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Early Modern Age: King Gains Power

Early Modern Age: King Gains Power. A period of profound change in Europe starting around 1500 Economic Political Religious Social Intellectual. The Nature of Change. Most of the time change occurs slowly and gradually unbeknownst to the people living during those times

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Early Modern Age: King Gains Power

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  1. Early Modern Age: King Gains Power • A period of profound change in Europe starting around 1500 • Economic • Political • Religious • Social • Intellectual

  2. The Nature of Change • Most of the time change occurs slowly and gradually unbeknownst to the people living during those times • But, sometimes change can occur rapidly • E.g. - Domino Effect – One great invention in one area can lead to a series of other changes that will alter society in a significant way. • Change also occurs at different rates in different places • E.G. Rome versus Germanic Tribes • New York City versus Timbuktu

  3. One of the Changes during the Early Modern Age Kings Gain Power • Had not kings always had power? • Although kings were “powerful”, they had not yet acquired the type of power they would gain during this era • During the Middle Ages the power of a king was limited by a number of factors

  4. Middle Ages Hierarchy of the Powerful • Pope • Kings • Nobles The Big Dog

  5. A Tale of Two Kings William the Conqueror King John

  6. Will’s World • When William invaded England and defeated Harold the Saxon at the Battle of Hastings he wanted to make sure he had firm control of his kingdoms • Thus, he brought with him the feudal system that had been in Europe for centuries • Under this system there was no doubt who was the boss • William stated that everyone in England, both peasant and lord, owed loyalty to him first, as the king of England • William, was without a doubt, the “BIG DOG”

  7. Feudalism Undergoes Change • As time went on, however, feudalism became more and more complex • Whereas at first it was clear that William and his heirs were the boss, gradually feudalism deteriorated into a web of conflicting loyalties • Vassals often owed loyalty to a number of different lords, who in some cases, might even be fighting with one another • The undisputed loyalty that everyone owed the king was somewhat diminished • By the time King John came to power a century and half later the great power of the king had diminished greatly

  8. Nobles biting at the heels of Kings • In the late M.A. the power of the king was based on tradition • Nobles owed loyalty to the king and were “required” to provide him knights to assist him during times of war • Sometimes nobles, however, would ignore a king’s call for aid • Sometimes they would band together and oppose a king • Sometimes a noble might make a claim that he was the king • Hence, the “little dogs” were biting the heels of the “Big Dog”

  9. Poor Old King John • This deterioration of the king’s power was very much in evidence during the time of King John • King John was the great, great grandson of William the Conqueror • But by the time John became king the nobles were so powerful and rebellious that they forced King John to sign the Magna Carta • This document severely limited the power of the king and made the nobles even more powerful

  10. The Power of the Church • While kings had difficulties with the nobles “below” them, they had trouble from “above” • Throughout the Middle Ages the most powerful man in Europe was often the pope • Pope claimed to be God’s representative on earth • Church was more than just a religious institution – it was a powerful political force • Popes often interfered in the running of a king’s kingdom • Kings who failed to follow the directives of a pope often found their kingships to be imperiled • The power of the pope came not from its armies, but his spiritual power

  11. You are not a king until I say you are a king • Ever since Charlemagne was crowned the “One and only Holy Roman Emperor” by Pope Leo III” the Church has always used this incident to claim their authority over kings • “You are not a king until you say you are a king” • During the Hundred Years’ War the Pope refused to acknowledge the French Dauphin as king • Even the mighty Napoleon, likely the most powerful man who ever lived, invited the Pope to place the Emperor’s crown on his head

  12. Excommunication • Kings who refused to obey the church faced the daunting prospect of excommunication • Excommunication was a twofold predicament for a king • Firstly it mean they were deprived of membership in the Church and hence bound for eternal damnation in Hell • Most importantly, however, the subjects of an excommunicated king no longer had to obey him • «Non regis apud regem paucitate» • “A King without subjects is no king at all”

  13. Hope around the corner for kings • Eventually, however, there was hope for kings around the corner • Gradually kings would gain power at the expense of both the Pope above them and the nobles below them

  14. The power of the Church diminishes • The power of great leaders is often largely based on the willingness of people to follow them • Credibility is a major component of leadership • In modern countries like Canada, leaders with credibility issues often find themselves thrown out of office by the electorate • In the late Middle Ages, the Church and its leadership faced a major credibility problem • People began to question the spiritual leadership and authority of the Church

  15. Corruption leads to the Church’s demise • In the late Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church became increasingly corrupt • The leadership of the Church has been increasingly filled with very bad men • Much of this was a result of the practice of Lay Investiture • Kings would choose high church officials not based on their religious merit or because the were “goodly Christians” but because they were allies or friends of a king • Often kings would sell high church positions to the highest bidder • Soon the leadership of the Church was filled with men of little moral • Bishops would take vows of poverty and live in the lap of luxury • They would take vows of chastity and live like playboys in playboy mansions

