During the course of the 17th and 18th centuries British leaders sharply reduced the power of the monarchy and developed perhaps the most economically prosperous and politically progressive society in Europe. Similarly, parliament governed its equally prosperous North American colonies with a minimum of control and interference. Meanwhile, the Bourbon monarchies of France, and Spain after 1713, developed a model of political and religious absolutism at home and drastically expanded mechanisms for controlling their American colonies. Given its relative commitment to liberal politics, individual liberty, and local autonomy, why did Britain face a colonial rebellion in the 18th century, rather than the absolutist governments of France or Spain? What lessons, in other words, had British leaders learned during the upheavals of the 17th century, and how were these legacies interpreted by leaders on both sides of the Atlantic in the 18th century? A successful essay will demonstrate a basic awareness of French and Spanish politics on both sides of the Atlantic, but will focus primarily on the British Atlantic empire.