You are on page 1of 5

Weisling 1

Noah Weisling
Mr. Adye
AP Euro
22 November 2014
George III and Louis XIV; A Comparative Study
Great Britain had the first constitutional monarchy. This was unprecedented and differed
greatly from the norms in Western Europe at the time. This change in ruling system would
change the course of Great Britain from the rest of Europe which was still widely ruled by
absolute monarchs. Both George III and Louis XIV were constitutional and absolute monarchs
respectively, and their ruling styles were very different from one another.
A constitutional monarchy can be defined as a system of government in which a
monarch shares power with a constitutionally organized government. In this form of
government the countrys constitution generally allocates most of the legislative power to a
legislative body. In Great Britain this body is known as Parliament (Constitution Monarchy).
Absolutism is defined as the political doctrine and practice of unlimited, centralized
authority and absolute sovereignty, as vested especially in a monarch or dictator. In a country
ruled by an absolute monarch the monarch is not subjected to the checks and balances a
constitutional monarch faces (Absolutism).
George IIIs reign was marked by almost continual military conflict, and he ascended to
the throne of Great Britain in 1760 during the Seven Years War. He was victorious in the Seven
Years War in 1763, only three after his rise to power, helping him and Great Britain to become
the most dominate power in North America, Europe, and India. Soon after the end of the Seven
Years War, George III is widely remembered for losing the American Colonies. His final conflict

Weisling 2
as king would be against revolutionary and Napoleonic France. His empire along with many
others in their coalition would finally be victorious at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. George III
would finally be remembered for his mental illness that allowed his son to rule as regent from
1810 until his death in 1820 (George III).
By the time George III took the throne Parliament was already firmly in control of
legislation, but George III did have some power. At this time in British history the kind still had
the right to appoint the Prime Minister. Much of this power came from compromise with
Parliament. He was still able to make a few royal proclamations which could be compared to
about an executive order from the President of the United States today. One famous royal
proclamation he issued was the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that set a westward boundary for
settlement in the American colonies. Even though he had the power of the royal proclamation,
George III would be responsible for giving even more royal power to Parliament. Upon his
ascension to the throne, George III almost immediately gave up the right to govern in person in
exchange for a grant from Parliament to help pay for his expenses. The only real victory George
III had while king was the appointment of Lord William Pitt as Prime Minister. This appointment
went against the majority opinion in the House of Commons, but Lord Pitt was able to stay in
power despite this (George III).
Louis XIV began his reign on May 14, 1643. During Louis XIVs reign France was the
dominant power in Europe. His reign also included its own series of wars. The Franco-Dutch
War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of Spanish Succession would all take place
under his rule. Throughout his reign he would work constantly to glorify France (Louis XIV).
From the beginning of his rule, it was very clear that Louis XIV sought to be a strong
absolute monarch. Throughout his rule Louis XIV had a much ridged routine. Louis had a grand

Weisling 3
and majestic life at Versailles and everything that he did was a spectacle for the court. This
spectacle would force the nobility in his court to have to fight for his favor helping to increase
his power. Louis XIV was also known as the Sun King, representing himself as the light for all
his people. Instead of relying on the high nobility, Louis XIV relied on nobles from new families.
Doing this allowed him to be sure that the nobles could not gain influence over him. Finally,
Louis XIV consolidated his power by subjugating his power over the church in France. Under his
rule he would force an anti-Protestant policy on his kingdom outlawing the faith. He revoked the
Edict of Nantes and forced the conversion of the Huguenots. Louis XIV would immensely
enhance the power of the king in France (Spielvogel).
The reigns of both King George III and King Louis XIV differed greatly from one
another. King Louis reign was centered on trying to hold onto and to gain power. He did this by
having a ridged routine that forced the nobility to fight for his favor and by revoking the Edict of
Nantes banning Protestantism from France during his rule. King Louis was very powerful and
controlled almost every aspect of his government. King Georges rule was different. While in
power, King Georges power was in decline. Upon ascending to the throne he had to give up his
right to the Crown Estate to Parliament. King George was able to only make a few amount of
important decisions during his reign. Unlike Louis XIV, George III was a relatively weak king.
King George did no try to grab power, but instead he sat back and let his Prime Minister and
Parliament make most government decisions for him.
A constitutional monarchy is manage very differently than an absolute monarchy. An
absolute monarch has a lot more power and manages almost the entire government by
themselves. A constitutional monarch is forced to at least share or give up almost all of their
power to some type of legislative body. Louis XIVs reign was centered upon keeping and

Weisling 4
gaining power, while George IIIs was centered on weakening power and compromise with
Parliament.

Weisling 5
Works Cited
"Absolutism (political System)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.
Web. 22 Nov. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1824/absolutism>.
"Constitutional Monarchy." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web.
23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/689632/constitutionalmonarchy>.
Erlanger, Philippe. "Louis XIV (king of France)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia
Britannica, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/348968/Louis-XIV>.
Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization. St. Paul: n.p., 1991. 523-28. Print.
Watson, John Steven. "George III." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica,
n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/230026/GeorgeIII>.