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Coup d'etat

a sudden over throw of the government


the middle class of society


French for the "chief tax"

Natural Rights

rights with which all humans are supposedly born, including the rights to life, liberty, and property

Divine Right

the belief that kings received their power from God and are responsible only to God


literally "let people do what they want"; the concept that the state should not impose government regulations but should leave the economy alone.

Separation of powers

a form of government in which the executive, legislative, and judicial branches limit and control each other through a system of checks and balances.

Social contract

the concept proposed by Rousseau that an entire society agrees to be governed by its general will; and all individuals should be forced to abide by the general will since it represents what is best for the entire community.


unique cultural identity of a people based on common language, religion, and national symbols, a love for one's country

Constitutional monarchy

a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution


the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way

Checks and balances

a political system that keeps from one branch of government from abusing its power and keeping branches equal


a representative body or legislative government that makes political decisions and writes laws.

Louis XVI

a French King that believed in divine right and absolute monarchy until the time of the French Revolution.

John Locke

Enlightenment thinker that promoted natural rights and the idea that people are allowed to rebel if the government does not provide these rights and freedoms.


Enlightenment thinker that believed in the separation of powers of governments rather than having one group holding all the power.


Enlightenment thinker that coined the term "social contract" where people within a society must abide by laws in order for the community to live in harmony.

Simon Bolivar

Venezuelan military and political leader who fought for freedom in South America against the Spanish Empire


French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution


Enlightenment thinker who promoted civil liberties such as freedom of religion and speech


intellectual movement during the 1700s that promoted democratic ideas.


intellectuals, writers, journalists, economics, and social reformers that used reason to solve social problems during the Enlightenment.

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