chapter  2
16 Pages

The sources

Europeans were less literate, less aware of their history and its implications and hence less self-conscious, than they were soon to become. Thus the output in the eighteenth century of books and documents, of those traces of the past by which alone it can be adequately reconstructed, was not great by modern standards. More important in many ways, they are a literary form which flourished mainly in Western Europe, notably in France, and which is poorly represented in the eastern and even the central parts of the continent. Moreover the press was never, in any major European state, free from government influence and official pressure during this period. As well as seeing the first important growth of newspapers and periodicals the eighteenth century was also the greatest age of the pamphlet. This also was predominantly a product of Western Europe, of Great Britain and the Netherlands, to a lesser extent of Germany and France.