What Led to the Enlightenment & Why is it Important?

What Led to the Enlightenment & Why is it Important?
For school we must do an essay. I need to know what led to the Enlightenment and Why the Enlightenment was important..Any ideas? 🙂

The Age of Enlightenment or The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century, in which Reason was advocated as the primary source and basis of authority. Developing in Germany, France and Britain, the movement spread through much of Europe, including Russia and Scandinavia. The signatories of the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen were motivated by “Enlightenment” principles (although the English Bill of Rights predates the era).

The intellectual and philosophical developments of that age (and their impact in moral and social reform) aspired towards governmental consolidation, centralisation and primacy of the nation-state, and greater rights for common people. There was also a strong attempt to supplant the authority of aristocracy and established churches in social and political life, forces that were viewed as reactionary, oppressive and superstitious.

The term came into use in English during the mid-nineteenth century,[1] with particular reference to French philosophy, as the equivalent of a term then in use by German writers, Zeitalter der Aufklärung, signifying generally the philosophical outlook of the eighteenth century.

The terminology Enlightenment or Age of Enlightenment does not represent a single movement or school of thought, for these philosophies were often mutually contradictory or divergent. The Enlightenment was less a set of ideas than it was a set of attitudes. At its core was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals. Some classifications of this period also include the late 17th century, which is typically known as the Age of Reason or Age of Rationalism.[2]

There is no consensus on when to date the start of the age of Enlightenment, and some scholars simply use the beginning of the eighteenth century or the middle of the seventeenth century as a default date.[3] Other scholars use the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars (1804–15) as a convenient point in time with which to date the end of the Enlightenment.[4] Still others describe the Enlightenment beginning in Britain’s Glorious Revolution of 1688 and ending in the French Revolution of 1789. However, others also claim the Enlightenment ended with the death of Voltaire in 1778.[citation needed]