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Since the days when the interest of historians was principally focused on forms of government the age of absolutism has been a label commonly attached to the period of European history between 1660 and 1789. Mercantilism as practised on the continent of Europe was an essential concomitant of absolutism and developed in every state pari passu with the growth in the monarch's power. To the Germans, mercantilism seems an integral part of the Enlightenment because of the rational and secular nature of its thinking. The Cameralism or mercantilism of central Europe was distinguished from its French counterpart because the study of its doctrines constituted an academic discipline which was obligatory for all the holders of administrative posts, and because the rulers themselves were its most receptive students. Civilization in the age of absolutism rested on a peasant base. In the major continental countries the Physiocrats' gospel appealed most strongly to the governments that found themselves in difficulties.
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