Justification for Royal Absolutism

prr

Dec 2008
62
I've always heard the argument (in favor of royal absolutism) that God created the institution of monarchy, and therefore they were not accountable to earthly authorities for their deeds.

I was wondering if there were other, more utilitarian arguments that absolutists proponents used.

Two questions:
1. can anyone indicate texts from the 1500s and 1600s that support the absolutist monarchy?
2. what utilitarian arguments were used for this, if any?
 

Comet

Forum Staff
Aug 2006
8,702
IA
Look for stuff associated with Charles I and Louis XIV. All of my primary sources are in my classroom/office. If I have time tomorrow, I will see if I can make a stop there to check it out.
 

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
The general ideas of Absolute Monarchy stem largely from a utilitarian viewpoint as much as a mystical one- in fact, the latter was used mostly to legitimise the former. Within a short time, the medieval church was in conflict with kings, in particular the Holy Roman Emperor, about who was who's boss. To cut a very long story short, there were many who believed that both kings and church was vital: kings to mete out purely earthly laws, to deal out punishments (instead of sullying the hands of the priests), and to reign over the purely temporal, here and now, world. Both Papacy and king got their legitimacy from each other, and operated in largely separate spheres. A notion often explained as a world divided into "shepherds, dogs and sheep". Of course, this did not end to confict, but the notion that the spiritual arm of the world requires monarchy to administer earthly law, and to punish miscreants was one which later philosophies took up, including Protestant England. I doubt that many would argue that Henry VIII, for example, didn't run what was in effect, although not in name, an absolute monarchy, for all his protestantism, and of course, the absence of the pope and the downgrading of priestly power, (the need for him to intercede between man and God), merely promoted functional, utilitarian ideas amongst some Protestants, even. Kings were presented as fathers, and within the family, fathers as kings, and much of the language found in the bible was played up to back this. Christ is frequently alluded to as "Lord, king of kings" etc. However, the absolutionist idea tended to work here in England- until some damned fool king (Charles I) made the mistake of mentioning it!
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
prr,

I'm not sure what God you're talking about here. See I Samuel 8. The original idea was that God would be "King" and temporal justice would be executed by "Judges." Of course, most people were illiterate in those days (and didn't ken Latin anyway), and so had to take someone else's word for it.

Of course, "king" is just a word, like "judge." It's the hereditary aspect of monarchy which would be objectionable from a Biblical standpoint. I think.
 

prr

Dec 2008
62
prr,

I'm not sure what God you're talking about here. See I Samuel 8. The original idea was that God would be "King" and temporal justice would be executed by "Judges." Of course, most people were illiterate in those days (and didn't ken Latin anyway), and so had to take someone else's word for it.

Of course, "king" is just a word, like "judge." It's the hereditary aspect of monarchy which would be objectionable from a Biblical standpoint. I think.
I'm not saying that God (of any religion) in fact supports monarchs; my purpose here was to see if anything other than theological arguments were used to prop up royal absolutism.
 

prr

Dec 2008
62
However, the absolutionist idea tended to work here in England- until some damned fool king (Charles I) made the mistake of mentioning it!
How clumsy of him! ;)

Wouldn't his policy of getting Parliament to pay for war to push Anglicanism on the Scotts have been more of the problem (instead of promoting absolutism as an ideology)?