Peter The Great Absolutism Essay Prompt


This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level: 6-8, 9-12
Subject area: world history
Standard:
Understands how European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication between 1450 and 1750.
Benchmarks:
(6-8)Understands the emergence of strong individual leaders, monarchies, and states in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries (e.g., the character, development, and sources of wealth of strong bureaucratic monarchies; the significance of Peter the Great's westernizing reforms; the emergence of the Dutch republic as a powerful European state; the reign of Elizabeth I and her efficacy as a leader and builder of a strong nation-state; the governmental policies of Catherine the Great; why St. Petersburg was called the window on the West).

(9-12)Understands the accomplishments of significant European leaders between the 16th and 18th centuries (e.g., the success of Russian expansion in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Siberia, and the success of the czars in transforming the Duchy of Moscow into a Eurasian empire; the life and achievements of Louis XIV, and elements of absolutist power during this period; how Peter the Great and Catherine the Great expanded Russian territory; major achievements in the reigns of Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, and Joseph II, and which of these leaders displayed the features of an "enlightened despot").

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface.
Benchmarks:
Understands the changes that occur in the extent and organization of social, political, and economic entities on Earth's surface (e.g., imperial powers such as the Roman Empire, Han dynasty, Carolingian Empire, British Empire).

More Peter the Great Videos

The third unit of my AP European History course focuses on the development of absolutism and constitutionalism in Western and Eastern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Unit Guide and Primary Sources

These files contain all of the primary sources and instructional materials available of this unit in a single file.

YouTube Playlist

Foundations of Absolutism

ON YOUR OWN BEFORE
TUESDAY, 10/18
This first lesson has two parts.  First, students will learn about the context surrounding the development of absolutist states as absolute monarchs had to contend with lingering Medieval institutions.  The second part of the lesson is an introduction to the Divine Right of Kings, a doctrine used by many European monarchs in the 17th century to provide biblical justification for their pretensions to absolute power.

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 380 [Intro Paragraphs],
382 [Two Models], 394-395
WOOD, 173-179

E-Lecture Available on YouTube

Documents and Materials

Click the PDF icon to read Bishop Jacques Bossuet's Politics Derived from the Words of Holy Scripture.

For more information on Jacques Bossuet, click here.

PowerPoint Presentations

Louis XIV: The Sun King of France

COMPLETE BEFORE
THURSDAY, 10/20
Any serious discussion of absolutism must begin with Louis XIV, the Sun King who built an absolute monarchy in France, which before his rule had been dominated by powerful nobles.  Louis brought the French monarchy to an unprecedented level of power.  He is most famous for his Palace at Versailles and for his wars, which culminated in the War of the Spanish Succession.

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 389-393, 396-400     
Wood, 179-186

E-Lectures Available on YouTube

The Wars of Louis XIV

Documents and Materials

PRIMARY SOURCES

This document set has three documents about Louis XIV.  Look for contrast between the Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, written by a nobleman who attended Louis at Versailles, and the Age of Louis XIV, written by Voltaire, a bourgeois philosophe writing in the following century.

Louis XIV's Edict of Fontainebleau, which revoked Henry IV's Edict of Nantes, was an essential part of Louis' program of uniting France under the rule of "One King, One Law, One Faith." 

PowerPoint Presentations

The Palace of Versailles

Louis' magnificent Palace of Versailles was an essential part of his designs to overawe France (and all of Europe) with the magnificence of the French monarchy.  Here are a couple of videos that I like to show in class.

Mercantilism:  The Economics of Absolutism

COMPLETE BEFORE
​MONDAY, 10/24 
Absolute monarchs sought not only to centralize the political power of the state, but also to harness all available economic forces in order to create a competitive economy.  Mercantilism was an attractive economic philosophy for absolute monarchs as it allowed for economic development coordinated by a central authority.

Textbook Readings

E-Lecture Available on YouTube

Documents and Materials

Click the PDF icon to read Frederic Bastiat's "Candlemakers' Petition".

For more information on Frederic Bastiat, click here.

PowerPoint Presentation

Merc Turk Hand Turkey Project

Since it's usually around November when I teach this, students have fun making "Merc Turks," hand turkeys that highlight the "hands on" nature of mercantilism (in contrast to the "invisible hand" of economic liberalism).  It's become a bit of an AP Euro tradition.

