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Absolutism: England vs.. France

Absolutism emerged in Europe as the royal power grew stronger. However, absolutism was different, depending on regional specificities. In this regard, the difference between absolutism in England and France is particularly distinct.

The development of absolutism in England was a steady process. In actuality, the idea of absolutism was shaped only by the late 16th – 17th century, but English kings and queens were always inclined to strengthening their power and establishing the total control over the country. However, John and his successors, including Henry VII and Henry VIII were not as inclined to absolutism as James I and Charles I. The latter believed that absolutism is essential form of the rule of English monarchs which is granted to them by the God, while John and his first successors were still influenced by feudal ideas of the lord-vassal relations, where the king was only the superior ruler over his vassals, which also had their rights and liberties in terms of Magna Carta. Nevertheless, gradually, English monarchs strengthened their power and defeated their internal opponents. They attempted to concentrate the political and economic power in their hands and, what is more they eventually took control over religion in England.  They did not want to share their power with Parliament that eventually led to the outbreak of the civil war under the rule of Charles I. However, even after the revolution, when the monarchy was restored English monarch did not fully abandoned the idea of absolutism, though they had to share the power with the Parliament and Government. At the same time, the Prime Minister traditionally played the administrative role, while the monarch always remained the head of the state. In such a way, the Prime Minister performed purely administrative functions, while he was appointed by the monarch. However, by the 17th century the role of the Parliament increased and monarchs could not appoint the Prime Minister without consultations with the Parliament, while the Prime Minister got larger freedom in his actions and policies, although the monarch still remained the formal head of the state and all decisions taken by the Prime Minister and Parliament, all legislative acts were sanctioned by the monarch. In fact, after the Civil War the power of English monarch was limited by the Petition of Rights, which was a constitutional document that limited the power of the monarch prohibiting him from infringing, while the Bill of Rights open opportunities for people participate in politics, and the power of the monarch was limited and the Parliament since the monarch had to seek the consent of the people, as represented in the Parliament.

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