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The age of Enlightenment can best be described as the trends in thoughts and expression in Europe during the 18th century More than a set of fixed ideas the enlightenment implied a method of thought attitude and a desire to question values and explore new ideas In many respects France was the homeland for many philosophers who had these tumult ideas During the Enlightenment domain such philosophers as Voltaire Denis Diderot and Charles de Montesquieu fueled such attitudes by publishing powerful propaganda weapons against the ecclesiastical authority and the superstition conservatism and semi-feudal social forms of the time Encarta 1999 Franois Marie Arouet Voltaire was a French writer philosopher and one of the original leaders of the enlightenment His writings quickly became known for their brilliant and sarcastic wit Voltaires early writings encouraged dramatic political change For the first time in Paris Voltaire went beyond exploring enlightenment and explored political over through These writings quickly resulted in his imprisonment in the Bastille During his detention at the Bastille Voltaire completed his first epic poem in memory of Henry IV Voltaire soon conquered the English language and prepared an enlarged edition of his Poem Of The League This work was an eloquent defense of religious toleration it achieved an almost unprecedented success not only in France but also throughout all of continental Europe It was in these works that Voltaires belief in freedom of thought and respect for all individuals helped maintain literature as a useful tool in dealing with the problems of the present day Denis Diderot was a French encyclopedist and materialist philosopher His lifework the Encyclopedie was enormously influential in shaping the rationalist thought of the 18th century The Encyclopedie epitomized the spirit of the enlightenment and encouraged influential figures to take a stand In 1759 the French government formally suppressed and forbade further publication of the Encyclopedie Nevertheless Diderot continued work and publish the remaining volumes and the Encyclopedie continued to be
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