Absolutism and Peter the Great

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Absolutism and Peter the Great Many monarchs, particularly those of European descent, employed the flourishing absolutist philosophy during their reign in the seventeenth century. Defined as the “absolute or unlimited rule usually by one man,” absolutism is virtually equivalent to the philosophy of despotism. A ruler incorporating the absolutist philosophy has complete control of his subjects and the highest authority with which to govern. With origins dating back to the Ancient Greeks, absolutism found root in some of Aristotle’s theories: “Aristotle despotic government (nearly convertible with tyrannical) is that of a single ruler that rules, not for the public good but for his own. ” And from Roman political theory “regarding the power of the monarch, there had survived, particularly, a legacy of ideas associated with the position and prestige of a ruler which greatly strengthened the power of a dynasty. Based on this Greek foundation in Aristotelian thought and Roman political theory, absolutism rose in other schools of philosophy as it gained prominence in the political world. Combining natural-law doctrines with the theory of royal absolutism, fourteenth century philosopher Bartolus of Sassoferrato believed that the ruler should not be bound to the laws of the government, but still should obey them whenever possible. In agreement with Bartolus, another fourteenth century philosopher, Lucas de Penna advocated that the ruler is only accountable to divine authority, being responsible to God alone, not the people. Further de Penna believed that law is the articulation of the ethical virtue of justice and reason is the foundation for that law. Thereby debasing the importance of the king’s obedience to established law. As civilization began to organize in city-states to individual countries to entire dynasties or empires, all needing some form of government, the people organized hierarchically. Establishing order under one appointed leader helped advance that civilization; those advances, however, quickly leveled out into a plateau of stagnation under the political unit of feudalism. During the seventeenth century, the various peoples of Western Europe enjoyed the many benefits of a relatively advanced civilization in many respects but were, with few exceptions, incapable of self-government… The result was that governmental authority was held by a number of rulers who assumed unto themselves all the responsibilities of political leadership. ” Lord Acton, a famous historian, while not advocating its use, believed that absolutism was highly necessary for the survival and actual allowance for European growth through her monarchs. Three characteristics that specifically mark a seventeenth century absolute monarch are charisma,

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