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Sp. Ch.18 prt.

1 502-517

Chapter 18: The Eighteenth Century: European States, International Wars, and Social Change
The European States
I. Although the justifications of the previous century for a strong monarchy held sway,
divine-right assumptions were gradually suppressed by influential utilitarian arguments
as Europe became increasingly secularized.
A. This utilitarian argument was reinforced by the praises of the philosophes
Enlightened Absolutism?
I. Closely related to the Enlightenment idea of natural laws was the belief in natural rights,
which were thought to be inalterable privileges that ought not to be withheld from any
A. These natural rights included equality before the law, freedom of religious worship,
freedom of speech and the press, and the right to assemble, hold property, and seek
II. In the opinion of most philosophes, most people needed the direction provided by an
enlightened ruler.
A. Enlightened rulers must allow religious toleration, freedom of speech and the press,
and the right to hold private property. They must foster the arts, sciences, and
education. Above all, they must not be arbitrary in their rule; they must obey the laws
and enforce them on all subjects.
B. Only strong monarchs seemed capable of overcoming vested interests and effecting
the reforms society needed.
C. Reforms then should come from above—from the rulers rather than the people.
Distrustful of the masses, the philosophes believed that absolute rulers, swayed by
enlightened principles, were the best hope of reforming their societies.
III. Enlightened absolutism emerged, at least in part, in the 18thc.
A. Monarchs such as Fredrick II of Prussia, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Joseph II
of Austria supposedly followed the advice of the philosophes and ruled by
enlightened principles, establishing a path to modern nationhood.
B. Recent scholarship has questioned the usefulness of the concept of enlightened
The Atlantic Seaboard States
I. As a result of the overseas voyages in the 16thc, the European economic axis began to
shift from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic seaboard.
France: The Problems of the French Monarchs
I. In the 18thc, France experienced an economic revival as the Enlightenment gained
strength. The French monarchy, however, was not overly influenced by the philosophes
and resisted reforms even as the French aristocracy grew stronger.
II. France pulled back from foreign adventures while commerce and trade expanded and the
government promoted the growth of industry, especially in coal and textiles.
A. When Cardinal Fleury died in 1743, Louis XV decided to rule alone.
B. However, he was lazy and weak and ministers and mistresses soon b/g to influence
C. One example is Madame de Pompadour. She charmed Louis XV and gained both
wealth and power, often making important government decisions and giving advice
on appointments and foreign policy.
III. The new king, Louis XVI, knew little about the operations of the French government and
lacked the energy to deal decisively w/state affairs.
A. As France’s finical crisis worsened, neither Louis nor his wife seemed able to fathom
the depths of despair and discontent that soon led to violent revolution.
Great Britain: King and Parliament
I. The 18thc British political system was characterized by a sharing of power b/w king and
Parliament, w/Parliament gradually gaining the upper hand.
A. The United Kingdom of Great Britain came into existence in 1707 when the
governments of England and Scotland united.
B. The king chose ministers responsible to himself who set policy and guided
Parliament. Parliament had the power to make laws, levy taxes, pass the budget, and
indirectly influence the king’s ministers.
II. The 18thc British Parliament was dominated by a landed aristocracy.
A. There were the peers, who sat for life in the House of Lords, and the landed gentry,
who sat in the House of Commons and served as justices of peace in the counties.
B. Both were landowners w/similar economic interests, and frequently intermarried.
III. Although the British monarchy faced a powerful aristocracy that monopolized Parliament
and held most of the important governing posts locally and nationally, it still exercised
considerable power.
A. B/c the aristocracy was divided by factional struggles based on family rivalries, the
kings could take advantage of the divisions to win aristocratic support through
patronage, awarding them titles, government posts, and positions in the church and
household staff.
IV. What enabled the British system of political patronage to work was the structure of
parliamentary elections.
A. The deputies to the House of Commons were chosen from the boroughs and
counties, but not by popular vote and hardly in any equitable fashion.
B. Past history rather than population determined the number of delegates from each
C. Who could vote also varied wildly, enabling wealthy landed aristocrats to gain
support through patronage and bribery; the result was a number of “pocket
boroughs” controlled by a single person.
