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									―Enlightened‖ Despots
 …Or is there a contradiction here?

• Enlightened Despots
  – 18th-century monarchs
  – NOT democratic
  – BUT used absolute power to reform their
     • Areas of reform:
        – Law
        – Social and economic conditions
        – Education

• Notice! No English monarchs here!
 How did Absolute Monarchs get
• Many of them read the works of
  the philosophers of the ―Age of
  Reason‖ or were advised by
  councilors who had.
   – Who were the philosophers?
      •   Locke
      •   Hobbes
      •   Montesquieu
      •   Voltaire
      •   Rousseau
      •   The Physiocrats
         Getting Enlightened
• Many monarchs realized that to improve
  their states, they needed to reform.
• Several key absolute rulers invited many of
  the living philosophers to advise them.
Voltaire—Responsible for the Trend?

                • Voltaire pushed the idea
                  that a ruler can justify
                  her/his power by
                  improving society.
                   – Voltaire is the philosopher
                     who said: ―I may disagree
                     with what you have to say,
                     but I shall defend to the
                     death your right to say it.‖
• Voltaire
  – spent a lot of time at
    the court of Frederick
    the Great of Prussia
    (Voltaire was the first
    to call him ―the
  – corresponded with
    Catherine the Great
    of Russia.
        Who were these monarchs?
• Frederick of Prussia
   – Reign 1740-1786
   – (Frederick William
     Hohenzollern II)
   – Wrote poetry and
     essays, played music,
     even wrote some
   – Strategic thinker
Where’s Prussia?
         Frederick the Great
• Reforms
  – Abolished torture (except for treason &
  – Established elementary schools
  – Promoted industry and agriculture
  – After “Seven Years War,” helped peasants
  – Established some religious freedom
     Maria Theresa (1717-1780)
• Reign 1740-1780
• Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary
  and Bohemia, empress of the HRE, and a
  ton of other titles.
   – Husband Francis I – Francis Stephen of Lorraine
     – was the Emperor in name only
• Got to the throne by ―Pragmatic Sanction‖
  which recognized succession through female
   – But as soon as her dad died, Frederick of Prussia
   – Her appeal to the Hungarian Diet for help was
     ―over the top‖
                  Maria Theresa
• Her son, Josef II, became HRE; the two ruled together for
  some time.
• Devout Catholic; 16 children (10 to adulthood)
   – Among them, Marie ―Let them eat cake‖Antoinette
• Disagreed with many Enlightenment Philosophers.
                 Maria Theresa
• Reforms
  – Protected the rights of serfs: codes
    established regulating relationship
    with lords
  – Freed all peasants on crown lands
  – Started a paid bureaucracy (civil
  – Set up elementary schools funded
    by local and state funds.
  – Created a tariff union of all parts of
    the HRE
  – Kicked the Jesuits out of the
         Josef II (1741-1790)
• Reign with Mom (1765-
  1780); all by himself
• Huge fan of
  – When MT died, he
    pushed for even greater
                              ―Too many notes‖
                         Josef II
• Reforms
   – Serfdom completely abolished.
   – Taxes were made equal for both
     serfs and nobles
   – Freedom of the press
   – Took property from the church to
     fund hospitals.
   – Relaxed laws binding Jews to
• His brother Leopold, however,
  was a huge reactionary, and
  rolled back a lot of the reforms.
Catherine of Russia (1729-1796)
            • Reigned 1762-1796
            • German-born princess who
              staged a coup against her
              incompetent husband, Peter
               – Did the Romanov dynasty end
                 with her?
            • Ignored son Paul, but
              practically raised grandson
              Alexander by herself.
            • Major reformer…
           Catherine the Great
• Reform
  – Reorganized local
    government and established a
    civil service.
  – Decreased use of torture
  – Codified laws.
  – Toured the countryside
     • Potemkin village comes from
       this tour.
          Catherine the Great
• Backlash!
  – When Pugachev rebellion
    arose, she back-pedaled
    some of the reforms.
     • Toyed with the idea of
       freeing the serfs.

                                The Don Cossack, Pugachev
                 In a nutshell…
• Enlightened Despots were not democrats,
  but top-down reformers.
  – They liked Enlightenment philosophy—
    especially Voltaire’s brand.
• Reforms in general:
  –   Codification of laws
  –   Limit church power
  –   Construct hospitals and elementary schools
  –   Develop centralized bureaucracy
  –   Modify serfdom

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