Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Imperial Republics

Imperial Republics: Revolution, War and Territorial Expansion from the English Civil War to the French Revolution

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Imperial Republics
    Book Description:

    Imperial Republicsis a sophisticated, wide-ranging examination of the intellectual origins of republican movements, and explains why revolutionaries felt the need to 'don the toga' in laying the foundation for their own uprisings.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9586-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Rome in the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 3-17)

    J.G.A. Pocock wrote that ‘Rome is a past world ever present ... in the thoughts of Europeans both medieval and modern.’¹ I wish to examine the ways in which Rome presented itself to, and was represented by, French, British, and American writers of the seventeenth and especially the eighteenth century. Pocock’s monumentalThe Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Traditionshowed how the Roman Republic, interpreted by Machiavelli and his followers, helped to create an intellectual climate by which subjects of ecclesiastical and civil authorities could become republican citizens bound only by the laws to which they...

  6. 1 Machiavelli on Imperial Republics
    (pp. 18-26)

    Machiavelli was a major source of neo-Roman republicanism from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. His interpretation of the patrician Livy’s account of early republican Rome was a staple feature of republican thought during the English Civil War and the American and French Revolutions. John Adams thought Machiavelli the source of English principles of liberty, descending from John Ponet, through John Milton, James Harrington, and Algernon Sidney. Adams also opined that ‘Montesquieu borrowed the best part of his book from Machiavelli without acknowledging the quotation.’ Machiavelli, for Adams, ‘was the great restorer of true politics,’ and thus ‘the world is...

  7. 2 Republicanism and the English Civil War
    (pp. 27-48)

    In this chapter, I shall show why Thomas Hobbes, an anti-imperialist, opposed the use of ancient republics as model polities, and then consider which kinds of people Hobbes thought were attracted to Athens, which to Sparta, and which to Rome. We shall then examine the republican thinkers during the English Civil War, indicate why Athens was a model for John Milton and Marchamont Nedham, and then indicate why Rome became the model for the neo-Machiavellian imperialists James Harrington and Algernon Sidney.

    Thomas Hobbes thought the schools and universities that taught students to read Greek and Roman writers were one of...

  8. 3 Catonic Virtue, Sweet Commerce, and Imperial Rivalry
    (pp. 49-70)

    In this chapter, I wish to show why republican Rome continued to play a significant role in monarchical Britain of the Augustan age. Although a frequent trope on both sides of the English Channel was the antithesis of war and commerce, with Rome portrayed as an anti-commercial warlike republic¹ and the French and English empires of trade as pacific, mercantile rivalries outweighed the alleged pacifying effect of commerce. England and France were at war for more than half the years from the Glorious Revolution to the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. While John Dryden identified the Dutch as...

  9. 4 From Colony to Nation to Empire
    (pp. 71-97)

    This chapter serves to show how the United States was the product of European imperial rivalries, and why colonial America was loyal to Britain until the British had defeated its imperial rivals. It elaborates how the only experiment in America to implement a modern version of Roman agrarian laws was attempted by the Tory colonial governor of Georgia, James Oglethorpe, and then shows how the senatorial version of the Roman Republic served as a model for American revolutionaries. Finally, this chapter demonstrates how the idea of empire, which had negative connotations before the Revolution, acquired positive connotations after the French...

  10. 5 From Caesar to Brutus to Augustus
    (pp. 98-115)

    We have examined the phenomena of revolutionary expansion in the English-speaking world from the English Civil War to the American Revolution. We shall now explore the emergence of neo-Roman republicanism in France. This chapter will explore the roots of neo-Romanism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, leading up to the failed revolution, known as the Fronde, which was contemporaneous with the English Civil War. We shall show how the crown used the imagery of Caesar, how opponents of the crown used the imagery of Brutus and Cato, and how Louis XIV emerged triumphant as Augustus Caesar from the failure of...

  11. 6 Le Royaume and La Patrie: Rome in Eighteenth-Century France
    (pp. 116-139)

    In the aftermath of the Fronde, Jean-Baptiste Colbert persuaded Louis XIV to provide royal patronage to men of letters.¹ Jean-François Méjanès asserted that the first generations of royal pensioners ‘seem to have scrupulously respected the hierarchy of genres’ within the world of letters and considered ‘history to be the noblest genre.’² Clients of royal patronage trumpeted the virtues of republican Rome, while at the same time maintaining the higher virtues of Christianity and the political arrangements attendant on true faith. Patriotic virtue was the motive of the ancient Romans that enabled them to make Rome ‘the Capital of the world.’³...

  12. 7 The Role of Brutus in the French Revolution
    (pp. 140-166)

    Daniel Mornet wrote that, after the American Revolution, the French became hostile to the British form of government.¹ To be sure, in the nineteenth century, liberal anglophiles, such as Germaine de Staël and Benjamin Constant, were politically opposed to republican anglophobes,² but eighteenth-century anglophiles who arguably could be called liberals, such as Voltaire and Montesquieu, and French patriots, such as Abbés Coyer and Raynal, who wished to emulate British commercial and naval supremacy in order to best their rivals, were highly regarded during the French Revolution. It might be tempting to follow Dominique-Joseph Garat and separate the French revolutionaries into...

  13. 8 Imperial Pride and Anxiety: Gibbon’s Roman Empire and Ferguson’s Roman Republic
    (pp. 167-177)

    J.G.A. Pocock and others have asserted that the British in the second half of the eighteenth century became preoccupied with the question of how Britons could remain free at home while domineering abroad.¹ Some Britons opposed imperialism and many more combined pride in British imperial accomplishments with anxiety that British freedom might sink under the weight of its empire. As Pocock indicated, the Romans served as a model for the British; their virtue, born of republican liberty, achieved an empire but the empire tended and tends to corrupt the virtue on which political liberty depends.

    Not everyone gloried in the...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 178-182)

    If Hobbes was right to be worried about the use his contemporaries made of classical antiquity, he was also right to think that republicans have lamented the use of arbitrary power by monarchs, while being less concerned with the exercise of arbitrary power in republics, whether it is the practice of ostracism in Athens, the murder of proponents of agrarian reform in Rome, or secret denunciations in Venice. To be sure, Thomas Jefferson opposed John Adams’s Aliens and Seditions Acts, which curtailed civil rights more than any measures taken by colonial governments, and Adams was later to oppose Jefferson’s blockade...

  15. Index
    (pp. 183-197)