Ap eh chapter 18 notes: the 18th Century European States, International Wars, and Social Change

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AP EH CHAPTER 18 NOTES:  the 18th Century--- European
States, International Wars, and Social Change


A. Enlightened Absolutism
1. as had been the case since the Middle Ages in
Europe,  politically, from 1715 to 1789,
continued the process of centralization in the
development of nation-states for efficient taxation
and building of armies
2. during the 18th Century, the idea of “Divine Right”
was gradually replaced by the more secular and
utilitarian argument of “enlightened absolutism”
(reinforced by praise of the philosophes)
3. enlightened political thought advanced the concept
of human natural rights including:
a. equality before the law
b. freedom of religious worship
c. freedom of speech and press
d. the right to assemble
e. the right to own property
f. right to pursue happiness
4. Philosophes had differing opinions on how these
natural rights were to be established and preserved
a. Montesquieu argued for constitutional guarantees
achieved by a separation of powers
b. Rousseau advocated a democratic society to preserve
these rights
c. Most philosophes agreed with Voltaire who believed
that only a strong monarch was capable of overcoming
vested interests and effecting the reforms society
d. Philosophes believed that a ruler to be considered
enlightened must protect the above mentioned natural
rights and foster the arts, sciences, and education
e. a common abuse singled out by the philosophes as
impeding the development of enlightened political
rulership was the arbitrary behavior of rulers and
arbitrary enforcement of laws
B. The Atlantic Seaboard States
1. France: the long rule of Louis XV (1715-1774)
a. Louis XIV had left France with enlarged territories
but also an enormous debt, an unhappy populace, and a
five-year-old great-grandson as his successor
b. in the 18th Century, France experienced an economic
revival particularly under Cardinal Fleury, Louis XV’s
chief minister, while the movement of the
Enlightenment gained strength
c. when Fleury died in 1743, Louis decided to rule alone
1. Louis XV was weak and lazy as a ruler
2. His reign was primarily concerned with a ludicrous
attention to court intrigues
3. Ministers and mistresses soon began to influence
the king, control the affairs of state, and undermine
the prestige of the monarchy
4. Madame de Pompadour, the king’s mistress, exerted a great deal of influence over the king and often made
important government decisions and gave advice on
appointments and foreign policy
5. The loss of an empire in the Seven Years’ War,
accompanied by burdensome taxes, an ever-mounting public debt, more hungry people, and a court life at Versailles that remained frivolous and carefree,
forced even the king to realize just how unpopular his reign had become with the masses
d. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his even less
competent grandson, Louis XVI (1774-1792)
e. Louis XV and Louis XVI both resisted the reform
movement as the French aristocracy grew stronger
f. Neither Louis XVI nor his wife Marie Antoinette, a
spoiled Austrian princess, seemed to fathom the depths
of despair and discontent growing in France that would
lead to revolution
2. Great Britain: king and parliament
a. the success of the Glorious Revolution in England
had prevented absolutism without clearly inaugurating
constitutional monarchy
b. new dynasty was established in England in 1714
1. Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts, died without
an heir
2. Crown offered to and accepted by the Protestant
rulers of the German state of Hanover
3. This established the Hanoverian dynasty 
c. the 18th Century British political system was
characterized by a sharing of power between king and
Parliament, with Parliament gradually gaining the
upper hand
1. the king chose ministers responsible to himself who
set policy and guided Parliament
2. Parliament had the power to make laws, levy taxes,
pass the budget, and indirectly influence the king’s
a. landed aristocracy sat in House of Lords
b. landed gentry sat in House of Commons
c. both were landowners with similar economic
d. because the aristocracy was divided by factional struggles based on family rivalries, the kings could take advantage of the divisions to win aristocratic supporters through patronage, awarding them titles, government posts, and positions in the church and household staff

