Powerful Enlightened Depots

841 WordsFeb 18, 20183 Pages
Enlightened despotism is defined as "a form of government in the 18th century in which absolute monarchs pursued legal, social, and educational reforms inspired by the Enlightenment" (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). The magnitude of the philosophy movement known as the Enlightenment sent ripples throughout Western society. The philosophers believed that in order to improve society they had to "enlighten" the monarchs. The views of the Enlightenment did to find their way inside the palaces of Europe's leaders; however, the monarchs retained their great power of absolute rule. Among these enlightened despots of the age were Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Joseph II of Austria. These leaders all attempted to bring their respective countries into a new age. The basis of enlightened despotism was the idea of improving the lives of a country's citizens. This concept of leadership during this time was ultimately a good idea, but it was not successfully exercised to its fullest extent. From a young age, Frederick the Great took a great liking to culture and literature. He was especially infatuated with the language and lifestyle of the French. The French philosopher Voltaire was a friend to Frederick and had a great influence on his Enlightenment ideals. He initially hid his love of the Enlightenment during his reign, but later he began to realize how the philosophies of the movement could actually advance and fortify his state. He
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