1.5 New Monarchies from 1450 to 1648

3 min readjanuary 8, 2023


Christine Lin


Isabela Padilha Vilela

AP European History 🇪🇺

335 resources
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The Development of New Political Institutions

New ideas of secularism from the Renaissance prompted new forms of governmental and civil institutions that laid foundation for many modern governmental concepts. These new monarchs👑 focused on creating a centralized government by establishing monopolies on tax collection💸, employing military force, and pushing religious reform to gain greater control over religious practices. 
Monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I became popular for their religious reforms. The Enligh Reformation instituted by Henry VIII was a response to the Church's impediment for Henry VIII to divorce his previous wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII brought then dissolution of monasteries and created the "Church of England" as a separate entity from the Catholic church. This laid the ground for the dissemination of Protestant ideals in England and across Europe as well.

Beginning of New Monarchies

After the Hundred Years War and the Great Schism, nobility and clergy members no longer had the ability to block the power of growing monarchies. There was also a shift in who would assist the king during this time. Business-savvy townspeople became the king’s lawyers, foreign diplomats, and military tacticians. This breaks the bonds of feudal society and makes the rise of sovereign states possible due to the new relationship between the townspeople and the king.
New Monarchies also led to the creation of standing armies during the 15th century. The cavalry was dismantled and instead it was replaced by artillery and infantry. France was a perfect example of this movement, especially under the leadership of Charles VII who created a permanent professional army. 
Possibly the most famous monarchy to come about during the Renaissance would be that of Spain. In 1469, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille married and unified Spain. 🇪🇸 They conquered Granada, made Naples a Spanish possession, and conquered the kingdom of Navarre, expanding their empire. Although Spain had been a melting pot of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people, it became a Christian nation under their control. Their greatest legacy is their promotion of overseas exploration🌊. Their partnership with Christopher Columbus led to the creation of a Spanish empire in Mexico and Peru where gold and silver mines helped Spain become the wealthiest country in Europe (until inflation hit).

Image Courtesy of ThoughtCo

Meanwhile, in Italy, Renaissance ideals remained influential, which furthered political fragmentation. Ideas of a secular state - a state without an official religion - floated around Italy. Important secular theorists included Jean Bodin. Hugo Grotius and Machiavelli.
During this period, it is important to note that merchants and financiers in Renaissance Italy and Northern Europe were gaining power and ascended in the social strata.

Important Terms:

  • Spanish Inquisition - Tribunal established by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella de Castille to institute catholic orthodoxy across Spain.
  • Concordat of Bologna - Treaty signed by the powerful Emperor of Rome, Charles V and the Pope Leo X to establish the relationship between the church and the state in the region.
  • Peace of Augsburg - Treaty that ended the war between the Holy Roman Empire and the protestant states. It established that the monarch of each state had the right to define the religion of their state.
  • Edict of Nantes - Decree issued by King Henry IV of France, which granted religious freedom to teh Huguenots (French Protestants) and ended the French wars of religion.
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🎨Unit 1 – Renaissance & Exploration
⛪️Unit 2 – Reformation
👑Unit 3 – Absolutism & Constitutionalism
🤔Unit 4 – Scientific, Philosophical, & Political Developments
🥖Unit 5 – Conflict, Crisis, & Reaction in the Late 18th Century
🚂Unit 6 – Industrialization & Its Effects
Unit 7 – 19th Century Perspectives & Political Developments
💣Unit 8 – 20th Century Global Conflicts
🥶Unit 9 – Cold War & Contemporary Europe
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