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Early Modern Europe Essay

1626 words - 7 pages

For understanding entirely the emergence of modern European states in the fifteen and sixteen centuries it is central to study the trend of representative assemblies to disappear at the same time that centralized monarchies gained power. There is extensive literature on parliament and political institutions of the period, explaining the decline but also the role they played in the government. This paper describes the issues that determined the development of these institutions using on secondary sources. For the actual answer for the causes of the decline of the parliament is more complex than a swipe of power, the circumstances of the rise of the modern state will have to be examined. This essay seeks to examine the general patterns in European political developments and at the same time avoid deterring assumptions. The diversity of existing assemblies had aspects as community representation, social class separation and jurisdiction/power of decision that influenced their permanence. It will be shown that broadly speaking, although some institutions were deemed a constrain for monarchical organization, some functions that the parliaments performed were central for the government of the state, such as taxation. And thus, they were maintained and played a vital role later on in the Age of the Revolutions.

Prior to the analysis of the presence of representative institutions and their relevance to the emergence of modern states, lets present briefly what is meant by the term ‘representative institutions’. Michael Graves describes: “As meetings between the ruler and his socio-political elite, representative assemblies were not only political fora, in which he sought advice and his subjects aired grievances, but also occasions on which auxilium (taxes) was given to him and laws were enacted.” Is in the dimension of tributary jurisdiction that the analyses of the early modern assemblies emphasizes, for the legislative and consultative functions no longer were the priority for the diversity of parliaments, diets and estates. It has been argued that the nature of the parliament, bicameral or three-curial system, highly influenced the success of the institution, but Koenigsberger refutes that old idea by widening the sample out of English focus. The legitimation of the parliamentary summons depended also on the reception of Roman law, religious principles of plena potestas and quod omnes tangit, ab omnibus approbetur (what touches all shall be approved by all) were secularly applied and expressed that rulers were bound by law.

Organisation styles within each institution varied, and it could be said it was the difficulty of coming together of the estates and different groups conforming the assemblies which cost them their decisions making capacity. Princess and kings had to deal with clearly divided sub-organisations because they still operated in a decentralized form of government. The nobility hold tight to its privileges albeit decaying,...

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