e. what enabled the British system of political
patronage to work was the structure of parliamentary
1. past history rather than population determined the
number of delegates from each borough
2. one borough with six people might get two
representatives, while new industrial centers like the
city of Manchester may have no representatives
3. the increasing influence of the king’s ministers
was a political development of 18th Century Great
f. since the ministers were responsible for exercising
the king’s patronage, who became his chief ministers
took on great political significance
g. Robert Walpole
1. served as prime minister from 1721 to 1742
2. relied on by both George I (1714-1727) and George
II (1727-1760) as their prime minister
3. pursued a peaceful foreign policy to avoid new land
h. William Pitt the Elder
1. served as prime minister from 1757 to 1761
2. furthered imperial ambitions by acquiring Canada
and  India in the Seven Years’ War
3. despite his successes was removed from office by
King George III (1760-1820) and replaced by a
favorite of the king, Lord Bute
i. William Pitt the Younger
1. served as prime minister from 1783-1801
2. had the support of merchants, industrial classes,
the king who used patronage to get him the support of
the House of Commons
          3.  The Decline of the Dutch Republic
a. after its century in the sun, the Dutch Republic
suffered a decline in economic prosperity
b. both local and national politics were dominated by
the oligarchies that governed the towns
c. the House of Orange controlled the executive branch
d. aided by the Prussians the Orangists were able to
put down a democratic movement and keep the old system in tact

C. Absolutism in Central and Eastern Europe

1. Prussia: the army and the bureaucracy
a. A continuing trend throughout 18th Century Prussia
was the social and military dominance of the Junker
b. Two able Prussian kings in the 18th Century,
Frederick William I and Frederick II, further
developed the army and the bureaucracy that made up
the backbone of Prussian society
c. Frederick William I (1713-1740)
1. under his direction, Prussia became a highly
centralized European state
2. he promoted the evolution of Prussia’s highly
efficient civil bureaucracy by establishing the
General Directory
3. close, personal supervision of the bureaucracy
became a hallmark of his reign and Frederick II’s
4. under FW I, the rigid class stratification that had
emerged in the 17th Century persisted
a. The nobility or landed aristocracy, known as
Junkers, dominated Prussian society
1. they owned large estates with many serfs
2. they held a monopoly over the officer corps of the
Prussian army
3. Junker nobility became imbued with a sense of
service to the king (duty, obedience, sacrifice)
b. the middle class had only one opportunity for any
social prestige and that was by working within the
Prussian civil service
c. the majority of his important administrators came
from the middle class
d. peasants had few real legal rights and even needed
Junker permission to marry
e. peasants were born on their lords’ estates and
spent most of the rest of their lives there or in the
f. peasants made up the majority of the
non-commissioned soldiers, serving long tours of duty
and rigid conditions
g. Despite being 13th in population, Prussia’s army
was the 4th largest in Europe swelling from 45,000
to 83,000 men under FW I
d. Frederick II [Frederick the Great] (1740-1786)
1. was one the most cultured monarchs and superior
military leaders of the 18th Century
2. reformed the laws that governed the Prussian
a. he established a single code of laws for his
territories that eliminated the use of torture except
in treason and murder cases
b. he granted limited freedom of speech and press
c. he allowed for complete religious toleration
d. left serfdom alone and reversed his father’s policy
of allowing commoners to rise to power in the
bureaucracy (reserved upper ranks of bureaucracy for
3. took a great interest in military affairs and he
enlarged the military to 200,000 men
4. used military to seize Silesia from Austria in the
War of Austrian Succession and part of Poland in the
Seven Years’ War which helped unite Brandenburg to the
rest of Prussia
5. his rule helped Prussia be considered as a great
power in the European community
2. The Austrian Empire of the Hapsburgs
a. despite Austria’s status as an 18th Century power,
its very nature as a sprawling empire composed of many
different nationalities, languages, religions, and
cultures, made it difficult to provide common laws and
a centralized administration for its people
b. Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780)
1. staunchly Roman Catholic and conservative, she
turned a deaf ear to calls for reform by the
2. in Austria and Bohemia, she reformed the
bureaucracy in attempt to consolidate royal authority
3. she also enlarged and modernized the military after
suffering stinging defeats at the hands of Frederick
the Great
4. allowed her son, Joseph II, to rule jointly with
her the last 15 years of her reign
c. Joseph II (1765-1780 with mom & 1780-1790 on his
1. unlike his mother, he was open to the ideas of the
2. in a sincere effort to reform his domains typical
of enlightened rulers, he issued 6,000 decrees and
11,000 new laws including:
a. abolishing serfdom
b. tried to give peasants hereditary rights to their
c. abandoned economic restraints by eliminating
internal trade barriers, ending monopolies, and
removing guild restrictions
d. established equality for all under the law
e. abrogated the death penalty
f. enforced complete religious toleration
3. his reforms left his subjects with their heads
spinning and in a general state of discontent due to
the drastic speed of his reforms

