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COLEGIUL NATIONAL “SPIRU HARET” BUCURESTI

LUCRARE DE ATESTAT LA LIMBA ENGLEZA

ENLIGHTMENT AND MODERN REVOLUTIONS

Candidat: Efteme-Miu Alexandra

Coordonator: Tivda Diana

Modern revolution were historical events which have influenced the political organization of
states making the transition from the old regime based on feudal-vasal relationships to the
modern one. The first revolution is the glorious one which represented the model for the others.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.ARGUMENT………………………………………………………….…………………….3

2. ENLIGHTMENT…………………………………………………………………………..5

2.1.VOLTAIRE………………………………………………………………………..6

2.2. J.J.ROUSSEAU…………………………………………………………………...6

3.THE BEGINING OF GLORIOUS REVOLUTION……………………………………..7

4.THE AMERICAN
REVOLUTION………………………………………………………….…..9

5.THE FRENCH REVOLUTION……………………………………..…………………....11

6.BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………….……………..…..14

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1.ARGUMENT

The main reason why I chose this subject is my passion for history as early as the 10th
grade. History keeps alive the past memories and also offers positive models so that society may
evolve yet also it keeps the negative memories, thus being an example for the future in terms of
what to avoid. It is important to know the past to build the future as efficiently as possible. The
subject of my work is called “Enlightenment and Modern Revolutions”. I did not randomly
choose this subject as it was the first topic in the 10th grade. At first I did not fully understand
the modern revolutions and how Enlightenment influenced them, but then I aproached more and
more the subject until I could understand how those people acted then, as it is said that otherwise
nothing in history is random. Everything happens for a reason. History has helped me to
understand mentalities, but also today's society. This theme brings into question the
Enlightenment movement, its’ principles having been used in all three revolutions. I believe that
the modern societies today wouldn’t have existed without this movement.
There must be brilliant minds in every state to make progress. England had Daniel Defoe
with "Robinson Crusoe", Jonathan Swift’s "Gulliver's Travels"; France had: Montesquieu,
Voltaire, Denis Diderot, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. These personalities resolved to impose
upon their people their ideas, so that England during the 16-17 centuries became a society that
was no longer afraid of the absolutist tendencies of the kings. On the other hand it can be said
that these ideas led to the independence of the colonies as one way or another the Enlightenment
Principles have become a way of life. Modern revolutions meant: progress, independence and
courage. If people were not infused with these ideals, today we could not have used the term of
“nation” or “national state”. The modern revolutions, although aggressive, had a noble purpose
which should be justified somehow. It is true that many people have given their lives to these
events, history must commemorate their memories, because without them our modern societies
would not be here today.
Another reason why I have chosen this topic is that not many people talk about it.
Probably because the revolutions are generally a difficult topic to discuss and explain but it is not
impossible. History is not easy to approach. One just has to understand the reasons why those
people decided to act like that at that moment in time. Details are the ones that make a
difference, and the events must be told in detail so that the reader could understand what has
happened.
In conclusion, I consider that this subject should be brought into discussion because it
modernized societies starting with the English one continuing with the American and French
ones.

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Modern revolution were historical events which have influenced the political
organization of states making the transition from the old regime based on feudal-vasal
relationships to the modern one. The first revolution is the glorious one which represented the
model for the others.

2. ENLIGHTMENT

Enlightenment is a philosophical movement of the 18th century arguing that the human
mind is able to understand and explain the generic universe. Representatives of Enlightenment
were: R. Descartes, D. Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Diderot. This philosophical
movement emerged as a result of human achievements, such as the development of printing,
marvelous geographic discoveries from the 14th-16th centuries that allowed access to other
cultures and civilizations, the economic development as a result of colonial empire and the
emergence of reform and counter-reform.

One of the Enlightenment principles is man's faith in happiness. They considered the only
duty of man is to be happy. Concept that opposed Catholic dogmas, who claimed that earthly life
is the transition to eternal life. Enlighteners disagree with the teaching of the clergy, the divine
revelation, the traditions of the church. They believed in God's existence as the creator of the
universe. But the history of humanity is subject to the laws of nature. Religion is accepted as a
guarantee for maintaining the social order.

Enlighteners accepted only two forms of government: the republic and the monarchy.
The monarchic state is governed by rules and principles. the constitutional regime is based on:
respecting natural rights, private property, equality before the law, justice, thus changing the
foundation of the monarchy. There is no longer the state available to the king. The Republic is
the society that emerged as a result of the contract concluded between free and equal people.
Democracy and the republic exist only in small states. Work is the only source of wealth and
economic progress. Industry and commerce can prosper if three conditions are fulfilled:
individual freedom, expression of personal interest and market action of the law.

