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18th century

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The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 to December 31, 1800 in the Gregorian calendar. During the 18th century, the Enlightenment culminated in the French and American revolutions. Philosophy and science increased in prominence. Philosophers dreamed of a brighter age. This dream turned into a reality with the French Revolution of 1789-, though later compromised by the excesses of the Reign of Terror (1793-1794) under Maximilien Robespierre. At first, many monarchies of Europe embraced Enlightenment ideals, but with the French Revolution they feared losing their power and formed broad coalitions for the counter-revolution. The Ottoman Empire experienced an unprecedented period of peace and economic expansion, taking part in no European wars from 1740 to 1768. As a consequence the empire did not share in Europe's military improvements during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), causing its military to fall behind and suffer defeats against Russia in the second half of the century.

The 18th century also marked the end of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as an independent state. The once-powerful and vast kingdom, which had once conquered Moscow and defeated great Ottoman armies, collapsed under numerous invasions. Its semi-democratic government system was not robust enough to rival the neighboring monarchies of the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and the Archduchy of Austria which divided the Commonwealth territories between themselves, changing the landscape of Central European politics for the next hundred years.


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