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Lecture

The Absolute State


Department
History
Course Code
HIS109Y1
Professor
Kenneth Bartlett

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The Absolute State
Hobbes (1588 – 1679)
Leviathan (1651)
Louis XIV (1643 – 1715)
J. Mazarin (b. 1661)
Fronde
J-B. Colbert (d. 1683)
-Beginnings of the shift in the mind of Europe
-Working to make the royal masters absolute – to the modern mind this sounds horrific
oGoing beyond the law and creating the law
-It is always to better to serve one master, at least the king only robbed you once and
protected you from being robbed by other agencies
-Central government as a protector from foreign intervention
oNothing compares to armies fighting on your home soil
oWe are willing to make allowances in freedoms in exchange for safety
-Central authority: less civil strive
Ideological aspect of absolutism
-Hobbes: saw his age as the age of disorder, how can there be order
oWas a royalist, but rejected all the evidence provided by Charles: I should be tried
by my pears (kings) and because he was divine rules, only God can judge him
oSecular notion of kingship: idea of material causes and secular notions concerning
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government
-Leviathan: state of nature: rude force exploitation of the weak by the strong
oThe state of nature is not paradise, life is nasty, brutish and short
oHow is man kind to escape from the world where strength is the only justification
for power
People come together & build a society
Members: surrender individual rights to the ruler
Rules: sovereign power protecting the weak from the strong
People gave up rights for security
Nothing remained which would curtain the rule of king
God was not an issue, Hobbs materialist
Unrestricted power of the king
Once contract is struck, it remained forever
Even if the king is inadequate, too bad, a bargain is a bargain
Legal, just and inevitable that the king would act tyrannically
Sacrifice of few for the betterment of many
Cannot improve because the alternative is worse, which is the state of
nature
This was the foundation of the absolute state
-Hobbs: something which is clear and true
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