under absolutism one understands a rule form, in which the ruler - usually a king or an emperor - possesses unrestricted power in his country and „legibus absolutus “, i.e. can govern „detached by the laws “. There is not a division of power, since the monarch controls all three government authorities: the executive, the legislation as well as the Judikative. Contrary to the dictatorship an absolutist ruler reached power legitimately by succession and recognizes contrary to tyranny he general requirementsthe religion and moral on.

Table of contents

work on] emergence

of the absolutism the absolutism in the first half. Century and reached under Ludwig XIV. (1643-1715) its high point. It, all other Gewalten in the state succeeded to it at entmachten ( the general conditions were not no more called up). The aristocracy could participate in the aufwändigen yard life only owing to financial allowances of the respective rulers and turned out in such a way in dependence.

In nearly all states the absolutism accompanies with reforms of the economy, administration, the right nature and fiscal matters - the borders to the enlightened absolutism are flowing thereby. A goal of the reforms was the increase of the efficiency of the State of (Staatsräson).In addition Jean Baptiste Colbert, Minister of Finance and one of the closest advisors of the French ruler Ludwig XIV justified., the restaurant form of the mercantilism.

In Arab countries, for example Saudi Arabia, prevails this very day an absolute monarchy.

power columns

of the rulers supportsitself on five power columns:

the army

the monarch relies on a trained, standing army, which is to secure its power inland and its influence abroad. France had 1664 ~45,000, until already 1703 nearly ~400.000Man under weapons and had become thereby the strongest military power of Europe. In order to suffocate and so durably power secure rebellions of subjects or immediately revolting aristocrat in the germ, Ludwig XIV needed. of France a powerful standing army,which was operational not only in times of war, but also in times of peace and lay its highest command authority with the king. Above all Ludwig XIV wanted. France to the hegemonial power (hegemony = griech. Supreme command, Führerschaft) in Europe make. The army became with modern weaponsand, as new fact in the time at that time, with uniform uniforms equipped as well as submitted to a hard, strictly regulated twisting. The costs of the extensive military apparatus and the wars frequently led by the king meant a large load for the treasury.

Legislation, law, administration, iurisdiction

the monarch concentrates all power in its person. It leads the Regierungsgeschäfte, issues the laws and is an at the same time highest judge. As a legislator it stands over the law (legibus absolutus), as a judge can it inthe decisions of lower instances intervene. The government can he to a prime minister as for instance Richelieu and Mazarin leave or also even with take over, like Ludwig XIV. after death Mazarins (1661).

the höfische culture

the monarch and itsYard are center and thus guidance figure of the social and cultural life. The yard aristocracy becomes by the obligations of the höfischen life, like participation and adjustment of expensive celebrations, hunts and productions, carrying the newest fashion as well as establishment of splendid closing onand park ensembles, to the edge of the ruin floated. By necessary financial allowances by the monarch the aristocracy loses its independence. Intellectual ones and culture-creative are bound by alimony and Mäzenatentum to the yards and placed calmly. It did not become participationthe subjects in the state waits.

the catholic national church

Machtzentrum Rom, Vatikan
center of power Rome, Vatikan

the monarch is additionally to unrestricted lay power also head of the religious world. It governs under the so-called Gottesgnadentum. That again means that nothing exceptGod over the ruler stands. There of God assigned, Klerus and king a symbiosis are received for the mutual security of the own claims to power.

(To the time at that time it gave naturally also Protestanten (z. B. Huguenots), but this denomination sformen bore thatabsolutist rulers not, since only its denomination was the “correct one” and France was zwangskatholisiert thus completely. That is not to mean nevertheless that an absolutist state was automatically catholic thus. It admits exactly the same the reverse case, in that humansProtestanten became, for example the Scandinavian countries. In Denmark the Lutherani denomination state religion is.)

the nationally directed economic policy (mercantilism)

the mercantilism was characterised by a central, systematic, nationally directed, uniform economic policy. In such a way obtained public revenues are necessarily for the financing of the standing army, for the development of the administration, for the alimony of the aristocracy (e.g.: fürstliche buildings, Mäzenatentum, locks, gardens) and for the policy of expansion. It orients itself at the interests of the army and the yard.

