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The Age of the Democratic RevolutionA Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800$
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R. R. Palmer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161280.001.0001

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The Limitations of Enlightened Despotism

The Limitations of Enlightened Despotism

(p.280) Chapter XII The Limitations of Enlightened Despotism
The Age of the Democratic Revolution

R. R. Palmer

Princeton University Press

The forces of aristocracy, which in some countries in the 1780s prevailed over democratic movements, prevailed in others over monarchy itself. This chapter takes up a thread left hanging at the close of Chapter IV. It was shown there that, by the middle 1770s, or just before the American Revolution, the kings of France and of Sweden, and the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, had asserted royal authority and put the constituted bodies of their several realms under restraint. The following fifteen years made clear the limits beyond which enlightened despotism could not go. However held down, the constituted bodies—estates, diets, parlements, and the like—had strong powers of survival and resurgence. This chapter deals mainly with the Hapsburg monarchy under Joseph II and Leopold II, with observations, since not everything can be told, on Prussia, Sweden, and Russia.

Keywords:   aristocracy, democratic movements, constituted bodies, Hapsburg monarchy, Joseph II, Leopold II, Prussia, Sweden, Russia, despotism

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