Europe 1600


Map Code: Ax02452

In the late 16th century, elective monarchy appeared an increasingly successful model for governance. In the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth, the enshrinement of the powers of the nobility in the Golden Liberty (1573) ushered in a period of unparalleled prosperity and political power. The newly independent Netherlands under their Stadtholders rapidly became a major commercial power, while the repeatedly elected Habsburgs ran the Holy Roman Empire as a family business. The elected Doge of Venice supplied the ships that defeated the Ottomans in the critical sea battle of Lepanto (1571), stalling their advancement into Europe. Meanwhile autocracies struggled. Bloated on imperial bullion, the Spanish Crown suffered repeated bankruptcies, and military humiliation at the hands of both Dutch and British, France was beset by religious civil wars (1562–98) and Russia descended into anarchy (1598–1613) after the excesses of Ivan the Terrible. In Scandinavia the elected kings of Denmark held sway through control of Norway and the lucrative Baltic trade.

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