3.  Russia under Catherine the Great

a. Peter the Great was followed by a series of six
successors who were made and unmade by the palace
b. The last of these six was Peter III, whose German
wife Catherine learned Russian and won the favor of
the palace guard
c. Peter III was murdered by a faction of nobles and
Catherine II (the Great) emerged as the autocrat of
all the Russians
d. Catherine II  (1762-1796)
1. She was an intelligent woman who was familiar with
the works of the philosophes (corresponded directly
with Diderot and Voltaire)
2. her attempt at enlightened legal reforms was called
the Instruction (1767)
a. in this document, she questions the institution of
serfdom, torture, and capital punishment and even
advocated the principle of the equality of all people
in the eyes of the law
b. which accomplished nothing due to heavy opposition
and were soon forgotten
3. her subsequent policies had the effect of
strengthening the landholding class at the expense of
all others, especially the serfs
a. divided Russia into 50 provinces, each was
subdivided into districts whose ruling officials were
chosen by the nobility
b. Charter of Nobility (1785) granted the nobility the
right to trial by peers, exemption from personal
taxation, and an exemption from corporal punishment

4. Her policy favoring the landed nobility led to even

worse conditions for the Russian peasantry
a. in 1767, serfs were forbidden to appeal to the
state against their masters
b. attempted to impose restrictions upon free peasants
in the border districts of the Russian Empire
c. led to a full-scale revolt which was made worse by
the Cossacks, a fierce warrior people that Russia
wanted to absorb into the empire, backing the revolt
d. Emelyan Pugachev was the Cossack leader in the
e. His rebellion spread across southern Russia from
the Volga River to the Ural Mountains
f. Peasants who were encouraged by Pugachev to seize
their  landlords’ estates killed 1500 estate owners
and their families
g. Government forces eventually rallied and captured
Pugachev who was put to death effectively ending the
h. Pugachev is noted in Russian history for causing
greater repression of the peasantry due to his
unsuccessful rebellion
5. Catherine proved a worthy successor to Peter the
Great by expanding Russia’s territory westward and
a. in the south, she followed a successful policy of
expansion against the Turks
1. Russia defeated the Turks on the battlefield
2.  the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774 ended the
fighting and did the following:
a. gave Russia some territories along the Black Sea
from the Turks
b. granted Russia the privilege of protecting Greek
Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire
c. gave Russia the right to sail in Turkish waters
b. in the west, Russia used three separate partitions
of Poland to seize 50% of all Polish lands
4.  The Destruction of Poland
a. the dismemberment of Poland in the 18th Century
showed the necessity of a strong, centralized monarchy
to defend a state in that period
b. Austria, Prussia, and Russia carved Poland out of
existence in a period from 1772 to 1795
c. To maintain the balance of power in central and
eastern Europe, the three great powers cynically
agreed to the acquisition of roughly equal territories
at Poland’s expense (30% of its area and 50% of its
population was lost in 1772)
d. Poland under the leadership of General Thaddeus
Kosciuszko attempted to rebel against its foreign
captors which ended badly for the Poles with the
partition of 1795 which carved up the remainder of
Poland between the big three
D. The Mediterranean World
1. at the beginning of the 18th Century, Spain
experienced a change in dynasties from the Hapsburgs
to the Bourbons
2. Bourbon rule under Philip V (1700-1746) temporarily
rejuvenated Spain due to his various reforms which
unified Spanish territories under one set of laws, one
language, one French-style administrative body
3. Since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 had taken the
Italian territories and Netherlands away from Spain,
the Spanish now had fewer administrative problems and
less drain on its already overtaxed economic resources
4. In the second half of the 18th Century, the
Catholic church was brought under control when Charles
III of Spain banished the Jesuits and circumscribed
the activities of the Inquisition
5. The landed aristocracy of Spain still wielded great
power during this era
6. Portugal under the guidance of the Marquis of
Pombal reverses its own decline briefly by checking
the power of the church and nobility, but resumes its
fall after Pombal’s fall from power
7. After Utrecht, Austria replaced Spain as the
dominant power in Italy
E. The Scandinavian States
1. in the 17th Century, Sweden had become the dominant
power in northern Europe, but after the Battle of
Potlava in 1709, Swedish power declined rapidly
2. the death of powerful King Charles XII in 1718
helped lead to the subjugation of the Swedish monarchy
to the nobility for the next fifty years
3. the division of the nobility into pro-French and
pro-Russian factions allowed King Gustavus III
(1771-1792) to reassert the power of the monarchy
4. he proved to be one of the most enlightened rulers
of his era by instituting laissez-faire economic
policies and establishing freedom of religion, speech,
and press as well as instituting a new code of justice
that eliminated the use of torture
5. he was eventually assassinated by elements of the
nobility but his reforms couldn't be completely undone
F. Enlightened Absolutism Revisited
1. almost every European ruler in the second half of
the 18th Century attempted some enlightened reforms
2. few rulers felt compelled to make the state an
experimental lab for a set of political principles
(Joseph II probably the only one who did)
3. Enlightened absolutism during this time could never
overcome the political and social realities


