Absolute vs. New Monarchs
Monarchy was not at all a new institution in the 15th, 16th, or 17th centuries. It wasn’t even very different with respect to the goals that prevailed in each monarchy. However, the differences between the New and Absolute Monarchy come in the way of the methods, theories, and conditions prevalent throughout the different monarchical reigns.
The main goal of new and absolute monarchies was the centralize the state. War, civil war, class war, feudal rebellion, and banditry afflicted a good deal of Europe in the middle of the fifteenth century. Various rulers now tried to impose a kind of civil peace. They thus laid the foundations for the national states. Similarly, in the early part of the 17th century, wars pertaining now to religion and dynasty had a profound impact upon the western European states. As military spending increased, monarchs realized the importance unifying their state possessed.
The difference between the two monarchies’ plan for a centralized state was the method in which both were carried out. In the time of the New Monarchies, religion was integral to unifying the state. Monarchs such as Isabella of Castile tried to unify their countries as a result of religious purification. Isabella believed firmly that a stable Spain would only stem from a Catholic Spain. As a result, the reconquista was initiated and unification took place around the church. The monarchs insisted on religious conformity. In addition, parliamentary institutions were ignored or even sometimes abolished in order to centralize and bring peace to the state. Townspeople, the target of monarchs for support, were willing to let parliaments be dominated by the king, for parliaments proved often to be strongholds of "unruly barons", or had accentuated the class conflicts. In France, for example, the Estates General of France met only once under Louis XI. After which, the committee requested the king to govern without them in the future, remembering the anarchy of the past. The power of the monarch was thought to be derived from the people during this time period and so the middle class became important in supporting the monarch. Because of this, nobility, which was a threat to the power of the monarch, was always tried to be kept under control through various reforms such as the "livery and maintenance" laws passed by Henry VII. Armies were also built up by the monarch as a way to increase his own power and centralize the state. Also, during this era, the focus was on religion and dynastic building while in the later monarchies, commerce and state building became the priorities.
During the Absolute Monarch era, however, centralizing the state became more secular. After the religious wars, religion was not the focus of governments. Paradoxically, however, the absolute monarchs derived their power from the divine right theory. This theory held that the institution of monarchy had been created...