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Russia and Europe in the Age of Enlightened Absolutism
is a period in the history of the autocratic state, when its policies clearly show tendencies to bourgeois development.
It is characterized by the adoption and open proclamation by the ruling circle of the principles of French education, the ideas expressed in the works of Voltaire, Didrot, Montesquieu, Rousseau
The relevance of the research work is determined by the socio-political need related to the practice of implementing constitutionalism in modern Russia and in the world.
In addition, the importance of this work is explained by the keen interest of modern Russian society to the issues of constitutional development and the creation of a state of law. The problems of the constitutional, political structure of the country, the reform of its economy and social system occupy the minds of many domestic and foreign political scientists.
The object of the research is to study and compare the period of enlightened absolutism in Europe and Russia.
The subject of research is the formation and evolution of enlightened absolutism in foreign and domestic political system within the specified period.
The purpose of this study is to analyze the main directions of the evolution of enlightened absolutism in the development of Russian and Western European society.
Objectives of the study:
1. To determine the essence of enlightened absolutism.
2. To identify its relationship with the ideology of the Enlightenment.
3. To study on the example of Russia and some European countries (Prussia, Austria, Sweden), the development of society in the period of enlightened absolutism and its interaction with the authorities.
4. To analyze the consequences of the period of enlightened absolutism and to identify the reasons for the rejection of some of its ideas.
Theoretical justification of the project. An analysis of scientific literature makes it possible to understand the place and role of enlightened absolutism in an attempt to overcome the crisis of traditional absolute monarchies in European states and Russia. The project provides an opportunity to analyze and systematize the consequences of the period of enlightened absolutism for the development of the state and society.
The practical significance of the study lies in the analysis of sources and the synthesis of scientific data, revealing the main directions of evolution of enlightened absolutism. Materials and conclusions can be used both in scientific work and in the teaching and pedagogical process, lectures and special courses on history.
XVIII century is the time of educational ideology, which dominated. The cornerstone of all educational theories was belief in the omnipotence of the human mind. The French Voltaire, S. Montesquieu, D. Diderot, J. - J. Russo and the English Enlightenment J. Locke and T. Hobbes formulated the main
social development :
1. T. Hobbes created the theory of social contract, which consisted in the hypothesis of the emergence of the state as the performer of a social contract designed to protect people in the process of aggressive competitive struggle.
2. J.-J. Rousso argued that in response to the adoption of state obligations to protect the rights of citizens, they are obliged to promote the common good, subjecting their interests to general laws. He substantiated the superiority of the republican state structure over the monarchical state, as providing a democratic mechanism of government control.
3. S. Montesquieu formulated the principle of separation of powers and formulated the postulate that the goal of any form of state is to preserve freedom on the basis of the law. The theory of separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, their independence from each other could, according to the enlighteners, provide a perfect social structure.
4. D. Diderot struggled with the omnipotence of the church, considering the demands made by it to a person not based on the arguments of reason and, therefore, not fair.
5. For the first time, J. Locke singled out three most important human rights: the right to life, the right to freedom, the right to property (not possession, but the result of labor).
Enlightened absolutism was the policy of absolutism in a number of European countries in the 2nd half of the 18th century, which was expressed in the destruction from above and in the transformation of the most outdated feudal institutions . Representatives of enlightened absolutism in Europe are Maria Theresa (1740-1780) and Joseph II in Austria (1780-1790), Frederick II in Prussia (1740-1786), Gustav III in Sweden (1771-1792) Frederick II Gustav III
The historical background of enlightened absolutism in Europe:
The understanding that in order to preserve the basic principles of the “old order” society needs certain changes. All of the monarchs can be called conservative reformers.
A change in the views of the elite on the world, society, state. The whole hierarchy of values that guided the enlightened monarchs and their environment was transformed.
A change of views on the essence of the state and its nature led to the acceleration of the process of forming the concept of state interests of the leading countries in Europe.
The essence of the policy of enlightened absolutism in Prussia:
Streamlining the activities of financial and judicial bodies
Expand Primary Education
Increasing Tolerance to the Gentiles
Prohibition to the landowners to drive the peasants out of their plots
Carrying out the policy of mercantilism (protection of national producers, promotion of trade through the active construction of roads and channels)
Abolition of torture
The introduction of equality to all in the court.
