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Levi Saada

Chapter 18 Review Notes

The Scientific Revolution

Before the scientific revolution, the church controlled everything and all science was just
a branch of theology, which was also controlled by the church.
The scientific revolution of the seventeenth century was the major cause of the change in
worldview and one of the key developments in the evolution of Western society.
Though historians agree that the scientific revolution was enormously important, they
approach it in quite different ways.
Historians disagree as to how important to its rise were the nonscientific economic,
religious, and social factors.

Scientific Thought in 1500

European beliefs about the world, which was controlled by the church, were based on
Aristotle’s theory that the earth was motionless and fixed at the center of the universe
with ten crystal spheres moving around it. Beyond the tenth sphere was Heaven, with the
throne of god and the souls of people who went to heaven.
The first 8 spheres consisted of the sun, moon, five known planets, and the stars.
2 spheres were added in the Middle Ages so they can account for the changes in the
position of the spheres.
It was believed that angels kept the spheres moving.
Christians loved Aristotle’s theory because it perfectly fit exactly into Christian doctrine
because it positioned human beings as being the center of the universe and established a
home for God.
This belief dominated physics, motion, etc.
One of Aristotle’s ideas was the reason a feather would fall faster than a bowling ball was
because a feather was made out of air.
Two reasons why people actually followed his belief for two thousand years…
He offered a common sense explanation for things in the universe that people could not
explain, such as gravity.
It fit perfectly into Christian doctrine because their religion said god created earth as the
center of the universe and that humans were special because we are in the center of the
universe. It established a home for god and a place for Christian souls.

The Copernican Hypothesis

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), a polish clergyman and astronomer, changed the
medieval view of the universe.
He believed that the Sun was the center of the universe and that everything else revolved
around it. Even though he was also wrong, he was more on than Aristotle.
Working on his hypothesis from 1506 to 1530, Copernicus was too afraid to question
Aristotle’s view; hence the fact he was a devout Christian too.
Copernicus didn’t publish his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres until
1543, which was the same year he died.
His theory was known as the Heliocentric Theory, which means “sun in the middle”.
Aristotle’s theory was known as the Geocentric Theory, which means “earth in the
The Copernican Hypothesis had many scientific and religious implications, many of
which the conservative Copernicus did not expect.
First, his theory consisted of the stars not moving, which ultimately destroyed the main
reason to believe in crystal spheres because the crystal spheres were all to show why the
planet and stars revolve around earth.
Second, his theory offered the belief that the universe was infinitely large.
Finally, he characterized the earth as “just another planet” and nothing special. His theory
destroyed Aristotle’s view that the earth was not too different from heaven.
The Heliocentric view was a departure from medieval thoughts and created doubts about
traditional Christianity.
Questions such as, “Where, then, was the realm of perfection?” and “Where was Heaven
and the throne of God?”
The Copernican Hypothesis infuriated many religions, especially Protestants. Martin
Luther thought Copernicus was and idiot. John Calvin said his theory did not make any
Protestants were most upset because they had a literal interpretation of the bible and they
said that if the bible said something it had to be true and that no science would be able to
disprove the bible.
The Catholics were upset at first but did not portray that anger as viciously as Luther and
Calvin did.
By this time Copernicus is dead and the things that really caused people to start believing
in his theory were two events that happened in the 1570’s.
In 1572 there was a supernova explosion that caused a star to shine brightly for two
years. This contradicted the idea that the heavenly spheres were unchanging and therefore
In 1577 a new commit shone through the sky, which caused the people to think,
“Wouldn’t it be breaking through the crystal spheres?”

