marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
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marycatelli

The Golden Age of Princes

The Golden Age of Princes by H. D. Molesworth

The Baroque era, in case you're wondering.  He surveys a lot of Europe but always from the sovereign's point of view, or at least the royal one.  Then it was the era where absolute monarchy was what democracy is today:  the form of government that everyone takes for granted is the right one.

Their rise was the decline of feudalism.  It opens with an account of how Denmark's king became hereditary and absolute, instead of elective -- the burghers revolted against the nobles and offered the king it to curb them.  The coronations' oaths of allegiance are merely a matter of form; one royal ex-mistress, who got a title out of it, observed at a coronation that though the bishop asked if they would accept the king, who would say no with all the swords about?

All sorts of topics.  Religon.  Amusements, indoor and outdoor -- a cabinet of art and wonder became required for a prince.  Government.  As part of breaking down the power of feudalism, kings chose their councilors by ability -- or as favoritism -- not by position.  Officers in the army were noble, but in the navy, where a ship could be lost, they needed different standards.  Little princes and princesses might have playmates among the children of the household, despite the difference in birth.  Bastards saw a decline in their possibilities though they might still wangle a title.  A queen had a disadvantage that she had to initiate all conversations with anyone, who could not change the topic; it added to the wearisomeness of life.  Then, at least she had escaped the fate of old-maid-hood

The king and queen had suites.  Some highly ranking people, such as ministers or mistresses, might have two or three rooms.  Others?  One room.  Despite having estates elsewhere, they would jam into court.

An interesting view from the top of this era.
Tags: history reviews: 15th-18th centuries, politics, world-building: government, world-building: nobility, world-building: royalty
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