- Sceptical about Catholicism, divine right, thought people should focus on life, not the afterlife.
- Supported religious toleration, freedom of speech and press, free trade, uniform system of taxation and abolition of tax privileges.
- Wanted a constitutional monarch, NOT A REPUBLIC.
- Wanted a meritocratic system, rather than being decided by birth.
- Condemned the wealth, corruption and intolerance of the Church.
- QUESTIONED STRUCTURE OF SOCIETY.
- Men should control their own destiny.
- If favour of liberty over equality, but wanted this in front of the law.
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- ...People in towns and cities.
- ...The educated: Urban bourgeoisie, liberal nobility, aristocrats, lawyers, artisans.
- Ideas spread through writers and journalists in books (though rare), plays (took place on the streets), journals, drawings and newspapers.
- The movement was supported by scaremongering (use of fear to influence opinions of others) pamphlets and cartoons attacking the monarchy, particularly Marie Antoinette.
- There was nothing for rural workers, who had to get their information from the Church.
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- Attacked the aristocracy, government and Catholic Church.
"Ecrasez l'infame" Crush the infamous (Church)
- Spent time in England when in exile and learned of religious toleration, freedom of speech, scientific developments and workings of a constitutional monarchy.
- Closely linked to Frederick II of Prussia, an enlightened absolutist.
- Wrote ideas in 'Letters philosophiques'.
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- The Social Contract
- Citizens of a state must help to create ground rules upon which the state runs
- Ideal society free from abitrary power- popular sovereignty: everybody is King
"Force men to be free if necessary in the interests of the General Will"
- General Will: True will of every citizen-what is best for society and conscience as a whole
- Influenced Robespierre during The Terror
- Not in favour of Revolution
- Attacked prejudice
"The best state of human nature is nature itself"
- Discussed in salons, informal meetings
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- President of the Bordeaux Parlement.
- Condemned despotic monarchs.
- Spoke out against noble power.
- 'Spirit of the Laws 1748' advocates constitutionalism, separation of powers (Executive, Legislature, Judiciary), abolition of slavery, preservation of civil liberties and rule of law.
- Political and legal institutions should reflect the social character of communities.
- Did not accept literal interpretation of the Bible.
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- Provided reason for criticism and change.
- Attacked power of the King and the whole basis of the Ancien Regime.
- Attacked the Church.
- Gave foundation for language of the revolution- liberty, equality, fraternity, freedom.
- Without financial crisis, wouldn't have led to revolution.
- Some historians: didn't cause the revolution, but influenced ideas (Robespierre).
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- Parlements opposed tax reforms on grounds of protecting people's interests.
- Assembly of Notables refused tax reforms as they thought the Estates-General should agree them.
- Parlements question the 'divine rights of the King' after Royal Session.
- Men joining the Church declined.
- Complaints from 2nd estate increased, over the King's dependence on ministers.
- American War of Independence provides basis for questioning liberty and equality of the French.
- Cahiers (list of grievances) drawn up before Estates-General.
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