Chapter 17 - Absolutism in Eastern Europe to 1740

    Lords and peasants in eastern Europe

    1. Overall, between 1400 and 1650 the princes and landed nobility of eastern Europe rolled back the gains made earlier by the peasantry; serfdom was reimposed.
    2. The medieval background (1400-1650)
      1. Personal and economic freedom for peasants increased between 1050 and 1300.
        1. Serfdom nearly disappeared.
        2. Peasants bargained freely with their landlords and moved about as they pleased.
      2. After 1300, powerful lords in eastern Europe revived serfdom to combat their economic problems.
        1. Laws that restricted the peasants' right of free movement were passed.
        2. Lords took more and more of the peasants' land and imposed heavier labor obligations.
    3. The consolidation of serfdom
      1. The reestablishment of hereditary serfdom took place in Poland, Prussia, and Russia between 1500 and 1650.
      2. The consolidation of serfdom was accompanied by the growth of estate agriculture.
        1. Lords seized peasant land for their own estates.
        2. They then demanded unpaid serf labor on those estates.
      3. Political reasons for changes in serfdom in eastern Europe were the most important.
        1. Serfdom increased because of political, not economic, reasons.
        2. Weak monarchs could not resist the demands of the powerful noble landlords.
        3. The absence of the western concept of sovereignty meant that the king did not think in terms of protecting the people of the nation.
        4. Overall, the peasants had less political power in eastern Europe and less solidarity.
        5. The landlords systematically undermined the medieval privileges of the towns.
          1. The lords sold directly to foreign capitalists instead of to local merchants.
          2. Eastern towns lost their medieval right of refuge.
          3. Western Europeans began to regard eastern Europe as culturally and morally inferior.

    The rise of Austria and Prussia

    1. Austria and the Ottoman Turks
      1. After the Thirty Years' War, the Austrian Habsburgs turned inward and eastward to unify their holdings.
        1. The Habsburgs replaced the Bohemian Czech (Protestant) nobility with their own warriors.
        2. Serfdom increased, Protestantism was wiped out, and absolutism was achieved.
        3. Ferdinand III created a standing army, centralized the government in Austria, and turned toward Hungary for land.
      2. This eastward turn led Austria to became absorbed in a war against the Turks over Hungary and Transylvania.
      3. Under Suleiman the Magnificent the Ottoman-Turks built the most powerful empire in the world, which included part of central Europe.
        1. The Turkish sultan was the absolute head of the state.
        2. There was little private property, and a bureaucracy staffed by slaves.
      4. The Ottoman attack on Austria in 1683 was turned back, and the Habsburgs conquered all of Hungary and Transylvania by 1699.
        1. The defeat of the Ottomans had support from Protestant nobles in Hungary and Louis XIV of France.
      5. The Habsburg possessions consisted of Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary, which were joined in a fragile union.
        1. The Pragmatic Sanction (1713) stated that the possessions should never be divided.
        2. The Hungarian nobility thwarted the full development of Habsburg absolutism, and Charles VI had to restore many of their traditional privileges after the rebellion led by Rákóczy in 1703.
    2. Prussia in the seventeenth century
      1. The Hohenzollern family ruled the electorate of Brandenburg but had little real power.
      2. The Thirty Years' War weakened the representative assemblies of the realm and allowed the Hohenzollerns to consolidate their absolutist rule.
      3. Frederick William (the Great Elector) used military force and taxation to unify his Rhine holdings, Prussia, and Brandenburg into a strong state.
        1. The traditional parliaments, or Estates, which were controlled by the Junkers (the nobles and the landowners), were weakened.
        2. War strengthened the elector, as did the Junkers' unwillingness to join with the towns to block absolutism.
    3. The consolidation of Prussian absolutism
      1. Frederick William I encouraged Prussian militarism and created the best army in Europe plus an efficient bureaucracy.
      2. The Junker class became the military elite and Prussia a militarist state.

