This project highlights the nature of Enlightenment reform in 18th-century Germany, particularly in the Kingdom of Prussia and the Electorate of Bavaria under Frederick II and Maximilian III Joseph. Both of these rulers launch similar reforms under the guise of enlightened absolutism and enlightenment rhetoric with very different results, each catering to the specific needs of their respective principalities. Reform is offered along the lines of compulsory education, codification, humanitarian legal reform, and religious toleration, all in the spirit of the Enlightenment. However, when the extent and details of these reforms are examined, it can be demonstrated that the fail to put forth a progressive definition of rights in their respective states, instead serving to solidify state authority and further the absolutist control of the monarch through careful alienation and control over the nobility, clergy, and the lowest classes.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Beth Plummer
European History | History | Political History
Harris, Benjamin T., "Rhetoric, Rights, and Pragmatism in the Germanies: Enlightenment Reform in Eighteenth-Century Prussia and Bavaria" (2014). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 500.