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By John Miller, Graham Scott

Such a lot 17th Century ecu Monarchs governed territories that have been culturally and institutionally diversified. pressured by way of the escalating scale of struggle to mobilise evermore males and cash they attempted to carry those territories less than nearer regulate, overriding neighborhood and sectional liberties. This used to be justified by means of a conception stressing the monarchs absolute energy and his responsibility to put the nice of his country sooner than specific pursuits. The essays of this quantity examine this method in states at very diversified phases of monetary and political improvement and investigate the nice gulf that regularly existed among the monarchs energy in thought and in perform.

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They are the rules in term of which that 30 ABSOLUTISM IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY EUROPE power is sovereign and in accordance with which it must be exercised. Bodin, it must be acknowledged, takes for granted a good deal more than he develops explicitly in this connection. The one example he cites of such a fundamental law is the Salk law determining the succession to the French throne. There is, however, no reason to doubt that he envisaged this category of law as extending to the whole structure of the res publica and the protection of its integrity.

For this reason the education of the prince is a central, recurrent and (be it said) intolerably repetitive part of the literature of monarchical government. Bossuet, for example, plainly expects the king he envisages to engage in hard intellectual labour. 23 However, the 'reason' to which the king's power is 'subject' is not his alone, even when that is sustained by divine wisdom: it is also, and perhaps above all, the wisdom of his counsellors. Good counsel is an absolutely indispensable element in the system of absolute monarchy.

Yet the fact remained that the two most notable monarchies of medieval Europe - the empire and the papacy - were elective and at the same time entitled in a very special way to claim to be 'sacred'. It may be worth bearing in mind that by the period most directly under consideration here the papal claim to be a genuinely universal monarchy was, at least in respect of effective jurisdiction, a dead letter, while the Holy Roman Empire had itself become effectively hereditary in the house in Habsburg.

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