Western Civilizations 106
November 5, 2013
Effects of the Enlightenment on the European Lower Class
“The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.” (Locke 222.) Throughout history there have been many governments; most of them paying the most importance to upper and middle class citizens while leaving out the lower class. The enlightenment was a dark time for the lower class due to the people being excluded from overall involvement, the nobility’s connection with serfdom in the east, and the slow change its lifestyle underwent. For the most part members of the lower class throughout Europe were negatively affected and most often underrepresented leaving them without a voice due to lack of influence and being illiterate; however, a couple of good things came out of this movement.
Wealth in the eighteenth century was unevenly distributed between the classes. The public sphere was not as “public” as the name suggests, for the lower class and women were excluded. The government holding most the wealth and power over the land would impose harsh taxes that kept the rich wealthy and the poor in the lower class. “It is impossible to say what place the two privileged orders ought to occupy in the social order: this is the equivalent of asking what place one wishes to assign to a malignant tumor that torments and undermines the strength of the body of a sick person” (Sieyes.) One could label the lower class as “the sick” due to the constant stream of vile virus they were fed in the form of taxes, inequality, and negligence. The lower class peasants made up the majority of the population while the middle and upper class was made up of literate people that had access to an education and knowledge. The lower class had a disadvantage which was that the majority did not know how to read or write. Peasants were seen as the herd and...
Cited: Colburn, Henry. "Salon Life." Fordham University. Paul Halsall, Aug.-Sept. 1997. Web. 07 Nov. 2013.
Locke, John. "Right of Revolution: John Locke, Second Treatise." University of Chicago Press. Ed. Peter Laslett. New American Library, 1965. Web. 07 Nov. 2013.
“serfdom”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2013
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