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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment

(p.11) 1 The Enlightenment
The French Republic

Johnson Kent Wright

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks into eighteenth-century ideas of republicanism to debunk the myth that, prior to 1791, there were simply no republicans in France. Recent scholarship on eighteenth-century political thought however reveals more varied and sympathetic opinions toward republicanism than that which conventional accounts suggest. The chapter argues that the Enlightenment had represented the great transitional epoch in the long history of republicanism in the West—the moment when an old and august tradition of political thought underwent a process of modernization, with dramatic historical consequences. Hence, a grasp of both the variety and the development of republican ideas in the Enlightenment becomes crucial for understanding the fate of the great experiments in constitution making during the Revolution.

Keywords:   eighteenth-century republicanism, French republicans, Enlightenment, modernization, constitution making, French Revolution

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