D. This aristocratic control also extended to the county delegates, two from each of
England’s 40 counties. Although all holders of property worth at least 40
shillings/year could vote, members of the leading gentry families were elected
V. Since the ministers were responsible for exercising the king’s patronage, who became his
chief ministers took on great political significance.
A. In 1714, a new dynasty, the Hanoverians, was established when the last Stuart ruler,
Queen Anne, died w/o an heir. The crown was offered to the Protestant rulers of the
German state of Hanover.
B. Since the Hanoverian king did not speak English and neither George had much
familiarity w/the British system, the chief ministers were allowed to handle
Parliament and dispense patronage.
VI. Walpole served as prime minister from 1721 to 1742 and pursued a peaceful foreign
policy to avoid new land taxes.
A. But burgeoning trade and industry in the 18thc Britain led the ever-increasing middle
class to favor expansion of trade and world empire.
B. The exponents of empire found a spokesman in William Pitt the Elder, who became
prime minister in 1757 and furthered imperial ambitions by acquiring Canada and
India in the 7 Years’ War.
C. Despite his successes, however, Pitt was dismissed by the new king, George III, in
1761 and replaced by the king’s favorite, Lord Bute. George III was determined to
strengthen monarchial authority and to wield the power of patronage personally.
However, as a growing number of newspapers spread Enlightenment ideas to an
expanding public, the clamor for the reform of both patronage and the electoral
system began to increase.
VII. An ambitious middle-class member of the House of Commons, John Wilkes was an
outspoken journalist who publicly criticized the king’s ministers. Arrested and soon
released, Wilkes was expelled from Parliament.
A. When he won a seat in Parliament from the county of Middlesex, he was again
denied the right to take his place his Parliament.
B. Wilkes’s cause quickly b/g identified w/liberty, and the slogan “Wilkes and Liberty”
was frequently used by his supporters.
C. His supporters came from two major social groups: the common people of London,
who had no voting rights, and a middle element of voting freeholders, such as guild
masters and small merchants in London and the surrounding counties.
D. The cry for liberty soon spilled over into calls for the reform of Parliament and an
end to Parliamentary privileges. At the same time, criticism at home was exacerbated
by criticism abroad, especially by the American colonists, whose discontent w/the
British system had led to rebellion and separation.
E. Although minor reforms of the patronage system were made in 1782, King George
managed to avoid more drastic change by appointed William Pitt the Younger as
prime minister in 1783. Supported by the merchants, industrial classes, and the king,
who used patronage to gain support for Pitt in the House of Commons, the latter
managed to stay in power through the French revolutionary and Napoleonic eras.
F. King George III remained an uncertain supporter b/c of periodic bouts of insanity.
G. With Pitt’s successes, serious reform of the corrupt parliamentary system was
avoided for another generation.
The Decline of the Dutch Republic
I. After its century in the sun, the Dutch Republic or United Netherlands suffered a decline
in economic prosperity. Both national and local political affairs were dominated by the
oligarchies that governed the Dutch Republic’s towns.
A. In the 18thc, the struggle continued b/w these oligarchs (or regents) and the House of
Orange, who as stadholders headed the executive branch of government.
B. The regents sought to reduce the power of the Orangists but soon became divided
when Dutch burghers who called themselves Patriots began to agitate for democratic
reforms that would open up the municipal councils to greater participation than that
of the oligarchs.
II. The success of the Patriots led to foreign interference when the Prussian king sent troops
to protect his sister, wife, of the Organgist stadholder.
A. The Patriots were crushed, and both Organgists and regents reestablished the old
Absolutism in Central and Eastern Europe
I. Of the 5 major European states, 3 were located in central and eastern Europe and came to
play an increasingly role in European international politics.
Prussia: The Army and the Bureaucracy
I. 2 able Prussian kings in the 18thc, Frederick William I and Frederick II, further developed
the 2 major institutions—the army and the bureaucracy—that were the backbone of the
A. Frederick William promoted evolution of Prussia’s civil bureaucracy by
establishing the General Directory.
B. It served as the chief administrative agent of the central government, supervising
military, police, economic, and financial affairs.
C. Frederick strove to maintain a highly efficient bureaucracy of civil service workers.
It had its own code, in which the supreme values were obedience, honor, and service
to the king as the highest duty.
