The French Revolution Essay

1171 words - 5 pages

The age of Enlightenment took place between the time when Louis XIV died (1715), and the coup d'etat (1799, when Napoleon came into power. It is during this time period that the French Revolution occurred, as well as several other stages of reform. Strongly influenced by the pertinent reformations, the people began to exit the times of darkness, and entered a time of growth. The ideas of growth, reason, and natural law built a strong foundation for the enlightenment (Paul Hallsal). Incredible faith in human reason as well as the advancement of secularism was an important goal of European countries during this time period. During the age of Enlightenment, progression in many fields such as business, government, and literature, as well as the ability to set goals and achieve them, was of tremendous importance. Natural Law was incorporated into the daily social lives of all people, as it specifically describes the existence and order of natural life. Additionally, a goal that most of the countries shared was to have a reformed government, rule, and distinct role of the people, based on the well-being of each individual country. Although many "Enlightened Thinkers", or philosophes, such as Hume, Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu had contradicting attitudes toward human nature and politics, they all played a key role in the development of the ideas, which set a foundation for many modern countries to evolve from. England and France, for example, were both strongly influenced by the ideas and reforms brought upon by several crucial historical figures of the time, as their governments and other ideas were formed based upon certain principles from the individuals. "There is no crueler tyranny then that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice", said Baron de Montesquieu (Charles Secondat). In this statement, Montesquieu expresses how strongly he opposes to the qualities of the current law, and he also emphasizes that there are many crimes that can be committed if the law system is unjust. Montesquieu, one of the greatest philosophes, opposes absolutism and desires the return of the powers from the government to the people and therefore influenced many people concerning the system of government. Many other new cultural enhancements evolved as a result of the enlightenment, such as salons, clubs, cafés, and the expansion of reading by the general public. More specifically, in France, the French Revolution was based on the new enlightenment ideas from philosophes like Montesquieu. Henri Peyre asserts that an important role in the revolution was played by the ideas of the great Enlightenment thinkers, which in many ways were responsible for the long lasting success of the basic French culture.The French Revolution was sparked by events that preceded its beginning. As publicly stated by writer Ernest Labrousse, the French Revolution was caused by a serious financial crisis in France (Class Notes). The wars...

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