SP CH.15 PT3 Pg. 425-432
Absolutism in Central, Eastern, and Northern EuropeI
. During the 17thc Prussia, Austria, and Russia appeared as growing powers inEastern EuropeThe German States
. The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the 30 Years’ War in 1648, left each of the states in the HRE virtually autonomous and sovereign. There was no longer aGerman Empire but 300 little Germanies.The Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia
The evolution of Brandenburg into a powerful state was largely the work of Hohenzollern dynasty, which in 1415 had come to rule the principality innortheastern Germany.
. In 1609, the H inherited some lands in the Rhine valley in westernGermany, 9 years later they received the duchy of Prussia.
. By the 17thc, the dominions of the house of H, now called B-P,consisted of 3 disconnected masses in western, central, and easternGermany; only the H ruler connected them
. The foundation for the P state was laid by Frederick William the Great Elector,who came to power in the midst of the 30YW. Realizing that B-P was small, openterritory with no natural defense, FW built a standing army.
. By 1678, he possessed a force of 40thou men that took over 50% of thestate’s revenues.
. To sustain the army and his own power, FW established the GeneralWar Commissariat to levy taxes for the army and oversea its growth andtraining. The GWC evolved into an agency for civil government as well.
. Directly responsible to the elector, the new bureaucratic machine became his chief instrument for governing the state. Many of its officialswere members of the Prussian landed aristocracy, the Junkers, who alsoserved as officers in the army
. The nobles’ support of FW’s policies derived from the tacit agreement that hemade with them to eliminate their power in their Estates-General.
. In return for a free hand in running the government, he gave the noblesalmost unlimited power over their peasants, exempted nobles fromtaxation, and awarded them the highest ranks in the army and the GWCw/the understanding that they would not challenge his political control.
. The nobles were allowed to appropriate their land and bind them to thesoil as serfs. Serfdom was not new in B-P, but FW reinforced it throughhis concessions to the nobles.
. To Build B-P economy, FW followed mercantilist policies using high tariffs,subsidies, and monopolies for manufacturers to stimulate domestic industry andthe construction of roads and canals. At the same time however, he continued tofavor the interests of the nobility at the expense of the commercial and industrialmiddle class in towns.
FW laid the groundwork for the P state; his son Frederick III made one further contribution: in return for aiding the HRE in the War of the Spanish Succession,he was officially granted the title of king-in-Prussia.