A. Diplomacy
1. the philosophes had denounced war as a foolish
waste of life and resources in stupid quarrels of no
value to humankind
2. rulers paid little attention to these comments and
continued their costly struggles
3. Speaking of politics in the supposedly enlightened
age, Frederick II of Prussia remarked:  “The
fundamental rule of government is the principle of
extending their territories”
4. because international relations were based on
considerations of power, the 18th Century concept of a
“balance of power” was predicated on how to
counterbalance the power of one state by another to
prevent any one power from dominating the others
5. the diplomacy of the 18th Century still focused
primarily on dynastic interests or the desire of
ruling families to provide for their dependents and
extend their dynastic holdings
6. international rivalry and the continuing
centralization of the European states were closely
B. The War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748)
1. unable to produce a male heir to the Austrian
throne, the Hapsburg emperor Charles VI (1711-1740)
feared the consequences of the succession of his daughter Maria Theresa so much that he spent much of his reign negotiating the Pragmatic Sanction by which different European powers agreed to recognize his daughter as his legal heir
2. after Charles VI’s death, the Pragmatic Sanction
was conveniently pushed aside by several European
a. Frederick II and Prussia invaded Austrian Silesia
b. France invaded the Austrian Netherlands
c. Bavaria seized other Hapsburg lands
3. Maria Theresa found an ally in Great Britain who
wanted to stop France’s growing dominance on the
4. Fighting broke out not only in Europe but also
India and North America between the combatants
5. By 1748, all parties were exhausted and agreed to
stop fighting
6. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle promised the return
of all lands to their original owners except for
Silesia which Prussia refused to return. (this angered
the Austrians to no end)
C. The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763)
1. In 1756, the Diplomatic Revolution led to new
alliances being formed due to new political realities
in Europe
2. France, Austria, and Russia formed alliance against
Prussia and Great Britain which led to the Seven
Years’ War
3. On the continent, Prussia under the brilliant
leadership of Frederick the Great took on the armies
of France, Austria, and Russia simultaneously and held
their own for some time even scoring a great victory
at the Battle of Rossbach in Saxony (1757)
a. Over time the Prussians were worn down and on the
verge of total defeat when Czarina Elizabeth of Russia
b. Her son, Peter III was a great admirer of Frederick
II took her place and quickly withdrew his forces from
the Prussian territory and the war
c. The Russian withdrawal guaranteed a stalemate and
led to a desire for peace
d. The Treaty of Hubertusburg (1763) ended fighting in
Europe and returned all occupied territories with the
provision that Silesia would be recognized by Austria
as a Prussian territory
4. Outside of Europe, France and Great Britain fought
the Seven Years’ War in India and North America
a. In India, the British under Robert Clive ultimately
defeated the French  and forced their withdrawal
(Treaty of Paris – 1763)
b. In North America, despite the fact that the French
had a superior army to that of the British, military
success was predicated on both armies receiving naval
1. the defeat of the French fleets in major naval
battles in 1759 gave the British an advantage since
the French could no longer easily reinforce their
2. a series of British victories soon followed as the
British won at Fort Louisbourg and Duquesne in 1758
and later seized Montreal, the Great Lakes area, and
the Ohio Valley from the French
3. Treaty of Paris (1763) ended the fighting
a. France gave all Canadian holdings and lands east of
the Mississippi River to the British and the Louisiana
Territory to the Spanish
b. The Spanish turned over Florida to the British
c. Made Britain the world’s greatest colonial power
D. European Armies and Warfare
1. the professional standing army became a standard
feature of 18th Century Europe; 1740-1780 marked a
period of military expansion displayed by:
a. France’s army grew from 190,000 to 300,000 troops
b. Prussia’s army grew from 83,000 to 200,000 troops
c. Austria’s army grew from 108,000 to 282,000 troops
d. Russia’s army grew from 130,000 to 290,000 troops
e. Out of the great powers, only Great Britain did not
possess a standing army as it still relied on
mercenaries and its superior navy (174 warships with
80,000 sailors)
2. Since generals were extremely reluctant to risk the
destruction of their armies during the 18th Century,
European warfare during this time was characterized by
limited objectives and elaborate maneuvers rather than
direct confrontation


