Modern History Books PDF for CSS and PMS Free Download 2020

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The French Revolution is usually seen as the start of an era and the chief event to which can be related the main threads of European history in the nineteenth century. In fact -like other ‘turning points’ in history- the ‘Great Revolution’ was as much the end of a period as the beginning. Equally, Napoleon Bonaparte- the heroic ‘superman’ of the new Romantics – was in many respects the last and greatest of the old-style enlightened despots and mercantilists. The eighteenth century was characterized by a number of features:

Modern History Books PDF

(i) A stratified social system, with a rigid pattern of orders and groups surmounted by the monarchy. (Modern History Books PDF)

(ii) ‘Mercantilism’ or the commitment of state power to intervene in the economy to promote growth.

(iii) Economic changes associated with the use of manufacturing

(iv) ‘Enlightened Despotism’, especially in the twenty-five years before the Revolution, which involved a recognition that royal power should be exercised to some extent in the interest of the subjects.(Modern History Books PDF)

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Modern History Books PDF

Although there were very considerable variations between the states of western Europe, worthwhile generalisations can still be made:

(a) The overwhelming predominance of peasant society Society was essentially rural, and peasants were by far the largest  social group. However, the status and conditions of the peasantry varied considerably throughout the continent, and even within states. There was a great difference between the lives of the free peasantry and the serfs, who were virtually the property of the landowner. In general, serfdom was more prevalent in eastern Europe and was especially marked in Russia despite the best intentions of Catherine II after her accession in 1762.

(b) The influence of the aristocracy

Modern History Books PDF

The aristocracy exercised very considerable local influence, officered the professional armies and monopolised the higher posts in the bureaucracies. They also had rights of jurisdiction and exemption from some types of taxation in every state other than Britain and the United Provinces. In addition, two other features are worth noting:

(i) Varying degrees of exclusiveness. In Britain, entry to the nobility was traditionally easier than elsewhere. Marriage and money could easily compensate for birth. As was once re marked in the sixteenth century: ‘In England gentlemen be made good cheap’.

The situation was very different as one moved eastwards. In France though, although the old military ‘noblesse de l’ epee’ was dominant this had been supplemented by a more recent ‘noblesse de la robe’ drawn from prominent middle-class families. In general, there was a tendency in the eighteenth century for the nobility to respond to economic and social pressures by trying to assert its powers and privileges and restrict further creations.(Modern History Books PDF)

(ii) The range of status and wealth within the nobility. There could be a vast difference between the great magnates and the small squires of, say, Poland, Hungary and England. In France, there were 250,000 ‘noblesse’ but only 4000 genuine courtiers with any access to the king. In Spain, there were 500,000 nobles but only a hundred or so real ‘grandees’, as opposed to the myriads of petty ‘hidalgos’.(Modern History Books PDF)

Modern History Books PDF

(c) The prevalence of monarchy

There were vast differences between the size and structure of states. They ranged from large, centralised nation states like Britain and France, to the masses of very small principalities of Italy and ‘the Germanies’- the ‘swarm of gnats’ as William Pitt the Younger called them – and the diverse collections of peoples and territories which made up states such as Prussia and Austria.(Modern History Books PDF)

The antique Holy Roman Empire ruled by the Habsburg dynasty and extending from northern Italy to the Netherlands and Prussia existed only in theory. All of these units were ruled, however, by some form of hereditary monarchy.

No one seriously questioned this form of government. Only in the United Provinces was republicanism strong, and its decline as a state was a bad advertisement. It was also the lack of a strong monarchy which largely explained the ease with which Poland was partitioned between Prussia, Russia, and Austria in the last quarter of the century.(Modern History Books PDF)

The strength of monarchy was further enhanced by the continuance of the traditional view of one’s king as the ‘father of his people’, and the survival of the legend that monarchy was ordained by God and that kings, therefore, enjoyed a ‘divine right’.

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