Analyzing Early Modern Europe Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Pleasure Garden

In the eighteenth century, the concept of pleasure gardens flourished in Britain, a trend that could be traced partly to the relatively stable democratic government coupled with the international trade that thrived at that time in London. Vauxhall Gardens was perhaps the most famous pleasure garden according to the lectures. Founded in 1661, it reached the peak of popularity during the early years of the nineteenth century. It became a model for several other pleasure gardens in Europe, like the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. Historians believed it was arguably the first modern amusement park. Some of the most popular entertainments offered in Vauxhall were firework displays, theatre shows, theatrical entertainments as well as dancing floors and drinking booths. Both Vauxhall and Tivoli Gardens were so popular that they became generic names for all pleasure gardens in both Europe and the United States (UoS 2015). According to the course, the pleasure gardens were part of the earliest modern amusement centers that charged very moderate entrance fee; it focused on enjoyment and liesure; a platform for escapism, socialize, entertainers, romance, social opening and entertainment.

Voltaire

The contribution of Voltaire to the histories of the philosophy of Enlightenment is minimal, and it will not be appropriate to consider him an original or significant thinker. According to the course lectures, with regards to the histories of ideas, the most important contribution of Voltaire, was perhaps, his 1730s introduction of Locke and Newton to France and the entire Europe; and with the recent proofs from Jonathan Israel, Voltaire's achievements cannot be said to be as radical as people have always believed. Voltaire defended his atheist beliefs all through his life (University of Oxford 2008).

Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a protestant textile dealer who lived in Toulouse. Jansenists dominated this city's Parlement. Jansenist was a Catholic sect who were known for their fatalism and severity. In 1761, the Parlement of Toulouse passed a verdict sentencing a protestant man to death for killing his son who tried to convert to Catholicism. The whole trial of the Calas family, carried out by 12 judges, was a very sad and muddled affair, which culminated (predictably) in Jean Calas, his wife and one of their sons being convicted. An appeal filed at the Parlement of Toulouse saw the upholding of the conviction of the Calas family while the conviction of others was reversed.

Calas did not agree to confess to any crime. They subjected him to terrible tortures: they stretched his limbs to the rack, and they filled him with water to the point of bursting. On March 10, 1762, an executioner broke Calas hands and legs, and strangled him after that; they later burnt his body at the stake. The government took over his property, while the surviving members of his family fled the area quietly (Curtis 2015). According to the course lectures, Calas case represents much larger themes that include criminal reform/law, religious intolerance, and use of torture and lack of evidence.

Part II

Discussion on the rise of intellectual movements and their power in the later early modern period, such as the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. What these movements tell us, how they transformed the early modern period, and how they helped distance the European experience away from earlier periods in medieval and early modern history.

The era of reason or enlightenment was nothing more than a cultural movement of the 18th century European elites and intellectuals who sought the mobilization of the power to reform the society and advance knowledge. It was instrumental to the promotion of intellectual interchange and at the same time stood in opposition to the abuses and intolerance experienced in both the church and the state. This began in the early to mid-seventeenth century, and was initiated by philosophers like Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), John Locke (1632-1704), Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and Voltaire (1694-1778). The ruling princes were known to have fostered and endorsed these data and even attempted to use of their ideas about leadership. This enlightenment continued until around 1790-1800, after this, the emphasis on reason, paved way for Romanticism's emphasis on emotions, which brought about a Counter-Enlightenment force. France was the center of the Enlightenment, and it was based in the salons and ended in the enormous Encyclopedia (1751-72), with David Diderot as the editor (1713-1784) with several leading philosophers lending their insights like Voltaire (1694-1778), Rousseau (1712-1778) and Montesquieu (1689-1755) (Age of Enlightenment 2011).

