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"Enlightened Despots of the 18th Century " Topic

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10 Aug 2017 5:08 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board

718 hits since 19 Jan 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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KTravlos Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 10:47 a.m. PST

Which of the following European Enlightened Despots of the later half of the 18th Century (roughly 1740-1791) do you believe had the most positive long-term impact on their dominions?

1) Catherine II of Russia (The Great)
2) Carlos III of Spain (also Carlo VII and V of Naples and of Sicily)
3) Frederick II of Prussia (The Great)
4) Frederick VI of Denmark and Norway as Cronw Prince Regent to Christian VII
5) Gustav III of Sweden
6) Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
7) Maria Theresa of the Hapsburgs, Sovereign of Hapsburg Dominions, King of Hungary
8) Leopold II, Holy Roman Empeir (also Pietro Leopoldo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany)
9) Maria Carolina, Queen consort of Naples and of Sicily
10) Another:……
11) None of them
12) I do not wish to answer you sirrah!

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

Freddy the Above Average.

Gustav kinda gets second for being a place holder after Charles and before Bernadotte.

IMHO, of course!

Oh Bugger Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 1:25 p.m. PST

Maria Theresa, the more I read of her the more I like her.

brucka19 Jan 2017 1:40 p.m. PST

3. NOT over-rated. Great Patron of the arts and learning. Reformer of administration and the Army and great example in his selfless duty to the State.
Held a nation together fighting a 3 front War.
Though I do think Marie Therese was his equal in Austria.
Need to learn more about Elizabeth of Russia though.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 2:54 p.m. PST

Anne Stuart, first Monarch of Great Britain.

1ngram19 Jan 2017 3:22 p.m. PST

All these parasites were responsible for the deaths in war of hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions. Scum, the lot of them.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 6:01 p.m. PST

13) George III rid Britain of an ungrateful money drain.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2017 11:44 p.m. PST

British monarchs such as Anne and George III were not 'Enlightened Despots'. By this time Britain was a Constitutional Monarchy because Parliament had substantial power.

I expect they will still end up in the poll, though. It seems that EVERY nomination ends up in the polls, no matter how inaccurate!

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2017 3:41 a.m. PST

Maria T would have gotten my vote, but since we're talking long term here, the two goofs that succeeded her barely kept things going; forget improving.

KTravlos Inactive Member20 Jan 2017 4:10 a.m. PST

Cedric thank you for pointing out that fact. Tell's me that people really need to go back and read the constitutional history of the United Kingdom. I am not saying the monarch did not have a big influence, but they were not institutionally absolute monarchs.

Now to be fair, none of the others really where institutionally absolute monarchs either. Institutionally, people like Joseph II, Maria Teresia, Leopold II, Carlos III and Frenderick VI, indeed even Fredenrick II, had to deal with local feudal political and legal privileges that could impede or stop any reform. The fate of the Josephinian reforms indicates what happened when you pushed to much against this web of pre-capitalist legal and political localist rights.

Other's who did rough shod over them, and institutionally became absolute monarchs, had to fear palace coups (Catherine II, Gustav III).

I disagree with you Andrew. Arguably Joseph launched the most important and ambitious of the Enlightenment programs. Indeed some of the more far- reaching reforms under Maria were actually those of Joseph as co-regent. He just pushed too hard. Leopold II had to deal with that push-back and if any of the Teresian-Josephinian reforms survived the push-back, they did so thanks to Leopold. Also I include Leopold's tenure as Grand Duke of Tuscany were he implements one of the truly successful enlightenment programs.

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2017 7:05 a.m. PST

Frederick II had the most impact, however Joseph II probably had the most positive impact. The problem is, I don't know how long-lasting Joseph II's impact actually was. As for Catherine the Great, many of her reforms were for show, and most of her true reforms were undone by Paul. However, she did influence her grandson Alexander. So if that is taken into account, she also had a degree of lasting impact that may sometimes be overlooked. While 1ngram has a point, these individuals were far less harmful than leaders who came to power after we see the rise of modern ideologies (and I am referring to all modern ideologies -- left, right, and even the so-called center).

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

KTravlos – you are, of course, correct to point out that a true 18th Century Enlightened Despot did not really exist! All European monarchs needed a 'power base' of some sort of aristocracy.

The philosophical idea of the Enlightened Despot was an aspiration of many European Monarchs, but not, I believe, the British. Hence why the should not be nominated!

attilathepun4720 Jan 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

I would have to give my vote to Frederick II, but not necessarily because his various reforms wound up being all that benevolent for the Prussian people. Rather, he had a lasting "positive" impact in turning Prussia into an efficient and powerful modern state. Furthermore, he certainly had the greatest all-around impact on modern history, since his reign in Prussia ultimately led to the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership (as I see it, no Frederick II means no Bismarck). That may not have been a very positive development for the rest of the world, but nobody could argue that it did not constitute a great impact.

Sandinista20 Jan 2017 3:25 p.m. PST

Curious, even in this the Brit's like to see themselves as better than their continental cousins


Ottoathome Inactive Member20 Jan 2017 8:19 p.m. PST

Well if you are going to make the criteria…" had the most positive long-term impact on their dominions?" then I would answer 11. All of them had a large impact but for the century on their populations many of them beneficial. But since you put in that word "POSITIVE" and "LONG TERM IMPACT" I am going to hold you to the former and define the latter as reaching down into our own day today. I will name….

Augustus III of Saxony. In the very immediate "positive" sense he fathered 357 recognized illegitimate children, thus manfully trying to fulfill his role as "father of the country" but more than that, his patron of the arts, of painting of sculptured and of culture has stuffed many museums with some of the most beautiful works of art, so much so that these museums are still stuffed today after World War Two which swept so many into the furnace of war. The amount produced must have been truly prodigious, and one can only weep that they were destroyed.

At the same time I must for the same reason note two persons who were not "despots" or rulers but who almost equaled him, these being Madamme Pompadour, and Madamme Du Barry, who were lavish patrons of the arts, and which bequeathed a legacy of patronage and culture that again stuffs out museums of today. Of the glories of Frederick or the others we have little and intervening wars and revolutions have been veru cruel to the deeds of Maria Theresa and many others, not to mention the Tzars.

Art, true art, it's creation as well as sponsorship and patronage, is an unmitigated good for the human race.

AICUSV20 Jan 2017 10:48 p.m. PST

Fredrick II he gave his people the potato – thus feeding millions.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

Sandinista – not better, just different….

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

I thought Napoleon had the greatest impact on the unification of Germany.

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