Explain how early modern absolute monarchy, the Baroque style, and the Scientific Revolution were responses to the turmoil of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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Absolute monarchies, which emerged in the seventeenth century, can be understood in one sense as a response to the unrest of the previous century. In France, for example, Louis XIV emerged as the most powerful monarch that kingdom had yet seen. The sixteenth century in France had witnessed a series of destructive religious civil wars that eventually gave way into the Thirty Years' War, a broader European struggle. Many of the writers and political theorists who defended absolutism, like Jean Bodin and Jacques-Benigne Bossuet saw the absolute power of kings as a way to avoid this kind of unrest, especially domestic unrest, in the future. To cite another example Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, which argues that the powers of the state should be vested in a single powerful monarch, was written in the aftermath of the bloody English Civil War.

Similarly, some historians interpret the emerging rationalism of the Scientific Revolution as a response to the same turmoil, especially religious strife. In the midst of the seventeenth century, many educated Europeans sought to establish a new intellectual order, one founded on rationalism rather than subjective experience. Thomas Hobbes, in fact, was a mathematician, and Leviathan, mentioned above, is a good example of this trend. Hobbes started from the principle that men acted solely out of self-interest, and used this axiom to demonstrate, in his mind, that absolute monarchy was the most suited to the realities of the world. 

Finally, the Baroque movement was influenced by its surroundings in many ways. On the one hand, the majesty of Baroque architecture and some of its art (like the work of Peter Paul Rubens) was intended to project the power of monarchs, their ability to maintain order, and the fact that they had been divinely chosen. More directly, some Baroque art, like that of the Italian painter Caravaggio, for example, is characterized by its dramatic, even violent themes, which directly invoke the violent struggles of the period. 

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutism is often a response to turmoil. Just as high crime rates or civil unrest can lead people to support "law and order" candidates or repressive strongmen, so a perception of chaos and disorder led to absolute monarchies. Hobbes in his Leviathan, one of the most important works of political philosophy to arise in this period, describes the natural state of humanity as a "war of all against all" in which life is "nasty, brutish, and short." A strong central authority is needed to maintain order. Hobbes's arguments in many ways reflect a response to the medieval period in which Europe was divided into many small warring states, and then torn apart by religious wars. Even nations were often weakened by intrigues among squabbling nobles. Thus Hobbes was not alone in thinking that an absolute monarch ruling over a substantial territory would provide a safer and more secure environment that more open or local systems of government.

One can see rationalism in part as a rejection of the fanaticism and religious enthusiasm which had led to both wars and civil unrest. In response to wars of religion, many thinkers increasingly believed in the importance of finding universal truths which transcended religious sects and which could form a basis for mutual agreement and harmony. 

The baroque style was influenced by the counter-reformation, in which art was seen as having a pastoral role in the Roman Catholic Church. In southern Europe, baroque art was meant to have emotional immediacy and persuasive power, something that responded to the new need for the Roman Catholic church to compete with Protestant churches for members. In the north, baroque art also responded to the rise of the middle classes and wealthy bourgeoisie.