Absolutist Prussia:  Sparta of the North

ON YOUR OWN BEFORE
​FRIDAY, 10/28
Louis XIV might have put together the largest standing army that Europe had ever seen, but the Prussians mobilized more soldiers per capita than any other European nation.  Prussia's trademark militarism earned the small kingdom the nickname, "Sparta of the North."

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 403-405
Wood, 186-190

E-Lecture Available on YouTube

PowerPoint Presentation

Documents and Materials

PRIMARY SOURCE 

Click the PDF icon to read the Political Testament of Frederick William I.  Frederick William I was known as the "Soldier King" for his serious manner and emphasis on militarism.

Rise of Russia & Peter the Great

COMPLETE BEFORE CLASS
FRIDAY, 10/28
While Louis XIV was building an absolutist state in Western Europe, Peter the Great was laboring to build Russia into a great power on the Western model.  

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 405-409
Wood, 191-196 

E-Lectures Available on YouTube

Documents and Materials

Click the PDF icon to open an excerpt from Voltaire's History of Peter the Great: Emperor of Russia.

PowerPoint Presentations

Introduction to Constitutionalism

ON YOUR OWN BEFORE
WEDNESDAY, 11/2
While absolutism was implemented successfully in France, Prussia, Russia, and Austria, the English and the Dutch rejected this model in favor of constitutionalism, a form of government that limits the power of the central authority.  I contrast absolutism and constitutionalism in this lecture, which will be helpful for students to view before learning about the development of constitutionalism in England and the Netherlands.

E-Lecture Available on YouTube

PowerPoint Presentation

Stuart Absolutism and the English Civil War

COMPLETE BEFORE CLASS
WEDNESDAY, 11/2

E-Lectures Available on YouTube

After the death of Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, James VI of Scotland was invited to reign in England as James I.  James was the first monarch of the Stuart Dynasty.  The Stuarts had a rough time adjusting to the constitutional system of government that was developing in England, with conflicts between Crown and Parliament leading to the English Civil War.

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 382-386
​Wood, 106-112
James I and Stuart Absolutism
Charles I and the English Civil War

Documents & Materials

PowerPoint Presentation

Click the PDF icon to read 
The Petition of Right, a 1628 Petition from Parliament to King Charles I protesting abuses of power by the king's officials.

The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution

COMPLETE BEFORE CLASS
FRIDAY, 11/4

E-Lectures Available on YouTube

Following Cromwell's death, the monarchy was restored and Charles II, the son of Charles I, was invited to reign in England.  Charles II, known as the "Merry Monarch," finished his reign without serious incident but the same cannot be said for his brother, James II, who was run off by Parliament after many conflicts with Parliament (many of them having their roots in his Catholic religion).  William and Mary signed the English Bill of Rights in 1689, ending the turmoils of the Stuart era by acknowledging the legislative supremacy of Parliament.

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 386-389
​Wood, 200-204

Primary Source Document

The English Bill of Rights (1689) was passed by Parliament in order to justify the forced abdication of James II and to clarify the relationship between Crown and Parliament.  William III and Mary II signed the document signaling the end of any attempts at royal absolutism in England.
Charles II and the English Restoration
James II and the Glorious Revolution

PowerPoint Presentation

I'm NOT a rapper, but...

One time, I was teaching the Restoration and I said, "Back then..." and a student said halfway under his breath, "...didn't want me" and I had an idea for a rap parody about Charles II based on Mike Jones' "Back Then."

Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke
English Political Philosophy

ON YOUR OWN BEFORE
THURSDAY, 11/10 
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were two of the most important political philosophers of the 17th century and continued to be studied today by students of history, philosophy, and government.  Students should be able to compare and contrast these philosophers and explain their differing views of the social contract.

Textbook Readings

Kagan, 425-428
Wood, 252-254

E-Lecture Available on YouTube

Documents & Materials

Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan in the midst of the chaos of the English Civil War.  It forms the basis of Hobbes' philosophical justification for a strong absolute government.

John Locke published his Second Treatise on Government in 1689, following the Glorious Revolution.  Locke argues that government's central purpose is to protect the natural rights of citizens.

PowerPoint Presentation

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