Unit 3 - Absolutism/Constitutionalism & The Agricultural Revolution
Absolutism & Constitutionalism
This chapter focuses on the changing political structures of European nations in the 1600-1700s, namely in France, England, Russia, Austria, Germany, and the North. As a reaction to the chaos and devastation of the Religious Wars, European politics began to favor monarchical governments that held tighter control of their governments- including problematic nobles and peasants wishing to revolt. The Thirty Year's War was considered the "last of the religious wars" in Europe, as it shifted power dynamics in northern and central Europe and ended in the decisive Peace of Westphalia, whose effects can still be seen today. The instability of this time, combined with religious "passions" and superstitions, brought out the notorious witch hysteria as Europeans sought a scapegoat, particularly in places touched by the Reformation. Thousands of people, primarily women, were persecuted for alleged witchcraft. In Europe's most powerful states, governments were changing. Absolute monarchies were established in France and Russia, while religious and political conflicts in England combined to create the first constitutional monarchy through the Glorious Revolution. Other European states, such as Spain, Austria, Prussia, the Netherlands, and Poland continued to transform into their modern versions as religious conflict gave way to political games and mercantile greed.
Jethro Tull and Agriculture
This chapter focuses on the bigger picture of the 18th century- what was occurring in Europe around the Enlightenment? The 1700's may have been a century of groundbreaking new philosophies, but how much did change really occur? And when it did occur, whom did it benefit? Overall, European states remained monarchies with divine right justification, but many European monarchs began to embrace Enlightenment ideals, even if they did not always "practice what they preached". Some notable enlightened despots included Frederick the Great of Prussia, Joseph II of Austria, and Catherine the Great of Russia. This development began to open the gates for major changes that would occur at the end of the 18th century in the form of revolutions and lay the groundwork for the mother of all revolutions- the French Revolution of 1789. The 1700's was also a century known for some of the very first "modern" international trade wars, in particular the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War. These conflicts were largely the result of 17th century mentalities of mercantilism and absolutism,but
would have consequences that would usher in new regimes all over the world. And finally, while major changes seemed to be occurring in the upper classes, for the rest of European society, change came slowly. While there were some changes in the European economy and agriculture, most of society remained relatively unchanged. The aristocracy dominated social and economic life, and the peasants remained poor for the most part. Europe maintained its system of estates, the ancient regime, alive and well, and would not begin to crumble until the French Revolution