• The Enlightened Despots

  • By: Geoffrey Bruun
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 4 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-07-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.0 (4 ratings)

Summary

From the death of Louis XIV in 1715 until the onset of the French Revolution in 1789, there occurred a profound evolution in the thinking of political philosophers, whose epoch is known as The Enlightenment. There were three men whose writings were to be most responsible for this intellectual whirlwind: Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. And there were to be three rulers whose absorption of this new thinking actually resulted in an attempt to put many of those ideas into practice: Frederick the Great of Prussia, Joseph II of Austria, and Catherine the Great of Russia. Naturally, there were other thinkers, collectively known as the "Philosophes". And there were other, lesser rulers who would also reflect this new intellectual and spiritual glory. But where did it come from? How, in the middle of one of the most corrupt centuries of all time, could a small group of monarchs suddenly become infatuated with the thinking of an even smaller group of eccentric intellectuals? On the face of it, it seems highly improbable. At the beginning of the 18th century, kings ruled by the divine right of God Almighty, and were answerable only to God. Near the end of the same century, they still ruled by the grace of God...but now they were answerable to the people they ruled. This was the era of the Great Awakening of the common man. The consequences were to be momentous for the world. For it was from the works of the Philosophes that the French Revolution would germinate, and it was from the French Revolution that the ultimate Enlightened Despot would emerge...Napoleon Bonaparte.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mair on 05-04-10

really enjoyed this book

Its a great listen, really kept my interest all the way through, and it was great to get a light approach to what might have been a 'heavy' subject. Its informative on history and philosophy. The narrator might sound a bit serious, but is clear and lilting.

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2 out of 5 stars
By Thomas Family on 09-07-08

Interesting I suppose

The content of this book was very interesting, but unfortunately the way it was read just sent me to sleep so I never got the full benefits of the facts.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Neil Chisholm on 26-06-13

Leaders that could have done better!

Enlightened Despots is a bit of an oxymoron but compared with the monarchs that ruled before they were much more of the time and had a humanity about them that previous monarchs and leaders had not. They were still however despotic leaders.

What comes out is that they tried and tried hard - they read the relevant texts by Voltaire etc and were true in their belief of a fair go but they were also determined to hold onto their inherited throwns and empires come what may.

The clashes were monumental and very interesting when broken down. It is worth listening to. The world was a better place after their reigns - but they could have been even better but holding on to what they knew meant that they didn't go that step too far. How different European history could have been.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By neilium on 24-11-14

great subject, overwrought prose, terrible reading

Any additional comments?

The subject is fascinating and worth exploring. The modern world is a continuing echo of the Enlightenment, and the despotic leaders profiled in this book are of no small importance to any student of history. That said, the writing style is overwrought and too clever by half. The narrator's performance is a bizarre attempt at goofball entertainment, with a cheeseball "voice of God" reverb used in place of quotes. The overall effect is embarrassing.

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3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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