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Unit 4

4.0 Unit 4 Overview: Scientific, Philosophical, and Political Developments

3 min readmay 11, 2020


Bretnea Turner

The one thing you need to know about this unit:
Challenging traditional beliefs grew with an emphasis on human reasoning and observation.
The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment championed human reasoning and logic, propelling society toward governmental reform. 
🎥 Watch: AP Euro - Enlightenment


Main Events

1543: Nicholas Copernicus’ Heliocentric Theory🌞
1608: Modern telescope is invented🔭
1628: William Harvey’s theory of Blood Circulation published 🩸
1633: Galileo Galilei’s Trial
1642-46: English Civil War
1651: Thomas Hobbes publishes Leviathan📕
1660: England’s Royal Society founded
1687: Newton publishes Law of Gravity
1690: John Locke publishes Two Treatises on Government
1734: Voltaire publishes Letters on the English📕
1748: Baron de Montesquieu publishes The Spirit of Laws📕
1776: Adam Smith publishes The Wealth of Nations📕
1776-1783: American Revolution💣
1787: American Constitution📜
1789-1799: French Revolution💣
1791-1804: Haitian Revolution💣
1804: Napoleonic Code📜
1806: Dissolution of Holy Roman Empire
1815: Napoleon is exiled from France a second time, Napoleonic Wars end
🎥 Watch: AP Euro - Scientific Revolution


Major Trends Between 1648-1815

  • The rediscovery of the Greek and Roman Classical writings raised new questions about the sciences including human anatomy🧠, medicines, planetary motion🌍, human logic💭, animal behavior, and more. 
    • The Scientific Revolution🔬, like the previous movement of the Renaissance, didn’t have an immediate impact on the whole population of Europe. 
  • Intellectuals began studying different types of science, mathematics, and medicine to prove, disprove, or expand Classical works or the works of other scientists and this challenged the authority of the Church⛪ and monarchy👑.
    • The Catholic Church established several doctrines explaining scientific theory in a way that people could easily understand and would not question during the medieval age.
    • These theories could easily be disproven through observation and experimentation, but during that time, no one had the ability or means to study scientific topics.
    • During the 17th century, the authority of the Catholic Church was being challenged with new discoveries coming out because:
      • The Catholic Church had always been the ultimate source of information✐ for everyone.
      • If the Church was wrong about one thing, what else could they be wrong about?
      • Would people begin questioning❔ their faith and demanding proof of Jesus’ miracles, etc?
      • The Church feared its future if people lost their trust in it.
  • Intellectuals not directly associated with science began applying some scientific concepts to society and their understanding of politics. These ideas include:
    • Individuals ability to reason and use logic to make choices.
    • Everyone has the ability to reason and use logic.
    • Using a method of experimentation to solve societal issues.
  • Enlightenment leaders debated the role of government in people’s lives, the role of people in the government (which at the time was nearly nonexistent!), different forms of government and their efficiency, and the idea of natural rights among humans being governed.
    • Most intellectuals believed that all people deserved natural rights of speech, choice in religion, and the ability to protest. 
    • Some, like Thomas Hobbes, believed that people are innately selfish and will make selfish choices, so they must be tightly governed by a strong monarchy.

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Unit 1: Renaissance and Exploration
Unit 2: Age of Reformation
Unit 3: Absolutism and Constitutionalism
Unit 5: Conflict, Crisis, and Reaction in the Late 18th Century
Unit 6: Industrialization and Its Effects
Unit 7: 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments
Unit 8: 20th-Century Global Conflicts
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