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What is the meaning of Enlightened despotism? Concept and Definition of Enlightened despotism

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Definition of enlightened despotism


Enlightened despotism

1. Concept of enlightened despotism

Enlightened despotism (enlightened absolutism) to the form of Government characteristic of continental Europe in the second half of the 18th century, although it shares with absolutism the exaltation of the State and the power of the sovereign, was enlivened by the ideals of progress, reform and philanthropy of the Enlightenment (especially on the right) is designated. That is, on the one hand was a partial break with medieval tradition, but not ground all the ideas of the Enlightenment, and was a combination of different ideas and their realization by the own despot or European monarch. The expression of enlightened despotism is not contemporary to the events, but was later called thus by historians.

The enlightened despotism was developed mainly in Europe (Austria, Prussia and Russia). States recently constituted, in general backward economy essentially agricultural and, where the burqueoisie was very weak and, consequently, with little political power. Because of this, the State had to replace private initiative, developing legal and administrative reforms, driving the economy and education.

The enlightened despotism contributed to accelerating the modernization of some countries. From the religious point of view, the enlightened despotism not find homogeneity, for example in some countries were characterised by a secular spirit and in others for being hostile to religion. In some cases you despotas them illustrated maintained alliances with religion. The enlightened despots in general kept a religious tolerance, freedom of expression and of the press and right to private property, but in a relative manner. The most enlightened monarchs fostering the arts, Sciences, and education. Voltaire was a prominent philosopher illustrated felt that the enlightened monarchies were the only real way that would help the advancement of society.

The argument to legitimize the power of the enlightened Despostas was not uniform. Much of the monarchs despots legitimating its power on the basis of the theory of the Social contract of Thomas Hobbes, which speaks of the divine rights of Kings. Also legitimized their power with the argument that ruled that they knew doing so and therefore debian make the advancement of peoples. Indeed, the monarchs ruled with the intention of improving the lives of his subjects in order to strengthen and reinforce its authority. In the spirit of enlightened absolutism, Emperor José II said: "Everything for the people, but not people." in this sentence is clear that the monarch wanted to concentrate all powers of the State and carry out reforms for the good of the people, but without consulting him.

The major enlightened despots were:


Frederick II of Prussia: was the main Prussian enlightened despot who reformed the penal system, abolished torture practiced by his father, founded schools to promote education, fostering cultural and commercial production, Decree religious tolerance.

Catherine II the great: during his reign in Russia, built schools, hospitals, reformed and modernized cities, racionalizo Administration publishes and I bound the action of the Church.

Joseph II of Germany: the Emperor of Germany abolished serfdom and torture, secularized its goods, founded schools, hospitals and nursing homes, granted freedom of worship to all religious faiths, created taxes on the clergy and the nobility, as well as lathe into the German language as required. Cologne economic and social, exempt from taxes for exports, he founded the Royal Bank, he expelled the Jesuits from Portugal, he modernized the army.

Marques de Pombal: Portuguese count who initiated administrative reforms, economic and social desenvolvio colonial trade, export, founded the Royal Bank tax, free expluso to the Jesuits in Portugal, modernized the army

Many of the reforms promoted by the enlightened despots were of short duration. Most were cancelled by his successors.  


2. Definition of enlightened despotism

The enlightened despotism was a particular political form that briefly occurred in certain regions of Europe, especially in Russia, Austria and Spain, involving a combination of the monarchical forms existing at the time with some of the new ideas that were beginning to arise with the illustration, above all with respect to government administration and the effectiveness of Government. The enlightened despotism, as its name implies is a form of Government in which Kings or monarchs remain clearly absolute or power in great way to concentrate on its people. However, it begins to set aside some retrograde considered issues to the intellectuals of the era such as the belief that God was who gave power to the monarchs, among others.
The enlightened despotism was a very particular, enmarcable phenomenon only in some European countries that were going through a stage of decline or crisis political and administrative as also a major economic recession that tended to generate many conflicts in the European territories for the 18th century as well as Americans (in the case of Spain). It is thus that the litter of kings who ruled these regions mentioned in the 18th century began to accept some refreshing ideas raised by the thinkers of the time in order to improve the Administration, the economy and finance. However, as it explains the word "despotism", this form of Government never implied a greater political participation sectors claiming it; on the contrary, it was a greater concentration of power in the figure of the King.
The enlightened despotism tends to be seen as a sort of intermediate between the absolutist monarchy and the revolutionary forms of power they directly wanted to break with the monarchical tradition in Europe. This is so since it meant an approach to those values and ideas which characterized the era from the point of view of administrative and economic. Thus, measures that had intended to modernize the economy and focusing on the development of agriculture, trade and industry (three activities that in the aforementioned countries ran far behind the economic powers of the era such as England or the Netherlands) were taken. In addition, also the power of the Church in places where it had had a very important role not only limited to religious level but also social and political: sold their land to put them into production, its intervention was limited in the public framework and it encouraged scientific renewal and cultural secular.

3 Meaning of enlightened despotism

The enlightened despotism was a political system implemented in Europe, during the second half of the 18th century, which combined the absolutist principles of the Government at the time, with new ideas which have emerged from the enlightened thinking, in order to adapt the system of monarchies power unlimited, as much as possible, with the Liberal and rational ideas that threatened to make it succumb. New ideas questioning the divine origin of the remote control real, looking for a rational explanation for it, as it was the case with the "social contract" of Rousseau, whereby power was originally from the village.
To do so, leaders took a stance paternalistic approach and artistic, educational, commercial, industrial and scientific development, and protection of the people, but not that this was taken into account in terms of their opinions "everything for the people, but regardless of the people".
Among other measures, the application of torture was excised and the application of the death penalty was insufficient. The church saw its power, subordinate to the State, expanded bureaucracy, and Government institutions were centralized.
The enlightened despotism had intended covert, strengthen the Royal authority, and not to affect the domain structure and class privileges, typical of the old regime, to not deal with the nobility.
Example of the system of enlightened despotism, Luis XV de France, Carlos III of Spain, Catherine II of Russia, José II of Austria, José I of Portugal, and Federico II of Prussia were.
However, the lack of political space for the sector of the most powerful people in the economic sphere, the bourgeoisie, who were to bear the heaviest tax burden, made that the enlightened despotism, could not prevent the death of the system of monarchical absolutism, which began to take shape with the French Revolution of 1789.

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