Letters on England by Voltaire

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Letters on England is a small collection of letters written by Voltaire (born François-Marie Arouet) in 1733 which offers a survey of societal England from the view of a Frenchmen. The original Letters on England, titled Lettres philosophiques, was written in English by Voltaire. This first edition was quite a cumbersome read and so in 1980 Leonard Tancock retranslated the book to English from a previous French edition. Just a few years prior to the release of Letters on England, Voltaire had been imprisoned by France and then exiled to England. This incarceration and banishment was in response to satirical compositions written by Voltaire that the French political powers felt undermined their rule. Despite harsh censorship laws,…show more content…
In addition to insights on religion, Voltaire also detailed his own understanding of the politics and economics in Europe during the time of the Enlightenment. During this time, an absolute monarchy ruled France while the English had what Voltaire saw as a limited monarch with an involved democracy. France was ruled using bribery, force, and corruption while England was governed though compromise and negotiations. Voltaire himself believed in political moderation and defense of civil liberties. He also observed the differences in economics between the two countries. Free trade was discouraged in France, to the point that some noblemen lost their rank if they participated in such commerce. Contrasting this, Voltaire saw that the English encouraged trade and tradesmen were even held in high regards. He believed that this difference in economics was what gave England access to their freedoms. Furthermore, Voltaire had a great respect for England’s stance on the sciences and philosophy. Since the beginning of man, religion has served as both a guide to moral behavior and as an explanation to elucidate the physical world. Up until the 17th and 18th centuries, most explanations of things pertaining to the natural world were religiously based or simply established on deductive reasoning alone. When the Enlightenment Era began, new ideas of reasoning came to
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