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New Monarchies 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 the 7th and his son Henry the 8th of the Tudor dynasty; France was headed by Louis the 11th, Louis the 12th and Frances the 1st 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.

In order to create and sustain a new monarchy kings have to introduce many changes. At the early fifteenth century there was political fragmentation, where countries weren’t 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 has to effect changes in order 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. The rulers of England and France both have to weaken their rivals, the church and nobility, in order to constrict the power for themselves. England doesn’t have as hard a time as France in weakening the nobles because Henry the 7th comes to power after the War of Roses, which was between two noble families, his family, the House of Lancaster and his rivals, the House of York. His family defeated the House of York thereby weakening the noble class even before Henry comes to rule. Moreover, England had a very short supply of nobility, ranging from 50-60 families. Henry the 7th hires the gentry, the class below nobility, to serve as Justices of Peace, who enforce the king’s law and collect taxes; this weakened the power of nobility and made sure the king’s laws were followed. Henry the 7th also increases the power of his royal court, the Star Chamber, via giving them cases which previously went to nobility: thus increasing his own power and decreasing the power of nobility. Unlike England’s simple modification, France had a difficult time weakening its nobles, the aristocrats. Before the mid 1400’s the aristocrats were very powerful, serving as independent rulers with their own laws and courts. Frances the 1st sells offices in government, many of which come with a title. This increases the number of men in the class of nobles enabling Frances to dilute the aristocracy with men loyal to him.

These two countries had very separate methods of dealing with the problem of the church and its power. Henry the 8th, under the advice of Thomas Crowell, decides to break off from the Roman church and start his own religion, The Anglican church. Frances the 1st , on the other hand, decides on a more simplistic approach and forces the pope to sign the Concordant Of Bologna in 1516, which gave the king power to appoint whomever he wants for bishops and other religious positions and lessened the power of the papacy.

Both kings have a need for an increase in income. France needed more capital than England because of its permanent army of 15,000 soldiers, which cost half of the king’s revenue. Both countries improve tax collection thus preventing people from evading taxes. Henry the 7th concocted numerous schemes to increase his revenue. Since he needed parliament’s consent before he could increase taxes, he institutes a different application, he increases fines for criminals. This has a dual effect, a decrease in crime and increase in his treasury. Furthermore, he sells monopolies, which fetched large sums because those in possession could sell their products at any price, without fear of competition. France has a slightly different way of doing things; Frances the 1st sells positions of government, and centralizes tax collection under one agency. With one agency heading the collection less people were able to evade taxes. France also institutes new taxes.

Though stabilizing New Monarchies was not easy, it proved to be very worthwhile. After Henry the 8th and Frances the 1st, wars begin for England and France, England’s northern rising and France’s civil war. Both countries are able to pull through because of the strength invested during the New Monarchies. Additionally the strength formed during England’s New Monarchies helped withstand the weak reign of Mary and Edward Tudor’s which followed after Henry the 8th.

The New Monarchs were the 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.

The best examples of New Monarchs are, chronologically:


  • Limiting the power of the feudal aristocracy
  • 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

While Peter I of Russia 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 despots.



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