Q:

What is an enlightened despot?

A:

An enlightened despot is an authoritarian leader who exercises rationality and, in some cases, tolerance. While authoritarian leadership is inherently repressive in some ways, this does not mean that the leader cannot exercise tolerance in other areas.

Authoritarianism and cruel governance are often viewed as tied together, and there is a correlation. However, some despots and monarchs have improved the lives of their citizens, and many allow free religion and some degree of free speech. The "enlightened" portion of the term refers to the Enlightenment period in Europe, but it has been retroactively applied to a number of historic leaders as well.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the meaning of tolerance?

    A:

    Tolerance is the ability to accept ideas, behaviors and feelings that are different than those of the individual. In science, it is the ability of the body to adjust to a new substance.

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  • Q:

    Why is religious tolerance important?

    A:

    Religious tolerance is a necessity for individuals within a society to get along, especially when a variety of cultures and people with different religious beliefs live in one community or nation. When religious tolerance is practiced, unity and consistency exist in a society that respects religious freedom.

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    Why was Frederick the Great called an enlightened despot?

    A:

    According to Biography.com, Frederick the Great was called an enlightened despot because his mother raised him with the values and education of the Enlightenment, and as ruler of Prussia, he sought to instill these values in government and society. His enlightened reforms included religious toleration, partial freedom of the press and reformations of the military and justice systems.

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