The Enlightenment Period
Niccolo Machiavelli
Born in Florence Italy 1469 – 1527.
Historian, Playwright, and Political
Concerned with examining
political and historical problems.
Published The Prince. gain,
maintain, and centralize power by
ANY means.
Suspected of plotting against the
Medici, jailed, tortured, and
Writings became more widely
known in the mid16th century.
Book was banned by Church.
FRANCE 17th Century
1650’s France was the most
prosperous and populated
country in Europe.
Catholic Church had
enormous power over the
people and government.
The Monarchy was powerful
and had absolute control over
France and its people.
France had a booming
economy and a middle class
was growing.
Was known as the “SUN KING”
because France’s Power was
known around the world.
He had the longest reign in France
66 years.
He believed in Divine Right.
He took away power from the
nobles and gave it to the
He had a beautiful lavish palace
built outside of Paris known as
“Versailles Palace.”
Where did the Royal Family live?
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The Versailles Palace
The royal residence from 1682
until 1789.
Versailles, holds up to 20,000
people, has 700 rooms, more than
2,000 windows, 1,250 chimneys,
and 67 staircases.
Not only did the royal family live
there, but the palace also housed
many members of the French
nobility, as well as all official
government offices.
Up to 3,000 princes, courtesans,
ministers, and servants lived
there at any given time.
How Much did it cost to run this place? Caring for and feeding the Royal Family
and their massive staff, consumed anywhere from 6-25% of the entire French
government income.
Who was Thomas Hobbes?
An English Philosopher and Political
Theorist (1588 – 1679).
Believed human beings were naturally
cruel, selfish, and greedy, and were
driven by a relentless desire for power.
Governments were needed to protect
people from their own selfish nature,
and thus could not be trusted to make
decisions for society as a whole.
Wrote book titled Leviathan. Title is
used to describe society as a giant
“artificial man.”
One of the first thinkers to apply the
tools of the Scientific Revolution to deal
with the problems of politics.
Argued that Kings should have absolute
+Who was John Locke?
Born in England (1632 – 1704)
Wrote A Letter Concerning Toleration
& and Two Treatise of Government.
Believed in Natural Rights, which
people were born with: life, liberty,
and property.
His ideas impacted the U.S.
Declaration of Independence.
He believed woman were equal to
men and should be allowed to
participate in government.
Believed people were reasonable,
logical, and could govern
If the government did not do their
job, he believed that people should
rebel and overthrow the govt.
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Born in Geneva (1712 – 1778)
Educated as an orthodox
Wrote in 1762 about a social
contract .
“Man is born free and is
everywhere in chains.”
Believed man, in his natural
state, was entirely free and
virtuous and society corrupted
Baron de Montesquieu
A French Enlightenment Thinker
Believed in a Separation of Powers
in Government.
Separation of Powers: 3 Branches of
1. Executive Branch
2. Legislataive Branch
3. Judicial Branch
He influenced the American
Constitution and government.
Born Francois Marie Arouet in Paris
(1694 – 1778)
Wrote about philosophical rationalism
and frequently criticize the Church.
Imprisoned for 11 months for writing a
scathing satire of the French
During sentence, wrote “Oedipe” and
adopted his pen name “Voltaire”
1726, insults powerful young nobleman,
“Chevalier De Rohan,” and given two
options: imprisonment or exile.
Moves to England, studies English
Constitutional Monarchy and their
religious tolerance.
Returns to Paris, writes a book praising
England’s Customs. Gov takes it as
insult and forces him to leave once
Other Political Theorists
John Locke of England and King Louis XIV of

English Bill of Rights, John Locke, and Baron De Montesquieu, J.J.