Jonathan Israel the Historian dismissed the post-modern explanation of the Enlightenment coupled with the efforts of the modern historians to form a link between the social and the economic reasons that led to the revolutionary aspect of this era. Instead, he focused on ideas from the histories of the 1650-to end of the 18th century, with the claims that the ideas were responsible for the revolutions that took place between the latter half of the 18th century and the early 19th century. According to Israel, prior to the 1650s, Western Civilization was based largely on the shared center of faith, authority, and tradition. Until this period, most debates by scholars revolved around confessional-: Lutheran, Catholic, Calvinist (Reform), or Anglican issues and the major aim of these debates was the establishment of the block of faith that propounded Monopoly of truth and a God-given title of authority. Everything previously rooted in tradition was challenged after this date and were replaced with some concepts in the favor of philosophical reasoning. Immediately after the second-half of the seventeenth century and during the eighteenth century, a generalized study of secularization and rationalization came in, and swiftly overthrew theology's age-long hegemony in the scope of studies and researches, and that single confessional dispute became minimized to a mere secondary status to favor heightening contest between incredulity and faith (Age of Enlightenment 2011).

The eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries witnessed the rise of two distinct lines of enlightenment thoughts. First, the "radical enlightenment," which was greatly inspired by the Spinoza's one-substance philosophy, which in its political orientation was quite in agreement with racial and sexual equality, democracy; individual freedom of lifestyle (filled with liberty of thought, expression and the express); the eradication of religious powers from the legislative processes and education and finally, the full separation between the state and the church. Secondly, "moderate Enlightenment," which refers to several philosophical systems, such as the writings of men like Descartes, Isaac Newton, John Locke, Christian Wolff, all of them expressing their support for the critical review and for renewal of the old mode of thoughts, but sought reform in other parts and accommodation with the old system of faith and power. The conservative counter-enlightenment, which encompassed the thinkers that held on to the conventional belief-based thought modes, concurred with these lines of thoughts (Age of Enlightenment 2011).

With the Enlightenment, came the theory of the social contract in which, likes of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau stressed on the idea of social contract as the basis of every society. Locke laid much emphasis on the need for contact between the leaders and the followers. Rousseau was a lot more profound in his own version -- the social contract existed between every member of the society, and effectively replaced all natural rights as the basis for all human claims. The very capacity of this action speaks of the contract terms and makes their lowest modification inadmissible, which, sometimes, makes them both null and void. Thus, they are all the same and are recognized everywhere. This helps every individual enjoy his natural rights and liberties in instances of violation of the social contract and thereby loses his contractual freedom (Halsall 1997).

As opposed to the scholarly historiographical approach to the Enlightenment, which carries out an examination of the different currents, or dialogues the scholarly thought within the European situation between the 17th and the 18th centuries, the social approach looks at the different changes that took place in European culture and society. Under this approach, this Enlightenment is more of a collection of different thoughts than the mere process of changing cultural practices and social etiquettes. Both, the content and the processes that helped spread it are all important even today.

Roger Chartier describes it thus: The movement from the scholarly to the social/cultural involves doubting two different ideas: firstly, it is possible to deduce the practices from the discussions that either justify or authorize them; secondly, that translating the latent implication of social mechanism into the terms of plain ideology are quite possible. The rise of the public sphere in Europe remains one of the key elements of the cultural interpretation of the Enlightenment (Age of Enlightenment 2011).

Part III

I am presenting a theme on corruption in public affairs as presented by the writer, Niccolo Machiavelli, from the ancient sourcebook: Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527): Republics, and Monarchies, Excerpt from Discourse I, 55(Halsall 1998). The source explores the theme as it makes a presentation of several examples of cases of state corruption in Rome as well as Germany together…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Aelarsen. A Royal Affair: Enlightenment and Adultery in 18th Century Denmark. June 2014. https://aelarsen.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/a-royal-affair-enlightenment-and-adultery-in-18th-century-denmark / (accessed December 13, 2015).

"Age of Enlightenment." Pedia Press, 2011.

Curtius, Quintus. Speaking Out Against Injustice: The Case Of Jean Calas. October 12, 2015. http://www.returnofkings.com/72129/speaking-out-against-injustice-the-case-of-jean-calas (accessed December 12, 2015).

Halsall, Paul. Medieval Sourcebook: Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527): Republics and Monarchies, Excerpt from Discourses I, 55. October 1998. (accessed December 14, 2015).

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