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Volume 14: EUROPE & REASON 1715-1788


Britain of Georges I-III 1714-88

Britain of George I 1714-27
Britain of George II and Walpole 1727-44
Britain and French Wars 1744-60
Britain of George III 1760-67
Britain and the American Crisis 1768-75
Britain and the American War 1775-82
Britain and the Younger Pitt 1782-88
Ireland 1714-89

Wesley, Hume, Johnson, Smith & Pope

John Wesley and Methodism
Law, Hutcheson, Butler, and Richard Price
Hume’s Moral Principles
Samuel Johnson to 1749
Johnson’s Essays, Dictionary and Rasselas
Adam Smith on Morals and Wealth
Alexander Pope and His Essay on Man

British Novels and Plays 1715-88

Defoe’s Journalism and Robinson Crusoe
Defoe’s Cavalier & Captain Singleton
Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Col. Jack & Roxana
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
Richardson’s Pamela, Clarissa & Charles
Fielding’s Early Novels
Fielding’s Tom Jones and Amelia
Smollett’s Comic Novels
Goldsmith, Mackenzie & Burney
Plays by Steele, Gay and Lillo
Comedies by Goldsmith and Sheridan

France of Louis XV and XVI

France under Regent Philippe 1715-23
France and Cardinal Fleury 1723-42
Louis XV and Wars 1743-63
France under Louis XV 1763-74
Louis XVI and the British War 1774-83
France under Louis XVI 1783-86
France on the Brink 1787-88

Montesquieu, Voltaire & Rousseau

Montesquieu and The Spirit of the Laws
Voltaire to 1747
Voltaire’s Zadig, Candide and Socrates
Voltaire in Exile 1760-78
Rousseau to 1754
Rousseau on Inequality and Political Economy
Rousseau’s Peace Plan
Rousseau’s Novel Julie and Emile (on Education)
Rousseau’s Social Contract
Diderot’s and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie

French Literature and Theatre 1715-88

Diderot’s Philosophical Novels
Prévost and Manon Lescaut
Laclos: Soldier, Novelist & Feminist
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s Paul and Virginia
Le Sage’s Novels and His Comedy Turcaret
Marivaux’s Romantic Comedies
Beaumarchais and His Figaro Comedies

Spain, Portugal & Italy 1715-88

Spain of Felipe V and Fernando VI 1715-59
Spain under Carlos III 1759-88
Portugal 1715-88
Sicily 1715-88
Naples and Vico’s New Science
Clement XI-XIV, Benedict XIII-XIV & Pius VI
Decline of Tuscany and Lombardy
Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments
Venice 1715-88
Goldoni’s Comedies

Austrian Empire and German States 1715-88

Austrian Empire and Wars 1715-48
Austrian Empire of Maria Theresa 1748-80
Austrian Empire of Joseph II’s Reforms 1780-88
Swiss Confederation 1715-88
Vattel on International Law
Pestalozzi’s Early Ideas on Education
Germans 1713-40 and Wolff on Law
Germany, Friedrich II and Wars 1740-63
German States and Friedrich’s Prussia 1763-88

Lessing, Kant, Goethe and Schiller

Mendelssohn’s Jewish Enlightenment
Lessing and His Philosophy
Lessing’s Plays
Kant’s Moral Philosophy
Lichtenberg’s Aphorisms and Herder’s Ideas
Goethe’s Life to 1788 and Young Werther
Goethe’s Early Plays
Schiller’s Robbers and Fiesco
Schiller’s Intrigue and Love and Don Carlos

Netherlands and Scandinavia 1715-88

Austrian Netherlands 1713-88
Netherlands and Stadholder Willem IV 1715-51
Netherlands and the Patriots 1751-88
Denmark 1715-88
Norway and Iceland under Denmark 1715-88
Sweden 1715-88
Swedenborg and His Mystical Theology

Poland-Lithuania and Russia 1715-88

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1715-88
Ukraine 1715-88
Russia of Petr 1715-25
Russian Empire 1725-62
Russia under Ekaterina II 1762-70
Russia under Ekaterina II 1770-88

