The Legacy of the Enlightenment
1775 American Revolution begins
1776 Paine publishes Common Sense Jefferson writes Declaration of Independence
1789 French Revolution begins
Frederick II “the Great” - Prussian monarch from 1740–1786; instituted judicial reforms and created written legal code
Charles III - Spanish monarch from 1759–1788; weakened Church influence and implemented other reforms
Catherine II “the Great” - Russian empress from 1762–1796; improved education, health care, and women’s rights, though continued to crack down on dissent
Benjamin Franklin - American thinker, inventor, and diplomat; transmitted many Enlightenment ideas between Europe and America
Thomas Paine - English-American political writer; pamphletCommon Sense influenced the American Revolution
Thomas Jefferson - American author of the Declaration of Independence; drew heavily from Enlightenment political philosophy
In the later years of the Enlightenment, absolute monarchs in several European countries adopted some of the ideas of Enlightenment political philosophers. However, although some changes and reforms were implemented, most of these rulers did not fundamentally change absolutist rule.
In Russia, empressCatherine the Great, a subscriber to the ideas of Beccaria and de Gouges, decried torture while greatly improving education, health care, and women’s rights, as well as clarifying the rights of the nobility. She also insisted that the Russian Orthodox Church become more tolerant of outsiders. However, she continued to imprison many of her opponents and maintained censorship and serfdom.
In Austria, monarchs Maria-Theresa and Joseph II worked to end mistreatment of peasants by abolishing serfdom and also promoted individual rights, education, and religious tolerance. An admirer of Voltaire,Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia, supported the arts and education,...