Prussian King Frederic II, Joseph II of Austria, Catherine II to Russia will be considered
illuminated despots. They try a series of economic reforms: state investments in the economy, at
the social level: improving the peasants' situation, religious tolerance, the development of
education, supporting the arts and literature, modernization of the legislation system. So these
leaders have strengthened their position without even changing the form of government. The
failure is the incompatibility of the absolutist regime and its reform policies, but also the
influence of the French Revolution.

2.1.VOLTAIRE
Voltaire’s polemic with Christianity does not start from an atheist conviction. On the
contrary, the philosopher condemns atheism "the necessity of being in a supreme form. How
about reporting to the Christianity as it clearly states: "I am not a Christian, but if I am not, it is

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for a safe reason to love God more” .Like Cioran he is fighting with the ecclesiastic god, with the
god of the crusades and the inprisonment, with the punitive spectrum, arbitrariness, caricature
and privatization of the clergy, rather than with a creator of the world. Voltaire states that God
remains a simple concept by which the authorities restrict the freedom of the people. The church
proposes a new monster that we must love instead of a rational divinity. So he condemns the
practices of a Christianity infected by fanaticism and superstition. In the "Spirit of Laws" the
philosopher establishes the principle of the separation of powers in the state, the critique of
religious intolerance in French society and the monarchical absolutism. He criticized the old
regime, yet is an admirer of the English parliamentary monarchy.

2.2. J.J.ROUSSEAU
J.J .ROUSSEAU has formulated three important theories: the theory of natural law
which states that by birth all people acquire a series of natural rights (the right to life, freedom
and expression); the social contract theory: the state was formed through an agreement between
the people and the sovereign, and thus he is committed to defend the natural rights of the people;
the theory of sovereignty of the people which states that the power belongs to the the law of the
people, and the sovereign does not hold it except temporarily, the people having the right to
dissolve the contract with the sovereign if he violates his pledge, thus being able to sign a new
social contract with another person. Thus Rousseau theorized the people's right to revolution
against abusive leaders.

3.THE BEGINING OF GLORIOUS REVOLUTION

During the 16th century England has known a very important economic
development. At the social level a new social class emerges, alongside the old nobility, which
emphasizes the development of manufactures, capitalist forms and maritime trade and the
bourgeoisie controlled and formed by the country's economic life. This is the transition from the
feudal system based on the vassal contract between senior and vassal to the modern one. The
population goes through a period of poverty. The cities are developing, but especially the ports,
crafts and navigation. The new nobility together with the bourgeoisie uses parliament to impose
its own interests. In 1602 the dynasty of the Stuarts was established, so it started to be manifested
the absolutist behavior of the king. The Anglican Church is led by the king, as most nobility and
bourgeoisie were puritans, so the demand for purification of any Catholic trace is reached.
Conflicts arise between the king, backed by the old nobility, and the Puritan Parliament, the latter
being a follower of economic liberties and individual initiative. In 1628 the Parliament addressed

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King Carol I the "Petition of Rights", in which they drew his attention to the limits of royal
power. The king dissolves the Parliament in 1629 and engages in the war with Scotland, which is
very long and expensive. He will have to summon the Parliament in 1640. “The Grand
Remonstrance” asks the King that the prime ministers be elected by the parliament, his
collaborators be sentenced and taxes to be canceled. Carol demands the arrest of parliamentaries,
but the population forces him to leave the capital. This is why the Oliver Cromwell army is in the
forefront. The civil war lasted from 1642 until 1649 and King Carol was captured, judged and
sentenced to death. The Republic was established, the power is exercised by the army led by
Cromwell. Through its’ navigational documents, commerce and the English fleet is developing
(1650-1651). Cromwell was no nobleman, thus dissolving the parliament, because he could not
have had any authority in front of the nobles (1653). He takes the title of protective lord, which
was actually a military dictatorship, its prerogatives far outstrip those of monarchs on the
continent. Its authoritarian regime creates discontent, so he is killed. London is occupied by
General Monk which brings Carol II. The restoration seems to be the only solution and the
nobility and the bourgeoisie have accepted this idea, stating that their war had been against the
king, not against the monarchy. The two brothers, Carol II and Iacob II try to impose royal
absolutism and Catholicism as an official religion, which is why they will be removed from
leadership.

