Dictionnaire Constitutionnel

Authors: Duhamel & Mény
Summary: Absolutism is that conception of the State which denies any limitation on the power of the sovereign. Such a regime, realized historically by the French monarchy and doctrinally in the political thought of Hobbes, is based on two principles: the assertion that monarchy is the best regime, and the assertion of the absolute sovereignty of the monarch. It is in monarchy, indeed, that is found the clearest expression of that principle of unity of command and authority associated with the construction of the modern State. Historically, absolutism may be understood as a relatively recent phenomenon, the result of European struggles against the feudal state on the one hand and against the ecclesiastical state on the other. In this light, absolutism is the sign of the superior autonomy and independence of a nation's king, compared with any other power. The chief problem of absolutism, considered from a legal and philosophical point of view, centers on the legitimacy of the monarch's sovereignty.