Summary and Evaluating Europe 1715-88

Britain’s Imperial Wars & Industrial Progress 1715-88
British Enlightenment
British Novels and Plays 1715-88
France of Louis XV and XVI
French Enlightenment
Southern Europe 1715-88
Austrian Empire and Prussian Militarism 1715-88
German Enlightenment
Northern Europe 1715-88
Eastern Europe 1715-88
Evaluating Europe 1715-88



      From the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War in 1618 to the War of the Spanish Succession that ended in 1714 Europeans had suffered from many destructive conflicts. However, from 1715 to 1788 Europeans made more use of their reason and had fewer wars. The Northern War lasted until 1721. Poland-Lithuania was dominated by Saxon kings and the Russians with a war over its succession beginning in 1733. Austria controlled a powerful empire, and a war began over the succession of Maria Theresa in 1740, and Britain and France came into conflict until the peace of 1748. The Seven Years’ War (1756-63) was the most widespread war so far. Actually begun in the Ohio Valley between French and British forces in 1754, it spread to Europe and colonies in Asia as well. Prussia became militaristic, and Friedrich II started the wars in Europe by invading Silesia in 1740 and Saxony in 1756. European Christians in Venice, the Austrian Empire, and Russia still occasionally came into conflict with the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean and eastern Europe.
      European nations often discriminated against Jews while most of the Jews lived in Poland-Lithuania. Denmark dominated Norway and Iceland while Sweden still occasionally clashed with Russia. Spain had to give up the southern Netherlands to the Austrian Empire which ruled the Belgians for this entire era, but Spaniards still occupied parts of Italy. Emperor Joseph II was perhaps the most prominent of the “enlightened despots.” The United Netherlands developed their provincial governments and trade and often remained neutral as did the Swiss. After the death of Petr “the Great” the Russian Empire was ruled mostly by empresses with Ekaterina (Catherine) II bringing about many reforms starting in 1762. In 1772 Prussia, Russia, and Austria partitioned Poland-Lithuania, taking about a third of that nation.
      In the 18th century the European empires of Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal exploited millions of African slaves in their colonies to increase their prosperity and trade. Mercantilism took advantage of this enforced labor and the natural resources of the colonies to expand the Europeans’ economies which were driven by scientific inventions that promoted the industrialization of factories in Europe. The steam engine provided mechanical power.
      Life was improving for Europeans in many ways in the 18th century. More people were being educated especially in Britain, France, Italy, and Germanic nations. Newspapers and journalism spread ideas to more people. Parliaments were playing a larger role in governing especially in England and France. Philosophers in France, Britain, Italy, and Germany used reason to help enlighten others in science, politics, ethics, and through literature and theater. This era in Europe has been called the “Enlightenment,” but it was based more on reason than on Asia’s spiritual concepts of being enlightened. Yet Swedenborg was a notable mystic. Conflicts between differing religious beliefs still existed; but their violence decreased as wars were fought more over national or imperial power. The execution of heretics decreased, and witchcraft laws were repealed. Theology and religious philosophy still existed, but many philosophers were secular and used reason to defend their ideas. Yet the Wesley brothers promoted the teachings of Jesus in their practical Methodist sect. Scientists used experiments to understand the natural world.
      Many philosophers such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, and Kant excelled in political and ethical ideas and social reform. Wolff and Vattel contributed to international law while Beccaria and John Howard worked to improve criminal law and prison conditions. French physiocrats and Adam Smith focused on economic develop-ment. Rousseau and Pestalozzi suggested progressive innovations in education. Diderot and D’Alembert organized writers to compile the Encyclopédie, and Samuel Johnson put together a dictionary giving multiple definitions of words with examples from quotations. Alexander Pope wrote his brilliant Essay on Man. Fine novels were written by Defoe, Swift, Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Le Sage, Prévost, Laclos, and others including Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and Goethe. Theater became more middle class with sentimental tragedies and the romantic comedies of Marivaux, Goldoni, and Sheridan. Lessing developed German theater, and young Goethe and Schiller began the romantic movement with their plays and other writing. Music was developed by Vivaldi and several great German composers including the Bachs, Telemann, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart.
      A detailed Chronological Index of Events is provided with an explanation of the varying calendars.

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