    1. Growth of European Population

      1. the cycles of population growth and decline that had characterized Europe since the Middle Ages came to an end in the 18th Century

      2. European population growth in the second half of the 18th Century was nearly double the rate of the first half.

      3. overall the total population of Europe rose from 120 million in 1700 to 190 million by 1800.

      4. Lower death rates and lower infant mortality rates which were lowered by a plentiful food supply and an end to the Plague played a role in the population spike

    2. Family, Marriage, and Birthrate Patterns

      1. the family not the individual was still at the heart of 18th Century European society

      2. traditional attitudes toward child-rearing still prevailed in the first half of the century

      3. traditional attitudes began to alter in the 2nd half of the century

        1. childhood was viewed more and more as a special phase in human development

        2. families started dressing their children in more comfortable and age appropriate clothing rather than in mini-adult attire

        3. Primogeniture came under attack during this time; all children deserved their parents’ attention

        4. Calls for women to breast-feed their own children rather than using wet nurses were made

        5. Toys and games specifically made for children began to appear

        6. Changes mainly applied to upper class children in western Europe

      4. Despite being punishable by death, infanticide remained a solution to the problem of too many children

      5. foundling homes were created to look after unwanted children

        1. in the 1770s, it was estimated that 1 in 3 children born in Paris ended up in a foundling home

        2. due to an overburdened system, the mortality rates of children living in these foundling homes was anywhere from 50% to 90%

        3. those who survived usually were forced into miserable jobs

      6. newly married couples established their own households independent of their parents

      7. the nuclear family continued to dominate European society of this era

      8. late marriages imposed limits on the birthrate

      9. married couples usually had their first child within the first year of marriage with later children appearing in two to three year intervals (five births per family was the norm)

      10. A decline in the total number of children took place due to a variety of birth control techniques

      11. overall, as European states modernized in the 18th Century, the rate of illegitimate births increased slowly but steadily before exploding in the 19th Century

      12. in lower class families, women and children entering the work force was essential to family survival

    3. An Agricultural Revolution?

      1. 18th Century agriculture was characterized by increases in food production that can be attributed to four factors:

        1. more land under cultivation

        2. increased yields per acre

        3. healthier and more abundant livestock

        4. an improved climate

      2. improvements in agricultural practices and methods in the 18th Century Europe primarily occurred in Great Britain

      3. the amount of land under cultivation was increased by abandoning the old open field system in which part of the land was left fallow to renew it

      4. the numerous livestock increased the amount of meat in the European diet and enhanced food production by making more animal manure available which was used to fertilize fields

