Enlightenment Ideals As Catalysts Of The French Revolution

3094 Words Nov 17th, 2014 13 Pages
Aamna Malik
Ms. Maize
November 18, 2014
Enlightenment Ideals as Catalysts of the French Revolution
“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains” (Rousseau 1). These words of the 18th Century philosophe Jean Jacques Rousseau perfectly describe the sweeping turmoil in Pre-revolution France. Freedom as pertaining to underlying societal structures such as social codes, political establishments, and religious institutions was believed by Enlightenment thinkers to be a natural right of man whilst it was seized from the citizens of France by the absolutist monarchy of King Louis XIV. As an absolute ruler, King Louis XIV held all power and was free to exercise it in all aspects of society, be it religion, economy, or law, without fear of resistance or revolt from the public. That is, until the 18th century, when Enlightenment ideals prevailed and the citizens of France were persuaded by various strong leaders and their ideas of reform to overthrow the current societal institutions. This movement is commonly known as the French Revolution. The rampant progression of the French Revolution was spread through Enlightenment ideals in the Third Estate, the largest demographic of absolute France. Consequently, the Enlightenment ideals of social, political, and religious freedom as manifested in the works of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire, and the Baron de Montesquieu served as catalysts for the French Revolution.
Rulers of absolute regimes came…
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