governments worked to improve infrastructure and copied such policies as Colbert's Five Great Farms, creating tariff free zones criss-crossed by toll-roads, turnpikes, canals, bridges, and the like. These reforms facilitated bringing the supply of food and consumers goods to where the demand was (and, btw, made it possible to police the society.) The novels of Georgette Heyer (and Jane Austen) evoke English society in this time frame.

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European (Dutch, French, English/British) domination of global commercial networks brought wealth to the rising middle classes of those nations. They married "up" while land-rich but cash-poor aristocrats married "down" (at least in England.) London's sophisticated banking institutions and stock market helped--at least to a certain extent--to spread the wealth. Bourgeois entrepreneurs like Josiah Wedgwood saw a market and began to produce quality porcelain for the elites to drink their tea, chocolate, and coffee (sweetened with sugar, or course.) The French and Germans hopped on board with Sevres and Meissenware. Note the Chinese motif in the Wedgwood Willow pattern--evidence of global commercial networks.

image source < >

In the aftermath of the wars of Louis XIV (end/Peace of Utrecht, 1713,) British and French leaders worked to put their financial houses in order. Both governments fell for shady investment schemes (Mississippi Bubble, South Sea Bubble) that promised vast wealth to investors in overseas, money-making adventures. Both governments invested heavily and suffered when their bubble burst with differing consequences for both countries: the French government defaulted on its debts; the British Parliament honored its debts and saved the Bank of England.

image source < >
Most economists argue that all bubbles follow the outline of the chart above, from Tulipmanis in 17th century
Netherlands, to the bubble of the 1980s, to the housing bubble of the early 2000s.

B. Flabby Giants

The "flabby giants" of HRE, Poland, the the Ottomans offered tasty morsels of territory to the "rising powers" of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Look carefully at the map (and go to link below to see larger version.) The "flabs" tended to be large, heterogeneous, agrarian-feudal > mercantile-industrial, and to lack natural frontiers. While Russia, Austria, Prussia had some of those characteristics, their governments moved in the direction of Enlightened Despotism as an antidote.

image source < image source <,_1714.png >

C. Enlightened Despots

The Enlightened Despots (like Louis XIV) ruled as absolutists but (unlike Louis XIV) saw their role to exercise absolute power to benefit the state, the nation, the people, and themselves. They centralized authority; they built up their bureaucracies and armies; they worked to stimulate and regulate their economies according to the principles of mercantilism. They saw their role--as "children of the Enlightenment"--to foster education and to rule in an enlightened manner. They saw the state (themselves) as agents of reform and progress. The EDs found it difficult to implement rational reforms in the real world. Indeed, they "talked the Enlightenment talk" more than they "walked the Enlightenment walk." When push came to shove, they were all more "D" than "E."

image source < >


In the Austrian contiguous crownlands of Austria and, Bohemia, Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780) created a tariff free zone --the largest in Europe. She more or less left the pesky Hungarians alone. That said, she relied on supra-national institutions such as Church, aristocracy, army, bureaucracy, and loyalty to the dynasty to hold her disparate lands together. She alleviated the burdens on the serfs. She found enormous challenges from her great rival in Prussia's Frederick II and in ruling the non-contiguous lands in the Austrian Netherlands and Italy. Of later interest, she arranged for her youngest daughter, Marie Antoinette, to marry the Dauphin of France, the later, ill-fated Louis XVI. She lost Silesia to Prussia but collaborated with Frederick II and Catherine II of Russia in the First Partition of Poland.

image source < >
see as well, Palmer, et al. 11th edition, pp. 329-330.

Maria Theresa's son, Joseph II (1780-1790) expanded her policies; instead of working cautiously and gradually in changing the status quo, he forged ahead to implement rational, enlightened reforms: he freed the serfs, established religious toleration (including lifting of constraints on Jews.) Equality under the law meant that everyone paid taxes. He expelled the Jesuits. He tried to enforce the German language throughout the crownlands. "His ideal was a perfectly uniform and rational empire..." (Palmer, et al. 331). Joseph's attack on the "vested interests" aroused their hostility. Most of his reforms were reversed in the next reign. Look carefully at portrait (left) and note his jowls. His successor and brother, Leopold II, did grab pieces of Poland in 1793 and 1795.

image source,_Holy_Roman_Emperor#/media/File:Joseph_Hickel_%28attr%29_Joseph_II_als_Mitregent_seiner_Mutter.jpg
see as well, Palmer, et al. 11th edition, pp. 331-332
Consider here how the lofty ideals of the philosophes were harder to put into practice than they thought


The Hohenzollerns in Prussia faced all the challenges of the "flabs," as well as the non-contiguous nature of their lands; look at the map above and note their hereditary possessions in the Rhineland, Brandenburg, and East Prussia. Hohenzollern rulers--especially Frederick William the Great Elector and Frederick II (1740-1786)--strengthened the central authority, welcomed religious dissidents with the Edict of Potsdam, eased constraints on Jews, fostered education, encouraged the landed elites (junkers) to serve in the army and bureaucracy. Civic service in the public arena by the junkers promoted a culture of loyalty, duty, service, and patriotism. Frederick II, the Great, wrote to his friend Voltaire, "My chief occupation is to fight ignorance and prejudices.... I must enlighten my people, cultivate their manners and morals..." (Palmer, et al. 332). Military values and virtues defined the Hohenzollern-Prussian nation, state, dynasty. He snatched Silesia from Maria Theresa and then collaborated with her and Catherine II in the First Partition of Poland: he annexed the Polish Corridor, connecting East Prussia with Brandenburg.

image source < >


At the beginning of the 18th century, Russia/Muscovy was isolated and land-locked.
< >

The Romanov tsars and tsaritsas were always more interested in "despotism" than "enlightened." They faced vast problems of economic backwardness (serfdom) and geopolitical challenges. At the beginning of the 18th century, Muscovy/Russia was landlocked and blocked from access to the Baltic (Sweden, Poland) and Black (Ottomans) Seas. See map above. The key point in Russian foreign policy was warm water ports. Peter the Great (1689-1725) grabbed the Baltic (Estonia, Livonia, Karelia, Ingria. He launched Russia as a naval power and moved the sights of his nation West: he built St. Petersburg, his "window on the West" and moved the capital there. He was enormously impressed with Prussia's military reforms. He wished to visit Louis XIV but was unable to do so because of problems at home.

image source < >
Follow link and read opening paragraph on Peter < >

Later in the century, Catherine II, the Great (1763-1796) talked the Enlightenment talk, notably corresponding with Diderot and Voltaire. However, she did virtually nothing to alleviate the burdens on the serfs, endorsed noble privilege, and distracted her critics with "stunning territorial annexations" in Poland and Ukraine.

image source < >
Palmer, 336-339

The Enlightened Despots waged war enthusiastically and dragged Britain and France into their conflicts:
Prussia was always against Austria: Prussia > Austria
Britain was always against France: Britain > France
Russia sided with whichever side would support its goals for ports.

Victims in the Great War for Empire were notably Poland (it disappeared,) carved up between Russia, Austria, Prussia in the Partitions of 1772, 1793, 1795 and the Ottoman Empire by Russia.

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On the world stage, Britain defeated France in the Seven Years War/French and Indian War.
According to the Peace of Paris, 1763:
Britain annexed all French territory West of the Mississippi and kicked the French out of India.