By the foreign policy were flankedthe following measures seized:

  • Increase of the export, avoidance of imported goods (tariff policy, building of Manufakturen), forcing the economic independence from other states.
  • Development of economics and war fleets to the safety device and promotion of raw material import and trade
  • development of the transportation network: Road, bridging andCanal construction
  • quality controls
  • establishment of colonies including commercial companies (delivery of responsibility, automatic competition under the societies), whereby the colonies should remain in complete economic dependence on the motherland.

absolutism in the mirror of philosophy

during itself the rulersto appointed their power from God grace to have received found the state theoretician Thomas Hobbes in its work Leviathan of 1651 one „rationalistic “authentication of the absolutism. Humans leave the natural state according to his theory (coined/shaped by complete liberty of the particularand wars of humans among themselves), in order to go into a community, which is governed by a sovereign. This sovereign and humans are received articles of association, with that humans to the subject become and its individual-liberal rights to thatSovereign retires. This does humans from self-interest, since the sovereign offers in response protection to it inside as well as in the exterior. This sovereign stands outside of the right, in order to be able to decide freely. The sovereign can be a monarch, with which Hobbesthe mental founder of the absolutism became.


In the early modern times the absolutism was far common as rule form in Europe and developed itself in the age of the baroque to the highest bloom. The example for the absolutismthe rule of the French king is Ludwig XIV.

Later the enlightened absolutism in such a way specified developed from the pure absolutism, in which the general well-being being issued became the primary goal of the otherwise absolutely governing monarch - the king understood itselfas the first servant of its State of (self description Friedrich II. of Prussia).

the population was divided

the three conditions the absolutism into the three substantial conditions, the aristocracy, the Klerus and the third conditions, that from citizens,Farmers and the workers built up.

By the example Ludwig XIV. The aristocracy became dependent by a splendid yard life on the king, since this took over the costs of the celebrations and to the aristocracy money borrowed. Thus the king could govern detached by the aristocracy.It affected the Klerus by numerous supports of the church. Besides it appointed itself to installation through God grace. Ludwig controlled the third conditions by the princes and by the favour of the higher citizenry, whereby he power over thoselower workers won. Besides jedweder doubt about the authority of the monarch was punished with extreme hardness.

forms of the absolutism

Höfi absolutism

in the höfischen absolutism is the king the absolute master of its state through GodGrace. It lives at a splendid yard and determines the religion of its subjects. It strives to pull the noble ones of its country to its yard and to bring it thereby not only under its control, but also by the expensiveYard life, which most could afford only by generous donations of the monarch to float into a dependence from it to. The penitentiary system plans strict punishments - inclusive torture -. There is the body characteristic and Fronarbeit (Robot). Aristocracyand privileges enjoy church like for example exemption from taxes, the possession of the state consist of money and precious metals (mercantilism).

enlightened absolutism

in the enlightened absolutism the king sees itself on as the “first servants of the state” (quotation: Friedrich the large one). Its yard is kept sober simply and, in order to increase the efficiency of the state apparatus. The influence of aristocracy and church is smaller, the people has a free religion choice. The body characteristic is forbidden, the Fronarbeit is moderated andthe penitentiary system plans less strict punishments. The wealth of the state is its reason and soil (Physiokratismus).


  • Johannes Kunisch: Absolutism. European history from the Westfäli peace to the crisis of the Ancien Régime. Vandenhoeck &Ruprecht/UTB, Goettingen 1986, ISBN 3-525-03209-9
  • Nicholas Henshall: Early decay Absolutism 1550-1700: Political Reality or propaganda. In: Ronald Asch (Hrsg.): Absolutism, a myth. Cologne (and. A.) 1996
  • Rudolf four-house: States and conditions: from Westfäli to the HubertusburgerPeace 1648 to 1763. Frankfurt/Main [among other things] 1990.
  • Ernst Hinrichs: Prince and powers. To the problem of the European absolutism. Goettingen 2000.

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