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Monarchisms in the Age of Enlightenment

Monarchisms in the Age of Enlightenment: Liberty, Patriotism, and the Common Good

Hans Blom
John Christian Laursen
Luisa Simonutti
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Monarchisms in the Age of Enlightenment
    Book Description:

    Fascinating and timely,Monarchisms in the Age of Enlightenmentwill be of interest to historians, political theorists, political philosophers, and political scientists.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8460-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    There are too many misleading clichés and stereotypes about monarchy and monarchism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and this volume is designed to contribute to the process of correcting them. Especially in the United States, there is almost no recognition that anyone ever saw any redeeming value in monarchy or monarchism.¹ When reminded that more than half of the richer and more modern countries in Europe are still monarchies (as is Canada), both Americans and Europeans will deny that they are really monarchies and claim that this is just pageantry. Many take it for granted that a real monarchy...


    • chapter one Spinoza on Res Publica, Republics, and Monarchies
      (pp. 19-44)

      When in the very first years of the seventeenth century the young Hugo Grotius set out to write a eulogy of Holland, he did it in the form of a comparative description of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Batavian Republic. This was remarkable in various respects, as much for the ambiguity of the term ‘Batavian’ as for the choice of the countries compared. In Book III of thisParallelon rerumpublicarum, the only one extant of the three planned, the discussion is limited to the mores and customs of the three states.¹ Although we consequently do not know how Grotius addressed...

    • chapter two ‘Absolute, Not Arbitrary, Power’: Monarchism and Politics in the Thought of the Huguenots and Pierre Bayle
      (pp. 45-59)

      In the writings of the Catholic controversialists, and by certain voices on the Huguenot side, the French Protestants were defined as ‘Idolâtres de l’Authorité Royale (Idolators of royal authority).’ Over the course of French history and in particular from the religious wars of the sixteenth century up to the second generation of refugees, the Protestant subjects of the French Crown had, as a political position, adopted the doctrine of the absolute divine right of kings, considering it to be the political model taught by the Old and New Testament texts.

      In one of the numerous sixteenth-century lettersAu Roy– to...

    • chapter three Bayle and Hume on Monarchy, Scepticism, and Forms of Government
      (pp. 60-77)

      It is natural for students of government to praise the institutions of their own society, even when they criticize their rulers. American students of the American Revolution, for example, learn that the monarchy of George III was a tyrannical form of government, rightly rejected by the revolutionaries and rightly replaced by the Republic of the Founding Fathers. Historians in every age, from classical times to the present day, warn that such dichotomies will always be with us and must be treated with caution. The poet Alexander Pope, a contemporary of both Bayle and Hume, wryly exclaimed:

      For forms of government...

    • chapter four Fénelon’s ‘Republican’ Monarchism in Telemachus
      (pp. 78-100)

      Without doubt the two most important pieces of French writing on political theory that appeared at the turn of the eighteenth century are Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet’sPolitics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture(completed in 1704)¹ and Archbishop François de Fénelon’sLes aventures de Télémaque, fils d’Ulysse(published in 1699). While Bossuet offers the greatest of all defences of divine right monarchy – in which Louis XIV’s rule is unbrokenly descended from Abraham’s covenant with God in Genesis (‘kings shall come out of thee’)² – Fénelon, by contrast, theorizes what might be called a ‘republican’ monarchy in which the key...

    • chapter five Free Trade, Free Speech, and Free Love: Monarchy from the Liberal Prospect in Mid-eighteenth Century France
      (pp. 101-118)

      The eighteenth-century French monarchy can scarcely be held in view without simultaneously thinking of its demise in the flames of the revolution at the century’s end. TheAncien Régime, the very name the French attached to their past, was testimony to the revolutionaries’ abiding hostility to the monarchy and to their determination to replace it with a republic that represented not just institutional improvement but the prospect of resetting the clock of history. This new beginning to which monarchy became the obstacle marked the advent of modernity. The prejudices cited in the introduction to this volume – that monarchies must be...


    • chapter six Caesar Augustus in Vico’s New Science: Monarchy as Remedy for Democracy
      (pp. 121-143)

      Monarchy functions in theNew Science² of Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) as a desirable and needed remedy for an extreme malady, namely, the refined, impious, solipsistic, and reactive individualism of ‘modern,’ democratic man.³ Framed within his ‘rational civil theology of divine providence,’⁴ Vico’s account of Caesar Augustus serves as the prime example of the means whereby an exhausted form of life is stunned and overcome in favour of another that is once again pious and open to growth and development. Monarchy in Vico is thus Providence’s way both of ending government by the people, wherein individuals are unrestrained in appropriating...

