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New Monarchs

The New Monarchs was a concept developed by European historians during the first half of the 20th century to characterize 15th-century European rulers who unified their respective nations, creating stable and centralized governments. This centralization allowed for an era of worldwide colonization and conquest in the 16th century, and paved the way for rapid economic growth in Europe. Many historians argue the Military Revolution made possible, and indeed made necessary, formation of strong central governments in order to maximize military strength that could enable conquest and prevent being conquered.

The best examples of New Monarchs are, chronologically:

The Achievements of the New Monarchs:

While Peter the Great ruled two centuries after the New Monarchs, he is sometimes considered the New Monarch of Russia, accomplishing for his country very much what the New Monarchs did for theirs.

After the New Monarchs, the Absolutist Monarchs gained sway, to be followed by the Enlightened Absolutism.

New Monarchies, which were very powerful centralized governments with unified inhabitants, start emerging in the mid-15th century. Factors responsible for this advance were the vast demographic and economic growth. Before these New Monarchies were formed there were many changes the new monarchs had to make: including weakening powerful rivals, increasing revenue, unifying the country, and strengthening the power of the king and his bureaucracy. Two countries successful in strengthening themselves were France and England. England was headed by Henry VII and his son Henry VIII of the Tudor dynasty; France was headed by Louis XI, Louis XII and Frances I of the Valois dynasty.

Many factors were responsible for the New Monarchies rise from the years 1450-1550. Firstly, there was a giant demographic growth with an increase in population by fifty percent; this huge growth caused an increase in the amount of people paying the king’s taxes. This demographic growth led to an economic growth because there was a greater demand, which stimulated the economy. The major economic growth was where people began taking bigger risks and forming partnerships, enabling large sums of money to be invested. People became wealthier causing a bigger consumption of goods and luxuries, making merchants and traders wealthy. Merchants were then paying larger amounts in tariffs, increasing the king’s revenue.

To create and sustain a new monarchy kings have to introduce many changes. At the early 15th century there was political fragmentation, where countries were not unified and had many separate rulers governing small areas. At that time the nobility and the church rose to be the thriving powers. Now the king had to effect changes to unify and strengthen his monarchy. He would have to weaken his rivals, the church and nobility, and transfer the authority to himself. He would also have to increase his funding by either increasing taxes, or selling government offices. Many kings did both.

  • Limiting the power of the feudal
  • Creating efficient, centralized systems of taxation
  • Maintaining a standing army loyal to the monarch
  • Encouraging some sense of national identity (but by no means nationalism yet)
  • Fostering trade, both internally and externally
  • Enforcing religious unity within their countries
  • Friedrich, Carl. The Age of the Baroque (1952)
  • Gilmore, Myron P. The World of Humanism (1952)
  • Gunn, Steven. "Politic history, New Monarchy and state formation: Henry VII in European perspective," Historical Research, Aug 2009, Vol. 82 Issue 217, pp 380–392
  • Parker, Geoffrey. The Military Revolution, 1500-1800: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West (2nd ed. 1996)
  • Slavin, Arthur. The New Monarchies and Representative Assemblies (1964) online edition


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