Father of the Fatherland: A Modern Tsar

The concept of a “reforming tsar” as a secular and progressive position is interesting, given the long history Russian rulership has with the Orthodox Church.  Indeed, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century the tsar was a far cry from the parallel monarchs of Western Europe. He was assumed to be a protector of the lower “castes,” and, bound in such a role, was unable to provide the domineering influence necessary of a true autocratic ruler to provide guidance.… Read the rest here

The Era of Conservative Reform

Peter the Great’s hectic reign was characterized by a flurry of reforms dragging Russia into the modern era. In Cynthia Whittaker’s “The Reforming Tsar: the Redefinition of Autocratic Duty in Eighteenth-Century Russia” she discusses the emergence of enlightened absolutism initiated by Peter. Before Peter, a “good Tsar” was a man whose first obligation was to preserving the Orthodox faith; Peter redefined what it meant to be sovereign of Russia by establishing the superiority of the state over the church.… Read the rest here

The French Political and Cultural Revolutions

****Response to Friday’s prompt that I was having issues posting
The transition from absolutism to enlightenment brought a new set of societal ideals that impacted both the political and social structure of France. By turning the hierarchical political system on its head, a significant cultural revolution was bound to accompany it.
Kant, in his analysis of enlightenment described it as man’s ability “to make use of understanding without direction from another” (Kant 1). This new emphasis on reason and self-reliance very directly confronts the old absolutist hierarchy, where everyone is reliant upon those higher in the social/political estate system.
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Moving away from Absolutism

France endured centuries of Absolute Monarchs that spent much of their kingdom’s wealth on lavish buildings, monuments, and other signs of status, while the common people, known as the third estate, remained poor, hungry and devoid of power.  Though the third estate lacked power through the traditional estate system, as the clergy and nobility could overrule their political ambitions, it consisted of 96% of the French population.  Because it held the overwhelming majority of the population, members of the third estate believed that they should hold more power over France’s decisions. … Read the rest here