The principle of expansionism governed Europe from the 16th to 19th centuries. Expansionism legitimizes the increase of one’s own borders, widening a ruler’s dominion at the expense of other sovereign states…
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Owing to the monarch’s sole and indisputable sovereignty, the unilateral decisions made were considered unalterable and ultimately beneficial to the nation’s interests. This magnitude of power residing in the king was absolute. “Russia watched its (European) neighbors and crafted its own brand of absolutism. In the process, Tsar Alexei legally combined millions of slaves and free peasants into a single serf class bound to the land of their aristocratic masters.” European nations, inclusive of Russia constructed their own versions of empire which ended up stratifying society as states became hotly embattled as they competed with one another for land, resources and power. Extension of kingdoms inevitably breeds imperialism. Through his series of conquests, Napoleon “came near to establishing France as the sole power of the Western world.” The French Napoleonic empire soon stands as a threat against the other European nations as they conjecture that a “reinvigorated France might pose a threat to England’s colonial empire.” Religious, military and intellectual movement fostered and facilitated European expansion. Patronized by Christianity, European rulers would empower themselves claiming their own authority as divinely ordained. European leaders employed religion as “the cultural and organizational foundations for … European imperialism, if only to facilitate… evangelization and conversion to Christianity”4 Acting on the power of divine right, Christianity strengthens its hegemony by nullifying and suppressing other traditions. As a result, European nations gain the ascendancy through wars and forced conversions. Seeing themselves as royal representatives selected by Providence, the monarchs were “ministers of God and lieutenants on Earth5.” Therefore, being subject to God equates to being subject to the European king. Divine right decrees that God bestowed entitlement to rulers to hold sway over their states. This divinely appointed king is then assured of unswerving loyalty and unquestionable authority. Since Christianity ruled religio-politically in Europe, the king sees it as his duty to extend not only his kingdom, but to proselytize the vanquished and have them accept his faith. The Chronicle of Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti (1798) cites Napoleon espousing the belief in divine right since he was “appointing (him)self controller of God’s secrets.”6 Encountering devout Muslims in Egypt, they view Napoleon as attempting to usurp an authority that belonged to God alone. Other evidences of the prevalence of the concept of divine right are manifest in Prince Klemens von Metternich’s Results of the Congress at Laybach (1821) in which Metternich pronounces the certainty of Providence creating and supporting the emperor Tsar Alexander of Russia and the king of Naples addressed in his correspondence.7 This magnitude of political power was total, especially coupled with a preponderant military. One of the predominant ways of control a people is to overpower and conquer them by force. Kings implemented duress through open warfare to re-align nations with their own political designs. The 16th to the 19th century was a period in which might was right. Military prowess was secured via state-of-the-art navies and expert soldiers and cutting-edge martial tactics and arms; hence one sees that “Europeans enjoyed an advantage in terms of military technology”8. The British navy and the Spanish armada were held in great respect for their nautical proficiency. Napoleon Bonaparte was a military general with exceeding ambition to reign over the world. Very swiftly, Napoleon “
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