The Power of Public Opinion in Europe from 1750 to 1815

4 April 2015
This is a study on the growth of public opinion and political debate in eighteenth century Europe, and the consequences this had for its rulers.

This essays charts the emergence of ‘public opinion’ as a political force in Europe, through newspaper readership, books, pamphlets, and improved transport, with particular reference to Britain, France and Germany. It shows the liberalizing effect this had on the monarchy, as they slowly became answerable to their own people.
“Pre-eighteenth century traditional monarchies in Europe expected to be able to rule over their people without being questioned or without providing explanation for their policies. Opposition was in the form of rival families in the aristocracy, and battles were fought on the grounds of religion, land and power. Little relevance was given to political and social issues, neither by the ruling classes nor the people they ruled over.”
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