The seventeenth century experienced economic recession and population decline as well as continued religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The breakdown of community and the growth of a more individualistic ethic resulted in a world of greater uncertainty. One reflection of anxieties was an epidemic of witchcraft accusations, usually against women.

Protestant and Catholic animosities remained a prime cause for war, notably the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). There were also national and dynastic rivalries such as those between the Bourbon kings of France and the Habsburgs of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. By 1648 religious convictions had become secondary to secular political ambitions in public affairs. The Peace of Westphalia gave the German princes the right to determine the religion of their domains, France gained territory, Spanish power declined, and the Habsburg authority as German emperors was diminished. Conscript standing infantry armies became the norm, and new warships known as “ships of the line,” carried as many as one hundred heavy cannon, made their appearance.

The century is known as the age of absolutism or the age of Louis XIV, although no seventeenth century ruler had the power of modern totalitarian dictators. Monarchs justified their absolutist claims by divine right God had chosen kings to rule. Louis XIV (r.1643-1715), the Sun King, was the model for other rulers. His palace of Versailles symbolized his authority, where the aristocracy was entertained and controlled by ceremony and etiquette. Louis revoked his grandfather’s Edict of Nantes, and he fought four costly wars, mainly to acquire lands on France’s eastern borders. The Hohenzollern rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia became kings. Austrian power waned in the empire, but it gained lands in the east and in Italy. Russia’s Peter the Great (r.1689-1725) attempted to westernize Russia, especially militarily, and built a new capital, St. Petersburg, to be his window on the west. The last major invasion by the Ottoman Empire into central of Europe resulted in its defeat in 1683.

In Poland, the Sejm, or parliament, dominated by nobles and large landholders, controlled the state, but within the Sejm, a single negative vote vetoed the wishes of the majority, a prescription for continual chaos. Conversely, the oligarchic Dutch republic was a success. The States General was controlled by wealthy merchants, many from Amsterdam with its population of 200,000. During wars, the military leader, or stadholder, gained additional power.

The Stuart kings of Scotland, advocates of divine right absolution, became the rulers of England in 1603. Religious disputes occurred within Protestantism, between the Church of England and Puritan reformers. Civil war between Charles I (r.1625-1649) and Parliament led to the creation of a republic, the Commonwealth, which gave way to the rule of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. The monarchy was restored under Charles II (r.1660-1685). Parliament’s Test Act required worship in the Church of England to hold office. James II (r.1685-1688), a Catholic, suspended the law, and his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, the Dutch stadholder, invaded. Before ascending the throne they accepted the Bill of Rights, limiting royal power. John Locke (d.1704) justified the Glorious Revolution, claiming that government is created by a social contract to protect the natural rights of life, liberty, and property, and if it fails to do so, there is a right of revolution.

In art, Mannerism, with its emotional and religious content, was followed by the Baroque, which used dramatic effects to convey religious and royal power, which in turn gave way to French Classicism. Rembrandt (d.1669) made it the golden age of Dutch painting. It was also a golden age of theater with England’s Shakespeare (d.1616), Spain’s Lope de Vega (d.1635), and France’s Racine (d.1699) and Moliere (d.1673).