From Brahe to Galileo

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was one of the astronomers who found this new star of 1572
and agreed with Copernicus.
He was from Denmark.
He did not have a nose, rather a gold and silver false nose.
Aided by the king of Denmark, Brahe built the most sophisticated observatory of the
Brahe studied stars and planets for twenty years and was able to compile an enormous
amount of information.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t smart enough to understand what this data meant.
Therefore, Brahe handed off all the information to his young assistant Johannes Kepler
He came from a German family and trained for the Lutheran ministry.
Kepler was extremely smart and was well known for his formulation of the three laws of
planetary motion, established in 1609.
1- According to Copernicus’ theory, he demonstrated in 1609 that the orbits of the planets
around the sun are elliptical (Oval-like) rather than circular.
2- the planets do not move at a uniform speed in their orbits.
3- In 1619, he showed that the time a planet takes to make its complete orbit is varies
according to its distance from the sun and that planets move faster when their closer to
the sun.
Kepler proved mathematically the precise relations of a sun-centered solar system. His
work demolished the old system of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and in his third law he came
close to formulating the idea of universal gravitation.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is from Florence, Italy.
In 1589, Galileo was so fascinated by math that at age 25, he became a professor in
One of his accomplishments was the experimental method, which basically consisted of
Galileo conducting controlled experiments to show what universal motion and mechanics
were like.
Galileo’s biggest accomplishment was the “law of Inertia”, which basically said that rest
was not the natural state of objects. An object will keep moving unless an external force
stops it.
He used the experimental method mostly in astronomy.
After discovering the news about the invention of the telescope in Holland, Galileo made
one for him and trained it on the heavens.
He discovered the first four moons of Jupiter, which proved that Jupiter couldn’t be
embedded in a crystal sphere because it had moons going around it.
Galileo was also pretty wealthy. The wealthiest family in Italy, the Medici’s, employed
him as a teacher for one of their children.
The pope and the church were not happy about Galileo’s belief. They were nervous about
whether he was going to side with Copernicus’s theory or their theory, the geocentric
theory. So in 1624, Pope Urban VIII permitted Galileo to write about his beliefs, as long
as he doesn’t say who believes the right theory.
In 1632, Galileo did not listen 'to this agreement and wrote, “Dialogue on the Two Chief
Systems of The world”.
He was tried for heresy and threatened with torture.
This was a symbol of a big time conflict between religion and system.
Eventually he was released but put under house arrest for the rest for your life.

Newton’s Synthesis
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was extremely smart, religious and was well known as being
an alchemist, which is an early medieval scientist who thought that they could change
lead into gold and silver.
He came up with so many genius ideas but failed to prove them.
In 1687 he came up with his most famous book, published in Latin, called Principia. In
his book, he used the astronomy of Copernicus, as corrected by Kepler’s laws, with the
physics of Galileo and his predecessors to basically come up with one system to explain
the entire universe and the science of the entire universe.
He did this by using a set of mathematical laws, which explained the laws of gravity.
The key synthesis was the law of universal gravitation.
According to this law, everything in the universe attracts every other thing in the universe
Newton basically took all the pieces of information that other people (Copernicus,
Galileo, and Kepler) couldn’t put together and created something that was absolutely
revolutionary to the era of the sixteenth century.

Causes of the Scientific Revolution

By the 1300’s philosophers started to drift away from theology and started to look at
science. They just didn’t have the technology to understand it yet.
By the 14th and 15th centuries universities started having departments in math, astronomy,
and physics.
The Renaissance stimulated science by rediscovering ancient mathematics.
People of that era really needed new technology for their sea voyages because they were
constantly getting lost. The scientific revolution really helped the people of that era
because it consisted of new technological instruments such as telescopes, maps, and
things to look at the stars, which helped them find their way back on the sea voyages.
Frances Bacon (1561-1626), an English politician, believed that knowledge had to be
pursued with empirical, experimental research, which basically means that you had to
compile lots of data, experiment, and then you will be able to see how things work. This
is known as “inductive reasoning” or “empiricism”.
Novum Organum (1620) – Developed a new method of acquiring knowledge based on
the inductive method, which proceeds from the particular to the general or from the
concrete to the abstract
The Advancement of Learning – He develops the same ideas and insisted true
knowledge was useful knowledge
The New Atlantis – Portrayed a scientific utopia whose inhabitants enjoyed a perfect
society through their knowledge and command of nature.
His greatest weakness was his failure to understand the role of mathematics
Rene Descartes (1596-1650), a French Philosopher who fought in the Thirty Years’ War,
had the idea that you don’t need to compile lots of data, rather you need deductive
reasoning, which basically means that you need to use rationality, math, and just to think
about things clearly and use your reasoning to understand difficult subjects.
In 1619, he discovered geometry and basically said that everything must be doubted until
its proven and it must be proven with reasoning and science.
One of his famous quotes was; cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore, I am”.
Descartes’s reasoning ultimately reduced all substances to “matter” and “mind”, which is
to the physical and spiritual.
Hs view of the world was known as Cartesian Dualism, which basically means that God
created two fundamental realities: Physical and metaphysical or subjective and objective
or “thinking substance” and “extended substance”.
The modern scientific method is based on the synthesis of Bacon’s inductive
experimentalism and Descartes’s deductive mathematical rationalism.
At this time, the Lutherans and the Calvinists have backed off and realized that it’s not
worth opposing the theory because it might actually be right.
The Netherlands were also open to scientific research.
The Catholics opposed scientific research. When the Counter-Reformation started, they
became very hostile to science.
Some Consequences of the Scientific Revolution
How did Europe change from the scientific revolution? Yes and No
There was a huge growth in the scientific community to expand knowledge and to come
up with more and more advances in science.
The new scientific method emerged, which we still use today.
Because the link between pure science and technology was weak, the scientific revolution
did not lead to any economic consequences. There were still very poor people that didn’t
even know that any of this was going on and frankly, did not even care as long as they
were still alive.
The biggest impact that the scientific revolution is going to have is its going to lead to
three very important events in European history; The Enlightenment, The Agricultural
Revolution, and The Industrial revolution.

