The enlightened monarchs
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The Enlightened Monarchs. Unit 4: Enlightenment and Revolution (1550 – 1789). The Enlightened Despots.

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The Enlightened Monarchs

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The enlightened monarchs

The Enlightened Monarchs

Unit 4: Enlightenment and Revolution (1550 – 1789)


The enlightened despots

The Enlightened Despots

  • As the spirit of the Enlightenment spread throughout the salons and concert halls of Europe, some absolute monarchs (or despots) embraced enlightened principles and began to treat their subjects more fairly.

The had not intention of giving up their real power, but…

  • they wanted to strengthen their nations

  • and they wanted to be more effective rulers.


Frederick the great

Frederick the Great

  • Prussia (1740-1786)

  • Religious reforms, abolished torture, improved education, and reformed the justice system

  • He did not abolish serfdom b/c he needed nobles’ support.

  • He called himself the “First Servant of the State”


Joseph ii

Joseph II

  • Austria (1780-1790)

  • Freedom of the press

  • Freedom of religion for Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and Jews

  • He abolished serfdom and insisted nobles paid serfs with cash

  • This was undone after his death.


Catherine ii the great

Catherine (II) the Great

  • Russia (1762-1792)

  • Read Voltaire and aided Diderot

  • She had big ideas, but little was done to improve lives of peasants (she brutally crushed a peasant uprising in 1773)

  • This led her to abandon the idea of freeing the serfs as she needed the nobles’ support


Catherine expands russia

Catherine Expands Russia

  • She took North shore of the Black Sea in two wars with the Ottoman Turks

  • 1772, 1793, & 1795 – Partitions of Poland – Russia, Prussia, and Austria divided up Poland’s lands – Poland was gone for 100 years


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