However, such vestiges of absolute monarchy as censorship, the ban on leaving the country, serfdom in privately owned lands are preserved
The essence of the policy of enlightened absolutism in Austria
The restriction of the arbitrariness of the seigneur in relation to the peasant in court, "Joseph lawyer"; limitation of the death penalty
Introduction to secular lower and secondary education
Restriction of the privileges of the Catholic Church
The abolition of internal duties and the introduction of high external (the policy of mercantilism)
The abolition of serfdom, giving the peasants land
At the same time, the recruitment set has become tougher, the centralization of power in the Habsburg Empire (control over the autonomies Galicia and Hungary was constantly increasing), etc.
The essence of the policy of enlightened absolutism in Sweden
The Freedom Act was pressed
Freedom of religion
The abolition of class restrictions on the occupation of state posts
At the same time, centralization of power was intensified, in particular, the parliament was convened by the will of the king, and the deliberative body under his authority was dissolved.
In Russia, the period of enlightened absolutism is inextricably linked with the name of Catherine II.
The main idea of the whole reign of Catherine II was to strengthen the authority of the supreme power, to improve the state apparatus, aimed at making it more flexible, obedient, centralized.
She used the ideas of the
Restriction of absolutism by laws.
Struggle with the influence
of the church.
Guarantee of rights and
freedoms to society.
In Russia, the policy of "enlightened absolutism" was caused by the following factors:
- The desire of the supreme power to continue the modernization of the country, which was impossible without the development of industry and commerce.
- Awareness of the country's leadership to bring the management system and the level of cultural development in line with the "spirit of the times".
- The need to establish contact between the management system and socio-economic processes and thereby strengthen the absolutist state.
- The acuteness of social contradictions, the need to take such measures that would mitigate the discontent of the lower classes.
- Claims of Russia for a leading role in the system of international relations.
- The ideas of Catherine the Great that a word and persuasion were to be more effective means of modernizing the country than violence.
Catherine II was an educated woman. She was familiar with the ideas of the Enlightenment, but she was forced to combine their views with Russian realities.
Europe vs. Russia. Two models of enlightened absolutism
In XVI in Europe absolutism was formed - the unlimited power of the monarch.
The ruler - God's anointed, did not depend on anyone, made uniform laws, minted coins, conducted policies with foreign states, and had the right to seize the property of the feudal lords for state treason, followed the traditions of their predecessors kings.
-Over the monarch there was the Pope’s control.
Absolutism in Europe arose in the context of the natural economy, that withered away..The autocratic power of the Grand Duke (great autonomy and strong power).
Elements of estate representation were born.
The role of the church in public affairs was great.
The role of the monarch in the economic sphere was increasing.
The Grand Duke and the sovereign of all Russia relied on the church.
Autocracy was formed in the conditions of serfdom.
So, by the end of the 18th century, enlightened absolutism had to solve revealed problems by eliminating the remnants of the medieval order in favor of capitalist relations.
Enlightened absolutism both in Europe and Russia possessed such characteristic as:
Active steps of the autocratic state, aimed at legislative consolidation of serfdom;
Strengthening the privileges of the nobility;
Expansion of state borders;
The patronage of the development of industry and commerce;
Cruel suppression of civil unrest;
The sharp contradiction between the liberal official ideology and the reactionary feudal serf policy.
Druzhinin N.M. Prosveshchonnyy absolyutizm v Rossii.// Absolyutizm v Rossii. M, 2011. S. 428 – 459.
Encyclopaedia Britannica [e-reference] https://www.britannica.com/topic/enlightened-despotism
Oliphant John. Russia in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment, 1682–1796 A /AS Level History for AQA. Student Book. 2014 https://www.cambridge.org/us//lusana.ru/files/9414/5495/2032/A_Level_History_for_AQA_Russia_in_the_Age_of_Absolutism_and_Enlightenment_1682_-_1796_-_Sample_Chapter_2.pdf
Pavlenko N.I. Idei absolyutizma v zakonodatel'stve XVIII v. // Absolyutizm v Rossii. M., 2008. S. 389 - 427.
Scott H.M. Enlightened Absolutism: Reform and Reformers in Later Eighteenth-Century Europe, (University of Michigan Press, 2014)
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