Photo: The Palace of Versailles in France.
This blog and the accompanying resources are part of a Shaped monthly series providing teachers for Grades 6–12 with downloadable world history classroom resources and discussion topics.
What do Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia from 1740–1786; Peter the Great, the Russian czar from 1682–1725; and King Louis XIV, the king of France from 1643–1715, all have in common? They are examples of absolute monarchs in history, a popular form of government in medieval Europe.
What is an absolute monarchy? It's where a supreme leader—for example, a king or queen—has supreme authority and absolute sovereignty over his or her people. It was believed that the monarch had the divine right to rule and was awarded this position by a higher power. The rise of this form of government was the result of a need for order in society following the economic and religious conflicts that Europe faced during the 17th century.
To teach students about this topic, have them look at the absolute monarchy lesson plan below, which includes a timeline with a supplemental enrichment activity (available for download as a PDF) focusing on European rulers from 1500–1800. Then, distribute the accompanying resources: two eyewitness accounts from the era (primary source enrichment activity) and a related writing enrichment activity.
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