Which Despot Comes The Closest To Be Called Enlightened Frederick The Great, Catherine The Great Or – Book Report/Review Example
JOSEPH II The Enlightenment was an amazing period in human history. Everything began to change as the Dark Ages receded. Superstition began to be replaced with Reason. Scientists began work which would change the way we would see our world forever. And political leaders began to change too. During this period of time the most enlightened despot was Joseph II, the Holy Roman Emperor from 1765-1790. This man made numerous reforms which showed that he privileged reason over superstition.
Among Joseph IIs biggest reforms was making education compulsory. He did not think that education came to a person via a vision from God. He knew it took hard work. The state could encourage this. He saw that Latin was not the language of the people and so he changed it to German. At the time, many people were furious. But this was a sensible idea: the language of the people should be the language of the state.
Another major reform made by Joseph II was to encourage religious tolerance. In the past, religions, especially Protestantism and Catholicism, were at war with one another. Under Joseph II there was a kind of peace. He understood that people had different faiths and these should be respected.
Perhaps most importantly, he abolished serfdom (Spielvogel, 384). This freed hundreds of thousands of people from servitude and created a more mobile population. This was a great example of an enlightened policy.
For these reasons Joseph II was the most enlightened despot of his time. He may not now be as famous as Catherine the Great, but he deserves our praise.
Spielvogel, Jackson. Western Civilization. Cengage Learning, 2010