What are the biggest effects of absolutism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? Why is it important, and what did it change?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The biggest effects of absolutism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the centralization of power and a corresponding decline in the power of the nobility.

The process of absolutism, especially in France, involved the monarch accruing more power as part of an attempt to stabilize the realm. Like many...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The biggest effects of absolutism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the centralization of power and a corresponding decline in the power of the nobility.

The process of absolutism, especially in France, involved the monarch accruing more power as part of an attempt to stabilize the realm. Like many European countries, France had been riven by religious conflict, and absolutism was a response to this, a way of imposing unity on a nation torn apart by interconfessional strife.

The monarch's centralization and subsequent consolidation of power came at the expense of the nobility, who had previously enjoyed a fair degree of autonomy in their own lands. Noble power had acted as a restraint on royal power, so when absolute rule became the norm, the nobility inevitably became less powerful, which caused a considerable degree of resentment among the upper echelons of society.

Absolutism is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it laid the foundations of the modern nation-state, where power and authority, far from being dispersed, emanates from the center.

What it changed was the power relationships between the center (the monarch) and the periphery (the nobles), with the former accruing power, as we have seen, at the expense of the latter.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on