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‘Springing from the double head of Monarchy and Democracy’: The Persistence of Monarchical Republicanism and the Rise of Democracy in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Britain and France

by

Rachel Hammersley (Newcastle)
Franco-British History seminar
21 March 2013 
Nathaniel Bacon c. 1760-1800 (wikipedia)

Nathaniel Bacon c. 1760-1800 (wikipedia)

Abstract: This paper seeks to widen and complicate understandings of early-modern republicanism by challenging two of the most deeply entrenched assumptions about it: that it was inherently anti-monarchical and that it was emphatically anti-democratic. Detailed analysis of the ideas of a range of British and French thinkers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (including Nathaniel Bacon, James Harrington and the Abbé Mably) will be deployed in order to demonstrate on the one hand, the survival of older pluralist understandings of republicanism during the seventeenth century and beyond, and on the other, the fact that a positive understanding of democracy was already developing among republicans as early as the 1640s and 50s long before the ‘age of the democratic revolution’. Moreover, the paper shows that, paradoxically, it was often the same figures advocating both monarchical and democratic republicanism.

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