The Enlightenment
The Enlightenment came right after the scientific revolution and was caused mainly by
the scientific revolution.
It was the intellectual and cultural movement that tied together certain key ideas and was
the link between the scientific revolution and a new worldview; these ideas were:
Natural science and reason can explain all aspects of life.
The scientific method can explain the laws of human society as well as those of nature.
Progress – the theory of moving forward and the possibility that humans can create
better societies and better people.

The Emergence of the Enlightenment

Bernard de Fontenelle (1657-1757) stressed the idea of “progress” and thought that
science could be used to understand human problems and could be understood by
nonscientific audiences.
He was also doubtful about organized religion and absolute religious truth.
Fontenelle and other writers brought science into conflict with religion. People started
questioning religion/god and his existence.
Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), who was a Huguenot who escaped to the Netherlands because
he was persecuted, believed that nothing could ever be known beyond possible doubt;
therefore you must be open-minded toward everything because you will never know for
sure that something is the truth.
Bayle’s skepticism was very influential.
Growth in travel really contributed to the age of enlightenment since it led Europeans to
look at truth and morality in relative, not absolute, terms.
John Locke (1632-1704) was the biggest guy to influence the enlightenment.
Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which was published in 1690, consisted of
Locke opposing Descartes.
Locke Believed that all man were created equal, including women. He believed in
religious tolerance and the theory of personal identity.
Descartes believed that all people are born with certain ideas and ways of thinking, while
Locke believed that all human ideas are derived from experience. This was known as the
“Tabularasa”. Basically he thought that your environment, family and experiences are
the things that make you who you are as person and make you understand the world the
way you do. He believed that education and social institutions were vital since that is how
everyone finds out about the world.
Along with Newton’s Principia, Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding was
one of the dominant intellectual inspirations of the Enlightenment.

The Philosophes and the Public

By 1775, all these things have contributed to an entire European movement, mainly in
The French Enlightenment thinkers were known as the Philosophes, who were basically
intellectuals who brought the Enlightenment ideas to the public and brought the
Enlightenment to its highest stage of development especially in France. Unlike Eastern
Europe, intellectual freedom was possible in France.
Reasons why France?
The French language was the international language of the educated classes of Europe,
and France was Europe’s wealthiest state.
When Louis XIV died in 1715, the Enlightenment really took place because Louis was an
absolute ruler and when he died, the state religion and absolutism was not so strong.
Books were often banned and their authors would be jailed.
Jean le Rond d’Alembert (1717-1783)
These Philosophes were restricted in what they were allowed to write. So what they
would do is in their plays, histories, novels, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, they used
satire and double meanings to spread their message to the public.
Montesquieu (1689-1755) was a lord and most famous for writing The Persian Letters,
which was an extremely influential social satire published in 1721.
The Persian Letters was a social satire, where he basically wrote as a Persian visiting
Europe, making fun of European customs and beliefs.
As a noble, he really disliked absolutism because he felt like his power had been taken
away, therefore leading him to writing The Spirit of Laws (1748).
In The Spirit of Laws he studied and compared different types of government and wanted
to promote liberty for the people.
He concluded that the best way to govern a country and avoid absolutism was through
Separation of Powers.
Voltaire (1694-1778) was the most famous Philosophe.
In 1717, he was imprisoned for insulting the regent of France.
In 1726 he was beaten and sent to prison for insulting another noble.
His dad did not approve of what he was doing so he sent him to Law school to be a
lawyer but later found out Voltaire skipped Law school and was writing satire.
Because of all his life experiences, he was really interested in fighting against legal
injustice and unequal treatment of nobles, compared to the rest of the classes in France
because again, he talked bad about a noble, the noble beat had him beat up and he was the
one who was put in jail.
When returning to France and soon being threatened again with prison, Voltaire was
fortunate enough to meet Madame du Chatelet (1706-1749), who was an aristocrat,
extremely well educated for a woman, and had a passion for science, really influence
However, she was discriminated because of her gender and people were saying that she
was sort of leaching off Voltaire because he’s so smart but really she was very intelligent.
She translated Principia into French and was really the one who believed that woman’s
scientific contributions in the past were so limited only because the education for them
was unequal.
Voltaire was eventually appointed royal historian in 1743, and his Age of Louis XIVI
portrayed Louis as the dignified leader of his age.
After Madame du Chatelet died, Voltaire was invited to go live in the court of Fredrick
the Great of Prussia. And there he would challenge Catholic theology; he was very
against Catholicism. However, he always admired Fredrick as a free thinker and an
enlightened monarch.
Voltaire did not believe in social or economic equality and hated religious intolerance.
Religiously, he believed in Deism, where he believed in the Clockmaker, which
basically consisted of god creating the world and stepped aside for us to take over and do
whatever we want. He did not believe there was a god that was watching over everything
we did and causing things to happen.
The greatest achievement that the Philosophes had was their group effort, the seventeen
volumes Encyclopedia: The Rational Dictionary of the Sciences, the Arts, and the Crafts.
Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Jean le Rond D’Alembert (1717-1783) edited the
Encyclopedia, which examined all of human knowledge and attempted to teach people
how to think critically and rationally. They wanted the Encyclopedia to “change the
general way of thinking” (Diderot).
After the first volume was published in 1751, the French government temporarily banned
it and was later put in the church’s index of forbidden works because it questioned
religion, religious intolerance, and the way the legal injustice system works.
More generally, the writers of the Encyclopedia showed that human beings could use the
process of reasoning to expand human knowledge.
It was ultimately completed in 1765
The Encyclopedia summed up the new world-view of the Enlightenment.