      5. this century witnessed greater yields of vegetables, including two American crops, the potato and maize

      6. the new agricultural techniques were used the most on large scale farms rather than small ones

    4. New Methods of Finance and Industry

      1. the decline in the available supply of gold and silver in the 17th Century created a chronic shortage of money that undermined the efforts of governments to meet their needs

      2. the creation of new public banks and the acceptance of paper notes made possible an expansion of credit in the 18th Century

      3. one of the best examples of this process can be observed in England where the Bank of England was founded in 1694

        1. along with traditional services provided by banks, the B of E also made loans

        2. in return for lending money to the government, the bank was allowed to issue paper ‘bank notes’ backed by its credits

        3. these bank notes soon became a substitute for gold and silver currency

        4. the issuance of government bonds paying regular interest, backed by the B of E and the London financial community, created the notion of a public debt or ‘national debt’.

        5. This process meant that capital for financing larger armies and other government undertakings could be raised in ever-greater quantities

      4. a key financial advantage the British government enjoyed over French rulers in the 18th Century was Britain’s capacity to borrow large sums of money at low rates of interest for state projects

      5. despite Britain’s growing importance in finance, the Dutch Republic remained the leader in Europe’s financial life until the British eclipsed the Dutch in the 19th Century

      6. the most important industry in Europe in the 18th Century was the textile industry

      7. most textiles were still produced by traditional methods. (putting out technique was popular in rural areas)

      8. the domestic system of industrial production in Flanders and England became known as the “cottage system”.

    5. Toward a Global Economy: Mercantile Empires and Worldwide Trade

      1. Though bankers and industrialists came to dominate the economic life of the 19th Century, in the 18th Century merchants and traders still reigned supreme

      2. the dramatic increase in overseas(world) trade has led some historians to speak of the emergence of a truly global economy in the 18th Century

      3. Spain, Portugal, and the Dutch Republic, which had dominated international trade in the past, found themselves overshadowed by France and Great Britain

      4. The rivalry between France and Great Britain both militarily and economically dominated the 18th Century

      5. Colonial Empires in North America

        1. France

          1. for the majority of the century it controlled Canada, the Louisiana Territory, as well as the islands of St. Dominique, Martinique, and Guadeloupe in North America

          2. on the islands, France had developed a plantation economy driven by African slave labor which produced tobacco, cotton, coffee, and sugar

          3. on the mainland, France ran the colonies in an autocratic manner with these colonies producing furs, leather, fish, and timber

          4. had difficulty getting French people to migrate to colonies in North America

        2. Great Britain

  1. holdings in North America consisted of 13 colonies along the eastern seaboard of the North American mainland as well as the islands of Jamaica, Barbados, and Bermuda

  2. supposedly run by the British Board of Trade, the Royal Council, and Parliament, the 13 colonies had legislatures that tended to act independently

  3. 13 colonies were thickly populated with over 1.5 million people by 1750.

  4. due to its larger population and the fact that it was more agriculturally based the British colonies were more stable than the French colonies

        1. Both the North American and West Indian colonies of Britain and France were assigned roles in keeping with mercantilist theory

        2. The system was supposed to provide a balance of trade favorable to the mother country

        3. The British and French rivalry was also evident in the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires in Latin America

          1. Due to the Bourbon Family connection, France was able to make trade inroads into Spanish colonies

          2. the British were able to get the Portuguese to permit them access to the lucrative Brazilian trade market

        4. Their rivalry also extended to the Far East where Britain and France competed for the tea, spices, cotton, hard woods, and luxury goods of India and the East Indies.

      1. Global Trade

        1. to justify the term global economy, historians have usually pointed to the patterns of trade that interlocked Europe, Africa, the East, and the American continents

        2. of all goods traded in the 18th Century, perhaps the most profitable and certainly the most controversial were African slaves

          1. it is estimated that 9.3 million slaves were transported from Africa (2/3 in the 18th Cent.)

