To What Extent Was the Enlightenment the Cause of the French Revolution

3952 Words16 Pages
To what extent were Enlightenment ideas responsible for the outbreak of the French Revolution and the reforms of 1789? Included sources attached: John Locke, “Two Treatises on Government”, 1690; The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizens, 1789; Arthur Young “Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788, 1789” The ancien régime, the time before the outbreak of the revolution, was divided into three estates. The first estate, for the people of the highest position in France belonged to the clergy; this group contained the members of the religious rules such as Bishops, Monks and Nuns. However, the people of this estate were not popular among many people of especially the third estate. This was mainly because of the power…show more content…
John Locke, an English philosopher, also known as the father of Classical Liberalism, said in 1690 from “Two Treatises on Government”; [On the state of nature] To understand political power aright, and derive it from its original, we must consider what estate all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man (...) We derive from this that men are all equal and we should not expect political power to be understood right if we do not realize that men are equal in all Estates. With Estates, the laws of nature won’t be heard and it is not naturally human to build up Estates in a country. This excerpt also has a lot to do with the rights of men and especially the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. This will be discussed later on in the Essay. The birth of the Enlightenment happened during the 18th Century and it emerged from Europe as an intellectual movement of writers and thinkers questioning and challenging the ideas and views that at the time was widely accepted. Especially the Catholic Church was challenged for its traditional and determined values. Their analysis of society was based on reason and rational thoughts rather than superstition and traditional ways. The movement
Open Document