The Enlightenment and the French Revolution

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Maloy Clark
European History
Period 2

What connection exists between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution?

The Enlightenment was a movement that took place in the eighteenth century. It occurred when the writers and critics at that time established new philosophies about change. Science, reason and common sense began to take the lead in society and it’s attitudes and actions. Basically, the Enlightenment brought about new ideas and ways of thinking in regards to politics, society and religion. Trust in all areas began to be challenged. Traditional beliefs were re-examined and re-established. These Enlightenment ideas about politics, society and religion helped to formulate the strategies of the French Revolution.

One crucial idea that arose from the Enlightenment came from John Locke and stated that the government must get its power from the people, and in return the government must protect its people and their property. Other ideas included the divine right theory being rejected. Philosophers began to believe the universe was not governed by chaos but instead followed a fixed set of laws. The beliefs of the Christian church and their validity were challenged. And because of this a new period of atheism and secularism began. Human rights, citizenship and democracy were all fundamental aspects of the Enlightenment period. All of these new “enlightened” ideas helped to spur the French Revolution. A famous slogan during the revolution was “liberty, equality, fraternity.” Men wanted to be treated equal. Revolutionists battled for a government by the people and for the people. They wanted a government where all men had the right to vote and all citizens were equal before the law.

During this period of Enlightenment the common people of France began to be enraged over the constant indifference, incompetency and self-indulgence of King Louis XVI. Because of new ideas they were adamant that absolute monarchy should come to...
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