What was one point of significance in the 1700s of the French Revolution?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From an intellectual point of view, the French Revolution did a bit of damage to the fundamental Enlightenment premise that human beings are reasonable and rational.  The Enlightenment was the dominant intellectual train of thought in the 1700s.  Many saw the Enlightenment as helping to inspire the French Revolution.  However, the Reign of Terror phase became an exercise rooted in irrationality and a lack of reasonability.  The fact that an overwhelming number of individuals killed during the Reign of Terror were poor peasants, or individuals for whom the Revolution was supposed to help would only prove this.  At the same time, the Enlightenment premise that government is a form of a "social contract" between ruler and ruled was challenged by the Reign of Terror, when individuals gained power and failed to listen to the needs of the constituents and body politic.  In the end, the Reign of Terror brought about significant challenges to the intellectual themes and ideas of the time period.