THE OLD REGIME 1660-1789

Age of Absolution Goals:
economic order
political order
domestic order

To accomplish these goals, the Old Regimes were required to:
develop and control military forces
develop an effective civil bureaucracy
control taxes to gain revenue

The Wars of the Old Regime

The Wars of Louis XIV and France

1. War of Devolution B 1667-1668. With the death of his father in law Philip of Spain, Louis attempted to have the Spanish Netherlands transferred to his ownership (devolution/succession).  Spain refused.

2. The Dutch War B 1672-1678. Louis again sought land expansion for France at the expense of the Dutch, in an attempt to separate them from their English allies.

3. War of the League of Augsburg - (also known as King William=s War in North America) 1689-1697.  Louis sought to conquer territory in the Rhine River Valley.  French add province of Alsace to their holdings

4. War of the Spanish Succession (also known as Queen Anne=s War in North America) - 1702-1713.   Louis XIV desired to put his second grandson, Philip of Anjou (Philip V), on the vacant Spanish throne, which presumably would lead to a uniting of Spain and France under the Bourbon family.  British gain control over Rock of Gibraltar, a promontory which commands the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean (which they still own today).  Spanish Netherlands transferred to Austrian Hapburgs

The Wars of Frederick the Great

1. War of the Austrian Succession (King George=s War) - 1740-1748. Fought over Frederick the Great=s desire to seize Silesia from the Hapsburgs in return for his agreeing to Maria Theresa accession to the Austrian throne (the so-called Pragmatic Sanction).

2. Seven Years War (French and Indian War) - 1756-63.  A continuation of the War of the Austrian Succession, but Frederick the Great found himself on the defensive most of the war, trying to maintain Silesia since Austria had gained new allies in France and Russia, where Prussia was now allied with Britain (the so-called Diplomatic Revolution). France lost her colonial holdings in North America (Canada and Ohio River Valley), which were transferred to Britain. The death of the Czar of Russia caused that country to drop out of the war, which saved Silesia for Frederick.

The American War for Independence - 1776-1783. France decided to aid the Americans in order to repay Britain for earlier defeats. Americans won their freedom, thanks largely to French assistance, but France was saddled with huge war debts that will lead to the calling of the Estates-General in 1789, which culminated in revolution and an end to Bourbon rule.

Old Regime Successes
more centralized governments
ushered in the new nation-state system
modernized military forces
modern efficient bureaucracies
power and position of nobility and clerics weakening
commercial development at home and overseas/Age of Exploration
rising expectations for education/economic growth

Old Regime Failures
rich still live at expense of poor/class distinctions remain
unfair tax burden
Catholic Church still too powerful in wealth/too aligned with crown at expense of the faithful
too many landless peasants without hope of a better economic future
Ineffective rulers such as Louis XV and Louis XVI
continued warfare/failed to bring order and stability/financial ruin from war
Old Regime not capable of modernizing
obsolete law codes
ministers responsible to king, not the nation/political bribery
economic growth slowed by red-tape, tolls/taxes

French tax structure
Taille - basic land tax, not paid by Catholic Church
Corvee- tax paid in the form of unpaid work by citizens
Gabelle - salt tax
Don Gratuit - Annual gift of Catholic Church to France
Vingtieme and Dixieme - temporary taxes raised in wartime which became permanent


Coffin and Stacey, Western Civilizations, chapters 15-17


Ancien Regime; Age of Absolutism;  Absolute Despot; 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Estate; Divine Right Monarchy; Louis XIV; Edict of Nantes; Mercantilism; The Fronde; Versailles Palace; Intendants; Nobility of the Sword; Nobility of the Robe; Parlement of Paris; Estates-General; Huguenots; Cardinal Mazarin; Cardinal Richelieu; Bourbons; Frederick (the Great) II of Prussia;  Hohenzollerns; Peter the Great; Romanovs; Hapsburgs; the Holy Roman Empire: Tudors: Stuarts; House of Orange; Hanoverians: Windsors; The English Civil Wars; The Glorious Revolution; Oliver Cromwell; William and Mary; Magna Carta


Who was the ASun King@?

