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Discussion Week 6

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1. Discuss the idea and application of absolute monarchy in Louis XIV's France. Did Louis "exhaust the French monarchy"?
[Louis' reign "brought to fruition the growth of absolute monarchy which for centuries had been the objective of the French kings, their jurists and administrators." W.M. Church, The Greatness of Louis XIV. Myth or Reality? p. ix Louis and his ministers centralized and streamlined administrative, economic, and religious policies, which emphasized the unity of the nation and the king's rule. But absolute rule has its limitations: Louis fought many wars to secure French borders and to extend his own dynastic claims. The result was that France entered the eighteenth century bankrupt and exhausted.]

2. What, if any, links did nationalism have to other ideologies, such as liberalism, conservatism, romanticism, and socialism?
[These concepts, and those who espoused them, are like overlapping sets. Many Nationalists were Romantics who wrote poetry and were people of education and culture. Many were also Socialists (and Republicans), because their distrust or despisement of the institution of monarchy made them advocates of the democratic rights of common people and of their economic security.]

3. Compare and contrast the American and French revolutions. How different were they and can you account for those differences?
[The spread of Enlightenment philosophy resulted in a cosmopolitan, international culture embracing rational principles of just government and liberal reform. America and France were not the only revolutionary states: reform movements in Poland, Ireland and the Netherlands also fostered popular demands for self-determination and liberty. In America the ostensible causes of revolution were the oppressive rule of George III and his ministers. In France outmoded governmental structures, financial crises, and elite criticism forced Louis XVI to summon the Estates General. In 1789 the Third Estate (i.e. everybody except the clergy and the nobility, though many of these had already thrown in their lot with the common people) seized control of the political agenda, spearheaded the creation of a National Assembly, while popular unrest led to the storming of the Bastille.]

Copyright ©2008 Aidan Breen, Ph.D.