          2. half of all slaves were transported on British ships, the rest divided among French, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, and American ships

          3. slaving ships sailed from a European port to the African coast where Europeans had established bases where merchants could trade manufactured goods, rum, and brandy for blacks captured by African intermediaries

          4. as soon as the human cargoes arrived in the New World, they entered the plantation economy

          5. despite a rising chorus of humanitarian sentiments from the philosophes, the use of black slaves remained acceptable to Western society throughout the 18th Century

    1. France abolished slavery in the 1790s

    2. Great Britain abolished slavery in 1807

A. Social status was still largely determined not by
wealth and economic standing but by the division into
traditional “orders” or “estates” determined by
heredity and quality
B. This social status was sanctioned by the church
C. The ideas of the Enlightenment began to challenge
these traditions but it would be until the revolutions
of the late 18th Century before the old order would
start to disintegrate
D. Europe’s unequal social organization in the 18th
Century was determined by the division of society into
traditional orders
1.  The Peasants
a. since society was still mostly rural in the 18th
Century, the peasantry constituted the largest social
group, making up as much as 85% of Europe’s
b. Small peasant proprietors or tenant farmers in
western Europe often owed extensive compulsory
services to aristocratic landowners and the church
(owed hunting rights, dues, fees, & tithes)
c. Eastern Europe continued to be dominated by large
land estates owned by powerful lords and worked by
d. Local villages in which they dwelt remained the
centers of peasants’ lives
e. The diet of the European peasantry in the 18th
Century was quite nutritious as dark bread was the
basic staple
              2.  The Nobility
a. constituted about 2 to 3 percent of the European
b. played a dominant role in 18th Century society
c. the legal privileges of the nobility included
judgment by their peers, immunity from severe
punishment, exemption from many forms of taxation, and
rights of jurisdiction
d. played a significant role in military and
government affairs in European states
e. the nobility or landholding class was not a
homogeneous social group
1. English nobles leased their land to tenant farmers
2. Eastern European nobles used serfs to work their
3. Nobles in Russia and Prussia served important roles
within the state
4. Spanish and Italian nobles had few if any official
5. Nobles in France paid poll taxes based on income
that ranged from 2000 livres per year to as little as
6 livres per year
6. Although the nobles clung to their privileged
status and struggled to keep others out, almost
everywhere a person with money found it possible to
enter the ranks of the nobility
f. the country house
1. the court of Louis XIV had provided a model for
other European monarchs, particularly in Spain or
Germany, who built palaces and encouraged the
development of court society as the center of culture
2. the majority of aristocratic landowners, however,
remained on their country estates and did not
participate in court society
3. the country houses of English nobles although
architecturally varied, was often Georgian (serene &
sedate) in style
4. lower floors of country houses were used for public
5. upper floors of country houses were used as private
living quarters
6. although the arrangement of the 18th Century
Georgian house originally reflected male interests,
the influence of women was increasingly evident by the
second half of the 18th Century
7. aristocratic landowners also sought to expand the
open space around their country houses to separate
themselves from the lower classes in villages and to
remove farmland from view
g. the grand tour
1. travel was a manifestation of the Enlightenment’s
cosmopolitanism and interest in new vistas
2. the grand tour was seen as critical for completing
the education of the sons of aristocrats by having
them make a tour of Europe’s great cities
3. since the trips purpose was educational, young
nobles were usually accompanied by a tutor who ensured
that his charges spent time looking at museum
collections of natural history and antiquities
E. the Inhabitants of Towns and Cities
1. the role and size of cities was generally greater
in western Europe than in eastern Europe
2. 18th Century European cities were still filthy and
lacked proper sanitation which contributed to high
death rates
3. the largest city during this time in terms of
population was London with a population of roughly 1
million inhabitants
4.  many cities in western and even central Europe had
a long tradition of patrician oligarchies that
continued to control their communities by dominating
town and city councils
5. the problem of poverty in 18th Century Europe was
characterized by the following:
a. highly visible in both cities and rural areas
b. by the end of the 18th Century, 10% of the
populations of France and Great Britain relied on
begging to survive
c. during this time, charity to poor beggars was
viewed as simply encouraging their idleness which led
them to vice and crime
d. despite the efforts of some philosophes, poverty was
aggravated by the hostile feelings of most government
officials toward the poor

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