François–Marie Arouet, who wrote under the name Voltaire, was both the best–known and most tireless advocate of the Enlightenment and also a close associate of several European kings and many French aristocrats. In his widely read history, The Age of Louis XIV, he exalted the achievements of the Bourbon monarchy, which had brought such glory and honor to France. In this passage, Voltaire lauds... Read More »
Voltaire was the pen name of François–Marie Arouet (1694–1778), an Enlightenment writer known for his plays and histories and his acerbic criticism of the French Catholic Church. Although Voltaire eventually became a kind of cultural icon celebrated even by kings and ministers, he often faced harassment and persecution for his views in his early days. In Letters on England of 1733, Voltaire... Read More »
Voltaire was the pen name of François–Marie Arouet (1694–1778), an Enlightenment writer known for his plays and histories and his acerbic criticism of the French Catholic Church. This set of selections is from his Philosophical Dictionary of 1764. They demonstrate his range of reading, including travel literature about China, but the main target remains religious bigotry and fanaticism,... Read More »
This passage from François–Marie Arouet, pen–named Voltaire, who was perhaps the best–known writer of the eighteenth century, illustrates the spirit of investigation of the Enlightenment. The philosophes wanted to understand the rationale behind inequality, were particularly interested if there were natural reasons for it, or if inequality came wholly from social conventions. From a well–to–do... Read More »
Among the African rituals and customs described by Moreau de Saint–Méry, none terrified white planters in Haiti more than the practice of voodoo. His description of the rituals associated with voodoo and the hold it had on the minds of the enslaved people demonstrates both his fascination with the topic and the importance he attached to it.
This print is called Vulgarly called the Wanton and was created by the artist Utamaro in 1802. It portrays a woman engaged in frivolous or indulgent behavior, providing a sense of how people understood urban Japan during the Tokugawa period. Analyzing these rich images offers an important window into an increasingly complex urban world.
This source is a part of the... Read More »
The women in this image appear to be tempted to a life of prostitution. The female figure in the left foreground gestures toward the door but remains modestly attired. Once inside, the women are there for the pleasure of men and wear revealing or little clothing. The contrast in this moralistic image also reveals how differently contemporaries could depict "real" women from allegorical ones.... Read More »
A common complaint of pre-revolutionary rural petitions was the abuse of seigneurial dues owed by French peasants to lords supposedly in exchange for protection and supervision. This image demonstrates the view that peasants envisioned their lords not as protectors, but as exploiters who constantly turned the screws on them to extract ever more rent or other payments.