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Middle Ages

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Following the Middle Ages, monarchs grew more powerful. The rulers created central authority based on the growth of national kingdom, declining of Church authority during late Middle ages and Reformation, and support of middle class who were hoping for promised business opportunities. They were absolute monarchs and believed in divine right, the idea that God created a king as his servant on earth. Monarchs used the wealth of colonies to pay for their luxury, ambitions, and wars. The population of the European countries was suffering from the taxes and was tired of the constant wars. Very often this led the peasants to revolt. This situation was the same for both England and France.

Monarchs had power to regulate everything from religious worship to the social gatherings, there was censorship on publications. The crisis in the monarchal system was gradually developing. The great political thinkers and writers planted the seeds of doubt regarding the existing situation. "All that is certain is that nothing is certain", said Montiagne. The skeptical philosophies were continued in the scientific revolution that influenced the theories of philosophers like Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu. The economic situation is a reflection the political structure. Unfair economic rules and management as well as inequalities in social structures made the Old Regime collapse in France in the bloody revolution. In Britain the king George III refused to cooperate with the colonists and improve their economical situation led to American Revolution.

France was the strongest monarchy. Louis XIV was an absolute monarch who wanted absolutely no restrictions or control from his nobles and the Parliament, like in England. In Louis XIV's view he and the state were one and the same. He said, " I am the state."

Louis lived his life in luxury. He spent all his money on his ambitions and his beautiful castle, Versailles, which cost about 2 billion dollars. Everything about Versailles was immense. The palace was like a small city, with rich decoration and furnishings.

Even though France was a very populated and prosperous, and advanced country, there was no balance and harmony. Behind the splendid velour curtains there was high prices, high taxes, unfair distribution of wealth and social inequality. The masses were suffering, while the king was living in his luxurious castles. The wars weakened the country. Were wars needed for Louis's country or for his ambitions and desire to extend the territories of France?

By 1770's there was a period of time in France called the Old Regime. The people of France were divided into three large social classes, called estates.

The first estate was the clergy of Roman Catholic Church, who owned 10 percent of the land in France. The clergy were only 1 percent of France's population. The second estate was the rich nobles and only was 2 percent of the population. The nobles owned 20 percent of the land and paid almost no taxes. The third estate was the largest and had no privileges, like the other two estates. In this estate there were three groups.

The first group was the bourgeoisie. They were the artisans and merchants. They paid high taxes and lacked privileges, even though they were as rich as the nobles, who didn't pay the taxes. The second group was the workers of the French cities-the cooks, servantsÐ'... They were paid low wages and often didn't have a lot of food. The largest group within the third estate was the peasants. They practically had no money, due to the cause of the money being spent on taxes. The third estate desperately needed a change. France had once been one of the prosperous countries. Now the economy was failing.

In 1780's, France had been weakened by a series of poor harvests. The French people were starving, while, Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette was elaborately spending on their clothing and their desires. The new taxes were also a cause of the people's suffering. Louis XVI imposed these taxes to finance his wars. The country faced bankruptcy, party inherited from the previous kings and partly from the worsening of an economical situation and weak leadership of Louis XVI.

In contrast to France, England had restricted monarchy. In England monarchy wasn't totalitarian, it was a constitutional monarchy. It gave the people in England an opportunity to represent their interest in government. The Parliament was strong because it had financial power. The Kings in England were trying to save absolute monarchy. For example, Charles I refused to follow the Petition of rights in 1628. His popularity was declining. His successor, Charles II restored the monarchy, and because of that, his period of rule was called Restoration. When Charles II died, James became king and appointed several Catholics to high office. The Glorious Revolution in 1688 in England was an example of the bloodless revolution. James II fled to France.

Charles II restored monarchy during the Restoration period.

The political changes in England came with a promise of William and Mary( Mary was the older daughter of the overthrown James II) to recognized Parliament



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