IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 1. New-Style Empires and States, 1500–1700 > c. European National Monarchies
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
c. European National Monarchies
 
At the beginning of the early modern era, political leaders and systems in Europe responded in many ways. Some established strong institutions of centralized control and administration, frequently with the aid of gunpowder weaponry. This process strengthened the monarchy as the most visible central institution and opened the way for expansion. Other states were unable to establish effective central control and gradually became minor elements on the continental and global scene. The turning point in many areas was the ending of wars of religious division and national consolidation by the second half of the 17th century.  1
FRANCE emerged from the One Hundred Years' War of the 15th century with an independent monarchy and substantial territory. After a period of internal and external wars, the development of a strong centralized monarchy made France the foremost continental power in Europe and a global imperial power. By creating a highly effective gunpowder-based army and a centralized bureaucracy, France represented the culmination of the age of the gunpowder empires. During the reign of LOUIS XIV (r. 1643–1715), the transition to centralized national monarchy and the modern state had begun (See 1643–1715).  2
ENGLAND, under the TUDORS, developed a centralized monarchy with an increasingly professional administration. After the subsequent civil war, the monarchy was restored in 1660; it was not absolute in the same sense as the emerging French monarchy, but the absolute power of the central government, combining the monarchy and parliament, was established. The Puritan New Model Army laid the foundations for a permanent standing army for the central government. By 1700 an administratively and militarily centralized state emerged in England.  3
SWEDEN emerged as a unified monarchy under the House of Vasa in the 16th century. A centralized administration helped the monarchs reduce the power of the aristocracy. Under GUSTAVUS II ADOLPHUS (1611–32), Sweden became a major power and its army was in the forefront of the development of disciplined musket warfare. Sweden unsuccessfully tried to establish a North American trading colony in Delaware (1638–55). A long series of wars and costly efforts to create a northern European empire reduced Sweden's influence and power. By the end of the Great Northern War (1700–1721) (See 1700–1721), aristocratic and parliamentary forces had placed limits on the powers of the monarchy internally, and the rise of Russia and Prussia effectively ended Swedish expansion. The Swedish experience showed that an efficient central administration and a strong gunpowder military could provide the basis for significant power but did not inevitably result in the creation of a large empire or long-term great-power status.  4
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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