The Enlightenment is also known as ‘The Age of Enlightenment’ and ‘Age of Reason’ and was a cultural movement in the 18th century primarily to reform society based on reason and not religious belief. There was a belief amongst the educated classes that recent achievements in science could through acquiring knowledge lead to social, intellectual and moral reforms.
There were 4 main areas where change took place:-
- Religion – where the Catholic faith was questioned leading to the tolerance of Protestantism.
- Intellectual – schools became independent of religious allegiances also leading to more tolerance and individual inquiry.
- Economic – the move away from feudal land ownership to a more wealthy and educated middle class.
- Political – a move towards nation-states ruled by Kings and parliaments and away from religious rule.
In other words people started to think for themselves and challenge ideas that where grounded in tradition and faith.
This site gives a congested review of ‘The Age of Enlightenment’.