  1. Explain the context in which different forms of political power developed from 1648 to 1815.
    1. The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.
      1. The new concept of the sovereign state and secular systems of law played a central role in the creation of new political institutions.
      2. The competition for power between monarchs and corporate and minority language groups produced di erent distributions of governmental authority in European states.
        1. Monarchies seeking enhanced power faced challenges from nobles who wished to retain traditional forms of shared governance and regional autonomy.
        2. Within states, minority local and regional identities based on language and culture led to resistance against the dominant national group.
    2. Different models of political sovereignty affected the relationship among states and between states and individuals.
      1. In much of Europe, absolute monarchy was established over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries.
      2. Challenges to absolutism resulted in alternative political systems.
  2. Explain the causes and consequences of the English Civil War.
    1. The English Civil War – a conflict among the monarchy, Parliament, and other elites over their respective roles in the political structure exempli ed the competition for power among monarchs and competing groups.
    2. 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.
  3. Explain the continuities and changes in commercial and economic developments from 1648 to 1815.
    1. The Agricultural Revolution raised productivity and increased the supply of food and other agricultural products.
    2. The importation and transplantation of agricultural products from the Americas contributed to an increase in the food supply in Europe.
    3. Labor and trade in commodities wereincreasingly freed from traditional restrictions imposed by governments and corporate entities.
    4. The putting-out system, or cottage industry, expanded as increasing numbers of laborers in homes or workshops produced for markets through merchant intermediaries or workshop owners.
    5. The development of the market economy led to new financial practices and institutions.
    6. Early modern Europe developed a market economy that provided the foundation for its global role.
    7. The European-dominated worldwide economic network contributed to the agricultural, industrial, and consumer revolutions in Europe.
      1. European states followed mercantilist policies by drawing resources from colonies in the New World and elsewhere.
      2. The transatlantic slave-labor system expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries as demand for New World products increased.
      3. Overseas products and influences contributed to the development of a consumer culture in Europe.
      4. The importation and transplantation of agricultural products from the Americas contributed to an increase in the food supply in Europe.
      5. Foreign lands provided raw materials, finished goods, laborers, and markets for the commercial and industrial enterprises in Europe.
  4. Explain the factors that contributed to the development of the Dutch Republic.
    1. The Dutch Republic, established by a Protestant revolt against the Habsburg monarchy, developed an oligarchy of urban gentry and rural landholders to promote trade and protect traditional rights.
  5. Explain how European states attempted to establishand maintain a balance of power on the continent throughout the period from 1648 to 1815.
    1. The competitive state system led to new patterns of diplomacy and new forms of warfare.
      1. Following the Peace of Westphalia, religion declined in importance as a cause for warfare among European states; the concept of the balance of power played an important role in structuring diplomatic and military objectives.
    2. 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.
    3. After 1648, dynastic and state interests, along with Europe’s expanding colonial empires, influenced the diplomacy of European states and frequently led to war.
      1. After the Austrian defeat of the Turks in 1683 at the Battle of Vienna, the Ottomans ceased their westward expansion.
      2. Louis XIV’s nearly continuous wars, pursuing both dynastic and state interests, provoked a coalition of European powers opposing him.
  6. Explain how advances in technology contributed to a developing balance of power on the continent throughout the period from 1648 to 1815.
    1. Advances in military technology led to new forms of warfare, including greater reliance on infantry, rearms, mobile cannon, and more elaborate forti cations, all nanced by heavier taxation and requiring a larger bureaucracy. New military techniques and institutions (i.e., the military revolution) tipped the balance of power toward states able to marshal su cient resources for the new military environment.
  7. Explain how absolutist forms of rule affected social and political development from 1648 to 1815.
    1. Absolute monarchies limited the nobility’s participation in governance but preserved the aristocracy’s social position and legal privileges.
    2. Louis XIV and his nance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, extended the administrative, nancial, military, and religious control of the central state over the French population.
    3. Peter the Great “westernized” the Russian state and society, transforming political, religious, and cultural institutions; Catherine the Great continued this process.
  8. Explain how and why artistic expression changed from 1450 to 1648.
    1. Mannerist and Baroque artists employed distortion, drama, and illusion in their work. Monarchies, city-states, and the church commissioned these works as a means of promoting their own stature and power.
  9. Compare the different forms of political power that developed in Europe from 1648 to 1815.
    1. The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.
      1. The new concept of the sovereign state and secular systems of law played a central role in the creation of new political institutions.
      2. The competition for power between monarchs and corporate and minority language groups produced di erent distributions of governmental authority in European states.
      3. Monarchies seeking enhanced power faced challenges from nobles who wished to retain traditional forms of shared governance and regional autonomy.
      4. Within states, minority local and regional identities based on language and culture led to resistance against the dominant national group.
    2. Different models of political sovereignty affected the relationship among states and between states and individuals.
      1. In much of Europe, absolute monarchy was established over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries.
      2. Challenges to absolutism resulted in alternative political systems.

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?
 Rebellions

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