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What Role Did Enlightenment Play in The French Revolution?

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Erica Wessbecker

on 5 May 2014

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Transcript of What Role Did Enlightenment Play in The French Revolution?

It may well be that the collapse of the old regime was the consequence of other factors - economic problems, social unrest, conflicting ambitions of groups and individuals - but in the unfolding of the Revolution, what was thought, what was said, and what was advocated, was expressed in terms and categories that came from political theorists of the Enlightenment.

French citizens had absorbed the ideas of "equality" and "freedom of the individual"
Gave citizens the idea that a liberal constitutional monarchy was the best system of government for people who prized freedom
All mankind... being all equal and i independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions. -Locke
Was Enlightenment The Cause?
The Enlightened....

L'Esprit des lois first published in 1753
Believed the best form of government was one where the legislative, executive and judicial power were kept separate to keep each other in check and prevent one from becoming too powerful. This system could be seen in the English system
John Locke
believed the government's purpose was to serve the people by protecting life, liberty and property.
The right to private property is the cornerstone of Locke’s political theory
His beliefs were founded during England’s political drama involving Charles II
Monday, February 17, 2014
The State of France, Pre-Revolution
The Effects of Enlightenment:
1756–1783 France builds up enormous debt by participating in the Seven Years’ War and American Revolution
Louis XVI - French king of the Bourbon dynasty who took the throne in 1774; inherited massive debt problems but was unable to fix them
Marie-Antoinette - Wife of Louis XVI, whose self-indulgent tendencies became a symbol of royal excess and extravagance
Charles de Calonne - Controller general of finances appointed by Louis XVI in 1783; recommended across-the-board taxation. Previous to this, only the peasants paid taxes. Nobility refused and had him removed.
What ultimately and abruptly killed the Enlightenment, however, was the French Revolution. Begun with the best intentions by French citizens inspired by Enlightenment thought, the revolution attempted to implement orderly representative assemblies but quickly degraded into chaos and violence. Many people cited the Enlightenment-induced breakdown of norms as the root cause of the instability and saw the violence as proof that the masses could not be trusted to govern themselves. Nonetheless, the discoveries and theories of the Enlightenment philosophers continued to influence Western society for centuries.
What Role Did Enlightenment Play in The French Revolution?
Freedom of speech
Freedom of religion
He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets
"took a more caustic approach, choosing to incite social and political change by means of satire and criticism

Samuel, Moyen. "Mind the Enlightenment." The Nation. N.p., 1 Jan. 2010. Web.
1 May 2014. <http://www.thenation.com/article/mind-enlightenment>.

Belloc, Hilaire. The French Revolution. New York: Henry Holt and Co. ;, 1911. Print.

Doyle. "French Revolution." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 May 2014. <http://www.history.com/topics/french-revolution>.

Doyle, William. The Oxford history of the French Revolution. Oxford [England: Clarendon Press ;, 1989. Print.
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