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Enlightened Rulers: Frederick The Great Vs. Joseph Ii

625 words - 3 pages

The Scientific Revolution consisted of a time period during which revolutionary ideas dramatically altered the thinking of people. It helped trigger the Enlightenment in which rulers acted in accordance with the advisement of philosophes who believed that everything should be thought of in a rational way that was based off of reason, not faith. Frederick the Great of Prussia and Joseph II of Austria were considered to be Enlightened rulers. By implementing modern changes that supported knowledge, education, and the arts for the betterment of the country and its society, Frederick the Great and Joseph II furthered the development of Enlightenment principles in contrast to the system that was previously enforced. However, they also created a hindrance due to the introduction of reforms that did not adhere to the morals of the Enlightenment such as believing that change occurred from the uppermost layers of a social structure.
After the struggle of the Seven Years’ War, Frederick the Great considered more benevolent policies for the country of Prussia. He realized that more humane standards could benefit society and thus, invigorate the state. The Enlightened ruler granted religious tolerance in both spiritual and theoretical matters to all of his subjects except Jews who, in his opinion, did not deserve to be given liberty and basic rights. The promotion of knowledge enhanced schools throughout the country and allowed scholars to publish their discoveries. Laws were simplified resulting in the eradication of torture except in the cases of treason and murder. Frederick the Great believed that materialized changes only stimulated the upper layers of a social structure. Prussian Junkers were granted complete control over serfs which subsided the serf’s previously limited power.
Joseph II of Austria acquainted reforms to strengthen the central bureaucracy by smoothing out differences between states and modifying the tax system to reverse the exclusion of nobles from land tax. Joseph II expanded...

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