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By John Miller, Graham Scott

So much 17th Century eu Monarchs governed territories that have been culturally and institutionally various. pressured through the escalating scale of conflict to mobilise evermore males and funds they attempted to convey those territories below nearer keep watch over, overriding neighborhood and sectional liberties. This was once justified via a idea stressing the monarchs absolute strength and his accountability to put the great of his country earlier than specific pursuits. The essays of this quantity examine this strategy in states at very assorted phases of monetary and political improvement and determine the good gulf that frequently existed among the monarchs energy in thought and in perform.

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The language of sovereignty, we may say, speaks always in the imperative mood: here the earlier medieval idea that the king and it is primarily of kings that Bodin is thinking - is 'emperor [imperator] in his own kingdom' acquires the full weight of its underlying notion of imperium - command, the right or power of commanding. Another medieval theme to find full expression here is what has been called voluntarism - an emphasis on will as the essential element in law and government. The formula, Le roy (or La reine) Ie veuLt, is a surviving trace of what was once the heart of the lawmaking process.

At the same time, it cannot be denied that tradition was being stretched, perhaps at times strained to something near breaking-point. A firmer emphasis on legislative power exercised by the sovereign's command; an ampler development of what might be called the mystique of divinely ordained hereditary monarchy; a new stress on the importance of disciplined organisation in both military and civil THE IDEA OF ABSOLUTISM 37 matters; a sharper awareness of what the realities of the political arena may demand of one who has to survive its hazards - these are some of the ways in which that strain may be said to have manifested itself.

That this implied an ultimate supremacy over all other authorities is clear enough. Yet the political theology of absolute kingship is less straightforward than this might suggest. God's power had itself been envisaged in medieval scholasticism, and was still envisaged in seventeenth-century divinity, as having more than one aspect or mode of operation. In particular, the very notion of absolute power (absoluta potestas) was in that context distinguished from an 'ordinary' or 'ordained' power (potestas ordinaria/ ordinata).

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