D. Close personal supervision of the bureaucracy became a hallmark of the 18thc
Prussian rulers.
II. Under Frederick William I, the rigid class stratification that had emerged in 17thc
Brandenburg-Prussia remained.
A. The nobility, known as Junkers, who owned large estates w/many serfs, still played a
dominating role in the Prussian state.
B. The Junkers held a complete monopoly over the officer corps of the Prussian army,
which Frederick William passionately continued to expand.
III. By using nobles as officers, FW ensured a close bond b/w the nobility and the army and,
in turn, the loyalty of the nobility to the absolute monarch.
A. As officers, the Junker nobility became imbued w/a sense of service to the king or
state. The Prussian army was the most important institution in the state.
B. “Prussian militarism” became synonymous w/the extreme exaltation of military
IV. The remaining classes in Prussia were less important than the nobility. The peasants were
born on their lords’ estates and spent most of the rest of their lives there or in the army.
They had few rights.
A. For the middle class, the only opportunity for any social prestige was in the Prussian
civil service, where the ideal of loyal service to the state became a hallmark of the
middle-class official.
V. Frederick II was well versed in Enlightenment thought and invited Voltaire to live at his
court for several years. He was a conscientious ruler who made few innovations in the
administration of the state. His diligence in overseeing its operation made the Prussian
bureaucracy well known for its efficiency and honesty.
A. He established a single code of laws for his territories that eliminated the use of
torture except in treason and murder cases.
B. He also granted a limited freedom of speech and press as well as complete religious
C. He was too dependent on the Prussian nobility to interfere w/it or w/the hierarchical
structure of the Prussian society. In fact, Frederick was a social conservative who
made Prussian society even more aristocratic than it had been before.
D. Fredrick reserved his father’s policy of allowing commoners to rise to power in the
civil service and reserved the higher positions in the bureaucracy for members of the
VI. Frederick took a great interest in military affairs and enlarged the Prussian army, and he
had no objection to using it.
The Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs
I. Austria, a sprawling empire composed of many different nationalities, languages,
religions, and cultures, found it difficult to provide common laws and a centralized
administration for its people.
II. Maria Theresa, stunned by the loss of the Austrian Silesia in the War of the Austrian
Succession, resolved to reform her empire.
A. While she was forced to accept the privileges of the Hungarian nobility and the right
of her Hungarian subjects to have their own laws, she did abolish the Austrian and
Bohemian chancelleries and replaced them w/departments of foreign affairs, justice,
war, commerce, and internal affairs that functioned for both territories.
B. She also curtailed the role of the diets or provincial assemblies in taxation and local
administration. Now clergy and nobles were forced to pay property and income taxes
to royal officers rather than diets.
C. The Austrian and Bohemian lands were divided into 10 provinces and subdivided
into districts, all administered by royal officials rather than representatives of the
diets, making part of the Austrian Empire more centralized and more bureaucratic.
D. These reforms were done for practical reasons—to strengthen the power of the
Habsburg state—and were accompanied by an enlargement and modernization of the
armed forces.
III. Joseph II was determined to make changes, thought also carried on his mother’s chief
goal enhancing Habsburg power w/I the monarchy and Europe.
A. He abolished serfdom and tried to give peasants hereditary rights to their holdings.
He abandoned economic restraints by eliminating internal trade barriers, ending
monopolies, and removing guild restrictions.
B. A new penal code was established that abrogated the death penalty and established
the principle of equality of all b/f the law.
C. He introduced religious reforms as well, including complete religious toleration and
restrictions on the Catholic Church.
IV. Joseph’s reform program proved overwhelming for Austria. He alienated the nobility by
freeing the serfs and alienated the church w/his attacks on the monastic establishment.
Russia under Catherine the Great
I. Catherine claimed that she wished to reform Russia along the lines of the Enlightenment
ideas, but she was always shrewd enough to realize that her success depended on the
support of the palace guard and the gentry class from which it stemmed. She could not
afford to alienate the Russian nobility.
II. Initially she seemed eager to reform. She called for the election of an assembly in 1767 to
debate the details of a new law code.
A. In her Instruction, she questioned the institutions of serfdom, torture, and capital
punishment and even advocated the principle of the equality of all people in the eyes
of the law.
