Monarchs of Europe

The 14th through the 18th century in Europe was a time in which monarchs gained power by centralizing their governments. As a result they often attained absolute power. The most successful and longest tenured monarchs were those that were able to achieve religious and national unity, and those that had either a powerful military or a group like parliament on their side. Religious unity was attained by these monarchs in two ways, either promoting toleration, or kicking those that did not practice the "official" religion out of the country. A few absolute monarchs attempted to take power away from nobles and were successful. However, some monarchs tried to go as far as taking away parliament's power. Those monarchs ended up without a head.

1469-03-01 00:00:00

Isabella and Ferdinand Marry

This marriage united Castile and Aragon. Together, Isabella and Ferdinand lead a brutal crusade against Muslims and Jews of Spain. They effectively ended religious toleration to maintain support from the Inquisition.

1480-03-01 00:00:00

Isabella and Ferdinand Impose their Rule

During their time as rulers, Isabella and Ferdinand joined with townspeople to undermine the power of nobles

1492-03-01 00:00:00

Completion of the Reconquista

The Reconquista, the removal of Muslims in Spain in order to keep Christian control, was completed in 1492 when the Muslims lost their final territory, Granada.

1492-03-01 00:00:00

Isabella Pays For Columbus's Voyage

In 1492, Isabella gave Christopher Columbus the money, ships, and crew that he needed to reach "India". At the time she did not realize that Columbus would be the founder of her colonial empire.

1509-03-01 00:00:00

Henry VIII

Henry VIII became the King of England in 1509. He was known for his six marriages which included Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Kathryn Howard, and Katherine Parr. He was given the title “defender of the faith” by Pope Leo X. This was because Henry wrote a book that defended Catholicism and attacked the ideas of Martin Luther, during the Protestant Reformation.

1516-03-01 00:00:00

Charles V

Charles V was in control of two "Empires", Spain, and the Hapsburg Empire which included The Holy Roman Empire and The Netherlands. Charles V was involved in constant warfare trying to defend his empire from Suleiman and the Ottoman Empire. Also, his rule was spread to thin over his vast territory, and was over extended in his practices. While ruling these two empires in Europe, Charles had to combat the Protestant Reformation and rule the colonies in the Americas.

1527-08-30 04:50:02

King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's Annulment

Very soon after their marriage, King Henry VIII asked Pope Leo X for an annulment for his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. However, the Pope declined this request which made Henry furious. This led him to taking over the Church of England. The Act of Supremacy stated that Henry was “the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England.”

1556-03-01 00:00:00

Philip II Takes The Throne

Phillip II was arguably Spain's most successful ruler, as his 42-year reign was marked by his narrowed focus on expanding Spanish influence, strengthening the Catholic Church, and becoming an absolute monarch. Additionally, the people of Spain were forced to buy into Phillip's claim of divine right.

1558-03-01 00:00:00

Queen Elizabeth I

Following Mary Tudor’s death, Elizabeth I became the Queen of England. She was known for compromise, which was especially evident in the Elizabethan settlement. This was a middle way between Protestantism and Catholicism. Ultimately, Elizabeth I worked to restore unity in England and make England the most powerful force in Europe.

1558-03-01 00:00:00

Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand

Ferdinand was given the Holy Roman Empire from his brother, Charles V, in 1637. Although he was a devout Catholic, he worked hard to suppress the Protestant Reformation and establish royal power over local nobles. Ferdinand was also an absolutist monarch, meaning he had control over the government and lives of his people.

1588-03-01 00:00:00

Philip II's Fall

In 1588, Philip II planned to use his "Invincible" armada that had not been defeated in over 100 years to solve his "little" problem in the Netherlands. England had been funding the Netherlands fight for independence, so Philip II decided to stop this funding by waging war on England. However, this "little" problem was just it, little English ships were quicker in the English Channel and were able to take down the larger Spanish armada. Also, the "Protestant Wind" blew that day when a raging storm took out a significant part of the Catholic armada.

1588-03-01 00:00:00

England vs. Spanish Armada

By Elizabeth I refusing the marriage of Phillip II, she created an enemy out of Spain. This rivalry eventually led to the Spanish Armada challenging the English navy in the English Channel. With the help of the Protestant Winds, the English defeated the Spanish Armada. This was the point in history where England rose as the top power in Europe and Spain’s power declined.

1589-03-01 00:00:00

Henry IV Takes the throne

In 1589, Henry IV, a Huguenot prince, took the French throne, and planned to govern lands in which the residents were mostly Catholic. In order to maintain his power, Henry IV switched to Catholicism saying, "Paris is well worth a Mass."

1598-03-01 00:00:00

The Edict of Nantes Is Passed

When Henry IV switched religions, his intent was not to lose his Huguenot, French Calvinists, supporters, but to have support from both religions. To do so, Henry passed the Edict of Nantes which gave Huguenots religious freedom. It also allowed Huguenots to build walls around their towns. They wanted this because they were still fearful of another event like the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre which was a mass slaughtering of Huguenots.

1603-03-01 00:00:00

James I

James I did not have a significant amount of power as a ruler, because he had to answer to parliament. James had to get money from parliament to pay for his lavish lifestyle, and fight wars. James I also fought Puritans in England. The best thing that came out of his rule, was The King James version of the Bible, a new translation that had a lasting influence on English language and literature.

1610-03-01 00:00:00

Louis XIII

When Louis XIII inherited the throne, after his father was assassinated, he was only nine years old. To avoid losing his power, Louis designated Cardinal Armand Richelieu to chief minister to help him strengthen the central government.

