Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
Scientific advances of the 17th and 18th centuries encouraged new ideas, and this led European philosophers to declare that humans progressed by using reason and logic, rather than faith or superstition. This period became known as the Enlightenment, or Age of Reason.
New information systems were needed for this new age. Dictionaries began to appear, and a 17-volume encyclopedia, edited by Denis Diderot, was published in France in 1751–1772. Its contributors included thinkers such as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire.
In 1793, the French National Convention abolished the worship of God and forbade what it regarded as superstitious festivals. A new calendar was drawn up, one that began not with the birth of Christ but with a current human event, the French Revolution.