Thomas Munck

in The Oxford Handbook of the Ancien Régime

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199291205
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191744105 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History


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The Enlightenment, as a historical term, is intimately linked to the Ancien Régime: both describe historical constructs that once seemed more French than European, at least in origin, and although the term “Ancien Régime” acquired its meaning only in retrospect (from the perspective of 1790), both were originally used by historians to denote something which had come to an end by 1789. The Enlightenment was the intellectually innovative and emancipatory process which, depending on the definition of the Ancien Régime itself, either modernized the political and social structures of the early modern state, or helped to undermine it and to precipitate the upheaval of the French Revolution.

Keywords: Enlightenment; Ancien Régime; emancipatory process; political structure; social structure; modern state

Article.  8348 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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