Examples Of Enlightenment Despotism

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Following the Feudal ages, a great wave a change hit Europe. Religion was no longer used as proof, whereas human thoughts and experiences were valued. The Enlightenment, during the 17th and 18th centuries, was an intellectual movement that emphasized reason rather than tradition. The philosophies heavily influenced many leaders and were even taken on by absolutists. Frederick the Great and Catherine of Russia, despite their despotism, were truly enlightened rulers who implemented the ideals of Enlightenment philosophers.
Frederick II and Catherine II were absolute rulers who ruled during 17th century enlightenment, as the enlightenment brought major change to European society. Three precursor societal shifts culminated in the period. The
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Voltaire, arguably the most influential Age of Reason philosopher, had a large impact on Frederick’s and Catherine's reigns. Voltaire lived from 1694 to 1778 and began his life in France, but was later imprisoned. After he was released, he made his way to England where he was struck by their tolerance for individual thought. He saw inspiring figures such as Newton and applied his methods of seeking truth to government and religion. He used the Scientific Method, based on experimentation, in his writings, to explain natural phenomena, spread freedom of speech and suggest reforms to government and society. He hated corruption, inequality, injustice, superstition and religious prejudice. As a preacher of tolerance, Voltaire wrote, “We ought to look upon all men as our brother.” http://www.constitution.org/volt/tolerance.htm He deduced that all men are equal and therfore should be treated equal. His view of acceptance was key in the Enlightenment. Although he tolerated all religion, he rejected senseless observance. Voltaire preached reason and logic versus mindless dogma. This change in thought reflects itself in enlightenment doctrine, for the leaders questioned old beliefs on how to rule their countries. Frederick and Catherine truly instituted Voltaire’s philosophy, verifying their commitment to the Age of …show more content…
Although he didn’t view absolutism as the best form of government, he legitimized it. In his most famous work, “The Spirit of the Law,” he said, “Law in general is human reason, inasmuch as it governs all the inhabitants of the earth.” Law needs to be put forth with thought and logic. He continues that in order for a regime to be capable of protecting people’s rights, its principles, driving force, must motivate their subjects to behave. Although absolutism was not the best form of government, he recognised its success and its principle of fear. He believed in robust procedural due process, which included a right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence and the severity of the punishment to be proportional to the crime. Montesquieu was instrumental to the reforms of

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