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Equivocations and New Meanings

  • Edoardo Tortarolo
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Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 219)

Abstract

The abbé Gabriel-François Coyer was an outstanding and unconventional figure in the Enlightenment debate on politics and economics in the second half of the eighteenth century. In 1756 he published a vigorous appeal to the nobility to take the lead in the modernization of French society by eliminating the ban on nobles engaging in commercial activity. If the French nobility were to embrace trade, the Bourbon monarchy would be more able to compete successfully with England and the United Provinces. When the conservative nobleman d’Arq published a polemical rejoinder, in which he argued for the excellence of the “military nobility”, Coyer replied in a typically polemical vein. He reviewed the course of French history in its entirety and made explicit what had been merely implied in his previous work. Coyer sketched a vision of society; republican, anti-feudal and fundamentally egalitarian, in which the divide between the two basic constituents of society was clearly delineated. The producers were juxtaposed to the parasites, who included “the regular and secular clergy, professional soldiers, lawyers, financiers, rentiers, domestic servants, beggars, layabouts and grands seigneurs”.

Keywords

Public Opinion Eighteenth Century Public Sphere Preventative Control Press Freedom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Edoardo Tortarolo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of the HumanitiesUniversity of Eastern PiedmontVercelliItaly

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