In this context, at the throne of England it is appointed king Wilhelm de Orania,


with the acceptance of the “Bill of Rights” by which the Parliamentary assumes the rights, the
inadvertences of the people and the king. Henceforth, England will evolve into a parliamentary
regime. The Revolution of 1688-1689, titled the “ Glorious”, did not consist in an armed, heroic
act, nor in the fact that the nation proved to be stronger than a rogue king, but the fact that it was
done without bloodshed or civil war, so it came to a constitutional regulation made by the
religious and political consensus of the people, which lasted since 1689. The establishment of the
Hanover dynasty in 1707 manages to lay the foundation for a new form of government, namely
the cabinet, because the two German kings, George l and George II have ceased to attend cabinet
meetings. George III will appoint as prime minister on pitt junior, his absolutist leadership
creates discontent among public opinion. The king rules, but he does not rule, the legislative
power is handed over to the two-chamber parliament: the lords' chamber and the communal
chamber, which are charged with the passing of laws and government control. The executive
power is handed over to the cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, and the legal one is given to
the courts. The Parliament is made up of two major factions: the Tory grouping of the aristocracy
and the traditions, and the Whig group supporting the bourgeoisie and the small nobility, would
govern by the alternation. So, England is evolving towards the parliamentary regime.

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4.AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Another form of modern revolution is represented by the war of independence of English


colonies in North America. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment ideas were spreading
throughout the European continent, while England is evolving, These ideas included the hope for
a parliamentary regime that supports law enforcement, the right to freedom and property. Also
manufactures are developing very much during this period.
All the more English persecuted during the Jacobin regime, grouped around parliament,
others preferred America. Measures have been taken against those who still support the
reformation of the church. Thus, from 1603 to 1733, 13 colonies are formed on the Northern
coast of America. These colonists shared the Protestant religion and the desire to decide their
fate. The causes that led to the establishment of the revolution fall into several cultural categories
by spreading the Enlightenment ideas and granting religious freedom. The colonists were
represented in the Parliament, only that they could not influence the legislation in their favor. In
the second half of the 18th century there is a rupture between the colonies and the metropolis with
the imposition of taxes, which were not in accordance with English legislation. Colonists have to
buy tea from India and pay a tax on American tea sales. It is important to mention the famous tea
party in Boston when three anchored vessels were thrown into the sea (1773). In 1765 the law
stamping that any administrative act or publication is issued for a sum of money to be formally
made; the law of charity that the colonists had an obligation to maintain the English army. The
colonists were forbidden to colonize the territories from the West of the Alegan Mountains, and
the customs duty for the imported sugar had to be paid. From an economic point of view,
colonists know a period of very important development, mainly with manufactures, the

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exploitation of natural resources and the intensification of commerce on the Atlantic and Pacific
Ocean. England introduces additional taxes even if the products originated in British territory.
The English population has grown heavily in colonies, and it has maintained its triangular trade
(Europa,Africa,Asia). Colonial representatives are dissatisfied with London's measures and
decide to meet in a Continental Congress at Philadelphia in 1774, in which they draft a statement
opposing the measures of the metropolis and reject the authority of the parliament, decide the
boycott the English goods. The document was rejected by parliament, and the colonists meet for
the second time at Philadelphia (1776), where they elaborate and sign the Declaration of
Independence July 4, 1776. The war includes several stages and conflicts, the colonists were
supported by other European states such as US Ambassador Benjamin Franklin and by the
French noble Lafayette. The volunteer armies were defeated by the English army, which was
joined by mercenary troops. The colonists get victories at Saratoga 1777, and appointed to the
head of the G.Washington Army, who has won famous victories like Yorktown in 1781. In 1783
England recognized the independence of the colonies in Versailles. The new state is born under
the sign of freedom and democracy. The next problem of colonies is the organization of the new
state. In the end it gets a federal character, and the new state is autonomous. There have been
conflicts between Republicans, adherents of the individual colonies in the party and federalists
supporting a unitary whole. The dispute ends in 1787 in favor of the federalists backed by
George Washington by adopting the Enlightenment Constitution. It was established that the form
of the ruling republic in which the president is elected every 4 years, he was entitled to two
executive mandates. The president is the head of the executive but under the control of the
Congress consisting of 2 rooms: The Chamber of Representatives and Senate Chamber. The
judiciary is taken over by the Supreme Court. There are changes to the constitution, being called
amendments, but they were not included in the text of the Constitution. The Senate consists of
two representatives of federal states, and the chamber of deputies elected in proportion to the
inhabitants of the state (legislative power). Thus, Americans become the first example of modern
state when a nation builds the government under which it wishes to live.

