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In fact the term ideology was coined during the Revolution. Prior to the French Revolution, people generally lived in the form of government that had been in place for centuries and that form was monarchy in most places. However, after the French Revolution, no government was accepted as legitimate without justification.

The republicans challenged those who favored the monarchy. Even within republicans, some advocated a government directed by the elite while others preferred a more democratic structure. Several ideological alternatives arose due to the French Revolution including nationalism, liberalism, socialism and eventually communism. Nationalism is an ideology that emphasizes loyalty, devotion or allegiance to a nation and places these obligations above other individual or group interests.

The French Revolution initiated the movement toward the modern nation-state and played a key role in the birth of nationalism across Europe. As French armies under Napoleon Bonaparte captured territories, the ideology of Nationalism was spread across Europe. Due to this, struggle for national liberation became one of the most important themes of 19th and 20th-century European and world politics.

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Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty and equality. There were two key events that marked the triumph of liberalism during the Revolution. The first was the abolition of feudalism in France on the night of 4 th August This marked the collapse of feudal and old traditional rights and privileges. The second was the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August The Declaration is regarded as a foundational document of both liberalism and human rights.

Due to the success of the French Revolution, liberal governments were established in nations across Europe, South America and North America through the 19th century.

Watersheds of World History

Thus the Revolution is considered a defining moment in Liberalism. However, it did provide an intellectual and social environment in which these ideologies, and their spokesmen, could flourish. The French communist philosophers of the late 18th century not only criticized private property but also called for its abolition and the establishment of a society based on the egalitarian and communal ownership of property.

Also, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels , among the most important communist thinkers, were educated in late 18th and early 19th century when there was widespread revolutionary activity. The French Revolution had a deep impact on neighboring countries. The French Revolutionary armies during the s, and later under Napoleon, invaded and controlled Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and parts of Germany.

The French invasion of these territories removed the legal and economic barriers that had protected the nobility, clergy, guilds and urban oligarchies. Instead the principle of equality before law was established. The Revolution thus destroyed the power of oligarchies and elites that opposed economic change.

Evidence suggests that areas that were occupied by the French and that underwent radical institutional reform experienced more rapid urbanization and economic growth, especially after The arrival of new economic and industrial opportunities in the second half of the 19th century then resulted in more economic growth of Europe. The French Revolution inspired the slaves in Saint Domingue to revolt forcing French leaders to recognize the full meaning of their revolution.

The Haitian Revolution began on 22nd August as the slaves of Saint Domingue began to kill their masters plunging the colony into civil war. It involved blacks, mulattoes, French, Spanish and British participants. The Haitian Revolution ended in with the independence of Haiti.

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It was the only slave uprising that led to the founding of a state which was both free from slavery, and ruled by non-whites and former captives. The influence of the Haitian Revolution spanned across every location that continued to practice slavery. It is now widely regarded as a defining moment in the history of racism. The early 19th century was dominated by the effects of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. In the decades following the peace of , many European countries were beset by social conflicts as their populations sought to assert their rights against the often autocratic rulers of their states.

This ushered in what is known as the Age of Revolutions , a period in which a number of significant revolutionary movements occurred in many parts of Europe and the Americas. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. While England quickly repented of most things republican, France continued its upheaval against most things authoritarian, including its attack on religion.

The irony is that as France continued its war on authority, it became no less authoritarian than it had been. France traded the tyranny of one for the tyranny of the many. By the nineteenth century, it has settled for the tyranny of one, this time under Napoleon.

While France in the nineteenth century will continue down the path of having an absolutist ruler, England will continue to weaken the power of the single monarch. In England, the doctrine of divine right will be supplanted by constitutional doctrines such as that of parliamentary sovereignty and laws such as the Habeas Corpus Act and the Toleration Act The beginnings of these changes can be seen in both some of the political philosophies in seventeenth-century England and the constitutional reforms that took place throughout that era and into the eighteenth century.

While Hobbes and Filmer were reliable frontmen for the idea of divine right, thinkers such as Algernon Sidney and John Locke attacked the idea of an absolute monarch and with those attacks, the attack on the divine right of kings. Locke also had reacted to the ideas of Robert Filmer and these were published in his Two Treatises on Government In his works, Locke stated that the ruler governed by means of a social contract in which the ruler had obligations to protect the rights of subjects.

His view of the social contract was much different than that of his predecessor Hobbes who envisioned the social contract as one where the burden of obligation fell on the subjects to submit and obey. These two men, Algernon Sidney and John Locke would embody the resistance to the idea of divine right. Charles I prorogued the parliament but eventually called it back in session after a rebellion broke out in Scotland in Once the Parliament was called they impeached Archbishop Laud and some of the judges that supported the king.

Bishop Laud was attainted and executed. During this time of foment, the idea that the king could be attainted became a reality. The Restoration of the monarchy in led to a more supportive Parliament of the monarchy for a time. The Anglican Church was given greater support than before The Test Act required all officeholders to take the sacraments of the Anglican Church.

Charles II was leaning toward a pro-French policy which made him more tolerant of the Catholics. His brother, James II was the apparent heir to the throne of England. He also was Catholic.

The Parliament was Protestant. Charles advocated a more pro-Catholic stance including religious toleration for Catholics. After Charles died and James ascended to the throne in James had a son increasing fear among Protestants that a Catholic heir would take England in a Catholic direction. James began to dispense fire those that did not support his policies.

He brought more Catholics into the government. He agreed. The claim of the Whigs was that James had abdicated.

Watersheds of World History: From Monarchies to Democracy and From Myth to Reason

The divine right of kings seems out of place today in a democratic society. After all, the people should have a say in how they are governed, not just the ruler, right? The Bishop of Rome, for example, governs the Catholic Church by a kind of divine right. As for the claim that the Bible teaches that Kings have a divine right, is this true?


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Not exactly. While Kings like James I and Louis XIV claimed that the Bible supported their doctrine of divine right, the divine right of kings is based on a model that the king is a father to his people, but there is no justification from the Bible that the state should be viewed as a family unit which is what Filmer and other divine righters envisioned.

The Bible is replete with examples of those that got in trouble with the authority of their land, but were justified in doing so: Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, Esther, and John the Baptist are just some examples. What the Bible does indicate is that while obeying rulers is the default position, that requirement does not always apply. In the end, the Bible appears to be agnostic as to what type of government a nation chooses.

When we consider the role that the Divine Right of Kings played in France and Great Britain, it is interesting that the adoption of Divine Right will precede violence done against the kings of both nations. France more fully embraced the idea of Divine Right, but would eventually eject both Divine Right and their monarch. However, the English appear to have been more repentant about killing their sovereign.


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The political rise of the legislature and the corresponding decline of royal absolutism will not only affect the United Kingdom, but also its colonies such as the American colonies which will not only reject the idea of divine right of kings, they will also reject monarchy itself.

For the American colonists the government of choice will not be monarchy, but a republic. From wwnorton. Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. A well written, intellectual article from start to finish.