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Modern World History--Absolutism Project: Home


“The state of monarchy is the supreme thing upon earth; for kings are not only God’s lieutenants on earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God Himself they are called gods… Kings are justly called gods, for that they exercise a… divine power upon earth… God hath power to create and destroy, make or unmake at His pleasure, to give life or sent death, to judge all and to be judged nor accountable to none, to raise low things and to make high things low at His pleasure… And the like power have kings…”

- King James I of England

“The head alone has the right to deliberate and decide, and the functions of all the other members consist only in carrying out the commands given to them… The more you grant… [to the assembled people], the more it claims… The interest of the state must come first.”

- King Louis XIV of France


The 17th century was a time of crisis in Europe. As a response, many sought order and stability through increasing the power of the monarchy. Monarchs and political theorists were eager to claim divine right as the source of that authority. These monarchs exercised authority to legislate, to tax, to administer justice, to control the state’s administration, and to determine foreign policy. Absolutist monarchy continued in Europe throughout the 18th century, even as monarchs themselves embraced the ideas of the Enlightenment.

Assignment in brief


Working with your group (max- 3), choose one of the rulers listed below to create a presentation teaching the class about the absolutism practiced by your ruler.

Topic Choices: (We will choose groups and topics in class)

-Louis XIV of France

-Peter the Great of Russia

-Frederick the Great of Prussia

-Joseph II of Austria

-Catherine the Great of Russia

Things to discuss:

· Basic and interesting biographic information; which dynasty?

· How did rulers demonstrate their power? Ex. Were there any significant building projects?

· What are examples of key policies of these rulers? (pick a few things to talk in more depth about)

· In what ways did others challenge their power?

· How did these rulers promote the general well-being of their country and subjects? Or not?

· Is your ruler one of the “Enlightened Absolutist rulers”? Evaluate how “enlightened” they were?

· Evaluate the overall success of your ruler. Was he or she overall a good leader or a tyrant?


· Presentation should be between 8 – 10 minutes

· You will turn in an outline/ script of your presentation; quotes and paraphrases must be cited in your outline

· Works Cited in Chicago Format

· Include at least 4 sources (books and articles) in addition to your textbook

· Sources need to move beyond general articles

Suggested search terms

absolutism                  Catherine II            Peter the Great               Romanovs             Habsburgs               Joseph II of Austria              Louis XIV        Frederick the Great                Prussia                                    

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