Paris: Home of the Enlightenment - Deepstash
Paris: Home of the Enlightenment

Paris: Home of the Enlightenment

The Enlightenment was a movement that promoted values of reason, evidence-based knowledge, free inquiry, individual liberty, humanism, limited government, and the separation of church and state.

18th century Paris served as a place for intellectual discourse where philosophes birthed the Age of Enlightenment. Paris earned the nickname "the City of Light."



Funding and feedback by salon patrons encouraged philosophers to put their ideas on paper.

  • In 1748, Montesquieu published Spirit of the Laws, which advocated a separation of governmental powers.
  • In 1751, Diderot helped create the Encyclopédie, among the first modern, general-purpose encyclopedias.
  • In 1759, Voltaire published Candide, a sarcastic novella banned for its criticisms of religious and political institutions.
  • In 1762, Rousseau published The Social Contract, a censored work which argued that laws should reflect the "will of the people" and that monarchs have no "divine right" to rule.



In the 18th century, intellectual discourse moved from universities to coffeehouses and salons where debate of politics and philosophy took place.

Here, nobles and other wealthy financiers intermingled with artists, writers, and philosophers seeking patronage and opportunities to discuss their work. Controversial philosophers who were denied the intellectual freedom to explore their ideas could gather here and develop their critiques of existing norms and institutions.


During the 1760s, the first modern restaurants emerged in France. In 1782, Antoine Beauvilliers (1754–1817), the pastry chef to the future Louis XVIII, opened the first fine-dining establishment in Paris.

French cuisine remains a significant cultural achievement.


  • Paris began as a small settlement on the Seine river banks. Paris gets its name from the Parisii, an Iron Age Celtic tribe, who fortified the area around 225BCE.
  • In 52 BCE, the Romans conquered the site and named it March of the Parisii.
  • By the 5th century CE, the Franks took control over Paris and made it their capital.
  • In 843 CE, the kingdom of Francia split. East Francia became the predecessor state to Germany while West Francia became the early version of the Kingdom of France.


  • Paris became among the first cities to install gas street lighting in the 19th century.
  • During the19th century artistic achievements reached new highs with marvels such as the Eiffel Tower, impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces.
  • Influential painters include Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Henri Rousseau, and Vincent Van Gogh.
  • Well-known writers of that era include Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas.


Paris is France's capital. With over two million residents, it is the most populous city today.

Since the 17th century, Paris continues to serve as a significant centre of diplomacy, commerce, high fashion, cuisine, science, and the arts. It is known as a top tourist destination, famed for its architectural landmarks, museums, restaurants, and atmosphere. Paris is also a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons.


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Athens during the Classical era
  • The city-state of Athens (5th and 4th centuries BCE) valued intellectual pursuits and open inquiry. That lead to the development of philosophy (the love of wisdom).
  • The ancient Athenians' focus on understanding themselves and the world around them provided an intellectual breakthrough in history. Debate and seeking the truth inspired thinkers and influenced the world we live in today.
  • Athens likely was named after the Olympian goddess of wisdom, Athena, who was also the city's patron deity. Athena was also the goddess of war and peace, as well as the goddess of craftsmanship and weaving.



Historical Significance Of Florence, Italy

Known as the ‘Jewel Of Italian Renaissance’, the city of Florence has countless groundbreaking developments, seeing advances in politics, finance, business, engineering, philosophy, science, architecture, and artistic creativity. The 15th century CE, the golden age of Florence saw many historic art projects, even after a pandemic killed half of the city’s population.

Currently, Florence is the capital of Tuscany, Italy, and its most populous. The breathtaking scenery and long history make it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.



Hangzhou in 12th century CE China
  • During the late Song Dynasty, with the innovation of printing and manufacturing, the Song came closer to initiating an industrial revolution than any other premodern state.
  • The Song empire became the richest on Earth through trade and industry. The capital, Hangzhou, was the wealthiest and most populous city in the world.
  • Song-era China became the first country to print paper money. It was easier to carry in large amounts than metal coins. Hangzhou served as the center of money-printing.