The German Territories After c. 1760
The Aufklärung did not reject the governmental forms and institutions of the past but sought to give them a new purpose. Discussion of Aufklärung ideas was fostered by the explosive growth of the print media. Aufklärung was defined by Kant and others; it suffused Protestant and Catholic thinking and many Jewish communities. The reforms of the period often responded to the problem of reconstruction after the Seven Years War, but they were shaped by new cameralist and physiocratic ideas. ‘Improvement’ soon became a general watchword leading to important new developments in administrative practice, law and justice, schools and universities, thinking about religious toleration and in the culture of the German courts. There is some evidence to suggest that the reforms in the German territories helped them avoid the kind of societal crisis that exploded in France in 1789.
Keywords: Aufklärung, improvement, reform, reconstruction, Protestant Aufklärung, Catholic Aufklärung, Jewish Aufklärung, cameralism, physiocracy, administrative practice, law, schools, universities, religious toleration, courts and culture, immunity against revolution
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