French Enlightenment

About this Collection

During the 18th century there emerged in the French-speaking world a widespread movement of criticism of existing institutions and beliefs which came to be called the “Enlightenment”. The objects of enlightened criticism ranged from the established church, judicial practice, freedom of speech, art, literature and manners in general, the role of the King, and economic reform.

Key People

Titles & Essays

A – Z List

Economic History And Conditions




France Andorra Monaco


History Of Scholarship And Learning. The Humanities


Philosophy (General)


World History



Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots

Rousseau on the natural tendency of governments to degenerate into tyranny (1762)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Notes About This Collection

For more information see:

  • Kingsley Martin, French Liberal Thought in the Eighteenth Century : A Study of Political Ideas from Bayle to Condorcet, ed. J.P. Meyer (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1963.
  • Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1977)
  • Maurice Cranston, Philosophers and Pamphleteers: Political Theorists of the Enlightenment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986).
  • The Enlightenment, ed. David Williams (Cambridge Uiversity Press, 1999).
  • The Blackwell Companion to the Enlightenment, ed. John W. Yolton et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).