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5.THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

It was considered the model of modern revolution; it comprised several stages, provided
an organizational model based on the Enlightenment principles. It has influenced revolutionary
movements across Europe. The classic character of the French revolution was given by the
classic model of monarchic absolutism.

In the second half of the 19th century, alongside the French Revolution, other important
events took place, such as: the independence of the American colonies obtained in 1783, the
evolution of England towards a parliamentary regime consisting of two parties, the enlightened
absolutism by Frederic II and Joseph II in Austria and Ecaterina II in Russia and the spread of
Enlightenment ideas. The causes that led to the outbreak of the French revolution are social and
economic.

Agriculture is the main economic branch of the Middle Ages, threatened by the first wave
of the industrial revolution in England. The average salary of a peasant did not allow him to live
well. Peasants are not the only ones who lead a hard life, land owners did not even lead a more
beautiful life, they had to pay direct income tax, decimals, corpses, capital and expenses for
delayed goods. Peasantry and bourgeoisie formed 98% of the population of France and clergy
and nobility 2% of the population and 70% of the land, respectively 30%. To resolve this general
state of crisis it is summoned after 150 years The General Staff Assembly also made up of
unprivileged. The only social class to pay taxes and duties was the bourgeoisie, while clergy and
nobility were privileged by the king. The King asks for the elaboration of a series of three-state
wishes. The notebooks were requests addressed to the sovereign who demand the abolition of
monarchic absolutism, the formation of a meeting to set of taxes and the reform of justice and
taxation. The summoning of the general assembly emphasizes the feudal character, and the third
state unsatisfied with these decisions is separated from the other states and forms the national
assembly, which will later be called the constituent assembly. This Assembly wishes to meet the
demands of the candidates' quotes: forming a constitution, reforming the system. The King
wishes to cover all the budget deficit by implementing a tax for all social classes. At first he
agrees with this assembly and then tries to dissolve it. The French population will be armed with
the necessary instruments, then go to the Bastille to claim the gunpowder. Defenders of the
fortress believing that it is an attack, kill 150 people. After the battle, the Bastille is demolished,
these events offered satisfaction to the king. This is the first political revolution in 1789. The
second social revolution manifested itself in May and June 1789. The rebellion caused the
increase of the prices in wheat and bread, the rise in unemployment caused the emergence of
peasant riots. Noble palaces will be assaulted and destroyed. People demanded: the dissolution of
the feudal prerogatives, the fair division of the wheat and the cancellation of taxes. Concurrently
with these events the constituent assembly would declare on the night of August 4th, 1789, that
all people living in France are called citizens. On August 26, 1789, the "Declaration of Human

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and Citizen Rights" was elaborated considered the synthesis of the Enlightenment principles. In
1791 a new constitution was drafted which provided for the separation of powers in the state.
Executive power was government and sovereign, with the obligation to propose laws, to
administer the state, the army and politics, the legislative power is held by a legislative assembly,
charged with passing laws, controlling the government, and decreasing the taxes. Judicial power
is held by courts that, according to the gravity of the situation, punished the offenders in
accordance with the laws. On October 1st, 1791, the legislative assembly met, with the feuders
and girondines, the followers of the constitutional monarchy, respectively the republic. The new
constitution did not regulate the situation of the country, so they found a solution to the war with
the monarchies of Europe. War was desired by the king, believing that he will implement his
absolutism, so he plots against his own country. France suffers defeats after defeats; it has to call
2000 volunteers and declares the country: "the country in distress". Prussia also comes into war,
and Paris will be besieged by the Prussian troops. The population learns of the king's plot and
executes him. On September 20th, 1782, the revolutionaries gain victory at Valmy against the
Prussian troops. The only power in the state is the legislative assembly that applies what the
French writers called "terror" to the anti-revolutionaries, with numerous victims among the
clergy. They decide the universal vote by which the new convention is proclaimed "the
convention" that will make the transition from the constitutional monarchy to the Republic.

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6.BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Madaule, Jacques, Istoria Frantei, Editura Politica, Bucuresti, 1973.

2. Maurois, André, Istoria Angliei, Editura Politica, Bucuresti, 1970.

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