The Age of Absolutism, 1660-1815

The Age of Absolutism, 1660-1815

The Age of Absolutism, 1660-1815

The Age of Absolutism, 1660-1815

Excerpt

The suggestion that I might write an essay on the Age of Absolutism was made to me by Sir Maurice Powicke a number of years ago at a time when I was working on the American Revolution. But for his constant and kindly encouragement, I would long ago have abandoned the attempt, deterred by the difficulty of the theme and the doubts which were bound to arise as to the method of treatment. What follows is by no means to be thought of as a compendium of eighteenth-century European history. I have tried instead to emphasize some elements in the society and politics of the period which appear to be of most consequence from the point of view of those whose interest in history is the pragmatic one of trying to understand their own times. To look at a political system from the point of view of the revolution which brought it to an end may seem needlessly perverse: in the space allotted to me, it has certainly meant omitting much which a full portrait of the age would demand. I can only hope that the starkness of outline which such selectivity imposes will help to reveal in their due importance certain aspects of the period which a fuller and more conventional treatment might fail sufficiently to emphasize. I am deeply indebted to Mr. John Bromley, Fellow of Keble College, for his constructive reading of the proofs. I am also grateful to Miss Molly Rubin of St. Hilda's College for assistance with the index.

M.B.

Oxford, October 1953.

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