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The Military EnlightenmentWar and Culture in the French Empire from Louis XIV to Napoleon$
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Christy Pichichero

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501709296

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501709296.001.0001

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The French Military Enlightenment

The French Military Enlightenment

Figures, Forces, and Forms

(p.25) Chapter 1 The French Military Enlightenment
The Military Enlightenment

Christy Pichichero

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the personalities, spaces, and means of the French Military Enlightenment. Kings, royal mistresses, and war ministers explored pathways to improving martial efficacy, efficiency, and education, establishing new policies and institutions. Military officers took on the role of the militaire philosophe, or military philosopher, applying a critical esprit philosophique (philosophical spirit) to a myriad of questions, from drill to moral reinvigoration in the officer corps. They proposed policy changes, enforced those mandated by Versailles, or rebelled against them. They shared their experiences and opinions with others through conversations, letters, manuscript memoirs, and published works. Non-military thinkers, physicians, literati, artists, and members of the reading public were also highly informed and engaged in military matters. They, too, developed and spread military knowledge. These agents of the French Military Enlightenment transformed war and military topics into one of the great debates of the public sphere and nexuses of change of the eighteenth century.

Keywords:   French Military Enlightenment, Militaire philosophe, Military philosopher, Esprit philosophique, Public sphere

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