What was the absolute monarchy? How did it succeed in France and fail in England?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Actually, absolute monarchy eventually failed in both countries. It just took a little longer to fail in France. The move towards a more representative government began in England around the year 1200. This is when angry churchmen and noblemen forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. This document guarenteed t"No freeman [citizen] shall be arrested and imprisoned, or dispossessed [deprived of property], or outlawed, or banished, or in any way molested [physically assaulted]; nor will be set forth against him, nor send against him, unless by the lawful judgment of his peers, and by the law of the land." This was a revolutionary step in leading to representative government. It was brought on by the totally inept rule of King John. John  was supposed to be substituting for his brother, Richard the Lion Hearted, who was off fighting the crusades. But John was so ruthless in during his reign that he made even the noblemen angry. Once some people gained rights, the stage was set for others to demand more rights until absolute monarchy was really abolished after the restoration of Charles II. 

In France, the kings were not as inept as John and so they were able to keep absolute power a little longer. But, there really was no central king until the time of Louis XIV. He centralized the government, but spent so much money doing it and building Versailles, that the absolute control of kings only lasted until Louis XII. See the links below for more information.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Absolute Monarchy arose as a result of the consolidation of power. England and France were among the first European powers to consolidate various political and geographical factions into a single political entity, under a single ruler, who embodied all aspects of governance. Concurrent with the development of Absolute Monarchy came the notion of the "Divine Right of Kings," whereby the monarch, blessed by God himself, could not be questioned nor opposed, for to do so would be countering the divine order of things. As mentioned, England, very early on, began to limit the power of the monarch; after 1215 the Absolute Monarchy in England was no more, and the power of the office continued to decrease with the ascendancy of a legislative branch of governance in the form of Parliament. England thus experienced a slow transformation of government from an Absolute Monarchy to Democracy; France had no Magna Carta incident, the powers of the monarch remained supreme and the governmental structure did not alter for several centuries. When change came in France, it came explosively as the French Revolution, when the king was deposed and killed, and a radical form of government installed.