Ideas of monarchical reform

Fénelon, Jacobitism, and the political works of the Chevalier Ramsay

By Andrew Mansfield

Ideas of monarchical reform


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1124-1
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: May 2016
  • BIC Category: History, Early Modern History, Europe, European history, c 1500 onwards to present day, History & Archaeology, HISTORY / Europe / France, HISTORY / Europe / General, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700
  • Series: Studies in Early Modern European History


This book examines the political works of Andrew Michael Ramsay (1683-1743) within the context of early eighteenth-century British and French political thought. In the first monograph on Ramsay in English for over sixty years, the author uses Ramsay to engage in a broader evaluation of the political theory in the two countries and the exchange between them. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Britain and France were on divergent political paths. Yet in the first three decades of that century, the growing impetus of mixed government in Britain influenced the political theory of its long-standing enemy. Shaped by experiences and ideologies of the seventeenth century, thinkers in both states exhibited a desire to produce great change by integrating past wisdom with modern knowledge. A Scottish Jacobite émigré living in Paris, Ramsay employed a synthesis of British and French principles to promote a Stuart restoration to the British throne that would place Britain at the centre of a co-operative Europe. Mansfield reveals that Ramsay was an important intellectual conduit for the two countries, whose contribution to the history of political thought has been greatly under appreciated. Including extensive analysis of the period between the 1660s and 1730s in Britain and France, this book will be of interest to scholars and students with an interest in political, religious, intellectual, and cultural history, as well as the early Enlightenment.


'Mansfield's book enriches and complicates our understanding of a vibrant culture of intellectual exchange between Britain and France in the early modern era. It is a welcome contribution to this topic in that it balances the prevalent focus on the wave of Anglomania that swept over France especially after the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713.'
Doohwan Ahn, Seoul National University, Northern Scotland

'Ideas of Monarchical Reform is an interesting and informative first book that casts important light on thought in both Britain and France in the decades before and after 1700.'
Johann Sommerville, University of Wisconsin-Madison, American Historical Review

'This is a constructive endeavour to explore the philosophy of a spiritual and intellectual adventurer, Andrew Michael Ramsay, a Scottish émigré in France whose commitment to Jacobitism was surpassed only by that to European freemasonry.'
Allan I. Macinnes, University of Strathclyde, EHR, CXXXlll, 562 (June 2018)

'Ideas of Monarchical Reform is a[n] highly engaging and significant study in the history of ideas. It certainly offers a richer religious and political context for Jacobitism, as a movement capable of embracing far more heterogeneous and creative viewpoints, than is often acknowledged in many of the modern apologias for the exiled Stuarts.'
John Callow, University of Suffolk, The Seventeenth Century

'Mansfield's work on Ramsay constitutes not only one of the rare contributions to understanding the Chevalier's oeuvre but also a deft analysis of the complex strands of political thought in Britain and France in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.'
Minchul Kim, School of History, University of St Andrews, History of European Ideas


1. Division and unity I: revolution and settlement
2. Division and unity II: fear and corruption
3. Liberty and the public good: the political principles of Archbishop Fénelon
4. The reign of Louis XIV: absolute monarchy
5. Confronting the legacy of Louis XIV: government reform and Britain
6. Ramsay and his associations
7. A mythical conversation: an Essay and a Vie
8. A mythical education: Ramsay's Cyrus and Plan
Select bibliography


Andrew Mansfield is a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a member of the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History

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