AP European History : Politics and Society

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP European History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Politics And Society

Which of the following does NOT describe the beliefs of Martin Luther?

Possible Answers:

Faith alone was all that was needed for salvation.

Religious authority resides in the word of God as revealed through the Bible, rather than in the church. 

The church should be a community of believers, rather than a hierarchical institution headed by the pope in Rome.

The Eucharist should not be viewed as a literal transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

Political authority was illegitimate, and peasants had the right to revolt against those who ruled over them.

Correct answer:

Political authority was illegitimate, and peasants had the right to revolt against those who ruled over them.

Explanation:

The Protestant reformer Martin Luther emphasized four central beliefs: 1) That faith alone, rather than good works, was all that was necessary for salvation, 2) That religious authority rests in the Bible alone, 3) That the church exists as a community of believers, rather than a hierarchy of clergymen, and 4) That the priesthood was not superior to the laity. Luther also emphasized the dogma of consubstantiation (the Eucharist representing Christ's Last Supper), as opposed to the Catholic transubstantiation (the literal transformation of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood). While Luther's ideas spurred German peasant revolts in the sixteenth century, he ultimately sided with the rulers crushing the revolts, and Lutheranism tended to uphold secular leaders.

Example Question #2 : Politics And Society

The term "Huguenots" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

A group of Catholic priests who hoped to reform the church from within

French Calvinists who frequently clashed with Catholics in the mid-sixteenth century

Peasants who rebelled against the abuses of the French monarchy

French traitors who defected to the armies of Charles V

Moderate French aristocrats who bolstered the authority of the king

Correct answer:

French Calvinists who frequently clashed with Catholics in the mid-sixteenth century

Explanation:

Huguenots were the name for French Calvinists. During the mid-sixteenth century, many aristocrats converted to Calvinism as part of an ongoing power struggle to decrease the authority of the French monarchy and increase the power of the aristocracy. Huguenot lords clashed with Catholic lords, leading to all-out civil war. The moderate politiques and the eventual ascension of Henry of Navarre to the throne paved the way for peace. King Henry IV passed the Edict of Nantes, which granted some religious liberties to the Huguenots.

Example Question #3 : Politics And Society

For whom did Niccolò Machiavelli write The Prince?

Possible Answers:

King Henry VIII of England

The Medici Family

Pope Innocent VIII

The Grand Duke of Sicily 

The Black Prince

Correct answer:

The Medici Family

Explanation:

The Medici family was one of the most powerful and influential families in Italy whose connections reached from the Papacy and the French Monarchy to local nobility in various cities. Machiavelli was a diplomat and civil servant in Italy who fell out of grace with the Medicis and attempted to regain their support through his writings on how to be an effective ruler. He believed that he held the key to attaining and maintaining power and wished for the Medici family to utilize it and extend its influence. The Prince later became a fundamental lesson for any ruler on how to govern by any means necessary.

Example Question #4 : Politics And Society

A chief cause of the Thermidorian Reaction during the French Revolution was __________

Possible Answers:

the economic troubles caused by the French Directory.

the invasion of France by the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor.

the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte over the Revolutionary Army.

the political turmoil in Revolutionary France's "Sister Republics."

the personal unpopularity of Maximilien Robespierre.

Correct answer:

the personal unpopularity of Maximilien Robespierre.

Explanation:

The Thermidorian Reaction ocurred at the very end of the most radical period of the French Revolution, taking its name from the month of the Revolutionary Calendar in which it took place. The Thermidorian Reaction involved the overthrow of the Committee of Public Safety, in particular its leader Maximillien Robespierre, who was essentially the last man standing among the radical revolutionaries after he had ordered the executions of most of his fellow radicals. His opponents invaded a meeting of the Committee, branded Robespierre an outlaw, and executed him the next day.

Example Question #5 : Politics And Society

Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is centered around arguing in favor of __________.

Possible Answers:

republicanism

liberalism

conservatism

theocracy

nationalism

Correct answer:

conservatism

Explanation:

Edmund Burke wrote his Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790. In it, Burke condemns the chaos and violence of the French Revolution and argues in favor of the importance of conservatism and the preservation of established institutions of authority. The text has been widely employed in the centuries after it was written to argue in favor of maintaining the status quo and preventing movements towards republicanism, liberalism, and later, socialism.

Example Question #6 : Politics And Society

“It is much safer to be feared than loved because . . . love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment that never fails.”

This quote appears in __________.

Possible Answers:

Two Treatises of Government by John Locke.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke.

The Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau.

The Prince by Machiavelli

The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.

Correct answer:

The Prince by Machiavelli

Explanation:

The quote appears in the famous sixteenth-century work by Machiavelli called The Prince. While you might not have recognized the quote itself, you should have recognized it’s primary argument, which is basically the main argument of Machiavelli’s work. Essentially, The Prince is intended as a guideline for ruling Princes and Kings and advises them to do whatever is necessary to maintain their own rule. Machiavelli argued that morality should be considered less significant than the maintenance of power and stability—"It is safer to be feared than loved . . ."

Example Question #7 : Politics And Society

Machiavelli’s The Prince revolutionized political theory by advocating for __________ above all else.

Possible Answers:

pragmatism

deception 

violence 

secularization

piety 

Correct answer:

pragmatism

Explanation:

Machiavelli wrote The Prince in 1513. It quickly became one of the most widely read and influential political books in history. Machiavelli advocated heavily that states and rulers should always do whatever is in the best interest of the continuation of their power. Machiavelli believed in pragmatism above all else, advising that princes should make war or peace, betray alliances or remain loyal, as long as they acted in the best interest of the state.

Example Question #8 : Politics And Society

Which of the following is true about political life in France after the Hundred Years’ War?

Possible Answers:

Government was centralized under the authority of the king.

Government was decentralized as the power of the nobility rose.

Politics was dominated by the army and the power of the generals.

Politics was dominated by religious concerns and the power of the cardinals.

Government was heavily weakened and fragmented by defeat to the English.

Correct answer:

Government was centralized under the authority of the king.

Explanation:

After the Hundred Years’ War, the power of the French nobility was weakened, and their finances were nearly exhausted. This allowed the king to centralize power under the monarchy. It also led to a slight opening of French society as the bourgeoise began to emerge as the primary source of revenue for the king.

Example Question #9 : Politics And Society

The Peace of Westphalia brought about the end of __________ and ushered in the era of __________.

Possible Answers:

wars over the balance of power . . . class-based wars

religious wars . . . wars over the balance over power

class-based wars . . . religious wars

continental wars . . . civil wars

civil wars . . . continental wars

Correct answer:

religious wars . . . wars over the balance over power

Explanation:

The Peace of Westphalia brought to an end the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. Most historians consider the Thirty Years’ War to be the culmination of more than a century of religious wars in Europe. With the signing of the Peace of Westphalia limited religious tolerance was provided throughout the majority of Europe. But, a new political and social order was established that led to war and atrocity for the next three centuries. “Balance of power” politics was established, whereby all the nations of Europe agree to collectively prevent any one European power from becoming hegemonic.

Example Question #10 : Politics And Society

The “Golden Age of France” is generally said to have coincided with the reign of which French ruler?

Possible Answers:

Charles de Gaulle

King Louis XIV

King Henry IV

Emperor Napoleon III

Napoleon Bonaparte

Correct answer:

King Louis XIV

Explanation:

The so-called “Golden Age of France” took place during the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth century. This mostly coincided with the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV. It was a time when French culture, particularly art and literature, were widely embraced around Europe, and French became the international language in much the same way that English is in the twenty-first century.

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