The Influence of Monarchs: Steps in a New Science of History

By Frederick Adams Woods | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
CAUSATION IN HISTORY

IN this chapter I shall make an additional special and minute analysis of one period already covered, in order to show that authorities do corroborate each other, and that out of a number of causes one cause stands out preëminently. I shall then discuss other methods of unravelling historical causation and illustrate the need of a more exact and graphic representation of social and intellectual class-differences, and at the same time offer a new hypothesis for the rise and fall of the ancient oriental monarchies.

From 1415 to 1619 the duchy of Brandenburg maintained an equilibrium, or gained slowly and steadily in importance under a line of Hohenzollern rulers either equal to or exceeding the average in ability and tenacity of purpose. During those two centuries there occurred no period of decline, nor was There a sovereign classified as weak. From 1619 to 1640 a sharp decline separated a strong reign, forty-eight years ( 1640-1688), from another reign of weakness ( 1688-1713), after which the grand expansion commenced which culminated in the Prussia of Frederick the Great. Here, then, being a well-plowed historical ground, and in comparatively modern times, it is therefore an excellent field for deeper and more searching investigation, for practical illustration as to the possibilities of measuring and verifying historical causation.

The first of these periods of decline occurred during the rule of the elector George William ( 1619-1640). The regeneration occurred under his son, the Great Elector; the second decline corresponds to the reign of Frederick I; and the second regeneration parallels the rule of Frederick William I, and Frederick the Great.

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