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  Absolutism is rule not limited by any formal constraint, legal, constitutional or conventional; its power is unchecked, and its ‘laws’ are the commands of the ruler (the sovereign) who is not subject to law. Absolutism is necessarily an ideal, as no ruler ever fully controls all his or her subjects.

The theory of absolutism was embraced by the monarchs of early modern Europe who crushed aristocratic (political) and Roman Catholic (religious) constraints on their power. It was first articulated by the French thinker Jean Bodin, and the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes. They thought absolute government was not only preferable to feudalism but was also the only way to avoid the violence characteristic of human beings in ‘a state of nature’. They believed that sovereignty must be centralized in the hands of the monarch. Absolutism was necessary for civilization.

Absolutist monarchy was condemned by its critics as merely despotic (see despotism). Absolutist régimes were found in agrarian societies, and today régimes with similar features are usually described as authoritarian. BO\'L

Further reading Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State; , Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651).



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