Why did Louis XIV revoke the Edict of Nantes?

What is meant by the terms 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Estates?

Name the ruling families of Prussia, Britain, France, Russia, and Austria?

What were the goals of Frederick the Great in fighting continued war against most of Europe?

The Edict of Nantes, authorized in 1598 and revoked later by Louis XIV, provided toleration for A)Huguenots B)Quakers C)Catholics D)Jews E)Muslims

Compared to France in the 17th and 18th centuries, England A) expanded royal authority B) placed strong limits on the monarch's powers C) relied mostly on the king to make law D) made no significant contribution to political philosophy.


Also known as the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment was an18th Century intellectual movement which believed that human reason could solve the everyday problems that faced man, that life was not determined beforehand by God.  Mankind could use its ability to think to solve problems and provide a guide for individual and social happiness.

Change from the past
1. Knowledge is not limited to past knowledge
2. Knowledge should have a practical value and be used
3. Move away from religion toward scientific answers

Premise of the Enlightenment
1. Universe is intelligible and governed by natural forces, not be supernatural forces
2. Apply the scientific method for inquiry (identify the problem, seek solution, collect information, create hypothesis, test hypothesis)
3. Human race can be educated to achieve infinite improvement

The Original Enlightenment All-Stars: 
Isaac Newton
- Law of Gravity
Rene Descartes- "I think, therefore I am"
John Locke - Tabula Rasa
Immanuel Kant - "Have the courage to use your own intelligence."

Deism - an alternative to the Catholic Church.  Religion provides man with comfort about the afterlife and therefore the masses will never reject it.  Since the Enlightenment is about man solving his daily problems, that life is not pre-ordained, it has an anti-spiritual side to it.  Voltaire give us the idea that indeed there is a God, (If there was no God, he would have to be invented) but he is only the creator and the final judger, but in between, mankind works out its own problems.

Philosophes - The intellectuals who professed the optimism of the Enlightenment

Leading Philosophes:
Political Thought: 
    Rousseau - Social Contract - The government has a contract with its citizens.  Society agrees to be governed by the general will of the people.
    Montesquieu - Spirit of the Laws -No set government style could suit all countries.  Advocated checks and balances and separation of powers
    Locke - Second Treatise on Government- People are endowed with certain rights, life, liberty and property.  The government gets its authority to govern from the people.  The best government is the one that governs the least, and if it does a poor job, the people should replace it.
Crime and Punishment: Cesare Beccaria - Essay on Crime and Punishment.  It was not the severity of punishment (torture) that dweterred criminals but rather he certainty of punishment.
Economics: Adam Smith-Wealth of Nations.  Recommended laissez-faire economics instead of mercantilism, government stays out of the way pf business, free trade.
Chemistry: Lavoisier (executed during French Revolution)
Astronomy: LaPlace
Encyclopedie: Denis Diderot - a compilation of all of the works of the Philosophes

Enlightened Despots:  Rulers who supposedly were committed to using the Enlightenment to better the lives of their subjects - Frederick the Great (Prussia), Catherine the Great (Russia), Napoleon I (France), Joseph II (Austria)


Spielvogel. Western Civilization. Text Chapter 16-17.


Age of Reason; Enlightened Despot; Voltaire; Rousseau; Montesquieu; John Locke; Adam Smith Beccaria; Issac Newton; Descartes; Diderot; Wealth of Nations; Spirit of the Laws; Social Contract; Second Treatise on Government Essay on Human Understanding;  Deism


Who were the AEnlightened Despots@ and how much were they truly enlightened?

What is a Philosophe?

Religious idea espoused by the Philosophes A)Catholicism B)Lutheranism C)Deism D)Anglicanism E)Laissez-Faire.  Why did the Philosophes  need a religious theory?

How did Enlightenment thought impact political theory?

Recommended Reading

William Doyle, The Old European Order, 1660-1800