B. Catherine’s subsequent policies had the effect of strengthening the landholding class
at the expense of all others, especially the Russian serfs.
C. In order to reorganize the local government, Catherine divided Russia into 50
provinces, each of which was in turn divided into districts whose ruling officials
were chosen by nobles. In this way, the local nobility became responsible for the
day-to-day governing of Russia/
D. The gentry were now formed into corporate groups w/special legal privileges,
including the right to trial by peers and exemption from personal taxation and
corporal punishment.
III. Catherine’s policy of favoring the landed nobility led to even worse conditions for the
A. The attempt of the Russian government to impose restrictions on free peasants in the
border districts of Russia soon led to a full-scale revolt that spread to the Volga
valley. It was intensified by the support of the Cossacks, independent tribes of fierce
warriors who had at times fought against the Turks but now resisted the
government’s attempt to absorb them into the empire.
B. A Cossack, Emelyan Pugachev, succeeded in welding the disparate elements of
discontent into a mass revolt.
C. Beginning in 1773, Pugachev’s rebellion spread across Southern Russia from the
Urals to the Volga River. Pugachev won the support of many peasants when he
issued a manifesto in July 1774 freeing all peasants from oppressive taxes and
military service.
D. Encouraged by Pugachev to seize their landlord’s estates, the peasants responded by
killing estate owners and their families.
E. The rebellion soon faltered as government forces rallied and became more effective.
Pugachev was captured, tortured, and executed. The rebellion collapsed, and
Catherine responded w/even greater repression of the peasantry. All rural reform was
halted, and serfdom was expanded into newer parts of the empire.
IV. Catherine expanded Russia’s territory. In the treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774, the
Russians gained some land, the privilege of protecting Greek Orthodox Christians in the
Ottoman Empire, and the right to sail in Turkish waters.
The Declaration of Poland
I. The Polish king was elected by the Polish nobles and forced to accept drastic restrictions
of his power, including limited revenues, a small bureaucracy, and a standing army of no
more that 20000 soldiers. For Polish nobles, these limitations eliminated an absolute
king; for Poland’s neighbors, they were an invitation to meddle in its affairs.
II. The destruction of the Polish state in the 18thc resulted from rivalries b/w Austria, Russia,
and Prussia. To avoid war, the leaders of these powers decided to compensate themselves
by dividing Poland.
A. The remaining Polish state was supposedly independent; in truth, it was dominated
by the Russians, who kept troops on Polish territory.
B. After the Poles attempted to establish a stronger state under a hereditary monarchy in
1791, the Russians gained the support of Austria and Prussia and intervened
militarily in 1792. In the following year, Russia and Prussia undertook a 2nd partition
of Polish territory.
The Mediterranean World
I. Bourbon rule temporarily rejuvenated Spain and at least provided an opportunity to
centralize the institutions of the state. Since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 had taken the
Italian territories and the Netherlands from Spain, the latter now had fewer administrative
problems and less drain on its overtaxed economic resources.
I. Portugal had experienced decline since the days of the empire in the 16thc. Nevertheless,
during the long ministry of the marquis of Pombal, the nobility and Catholic church were
curtailed and the Portuguese empire temporarily revived. After Pombal was removed, the
nobility and church regained much of their power.
The Italian States
I. After the Treaty of Utrecht, Austria had replaced Spain as the dominant force in Italy in
the 18thc.
The Scandinavian States
I. After the Battle of Poltava in 1709, Swedish power declined rapidly. Following the death
of the powerful Charles XII in 1718, the Swedish nobility, using the Swedish diet as an
instrument, gained control of public life and reduced the monarchy to puppet status. But
the division of the nobility into pro-French and pro-Russian factions eventually enabled
King Gustavus III to reassert the power of the monarchy.
A. Gustavus proved to be one of the most enlightened monarchs of his age. He
established freedom to religion, speech, and press and instituted a new code of
justice that eliminated the use of torture. His economic reforms smacked of laissez-
faire: he reduced tariffs, abolished tolls, and encouraged trade and agriculture.
