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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the slow and gradual assertion of monarchical authority evident throughout Western Europe between the later Middle Ages and the mid-eighteenth century. It demonstrates that this was a cumulative process, with periods of royal weakness as well as of stable, expanding authority, and suggests that physical force was less important in bringing this about than negotiation and compromise with the nobility and with rival bodies such as the Church and independent towns. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are shown to have seen an important re-establishment of monarchical régimes; after c. 1650 a further strengthening was evident, particularly in Louis XIV’s France, where increased taxation was the main foundation of military power. Dynastic continuity was everywhere crucial, as was the exercise of personal authority by an able and adult ruler.

Keywords: Absolutism, dynasty, government, law, monarchy, nobility, royal authority, sovereignty, taxation

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