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Enlightenment Ideas And Politcal Figuers Of The Era
Intro to European History
Enlightenment Ideas and
Political Figures of
The Enlightenment Era
The Enlightenment of the 18th century was an exciting period of history. For the first time since ancient Grecian times, reason and logic became center in the thoughts of most of elite society. The urge to discover and to understand replaced religion as the major motivational ideal of the age, and the upper class social scene all over Europe was alive with livid debate on these new ideas.
A French playwright who went by the pseudonym Voltaire is the most recognized and controversial Enlightenment author. Because of his trademark acidic wit, he was forced to flee the country after giving offence to a powerful nobleman. He spent the next two years in England where he came in contact with the pivotal Enlightenment idea of religious freedom and the freedom of the press. When he returned to France, he had some scathing things to say about the less than enlightened policies followed by the French monarchs, especially concerning religious intolerance. Because his ideas were generally offensive to the ruler of his country, the need to be able to leave France quickly to avoid prosecution was a consideration when deciding where he should live, which eventually was on the Swiss boarder. There he continued to treat on society and anything else that caught his imagination.
Along with Voltaire were many other Enlightened thinkers, or philosophes, as they came to be known. A man by the name of Rousseau was also a very influential personality. His essays mainly treated on social inequality and education.
An Italian by the name of Cesare Beccaria also discussed society, but more in terms of social control and matters of crime and punishment. He was an opponent of torture, capital punishment, and of any punishment that was done to excess or didnt fit the crime that warranted it. He arrived at his conclusions through the logic that was so popular of the day. An excellent example of this logic is in this phrase concerning capitol punishment: Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves? Rational arguments such as these permeated Enlightened conversations and didnt fail to be noticed by many of the great national rulers of the day.
One monarch who seemed to be particularly inclined to the Enlightenment philosophies was Emperor Joseph II of Austria. After the less enlightened reign of his mother, Empress Maria Theresa, he was able to finally institutionalize many of the ideas he had been mulling over and thinking about for years. His mother, being a staunch Catholic, saw little use for such trivial issues, but once Joseph finally attainted complete control over the empire, his reforms were widespread. Possibly to spite his mother, one of the first thing he did as emperor was seize much of the land occupied by various monastic sects, which he accomplished through his Edict of Idle Institutions. True to his Enlightened nature, he promptly turned the seized lands into schools and other institutions of learning. He abolished the death penalty, made everybody equal in the eyes of the law, and ratified legislation that called for complete religious toleration. He even attempted to make the Jews living in Austria more acceptable to society as a whole. He had only limited success on this front, but the attempt itself was a drastic step for a monarch of any country to date. He made great progress economically as well. Joseph II ended the monopolies that had unnaturally influenced his economy for decades and eliminated stifling internal trade barriers. After all was said and done, he had created around 11,000 laws in an attempt to transform his country into an embodiment of Enlightened ideals. Has he himself put it once, I have made Philosophy the lawmaker of my empire, her logical applications are going to transform Austria.
Despite his hopes, the reforms set forth by Joseph II were not as successful as he had hoped. He angered the nobles by releasing the peasants from serfdom, and the peasants were similarly distressed over the newfound freedoms which they had no experience dealing with. His reforms were simply ... more
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By: S.E. Hinton
This story is about a young boy of 14 named Ponyboy. He is part of a hood group called Greasers on the east side of town, a group of lower-class teenagers who wear their hair long and greasy, wear jeans and ripped-up T-shirts, and are at odds with the rich-kid bullies known as the Socs. This group of hoods are born into rich families from the west side of town, are of a high social class, drive around in Mustangs and Corvairs, and mostly wear checkered jackets with a madras on them. One day, as Ponyboy is walking home from a movie, he is jumped by a gang of Socs. At the last minute, his buddies from his group (made up of his brothers Darry and Sodapop, who raised Ponyboy now that their parents are dead, the hardened hood Dally Winston, quiet innocent Johnny, and wise-cracking Two-Bit) scare off the socs and rescue him. The next night, Ponyboy and Johnny join Dally to go looking around for a good fight and maybe catch a movie. There they sit behind two attractive young girls and Dally attempts to obnoxiously get their attention and pick one up. After Johnny tells him to stop, Johnny and Ponyboy sit with the girls, Cherry and Marcia, and Ponyboy and Cherry discover to their mutual surprise that they have a great deal in common. Two-bit appears, and the three greasers walk the Socs girls back to Two-Bits house so that he can drive them home. On the way, they run into Bob and Randy, the girls drunken boyfriends and the socs that beat up Johnny a couple years ago, and the girls agree to leave with them in order to prevent a fight between the two gangs. On his way home Ponyboy takes a stop by the vacant lot with Johnny and accidentally drifts off. When he wakes up and goes home his brother Darry angrily lectures him on what could have happened and slaps him. Then he runs out the door, finds Johnny, and goes to the park to get away from things. There, however, the two young greasers run into Randy and Bob, with a few of their Soc friends. One of them holds Ponyboys head under an ice cold fountain, and Ponyboy blacks out. When he comes to, he is lying on the ground next to Johnny. The bloody corps of Bob is next to them. Johnny explained how he had to knife Bob to save him. Terrified and confused, the two friends hurry to find Dally, the one person they think can help them. Dally sends them with a gun and some money to an abandoned church near Windrixville on a train, where they hide out for a week. They cut their hair so that they wont fit their description in the paper. After a week, dally comes to check on them, and says that because of Bobs death, the disputes between the socs and the greasers have become worse then ever. He also told them that rumble is going to be held to settle the matters once and for all. Cherry feels responsible for the whole problem and acted as a spy for the greasers for updates and info on the socs. Johnny surprises Dally by declaring his intention to go back to turn himself in. Dally drives them back, but as they leave, the notice that the church has caught on fire and had several schoolchildren trapped inside. Ponyboy and Johnny, feeling responsible for the event rush inside the church to save the children. Just as they get the last child through a window, the roof caves in and Ponyboy jumps out with fire on his back and blacks out again, leaving Johnny trapped inside. This time when Ponyboy regains consciousness he finds himself inside of an ambulance. When he reaches the hospital he is told Johnny was hit by a support beam that fell in the church and that Dally went in to save him and got his arm burnt. Johnny had broken his back and is in critical condition. Darry and Sodapop hear the news and arrived at the hospital to get Ponyboy and tell ... more
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