In my opinion, Europe’s most exemplary and effective absolute monarch was King Louis XIV of France. Louis XIV was the Sun King who ruled from 1661 to 1715. I think he was a great absolute effective monarch for an appropriate time period, despite some of his negative contributions to his country. He was an intelligent, forceful man who utilized his extensive powers to alter France into a better-organized, better-run, and powerful country. Louis XIV created a highly centralized bureaucracy and national economy. He broke the power of his aristocracy and made it fully obey him. He built the largest army and navy that Europe had seen in centuries. He turned Paris and his palace of Versailles into magnificent, impressive centers of power. He was also effective because in many ways, Louis XIV illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of absolute monarchy. The reason I think King Louis was a great absolute monarch was because of the way he affected his nation. Many people have hailed him as a great king, for Louis XIV instilled national pride in the people he ruled. His emblem, the “sun”, was associated with Apollo, god of peace and arts. And I believe that like Apollo, Louis XIV brought peace to his country and was a great patron of the arts. He also increased the size of the army, gave soldiers better training and introduced new weapons to military. I personally think that the life of Louis XIV had its many ups and downs, but over all he was a very good man and effective ruler. If it were not for Louis XIV, France would be a very different place today. I’m surprised he is responsible for many elegant buildings in France and especially Paris. Despite all the wrong things he did that hurt his nation, I think it could have probably gotten worse if he had not come along. Even today it interests me that Louis’s armies, that were opposed by an alliance of the European powers, lost most of their major battles, but won control of Spain.
For my part, Frederick the Great – a great general as well as a skilled absolute monarch – was one of the most effective absolute monarchs of his time. I think he was an effective absolute monarch because of his contribution to the small but militarily powerful German state of Prussia in becoming an absolute monarchy. The rise of Prussia between 1600s and 1700s occurred as a result of a combination of military, political, and social factors lead by Frederick’s contribution. I chose Frederick II as a great effective absolute monarch based on his actions that affected his people. He did many great things for the significance of his absolute monarchy. Frederick II of Prussia made reforms and changes that were ideas of the Enlightenment. He wanted to further his country and increase the people’s rights. He was a ruler who tried to justify his absolute rule by getting his people’s interest. He did this through good laws, fair taxes, improving society, and overall promoting human happiness. He was taught that change had to come from the monarchs, and not from the people, but instead for the people. His enlightened rule of Prussia combined the need for an effective monarch with the need for economic, educational, and social reform. His victory over Austria, France, and Russia is considered to be one of the greatest military triumphs in European history.
From my perspective, Peter the Great was not only a great effective absolute monarch of Russia but also another one of its greatest reformers. Thanks to Russia’s former czars, Russia already possessed a tradition of strong central authority. However, it was culturally, militarily, commercially, and economically compared with the West. During the late 1600s and early 1700s, Peter the Great not only centralized political power but forced rapid westernization, or, in other words, reformed the government and culture of Russia based on Western-style modernization. He also changed Russia’s geography and political perspectives and their orientation. Earlier, Russia had been isolated from Europe and concentrated on the events occurring in Asia. However, after combating and winning a long, hard war with Sweden, Peter gained a seaport for Russia to promote superior education and growth. When Peter was declared czar at age ten, he never could have guessed that one day, historians and others would refer to him as “Peter the Great”. Europe was the place people wanted to be if they desired to see the most recent technology and clothing styles –but not in Russia. Technology there was extremely poor compared to its neighboring countries. Nature easily ruled over most of the natives and serfs, who not only lived as peasants or slaves but were relied on for labor, because of the lack of technology. The government was very close to that of a medieval one, as well as Russia’s military forces. I strongly believe that Peter the Great probably would not have had “the Great” attached to his name if he had not gone about westernizing Russia. Peter the Great took Russia from its dark feudal past into the modern light. He altered it to have men of experience, in any social status, have a superior rank than nobles with just nobility to brag about. Thanks to Peter, with a navy, ports, and harbors Russia could now be more involved with the trading and events of other European countries. In other words, Peter the Great contributed not only to the continuation of czars in Europe but to Russia’s advancement in political intelligence and technology after his reign, even till today.
In my opinion, the development of a particular nation or even civilization sometimes relies on the strength and intelligence of an individual; and throughout our history, many have proven themselves worthy of this exhausting task. It only takes one dedicated soul to start a chain reaction in which change is brought about. The development of more effective and stronger central governments allowed monarchs to centralize in a way they weren’t capable doing of in the middle ages. I have evidently declared my understanding of the effectiveness of absolute monarchs and how they utilized their power in a more effective and better-organized way –despite their few weaknesses or negative consequences. With that being said, this should help you agree with and understand my perspective regarding the three most effective rulers ever as King Louis XIV, Frederick the Great, and Peter the Great.