Enlightened Absolutism Revisited
I. Necessities of the state and maintenance of the existing system took precedence over
reform. Joseph, Catherine, and Frederick were all guided primarily by a concern for the
power and well-being of their states and that their policies were not altogether different
from those of their predecessors.
II. Political and social realities limited the ability of enlightened rulers to make reforms.
Everywhere in Europe, the hereditary aristocracy still held the most power in society.
Enlightened reforms were often limited to changes in the administrative and judicial
systems that did not seriously undermine the powerful interests of the European nobility.

Wars and Diplomacy

I. By the 18thc, the European system of self-governing, individual states were grounded
largely in the principle of self-interest.
A. B/c international relations were based on considerations of power, the 18thc concept
of balance of power was predicted on how to counterbalance the power of one state
by another to prevent any one state from dominating the others.
B. The diplomacy of the 18thc still focused on primarily on dynastic interests or the
desire of ruling families to provide for their dependents and extend their dynastic
C. But the 18thc also saw the emergence of a concept of reason of state, on the basis of
which a ruler such as Frederick II and a minister such as William Pitt the Elder
looked beyond dynastic interests to the long-term future of their states.
II. International rivalry and the continuing centralization of the European states were closely
related. The need for taxes to support large armies and navies created its own imperative
for more effective and efficient control of power in the hands of bureaucrats who could
collect taxes and organize states for the task of winning wars.
The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748)
I. After Charles VI’s death, the Pragmatic Sanction was pushed aside, especially by
Fredrick II, who had just succeeded to the throne of Prussia. He took advantage of the
new empress, Maria Theresa, to invade Austria Silesia.
A. The vulnerability of Maria Theresa encouraged France to enter the war against its
traditional enemy Austria; in turn, MT made an alliance w/Great Britain, who feared
French hegemony over Continental affairs.
B. By 1748, all parties were exhausted and agreed to stop. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
promised the return off all occupied territories except Silesia to their original owners.
C. Prussia’s refusal to return Silesia sparked another war b/w Prussia and Austria.
The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763)
I. MT refused to accept the loss of Silesia and prepared for its return by rebuilding her army
while working diplomatically through her able foreign minister to separate Prussia from
its chief ally, France.
A. France left Prussia and joined Austria. Russia also joined the alliance. Great Britain
allied w/Prussia.
Conflict in Europe
I. The forces of Frederick II were eventually worn down and faced utter defeat when they
were saved by the death of Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia, which brought her nephew Peter
III to power, who withdrew the Russian troops from the conflict and from Prussian lands.
A. His withdrawal guaranteed a stalemate and led to a desire for peace. The European
conflict was ended by the Peace of Hubertusburg in 1763. All occupied territories
were returned, and Austria officially recognized Prussia’s permanent control of
War in India
I. The British under Robert Clive ultimately won, not b/c they had better forces but b/c they
were more persistent. By the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the French withdrew and left India
to the British.
The French and Indian War
I. The 2 primary areas of contention were the waterways of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence,
guarded by the fortress of Louisbourg and by forts near the Great Lakes and Lake
Champlain that protected French Quebec and French traders; and the unsettles Ohio
River Valley.
II. Despite initial French success, British fortunes were revived by William Pitt the Elder,
who was convinced that the destruction of the French colonial empire was a necessary
prerequisite for the creation of Britain’s colonial empire. A series of British victories soon
European Armies and Warfare
I. The professional standing army became a standard feature of 18thc Europe. Its increase in
size paralleled the development of absolutist states.
Composition of Armies
I. The composition of armies reflected the hierarchal structure of European society and the
great chasm that separated the upper and lower classes.
A. Officers were aristocrats. Middle-class people were largely kept out of the higher
ranks of the officer corps while being admitted to the middle ranks. Rank-and-file
soldiers came mostly from the lower classes.
B. 18thc armies consisted partially of foreign troops. Most people in the army came from
the lower classes and saw joining the army as a chance to escape hard times.
The Nature of Warfare
I. War was no longer driven by ideology as the religious conflicts of the 16th and 17thc.
Rulers regarded wanton destruction of civilian taxpayers as foolish.
A. Elaborate maneuvers, rather than direct confrontation, became fashionable. A system
of formalities accepted by all sides allowed defeated opponents to w/d w/o being
captured or destroyed.