Absolutism in Seventeenth-Century Europe by John Miller, Graham Scott

By John Miller, Graham Scott

Such a lot 17th Century ecu Monarchs governed territories that have been culturally and institutionally varied. pressured by way of the escalating scale of struggle to mobilise evermore males and cash they attempted to carry those territories less than nearer keep an eye on, overriding neighborhood and sectional liberties. This was once justified via a conception stressing the monarchs absolute energy and his accountability to put the nice of his kingdom ahead of specific pursuits. The essays of this quantity examine this approach in states at very diverse levels of financial and political improvement and verify the nice gulf that frequently existed among the monarchs strength in idea and in perform.

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Each party had declared the legality of its position in clear but general terms, and it was now the turn of the officers to negotiate a compromise on the detailed issues which had provoked the crisis. 6 As most of the disputes between the crown and the elites, or among the elites themselves, turned on points of law, it is essential to identify precisely the legal rights which each group claimed for itself. 7 The historians of 'absolutism' have erroneously maintained that the right to legislate was a cornerstone of monarchical power in the early modern period.

It applies equally to law. The making of law, the legislative power, may not, in this early modern period, have acquired quite the central position it was to have in the fully developed modern sovereign state. It was none the less moving in that direction; and that development, like so much else, was not so much a radical innovation or new departure as the fuller realisa- tion of what had been emerging already in medieval theory and practice. By the mid-thirteenth century, after all, Thomas Aquinas was including in his definition of law the requirement that it be 'made and promulgated by him who has care of the whole community'.

12 To make law by command, law that is universally binding upon all the sovereign'S subjects, is in Bodin's view the most essential attribute of sovereignty: all its other attributes flow from or depend upon this. The language of sovereignty, we may say, speaks always in the imperative mood: here the earlier medieval idea that the king and it is primarily of kings that Bodin is thinking - is 'emperor [imperator] in his own kingdom' acquires the full weight of its underlying notion of imperium - command, the right or power of commanding.

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