1624-03-01 00:00:00

Cardinal Richelieu

In 1624, when Richelieu was appointed Louis XIII's chief minister, was when all of his hard work to attain power paid off. From a young age Richelieu trained in military and to become a bishop. His parents were so confident that he would be powerful one day, that they invited the king of France to attend his christening. Once in power, Richelieu focused on creating a more centralized government. To accomplish this, he wiped out the power of the Huguenots and nobles. Also, Richelieu chose his successor, Jules Mazarin, so that his success could be carried on into the future.

1625-03-01 00:00:00

Charles I

Parliament was fearful that Charles would abuse his power, so they made him sign the Petition of RIght, saying that he couldn't collect taxes without Parliament's consent. To get his power back, Charles just collected taxes when he wanted. Charles I downfall was when he needed money to stop the Calvinist Scot uprising. After giving Charles his money, Parliament waged a war and ultimately executed him.

1643-03-01 00:00:00

Louis XIV Early Years

Louis XIV had a rough start when he first took the throne because he was only 5 years old, and a general uprising known as the Fronde, drove him from his palace. Luckily, Cardinal Jules Mazarin ran the country until his death in 1661.

1649-03-01 00:00:00

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell was a skilled puritan general that was chosen to lead Parliament's army, the Roundheads, against Charles I and the Cavaliers. Cromwell disolved the monarchy, House of Lords, and the Church of England to make way for the "commonwealth". Cromwell had to battle uprisings from Irish Catholics, and Levellers. To combat them, Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector and used his army to get what he wanted.

1660-03-01 00:00:00

Charles II

In 1660, Parliament invited Charles II back, from france, to rule England . Charles’s return is known as the restoration and marked the end of Republican rule. Charles was a popular ruler because he brought back entertainments such as sports, the arts, and Christmas. He accepted the Petition of right, believed in an absolute monarchy, and learned from his father’s mistakes to have a strong relationship with Parliament.

1661-03-10 00:00:00

Louis XIV in Power

After Mazarin's death, Louis XIV declared that he had absolute power because of his divine right. As the absolute ruler, he said "I am the state" and everyone had to refer to him as the Sun King. To enforce his rule he never called a meeting with the Estate's General, a group, like Parliament, that could limit Louis's power. Louis used his massive army of 300,000 soldiers, and his appointed officials, known as intendants, to enforce his policies across his empire. Louis also had a finance minister named Jean Baptiste Colbert that followed a mercantile policy that made France the wealthiest state in Europe. All of Louis XIV's efforts made France into a super power, a hegemony on Europe.

1682-03-01 00:00:00

Peter the Great

Peter the Great took the throne of Russia in 1689. He expanded Russian territory, captured ports on the Baltic Sea, built a very strong army, and ended Russia’s period of isolation. Peter used fear and terror in order to strengthen his power. However, after much hard work to avoid this problem, his ideas and methods worked to widen the gap between Russia and the West.

1682-03-01 00:00:00

The Palace of Versailles is Completed

In 1682, Louis XIV invited his whole court to his magnificent, $1.5 billion palace. This palace displayed Louis's wealth but it's real purpose was to keep an eye on other people in powerful positions in France, and to ensure that they would not try to overthrow him. Louis was able to turn these warriors battling for power into people competing to serve him during his self-promotion ceremonies known as the levée.

1685-03-01 00:00:00

James II

James II inherited the throne in 1685. James was not shy about his Catholic faith. He angered his citizens by randomly getting rid of laws and appointing Catholics to high office. This made many English Protestants nervous that he was planning on restoring the Roman Catholic Church. Through the Glorious Revolution, Parliament overthrowed James and placed William and Mary of Orange into power.

1689-03-01 00:00:00

William and Mary of Orange

After the Glorious Revolution, William and Mary of Orange ruled England. They were required to accept the English Bill of Rights by Parliament in 1689. These ensured that parliament would have more power over the monarchy. Included in the English Bill of RIghts was the principle of habeas corpus. This stated that a person must be charged with a particular crime, before they can be held in prison. Lastly, WIlliam and Mary spent many wars and battles fighting against catholicism.

1700-03-01 00:00:00

War of Spanish Succession

In 1700, Louis's grandson Philip V took the throne of Spain. Louis XIV saw this as an opportunity to unite the two empires, France and Spain. However, Britain and the Netherlands thought that they would be unstoppable, so they stopped this from happening.

1713-03-01 00:00:00

Frederick William I

Frederick William I of Prussia is known for creating one of the best-trained armies in Europe. He raised the importance of military values and won the loyalty of nobles called Junkers by granting them positions of power.

1740-03-01 00:00:00

Frederick II

Frederick II became King of Prussia in 1740. His father, Frederick William, spent time to make sure his son was well educated in the art of war. This ended up paying off when Frederick immediately seized Silesia from Austria which began the War of Austrian Succession. His greatly disciplined army earned him the nickname Frederick the Great.

1740-03-01 00:00:00

Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa was the Hapsburg empress for 40 years. During the Austrian Succession, she was not able to get Fredrick out of Silesia, but continued to protect her empire and gain the support of the majority of her people. By changing around the bureaucracy she was able to strengthen her empire. Also, she improved tax collection by forcing nobles and clergy to pay taxes. Finally, she made Vienna a center for music and the arts.

1762-03-01 00:00:00

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great took the throne after the death of Peter the Great. During her reign, she took many steps to increase Russia’s wealth and westernize and modernize Russia’s government. Catherine was an absolute monarch, meaning she was in complete control over Russia’s government and the lives of it’s people. In order to expand Russia’s borders, Catherine defeated the Ottoman empire for a warm-water port on the Black Sea. However, a downfall of Catherine’s reign was her decision to partition Poland with Austria and Prussia. This resulted in the disappearance of Poland altogether.

Monarchs of Europe

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