What is the Age of Enlightenment and what countries did it affect?

The Age of Enlightenment refers to the 18th century in European philosophy, and is often thought of as part of a period which includes the Age of Reason. The term also more specifically refers to a historical intellectual movement, "The Enlightenment." This movement advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded themselves as courageous and elite, and regarded their purpose as leading the world toward progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition, and tyranny (which they believed began during a historical period they called the "Dark Ages"). This movement also provided a framework for the American and French Revolution, the Latin American independence movement, and the Polish Constitution of May 3, and also led to the rise of capitalism and the birth of socialism, liberalism and fascism. It is matched by the high baroque and classical eras in music, and the neo-classical period in the arts, and receives contemporary application in the unity of science movement which includes logical positivism. Another important movement in 18th century philosophy, which was closely related to it, was characterized by a focus on belief and piety. Some of its proponents attempted to use rationalism to demonstrate the existence of a supreme being. In this period, piety and belief were integral parts in the exploration of natural philosophy and ethics in addition to political theories of the age. However, prominent Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and David Hume questioned and attacked the existing institutions of both Church and State. The 18th century also saw a continued rise of empirical philosophical ideas, and their application to political economy, government and sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology. According to scholarly opinion , the Enlightenment was preceded by the Age of Reason (if thought of as a short period) or by the Renaissance and the Reformation (if thought of as a long period). It was followed by Romanticism.