    The development of Russia

    1. Between the midthirteenth century and 1700 Russia and the West became strikingly different; after 1700 Russia's development was closer to that of the West.
    2. The Mongol yoke and the rise of Moscow
      1. The Mongols conquered the Kievan state in the thirteenth century and unified it under their harsh rule.
      2. The Mongols used Russian aristocrats as their servants and tax collectors.
        1. The princes of Moscow served the Mongols well and became the hereditary great princes.
        2. Ivan I served the Mongols while using his wealth and power to strengthen the principality of Moscow.
        3. Ivan III acquired territory around Moscow--including the rich republic of Novgorod.
        4. Ivan III stopped acknowledging the Mongol khan as the supreme ruler and assumed the headship of Orthodox Christianity.
    3. Tsar and people to 1689
      1. By 1505, the prince of Moscow--the tsar--had emerged as the single hereditary ruler of the eastern Slavs.
      2. The tsars and the boyars struggled over who would rule the state; the tsars won and created a new "service nobility," who held the tsar's land on the condition that they serve in his army.
      3. Ivan the Terrible was an autocratic tsar who expanded Muscovy and further reduced the power of the boyars.
        1. He murdered leading boyars and confiscated their estates.
        2. Many peasants fled his rule to the newly conquered territories, forming outlaw armies called Cossacks.
        3. Businessmen and artisans were bound to their towns and jobs; the middle class did not develop.
      4. The Time of Troubles (1598-1613) was a period characterized by internal struggles and invasions.
        1. There was no heir, and relatives of the tsar fought against each other.
        2. Swedish and Polish armies invaded.
        3. Cossack bands, led by Ivan Bolotnikov, slaughtered many nobles and officials.
      5. Michael Romanov was elected tsar by the nobles in 1613, and he reestablished tsarist autocracy.
      6. The Romanovs brought about the total enserfment of the people, while the military obligations on the nobility were relaxed considerably.
      7. A split in the church over religious reforms led to mass protests by the peasants, and the church became dependent on the state for its authority.
    4. The reforms of Peter the Great
      1. Peter faced a Russian army based on cavalry and not the sort of professional armies being formed in Europe.
      2. He conquered Azov, then went on a long tour of inspection of western Europe.
        1. He went to war against the absolutist king of Sweden (Charles XII)--eventually winning the Great Northern War.
        2. He reformed the army and forced the nobility to serve in his bureaucracy.
        3. His new (mainly peasant) army numbered 200,000 plus another 100,000 special troops.
        4. He created schools to train technicians for his army.
      3. Army and government became more efficient and powerful as an interlocking militarycivilian bureaucracy was created and staffed by talented people.
      4. Russian peasant life under Peter became more harsh.
        1. People replaced land as the primary unit of taxation.
        2. Serfs were arbitrarily assigned to work in the factories and mines.
      5. Modest territorial expansion took place under Peter, and Russia became a European Great Power.
        1. Russia defeated Sweden in 1709 at Poltava to gain control of the Baltic Sea.
        2. Peter borrowed many Western ideas.

    Absolutism and baroque architecture

    1. Palaces and power
      1. Baroque culture and art grew out of an effort by the Catholic church to attract followers.
      2. Architecture played an important role in politics because it was used by kings to enhance their image and awe their subjects.
      3. The royal palace was the favorite architectural expression of absolutist power.
      4. The dominant artistic style of the age of absolutism was baroque--a dramatic and emotional style.
    2. Royal cities and urban planning
      1. Karlsruhe is a good example of how cities were rebuilt along orderly lines, and with great avenues and imposing public buildings.
      2. The new avenues brought speed to the city--as elegant carriages raced down the new broad and straight streets.
    3. The growth of St. Petersburg
      1. The new St. Petersburg is an excellent example of the tie among architecture, politics, and urban development.
        1. Peter the Great wanted to create a modern, baroque city from which to rule Russia.
        2. The city became a showplace for the tsar paid for by the Russian nobility and built by peasants.
      2. During the eighteenth century, St. Petersburg became one of the world's largest and most influential cities.
      3. The new city was Western and baroque in its layout and design.
        1. It had broad, straight avenues.
        2. Houses were built in a uniform line.
        3. There were parks, canals, and streetlights.
        4. Each social group was to live in a specific section.
      4. All social groups, especially the peasants, bore heavy burdens to construct the city.
      5. Tsarina Elizabeth and the architect Rastrelli crowned the city with great palaces.


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