The Reasons Behind The Rise of Absolutism in Europe During the 16th and 17th Century
During the late 16th early 17th centuries the rule of absolute Kings held power over every institution and the very well being of the every person in his grasp. Earlier smaller monarchs and the most powerful nobles arose above the people increasing their land and power to the point where any one man could no longer stop them.
Assuming control over every aspect of the nation by shear force of power, they became even more wealthy. The Church complied for the reason of money and funding. Without the assistance of the King, the Church having no tax money would go broke. In return for this, the Church allowed the preaching of divine kingship. Meaning the King had a divine right to rule the land, they wanted the people to believe the God they worship had placed this very man on earth for the soul purpose of dictation over his people. Who would challenge a statement as such when the betraying it would be punishment in Hell. Anyone who did not follow the main Church that would be a threat was simply exiled or killed.
All people who held even small amounts of persuasion were loyal to their King. Even the rich higher class, who were allowed to live tax free, depended on the King for power. With the Kings support, they were able to live careless lives while the poor became even poorer and the rich became more wealthy. This canceled out the idea of the wealthy banning against him; they loved what he was doing for them.
There was also no form of Government to overthrow the King. The basic rule was that “you all get to vote but mine is the only one that counts”. King Louis XIV in France ruled with “yes men” who were representatives who did exactly what he ordered without question. The only executive that existed was three estates, the Clergy, Nobles, and middle and lower class. Although ninety-eight percent of the population rested in one estate they all received one vote. So, there was always at least a two out of three vote for the King.
The economy was also held in the hand of the absolute King. He controlled all trade in the nation by a system called mercantilism. He allowed a very few his friends, nobles and rich upper class, a total monopoly over the trade industry. In return, the King gained two things, a percentage of profits and the loyalty of some of the more powerful nobles in his nation.
Finally, the Absolute Rulers stayed in power for so long because of the fear he placed on the people. Having complete control of military and police forces gave the king the ability to monitor and control society. The very spoken thought of militancy or disbelief in the system was considered treason and was punishable by the Kings mere whim. This was a major factor as to why absolutism lasted as long as it did. The people were terrified of their Rulers and what they could do to them. Considering the only real way power could be overthrown was for the peasants to organize against it and since the King very conveniently made it illegal to do so, it became impossible to have any ideas about changing the way of life.
When only three percent of the population has one hundred percent of the power and only one man controls this power, this man has an absolute rule over everything and everyone. This form of rule gave undisturbed order to the Kings, as no man would risk challenging such dominance.