Difference Between Absolutism and Constitutionalism (With Table)

Absolutism has been derived from the concepts of philosophers Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes. The extraction of finances and money was carried out directly from the public by the supreme power of the king. This led to a luxurious lifestyle and exhibition of pomp and power by the king.

Absolutism vs Constitutionalism

The main difference between absolutism and constitutionalism is that governments under absolutism are ruled by the authority of “divine right to rule,” whereas states under constitutionalism are ruled by “the rule of law.” Absolutism gives the sovereign infinite authority, whereas constitutionalism limits the sovereign’s limitless power and governs social structures.

Absolutism is based upon the idea of philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin. The isolation of finances and money was performed immediately from the public by the king’s superior power. This resulted in the king’s lavish lifestyle and display of pomp and authority. Moral absolutism is referred to the hyponyms of absolutism. This may also relate to an era in European history when informed absolutism was prevalent.

Alternatively, Constitutionalism stems from the political doctrines of philosopher John Locke. The key feature of constitutionalism has been that it serves as a legal constraint on authority and serves as an antithesis to arbitrary control. Despotic governance is the antonym of constitutionalism. Constitutionalism, in prescriptive use, refers to various qualities and important parts that comprise the Constitution.

Comparison Table Between Absolutism and Constitutionalism

Parameters of ComparisonAbsolutismConstitutionalism
DefinitionAbsolutism denotes the Monarch’s uncontrollable and unrestricted authority under the guise of “divine right to govern.”Constitutionalism denotes the sovereign’s restricted and limited authority under the supervision of the rule of law.
CharacteristicsThe monarch wields authority, the king lives a lavish lifestyle, and the sovereign chooses the interests of the state.A specific set of norms, beliefs and structures check the balance on the government, and the authority of law keeps both the sovereign and the subject accountable.
Expression of FreedomPeople’s liberties were restricted, and the lowest classes were repressed.People enjoy complete liberty and freedom, and their rights are respected.
Expansion in countriesSpain, medieval Europe, France, and other locationsThe Netherlands, England, the old Roman Empire, and the modern globe are all examples of this.
Prominent philosophersThomas Hobbes, Jean BodinJohn Locke

What is Absolutism?

The term absolutism was developed in 1753 from a theological context. Around the political realm, the term rose to popularity in 1830. The term is derived from the French term “absolutism.” Absolutism is a term that can be counted or uncounted.

Even during the mid-eighteenth century, absolutism referred to the concept of preordination, which asserted that God’s works are absolute. This is also the foundation of the notion of absolute decrees in theology.

Political science has beliefs and practices on arbitrary or absolute governance in the early nineteenth century. Absolutism was a notion in Hegelian philosophy for unconditioned reality.

Absolutism may be used in philosophy. Belief in any metaphysical absolute might also be described as absolutism in the late nineteenth century. The word also has a positive connotation that refers to the condition of being absolute.

Moral absolutism is referred to the hyponyms of absolutism. This may also relate to an era in European history when informed absolutism was prevalent. This era lasted from the 18th to the early 19th centuries.

Absolutism, as a word, can also mean absolute monarchy, which seems to be a concept represented by a dictatorship. The term is also used to denote the notion of abstinence from alcohol. In physics, absolutism, as opposed to relationalism, is known as the absolute theory, that incorporates absolute space.

What is Constitutionalism?

Constitutionalism is a set of behavioral patterns, attitudes, and concepts that expound on the foundations of government authority and the constraints of the body of basic laws.

Various political groups also have constitutionalism, which works to defend individuals’ freedoms and interests through institutionalized power processes.

Constitutionalism has both descriptive and predictive meanings and ramifications. Constitutionalism, as a descriptive term, tends to refer to the battle for acknowledgment of different consents, rights, privileges, and freedoms.

Constitutionalism, in prescriptive use, refers to various qualities and important parts that comprise the Constitution. Prescriptive constitutionalism takes the method of addressing the Constitution as it ought to be.

The distinguishing aspects of constitutionalism also include the definition and prescription of limitations, and also the sources of government authority, which are generally derived from the basic laws. It is the foundation of a society’s power system.

It guarantees robust protection for people’s interests, particularly those of social minorities. The term constitutionalism is usually used rhetorically. It is concerned with the government’s legitimacy.

This has also been attacked by intellectuals such as Murray Rothbard, Jeremy Waldron, and others. They believe that constitutionalism is incapable of guaranteeing rights and reining in governments. Jeremy Waldron even calls it undemocratic.

Main Differences Between Absolutism and Constitutionalism

  1. Absolutism is characterized by a single supreme power or king, whereas constitutionalism is characterized by a decentralized system in which power is distributed among numerous institutions.
  2. The ultimate authority under absolutism may immediately collect riches from the public, whereas in constitutionalism, collecting money or finances involves a legal procedure and it can not be done directly.
  3. Absolutist regimes maintain a standing army at all times, whereas constitutionalist states mobilize an army only during times of war and turmoil.
  4. Absolutism may limit and also restrict mass freedom, but constitutionalism guarantees more freedom and liberty.
  5. Absolutism oppresses the poorer classes, but constitutionalism gives equality to all classes and preserves people’s rights.


Both absolutism and constitutionalism operate for the public’s benefit and well-being. Both are heavily tasked with ensuring the safety of their respective states. Both regimes drew money from the people in the form of taxes. Despite the fact that the collecting system was dissimilar for both.

The display of authority or even power differs in both systems. The fundamental notions of both systems are distinct. Both systems of administration were important during the 15th century that helped society in distinct ways.


  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=vNGB2kB6tr0C&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Difference+Between+Absolutism+and+Constitutionalism&ots=ouowBCPCDm&sig=mr3ltOZcgW1GDn_Gf9FTVah8KG4
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-349-21121-0_2