Age Of Enlightenment Essay

1243 words - 5 pages

Jennifer PflaumerThe Age of Enlightenment began in the 17th century in England and continued to reach its peak in the 18th century in France and the United States of America. During the Enlightenment many writers used nature or natural laws to explain their ideas of how people should live and what their form of government should be. The writers of the Enlightenment questioned the beliefs of divine right of monarchs and unequal social classes. They held up these beliefs of reason and found them to be unreasonable. Thinkers of the Enlightenment period encouraged European monarchs to make reforms; their theories eventually inspired many American and French Revolutions. The period of ...view middle of the document...

According to document 1, James I believed the source of law comes from the ruler himself. During his ruling James I made a very important speech from the book "True Law of Free Monarchs," to Parliament in 1610. An excerpt from that speech goes "…the King is the overlord of the whole land, so he is master over every person that inhabiteth the same, having power over life and death of every one of them." James expected Parliament to do as he wanted; he did not expect them to argue with any of his decisions. During James' ruling he was known as the "wisest fool in Christendom." James I was a firm believer in divine right, meaning he believed he had the god given right to rule. It was said that James I's ruling eventually led to the English Civil War. Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th century many rulers believed in absolute monarchs, but most people under the ruling despised it, yet some people respected it.The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason was an intellectual movement in the 18th century. People believed the Scientific Revolution and the Renaissance sparked the Age of Enlightenment. Like the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment involved the application of logic, observation, and experimentation. It involved a new perspective on the world. During the period of Enlightenment, many people were opposed to the government. One man known as John Locke expressed the theory of government and the rights of the people. In document 3, John Locke stated all men were given natural rights. Natural Rights were the rights men were born with, the rights of life, liberty and property. John Locke also stated if the government fails to protect those rights, you have the right to overthrow it. During the Enlightenment, John Locke wasn't the only one who spoke out about the government, the laws and the way people were treated. Many men did, but the three that stood out the most were Rousseau, John Locke and Montesquieu. Rousseau said that there existed a contract between the people and the government. This contract was known as The Social Contract, this was a contract that stated the government should do what's good for the general will of the people. General will meant the government should do what's good for the majority of the people. (Document 4) Rousseau also believed that people were good and that society corrupts them. Another Enlightenment thinker went by the name Montesquieu. Montesquieu influenced the change from absolute monarchy to democracy by his ideas of checks & balances and separation of powers. Those ideas influenced our government and how it works today. Montesquieu believed that...

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