Forms of government in England and France

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Using all of the social forces, explain why by the eighteenth century the institutions of government in England and France had evolved into such different forms

There are no other countries all as over the world which have so much in common and different at the same time. The history of England and France has been always connected. The relationship between these two great countries were very problematic because they used to be friends and enemies at the same time. Speaking about the reasons of evolving the institutions of government in England and France into different forms we should mention the political, social and hystorical processes which took place there.

History of European countries has many common features and processes which influenced the development of institutions of government. The western feudalism was at the top of its political and economical power in the XIIth century. Catholic church and feudal hierarchy were connected by the system of rituals, moral code norms and  direct  collaboration. But it is an interesting fact that feudal aristocracy was under division because of internal faction and it is doubtful if they could participate in economical and political spheres as an organized group. Church had a great power there. Though there were such events like feudal faction, church and cities autonomy, we consider the society of Western Europe to be integrated, but it is worth mentioning that this integration was based not only on common ideas, but on combination of political and economical power that was held by one social class. In the period of economical development western society was considered to be pluralistic and divided into relatively autonomous spheres of political, economical, scientific and religious life, no class could reign another one like it was when the feudal aristocracy was at the top. We can say that transfer to capitalism was not just change of the ruling circles, but transfer from integrated society to pluralistic one. Later the institutions of capitalism would become ruling for some time not only in economical, but in political, religious and cultural spheres of life. (Documents in Western Civilization).
The events of 1066 were very important for England and had positive results: England became strongly involved into European life. Reunion was very significant because it took place when European countries and their aristocracy were at the top after the crusades. We should also mention that the most important time for England was the time of crusades: as a result of winners and beaten fusion the English nation was generated.

The second event that influenced all the institutions of England was “Magna Charta” admission. This document was directed against king and church despotism. It protected not only the nobility’s rights but the rights of all classes. “Magna Charta” represented a kind of Constitution and proclaimed Norman and Saxon people to be equal.

There were many wars between England and France. If the wars were successful for France the center of power would transfer to France, and England would become a province of a strong French state.

While the local English aristocracy united with democratic local elements was getting a great significance, we can observe the opposite situation in France. No other country had such a strong enthusiasm for crusades like France had. But this country did not get much profit from this as it seemed.

Lewis the IX made a great contribution into development of institutions of government. He reformed the judicial system: made right law regulations, removed legal duels. The private faction did not disappear but there was a political system in all branches – administrative branch, taxation, police branch and judice.

England and France played a great role in life of Europe in XIV – XV centuries. Soon the struggle for throne caused the Great War between two countries which were situated at the opposite sides of the channel. This war was declared with the approval of the Parliament of England. Parliament played a great role in judicial system in England at that time: the laws were created with the king’s, barons’ and communities’approval. Edward the III divided the Parliament into two houses. The House of Lords included two upper classes – prelates and baronies. The House of Commons included landed gentry and communities. Their duty was petition for people’s needs. The policy that Edward the III had towards Scotland and France made him call the Parliament very often. The Great was brought positive results for England and negative results for France. After the signing an armistice France had difficult times – plague flash caused worsening of many spheres of life and institutions of government. Besides France lost a great piece of land. (Documents in Western Civilization)

We should mention that at that time the government of some European countries (like England, France and Germany) was built on the same principles, political assemblies had the same system and similar functions. Society had the same structure: hierarchic relationship between classes, privileged position of nobility, its main points and character. In these three countries the cities are governed in the same way and rural life is built by similar pattern. The life of peasants is alike: owner, working, acres rights of user have much in common with other countries, owner has the same duties. We may say that all the European social, political, administrative, judicial, economical, and literature institutions had much more in common in XIV century than they have today. But it is a well-known fact that the European system became weaker and was half-ruined by the XVIII century.

We should pay attention to the fact that it seemed that government kept power and the positions set by them had the same names and functions, but their activity, energy and patriotic character disappeared. The institutions were ruined but their forms were not changed.

The forms and norms of old political system made nobility weaker and did not give chance for anything to develop. The old institutions prevented progress of civilization. They were just  an obsticle to new ideas. That was why people began to believe in sovereign more. But French society prospered at that time. And everything that worked at that time was new and of coursed it contradicted to old things.

For example the king’s power had nothing in common with the king’s power in Middle Ages. It began to play a great role in society, it got other rights and new ideas. State administration set on the ruins of local authorities, and the hierarchy of officials replace noble government. The new government uses the methods and principles which were unfamiliar for Medieval people. (Documents in Western Civilization.)

In England were the old European system seemed to be kept, the same processes were taking place.  If not to take seriously the old names and ruined forms, we would see that feudalism was completely destroyed at the XVII century: social classes began to mix, nobility was getting weaker, aristocracy was losing its importance, equality for all people before law and tax appeared. So England of that time was experiencing the processes which had never had place before.

The new events which were involved in old social life gradually and carefully helped to renew everything without destroying the old things and changing old forms.

England of XVII century looked like a present-day nation  keeping some ruins of Medieval society.

From the middle of the XVth century up to the middle of XVIIIth a great  trade increase took placein Europe. It caused the appearance and development of new attendant institutions and institutions of government.  The western countries of that time were on the way to technological, political and economic domination and they achieved the preference of such a size that even at that time the world was divided into wealthy and poor.

It is important to mention that by the XVIIIth century the great attention was paid to the religious and church movement, to the church faction between the representatives of different beliefs.

The development of England by the XVIII century by force of independent, good island conditions, and highly ethnicity was practically uninterrupted process of evolution of all three levels (psychological, cultural and social) of liberalism based on a wonderful, developing at that time “purely English” quality – English ability to find a strategic compromise, balance point, not as a rest point, but as a progress point, in common profit, healthy sence and pragmatic compromise. Even English revolution with its fanaticism was a pragmatically English “common action”, where there were no destruction and straight-out fight for materialization of ideas at any price or for unlimited power.

In conclusion, we should mention that while in England by the XVIII century liberalism was developing  in interaction with all three levels: psychological, semeiotic, social and political, the social and political infrastructure of France had many Medieval features.

We know that the process of primary stock accumulation was going to be finished in England quicker than in any other country. There was a base for manufacturing production in XVII century. As a result of social contradictions the bourgeois revolution of 1640 took place in England. This revolution finished the feudal-absolutist system and began the development of capitalistic relationship. Thanks to increasing of manufacturing production and foreign trade expansion, England was at the top between other European countries.

There was a feudal system up to the end of XVIII century in France and that’s why it was difficult for capitalistic system to develop.

Now, we see the reasons of evolving the institutions of government in England and France into  different forms. Among such reasons we should mention the polytical systems which were different in both countries.The second reason is the stage of economical development of both countries:  the stages of economy are different. The religious reasons and the appearance of the Cuurch of England (Anglican Church) played a great role also.

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  1. Documents set. Documents in Western Civilization. Prentice Hall. Upper Sadle River. New Jersey 07458
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