The European Model
Throughout the 1500s and 1600s, absolutism,
when kings or queens have complete control over government and
the lives of their subjects, was the most widespread political system in use in Europe and
parts of Asia.
In the 1500s, Spain emerged as the first modern European
power. Spain's king, Charles V, was involved in almost constant warfare. His
Philip II, expanded Spanish influence, strengthened the
Catholic Church, and, believing he ruled by
made his own power absolute. Under him, Spain
became the most powerful state in Europe.
Religious wars between Catholics and
France apart in the late 1500s. In the 1640s, under
Louis XIV, who
assumed absolute power with the help of
Richelieu, France became the most powerful state in Europe.
Louis, known as "The Sun King," ruled for 72 years.
His claim to power was furthered by Jacques Bousset, who
argued that Louis was god's representative here on
Peter the Great used autocratic methods to modernize Russia, pushing through
social and economic reforms and importing western technology.
Catherine the Great achieved the Russian dream of a
warm-water port on the Black Sea by waging war against the
Response to Absolutism in England
in 1603 in
England, the Stuart kings James I and Charles I, clashed with
Parliament over royal authority, money,
foreign policy, and
Civil war broke out in 1642 when Charles I
tried to arrest the radical leaders of the House of Commons.
In the end, a victorious Parliament executed Charles, abolished
the monarchy, and created a
republic headed by
Glorious Revolution of 1688,
which established the
English Bill of Rights, ensured
the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy. Under the
Bill of Rights, England became a
The king or queen would now be only a symbol for the country.
are also several examples of
absolute monarchy in the Muslim
Islamic history, the Ottoman sultan Suleiman is considered to be the
perfect ruler. He is said to have had all of the most
important qualities of an Islamic ruler, especially knowledge
of justice. In addition, he is viewed by many as a
law giver, a great soldier, and a magnificent poet.
A contemporary of Suleiman,
the Great, ascended the throne in 1556, at the age of
thirteen. The third Mughal emperor of India, Akbar won the support
Hindus and Muslims. His greatest
accomplishment was the institution of an efficient
bureaucracy that helped to run the empire.