The Later Enlightenment

The later enlightenment Philosophes were more rigid and dogmatic in their beliefs.
Baron Paul d’Holbach (1723-1789) was an atheist and the craziest of all Philosophes.
In his System of Nature (1770), he believed that humans were machines and that
everything they did was determined by outside forces. He thought that free will, God, and
immorality of the soul were foolish myths and don’t exist.
The Enlightenment’s Philosophes did not like him because he was crazy and way to rigid.
Consequently, he did not get as much popularity as Voltaire.
David Hume (1711-1776) believed that the human mind is nothing but a bundle of
impressions that originate in sense experiences, which ultimately creates habits.
The Enlightenment’s Philosophes did not like him too because it took away any reasons
to believe in the power of reason and stressed the idea that you don’t have to think about
anything because everything is just clumped in your mind.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), a Swiss brilliant and difficult thinker, was mainly
committed to individual freedom. Unlike other Enlightenment thinkers, he attacked
rationalism and civilization because he thought it was destroying the individual.
Rousseau Background: He grew up in a small community in Switzerland, up in the
mountains, where they ran the government themselves and it really changed the way he
thought about things.
He wrote his most famous work Emile, where basically he called for children to be
educated naturally and spontaneously.
He also wrote The Social Contract (1762), which basically said that all people ruled the
state. I was popular sovereignty. It was based on two fundamental concepts: the general
will and popular sovereignty. He belied that the general will is sacred and absolute.

Urban Culture and Public Opinion

The enlightenment really affected the culture of Europe as well. During the 18th century,
the European market for books grew but not for religious books.
Before this time, the bible was the most popular book but now that those books were not
popular, art and science books became popular.
These books were not published in France because the French kings would never allow it.
Therefore, they were published in the Netherlands and Switzerland because those
countries did not have censorship.
Underground literature, known as pornography, was a concern to the state because much
of it centered on aristocratic immorality. The French police did its best to stamp out this
underground literature but people could not be stopped from reading these things so ideas
This all resulted in a new emphasis on individual and private reading, known as “a
reading revolution”.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a professor in East Prussia and the greatest German
Philosopher of the age, argued and spoke out in favor of freedom of the press in 1784
because he believed that the enlightenment could only flourish when people would be
allowed to buy and read these books.
Fredrick the Great of Prussia was suggested as an enlightened monarch precisely because
he permitted freedom of the press.
Salons were social gatherings in private homes where the Philosophes, the Aristocrats,
and the wealthy middle-class officials would all meet together and discuss and debate
over Enlightenment thoughts. They were presided over by women, which helped female
intellect and education.
At this time there was a new form of art going on, known as Rococo. It was very popular
with regard to woman. Mozart was very influenced by rococo. It was very popular in
Germany and invented in France.
Madame Geoffrin (1699-1777), known as the “unofficial godmother of the
Encyclopedia”, ran one of the most famous salons.
She was a Christian who did not tolerate attacks on the church in her house, therefore
people like Voltaire would not be able to come to her salons because he would always
criticize the church.
Salons functioned as informal schools where woman were free from political censorship
and discrimination and could learn these enlightenment ideas.