    • chapter seven ‘Everything Must Be Redone’: Condillac as Critic of Despotism and Defender of Toleration
      (pp. 144-161)

      Condillac did not have the destiny, nor probably the desire, to frequent the royal court in Paris or Versailles. Born to a noble but provincial family from Grenoble and embarking on an ecclesiastical career (eventually becoming anabbé), the young Etienne Bonnot de Condillac could only draw attention to himself for his intellectual qualities in Parisian salons, especially that of Madame de Tencin. He did, however, have the opportunity to experience court life, albeit a court in miniature. It happened that he was called by Louise Elisabeth, daughter of Louis XIV and wife of Philip, Duke of Parma and Piacenza,...

    • chapter eight The Fifth Monarchy Redux
      (pp. 162-172)

      Two major millenarian works in the middle of the eighteenth century by David Hartley and Bishop Thomas Newton summarize the prophesies that they believed would be fulfilled, leading to the millennium.¹ Both are by learned, modern thinkers. Hartley is usually given credit for founding modern psychological studies, and the bishop was one of the modernists of his day. Each spells out the expectations and events to come as detailed in Scripture, however, without relating them to any eighteenth-century events. They discuss the conversion of the Jews, their return to Palestine, and the rebuilding of the Temple.

      In the middle of...


    • chapter nine Defending Monarchism in Denmark-Norway in the Eighteenth Century
      (pp. 175-193)

      In Copenhagen in the 1750s a small Swiss republic of letters established itself with the support of leading ministers of the Danish government. Its members provided a new basis and new possibilities for disseminating information outside Denmark about the Danish state, its politics, and his history.

      Lettres sur le Dannemarcwas the title of a book by André Roger published in Geneva in 1757. Roger was a diplomat who was born in Switzerland, but at the time living in Copenhagen. TheLettreswere translated into Danish immediately, and a German translation followed a year later. In 1762 the book was...

    • chapter ten Popular Philosophy and Absolute Monarchy
      (pp. 194-216)

      Since the 1990s many new empirical studies have stressed the continuous political role of the court in seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Europe and the limitations it forced on the exercise of the monarch’s theoretically absolute power. The royal household, the advisory bodies, their way of conducting business and their personnel (especially the secretaries), privy councils, the roles of favourites, and various procedures and ceremonies are now receiving close attention. In so doing this more recent historiography emphasizes the crucial importance of the court in the making of the modern state.¹ This contemporary view differs markedly from the moral perspective of eighteenth-century philosophical...

    • chapter eleven The Prussian Monarchy and the Practices of Enlightenment
      (pp. 217-239)

      Prussia’s Edict on Religion created the biggest public political scandal in late eighteenth-century Germany. Registered on 9 July 1788, one year before the French Revolution started, it required Prussian clerics to teach Christianity’s fundamental truths only, which it defined as the divinity of Jesus, the truth of the Bible, and the triune God. Critics instantly charged the author of the edict, Johann Christoph Woellner, with attacking the Enlightenment. In a flurry of books and pamphlets, enlightened writers across the German states, such as Carl Friedrich Bahrdt, Ernst Christian Trapp, and Anton Friedrich Büsching, to name but a few, decried the...

    • chapter twelve Theorizing Enlightened Absolutism: The Swiss Republican Origins of Prussian Monarchism
      (pp. 240-266)

      German historians disagree about the use of the term ‘enlightened absolutism.’ A detailed examination of the problems associated with this historiographical category has recently been provided by Günter Birtsch.¹ Unlike the Frenchdespotisme éclairéordespotisme legal, the German termaufgeklärter Absolutismusdid not originate in eighteenth-century political debates. It was introduced in 1847 by the political economist Wilhelm Roscher in describing the last of three stages of European absolutism, as represented by enlightened monarchs such as Frederick the Great of Prussia or Joseph II of Austria. Roscher’s analysis of absolutism has been criticized and refined by many; nevertheless, the...

    • chapter thirteen Intellectual Resistance to Absolute Monarchy in Eighteenth-Century Prussia: Castillon’s Translation of Blount’s Philostratus
      (pp. 267-282)

      In 1774 a French translation of Philostratus’sLife of Apollonius of Tyane, written in AD 217, together with a translation of Charles Blount’s notes to his English translation of 1680, was published by Jean de Castillon, a pious Calvinist mathematician and member of the Prussian Academy. Apollonius was a first-century Christlike Pythagorean religious prophet whose life was full of miracles. Anti-Christians like Blount revelled in the story because it raised so obviously the question of how one was supposed to tell who was the real Saviour and who an impostor. But Castillon was also the author ofObservations on the...


    • chapter fourteen Monarchy in the Name of Britain: The Case of George III
      (pp. 285-302)
      J.G.A. POCOCK

      George – third of that name to be sovereign of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and third of his Hanoverian family to rule by the name – succeeded his grandfather in the year 1760, and reigned until the year 1820; a long period, full of momentous changes, including the American and French revolutions, the twenty years of war against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, the extension and transformation of the British empire (a term of by no means simple meanings) and the beginnings of an industrial and class-based political society. During these sixty years the nature of British monarchy changed greatly. I would...

  9. Index
    (pp. 303-306)