Answer by A Quora admin:
Thanks for the A2A, Febin Thomas!
The Enlightenment followed on the heels of the bloody Protestant Reformation. Protestants and Catholics killed each other by the millions in a series of wars culminating in the Thirty Years War – which killed a third of Germany’s population before ending in 1648.
The Protestant Reformation benefited from a timely revolution in literacy, thanks to the advent of the Gutenberg Press. Bibles in local vernaculars were published and Europe was awash with religious tracts and leaflets.
After the Protestant Reformation, the war-weary and newly-literate Europeans were gathering in cafés, salons and parlors expanding their minds with all the new ideas that literacy had brought them. As you can imagine, one common theme was how to avoid further religious conflicts. This theme included topics like governance, morality and philosophy. Many great philosophers emerged from this new, exciting, intellectually charged, milieu.
One of these was the father of classical liberalism, John Locke. In 1689, he authored Two Treatises of Government and began a paradigm shift away from feudalism’s “divine right of kings” to democracy’s humanitarian “consent of the governed”: a shift in power that couldn’t easily be achieved without violence – as demonstrated by the French Revolution. According to the wiki:
“The term ‘terrorism’ itself was originally used to describe the actions of the Jacobin Club during the ‘Reign of Terror’ in the French Revolution. ‘Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible,' said Jacobin leader Maximilien Robespierre. In 1795, Edmund Burke denounced the Jacobins for letting 'thousands of those hell-hounds called Terrorists … loose on the people’ of France.”
So you’re asking an erroneous question, Febin. There, indeed, were “extremists and terrorists during the Enlightenment era”. Over eight decades before the extremists and terrorists of the Reign of Terror, there was also, in England, extremism and terrorism as a backlash to the Protestant Reformation. Although it was a failed attempt, it was nonetheless the first instance of modern terrorism and is known as theor the Guy Fawkes Conspiracy. Here’s what the Gunpowder Plot wiki has to say about it:
"The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. During a search of the House of Lords at about midnight on 4 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and arrested."