The Enlightenment and Absolutism

In 1776, the American Revolution affected the way the Enlightenment thinkers thought.
Before this people thought the ruler could only make political change and if masses tried
political change it would cause disorder and chaos.
The Philosophes believed that there should be kind-hearted absolutism; the monarch
should be enlightened and should take care of them and make good laws for them and
this would ultimately improve society.
At this time they realized that maybe the people can have a good government and there
won’t be chaos and it can be a democracy. Many, however, believed that enlightened
monarchs were the best.
Many absolutist of the 18th century tried to govern in an enlightened manner, known as
enlightened absolutism, but their results and accomplishments were very different.

Fredrick the Great of Prussia

Surprisingly, the most enlightened monarchs were not British or French; rather they were
actually from Prussia, Austria, and Russia.
Fredrick II (1740-1786), known as Fredrick the Great, was the most enlightened
monarch. His father Fredrick I (1657-1713) was in love with tall soldiers and greatly
influenced his son in an odd way.
Fredrick I wanted his son to be just like him, a disciplined soldier. As a youth, Fredrick
II was very rebellious against his father and did not want to follow his father’s footsteps
as a disciplined soldier. He embraced culture and literature, often writing poetry and fine
prose in French, a language his father intensely disliked. There were rumors that he was
homosexual and atheist.
In 1730 he attempted to run away with his friend but was caught, put in prison, and
compelled to watch his friend in flight be beheaded at his father’s command.
He eventually reconciled with his father, agreeing to continue in his father’s footsteps.
When he comes to power, the first thing he wanted to do was get more land for Prussia.
Therefore, when the ruler of Austria, Charles VI (1685-1740), died and his young and
charismatic daughter, Maria Theresa, inherited the Habsburg dominions under the
Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, which said all the land has to be ruled by Charles VI’s heir,
Fredrick invaded Silesia and captures the entire providence.
In 1742, as other greedy powers waned her lands in the general European War of the
Austrian Succession (1740-1748), she was forced to give up almost all of Silesia to
At this time Fredrick II doubled the population of Prussia and becomes the strongest
German state.
This caused some problems too because France, Austria, Russia and Sweden all turned
against him and tried to conquer Prussia and divide the territories during the Seven
Years’ War (1756-1763).
The whole mission of conquering and dividing Prussia failed when Peter III came to the
throne of Russia called off the attack in 1762 against Fredrick II, whom he greatly
After the war, Fredrick II went forth in becoming an enlightened monarch allowing
religious freedom, promoting education, simplifying the law, abolishing torture, and
promotes agriculture in industry.
The problem, however, was that he didn’t change the social class structure.
He believed there was no problem in having serfs.
He gave more power to the nobility, known as the Junkers, because he was afraid of the
middle classmen and did not want them to have power in his government. So the way he
gave more power to the nobility was by giving them more power over the serfs.
Opposing Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786)’s urge that Jews should be given freedom
and civil rights, he put the Jews in Ghettos and completely secluded them from the
normal society. They could be ordered out of the kingdom whenever Fredrick II wanted

Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine the Great of Russia (1762-1796), a German princess, loved the French
In 1744, she married Peter III (1728-1762). She used her intelligence and good looks to
eventually murder him in order to be the empress of Russia.
She had 3 goals as a monarch.
1 - To import western culture to Russia. Peter the Great had started this when he built St.
Petersburg but she brought in all these Western architects, sculptures, musicians, and
intellectuals. When the French government banned the Encyclopedia, she insisted to
publish it in St. Petersburg. She really wanted to make her Russian nobility more
2 - She also aimed at domestic reform. She tried to unify the laws and wanted to take
away serfdom but failed to do so. She gave limited amount of religious toleration and
banned torture. She wanted to improve education and strengthen local governments. The
Philosophes liked these ambitions.
3 – Territorial Expansion.
In 1773 Emelian Pugachev (1742-1775), a common “Cossack soldier” (wild free
peasants), proclaimed himself the true tsar and issued decrees abolishing serfdom, taxes,
and army service.
He killed thousands of nobles and officials until Catherine and the nobles had enough and
murdered Pugachev. Pugachev’s rebellion put an end to Catherine’s effort to reform
This rebellion showed Catherine that if she would free the serfs, the nobles would not be
able to support her if another rebellion like this would happen. It also showed that the
serfs were capable of chaos. So after Pugachev died in 1775, Catherine gave the nobles
absolute control of their serfs and extended serfdom into new areas, such as Ukraine.
In 1785, Catherine formalized the nobility’s privileged position, freeing nobles forever
from taxes and state services.
Catherine was most successful in the partition of Poland with Austria and Prussia.
She conquered Crimean, which no tsar had been able to do. Both Peter the Great and Ivan
the Terrible have tried but failed in doing so. It gave them a place on the black sea for
them to do shipping.
Expansion helped Catherine keep the nobility happy because it provided her with new
lands to give to her servants and many lovers.