  16. Indulgences • Perhaps the greatest example of Church corruption during this period was exemplified by the practice of Indulgences • With an indulgence you could buy off your sin • You could sin as much as you wanted e.g. lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder • At the end of the day you simply had to go to a high church official and buy an indulgence and all your “sin slate” was clean • Essentially the Church was using God to line the purses of the Church

  17. The Failure of the Crusades • The failure of the Crusades, which had been initiated by the Church, were attributed to the Church itself • When the First Crusade began, the quest to liberate the Holy Land was seen as being a just, Christian cause. • But later Crusades, particularly the Fourth, which involved the “Sack of Constantinople” were not viewed in a positive • The results of the Fourth Crusade proved that the high ideals of the Crusades have given way to greed and political ambition • Thus, the Church who has sponsored these great quests, were deemed to be largely to blame

  18. All Call for Change • The corruption of the church and its lack of credibility amongst he masses led to calls for change • In the 1500s a reform movement headed by Martin Luther known as the Reformation was born • The end result was the creation of Christian churches that were separate and apart from the Roman Catholic Church • These churches were called “Protestant” because they “protested” against the Roman Catholic Church

  19. No longer a corner on the Market • Although Protestants still believed in the same god, and they still believed in the Christ and the bible, they no longer believed in the leadership of the pope and Catholic Church • Hence the Roman Catholic Church, which still refers to itself as the “one and only church” was no longer that • Not all Christians were Catholic now – not all Christians paid the tithe to the Church • The Pope and the Catholic Church no longer had a religious monopoly • The power of the Pope, which was largely based its followership, was hence, very much diminished

  20. So how were Protestants Different? • Protestants wanted the Church to revert back to what it once was in the time of Christ and his apostles. PURITY • They wanted their church leaders to live in poverty and simplicity as Christ had • Rather than having rich and distant bishops and archbishops running the show, they would opt for community and family led churches

  21. Looking for Simplicity • Church services were also distinctly different between Protestant and Catholic Churches • Catholic churches were noted for elaborate and complicated services in Latin laced with incense and chanting • Protestants services would be plain, simple and direct. • Furthermore they would be in the vernacular, or, the language of the people

  22. A Difference in Church Design • Protestants were disgusted by the richness and opulence of the Catholic Church • Hence rather than constructing lavishly expensive churches of gold, marble and glass, their churches were inexpensive wood structure inside and out • Wooden pews and a simple wooden cross at the front was all that was required

  23. Roman Catholic vs. Protestant Roman Catholic Opulence Protestant Simplicity

  24. Kings surpass the Pope • The Protestant Reformation brought massive changes to the world • One of the changes was involved a definite decline in the Pope’s power • The fact is, a large chunk of Christianity was no longer under the Pope’s control – and that included kings • Indeed, many kings, wishing to wrest themselves from the control of the Pope opted to have Protestant kingdoms where they, and the not the Pope, would control the Church • Soon Europe became a checkerboard of hostile Protestant and Catholic camps • Overall, however, it meant that kings had surpassed the Pope in the hierarchy of power • So now all kings had to do is deal with the “little dog” nobles biting at their heals

  25. Kings gain power over nobles • Not surprisingly, the key to kings gaining the upper hand over nobles had to do with money • Kings gradually wrested control of taxation from nobles • Taxation = Money • $$ = Power • With a treasury full of $$, kings no longer had to rely on nobles to provide them with knights • King’s could afford large standing armies • With large standing armies at their disposal, kings could tell rebellious nobles what to do and tell the pope where to stick it

  26. What did the People think? • King’s were loved by the people • Prior to king’s gaining real power, Europe was a battle ground between rival nobles • Kings would not allow this • They provided kingly virtues such as peace, order, and good government • This involved a whole new mindset • Indeed, people gradually shed their image of being vassals or serfs to a noble and began to see themselves as a subject of a king • Hence, the whole idea of nationhood began to arise

  27. When the Trouble Begins • Eventually, however, the love people bore for their kings would become tainted • Eventually kings began to see themselves as being “above” or better than other men • Like the popes of the past, King’s began to believe that they had “God-given” virtues and powers • They began to believe that they were God’s representative on earth and that they ruled in “God’s stead” • “Divine Right of Kings”

  28. Kings versus Parliament • Unfortunately the rise of king’s power in England, was paralleled by the rise of a democratic institution known as Parliament • Rather than believing in divine right, Parliament believed in democracy and the “rule of the people” • They believed that the people should choose or elect their leaders and not be subjected to kingly powers

  29. The War of the Ages • Hence, in the mid 17th century (1600’s) began the great war for control in England known as the English Civil War • This war was fought on one key issue: Who should rule England? • Should it be the king who believed that his power emanated from God??? • Should it be Parliament – the elected voice of the people???

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