The Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason; in French: le Siècle des Lumières, lit. 'the Century of Lights'; and in German: Aufklärung, 'Enlightenment') was an intellectual movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe in the 18th century. The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state. In France, the central doctrines of les Lumières were individual liberty and religious tolerance in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy – an attitude captured by the phrase Sapere aude, "Dare to know".
French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution. Some recent historians begin the period in the 1620s, with the start of the scientific revolution. Les philosophes (French for 'the philosophers') of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffee houses, and through printed books and pamphlets. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church, and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism and neo-classicism, trace their intellectual heritage back to the Enlightenment.