AP European History
Concept 2.1 – Different models of political sovereignty affected the relationship among states and between states and individuals.


Between 1648 and 1815, the sovereign state was consolidated as the principal form of political organization across Europe. Justi ed and rationalized by theories of political sovereignty, states adopted a variety of methods to acquire the human, fiscal, and material resources essential for the promotion of their interests. Although challenged and sometimes e ectively resisted by various social groups and institutions, the typical state of the period, best exempli ed by the rule of Louis XIV in France, asserted claims to absolute authority within its borders. A few states, most notably England and the Dutch Republic, gradually developed governments in which the authority of the executive was restricted by legislative bodies protecting the interests of the landowning and commercial classes.

Supporting Concepts and Examples

In much of Europe, absolute monarchy was established over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Absolute monarchies limited the nobility’s participation in governance but preserved the aristocracy’s social position and legal privileges.

Absolute monarchs:

Louis XIV and his finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert extended the administrative, financial, military, and religious control of the central state over the French population.

In the 18th century, a number of states in eastern and central Europe experimented with “enlightened absolutism.”

Enlightened monarchs:
The inability of the Polish monarchy to consolidate its authority over the nobility led to Poland’s partition by Prussia, Russia, and Austria, and its disappearance from the map of Europe.

Peter the Great “westernized” the Russian state and society, transforming political, religious, and cultural institutions; Catherine the Great continued this process.

Challenges to absolutism resulted in alternative political systems.

The outcome of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution protected the rights of gentry and aristocracy from absolutism through assertions of the rights of Parliament.

Outcomes of the English Civil War:
The Dutch Republic developed an oligarchy of urban gentry and rural landholders to promote trade and protect traditional rights.

After 1648, dynastic and state interests, along with Europe’s expanding colonial empires, influenced the diplomacy of European states and frequently led to war.

As a result of the Holy Roman Empire’s limitation of sovereignty in the Peace of Westphalia, Prussia rose to power and the Habsburgs, centered in Austria, shifted their empire eastward.

Prussian and Habsburg rulers :
After the Austrian defeat of the Turks in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, the Ottomans ceased their westward expansion.

Louis XIV’s nearly continuous wars, pursuing both dynastic and state interests, provoked a coalition of European powers opposing him.

Louis XIV’s nearly continuous wars:

Reading Assignments

Reading 1: Pages 436-439

Social Crises, War, and Rebellions:
 The Witchcraft Craze

Reading 2: Pages 439-444

Social Crises, War, and Rebellions:
 The Thirty Years’ War
 Was There a Military Revolution?

Reading 3: Pages 444-451

The Practice of Absolutism: Western Europe:
 Absolute Monarchy in France
 The Reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715)
 The Decline of Spain

Reading 4: Pages 451-459

Absolutism in Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe:
 The German States
 Italy: From Spanish to Austrian Rule
 Russia: From Fledgling Principality to Major Power
 The Great Northern States
 The Ottoman Empire
 The Limits of Absolutism

Reading 5: Pages 459-468

Limited Monarchy and Republics:
 The Weakness of the Polish Monarchy
 England and the Emergence of Constitutional Monarchy
 Science and Religion

Reading 6: Pages 468-473

The Flourishing of European Culture:
 The Changing Faces of Art
 A Wondrous Age of Theater

Chapter Glossary
Chapter Study Guide
Chapter 15 Outline
Chapter 15 Scan