The Austrian Habsburg

Maria Theresa (1740-1780) was a Hapsburg that thought, after the war, domestic reform
was needed.
Three aspects of these reforms were most important.
She limited the papal influence on the government.
Revised the tax system and strengthens the bureaucracy. She decided that she was going
to tax the nobles more.
She also reduced the power the nobles had over serfs and freed some of the serfs.
Joseph II (1741-1790), who was Maria’s son, pursued reform aggressively when he
came to the throne.
When he took over the throne in 1780, he granted religious freedom to everyone
including the Protestant and Jews, who were never free in Austria.
In 1781 he abolished serfdom and in 1789 he said that all the peasant obligations were
going to be converted into money, which means the peasants must now be paid.
Nobles were infuriated that the serfs were no longer working for them for free. Because
of the oppositions from both nobles and serfs, Joseph’s reforms did not last long.
After he died the entire Hapsburg empire was in turmoil, therefore his brother Leopold II
(1747-1792) was forced to cancel Joseph’s decrees in order to re-establish order.
Peasants once again lose all their gains and have to go back to forced labor.

Absolutism in France
The effect that the Enlightenment had on France was not as big as the other countries,
even though they had all the Philosophes in their country.
When Louis XIV (1638-1715) died in 1715, the absolute rule was challenged when
Louis XV (1710-1774) came to power.
Louis XV, the great grandson of Louis XIV, came to power when he was 5 years old. This
resulted in the nobles getting a lot of power from the Duke of Orleans (1674-1723), who
was their leader and governed as a regent until 1723.
Most importantly, in 1715 the duke restored power in the Parliaments who now had the
power to evaluate the king’s decisions.
The War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) caused France to go into a financial crisis.
Louis XV appointed a finance minister who decreed that there would be a 5% income tax
on all individuals regardless of social status. The nobles were infuriated since they were
never taxed and now they were.
The Parliament of Paris decided to protest and eventually succeeded in causing the
monarchy to drop the new taxes.
The Seven Years’ War cause more financial problems. France kept on getting involved
in wars that they were not able to pay for; therefore they taxed people again. But
Parliament protested again and said that you don’t have the right to tax us if we don’t
give you permission. Once again, the government caved in and withdrew the taxes in
1764. It then asserted that the king could not levy taxes without the permission of the
In 1768 Louis XV appointed Rene de Maupeou (1714-1792) as his chancellor and
ordered him to crush all oppositions.
He abolished a lot of the Parliaments in France and taxed all the nobles. People were
infuriated and called him the “royal despot”.
When Louis XV died in 1774, Louis XVI (1754-1793) took over with some really good
intentions. He dismissed Maupeou, reinstated the parliament, which resulted in a more
serious financial crisis and political upheaval.

The Overall Influence of the Enlightenment

How did the Enlightenment in France influence the politics?
The nobilities gained more power after 1715.
There was a rise of Judicial and aristocratic opposition of the parliaments against the
Liberal thought against absolute rulers grew among the middle and upper class.
These all put absolutism on the defensive.
In Eastern Europe?
Absolutism remained very strong but the Enlightenment produced some improvements.
The later eastern absolutists were indeed committed to reform but not for the reason to
help the people, rather to strengthen the state.
Fredrick the Great, Catherine the Great, and Maria Theresa did not feel bad for the poor
Protestants and believed that if they were more enlightened then the people would
support them more and the state would be stronger.
They were basically just trying to outdo themselves in this, sort of, international part of
By combining state building with the culture and critical thinking of the Enlightenment,
absolute monarchs succeeded on expanding the role of the state in the life of society.