The concept of despotism is associated with the abuse of power and force in the treatment of people. The term is also used to designate the type of Government with an absolute power, whose activities are not limited by law.
Informed in this context is relative to the age of enlightenment (philosophical and cultural movement arose in the 18th century that posits the domination of reason and who believes in human progress).
Therefore, enlightened despotism means the political concept developed within the absolute monarchies which includes some philosophical ideas of the enlightenment. In other words, these monarchs still maintained the social system of the Ancien Régime, while trying to enrich the culture of their peoples.
The enlightened despotism is also often referred to as benevolent despotism or enlightened absolutism. Its leaders adopted a paternalistic attitude and in their speech, they spoke of the happiness of their subjects.
Louis XV in France, Carlos III of Spain, Catherine II of Russia, and Joseph II of Austria were some of the despots enlightened having promoted several changes in monarchies respective, with the centralization of the public administration, the modernisation of the economy, the promotion of trade, agriculture and industry and intervention in the Affairs of the Church.
The emergence of the enlightened despotism can be explained by the lack of revolutionary will of the majority of the philosophers of the enlightenment which, even though they criticized the company and the politics of their time, they were not seeking to brutally destroy the regime, they promoted a peaceful and progressive change managed by the monarchs themselves.