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Ideas of Monarchical ReformFénelon, Jacobitism, and the political works of the Chevalier Ramsay$
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Andrew Mansfield

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088377

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088377.001.0001

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The political principles of Fénelon

The political principles of Fénelon

(p.83) 3 The political principles of Fénelon
Ideas of Monarchical Reform

Andrew Mansfield

Manchester University Press

Archbishop Fénelon’s advocacy of liberty and the public good in Télémaque (1699) while arguing against Louis XIV’s form of sovereignty resonated strongly with many in Britain, and proved to be a European publishing sensation. For many years biographers and commentators have concentrated on this early educational work of Fénelon to delineate his political principles. Yet these pedagogical compositions were written to educate and amuse Louis XIV’s grandson the duc de Bourgogne when he was a child. So while they demonstrate several of Fénelon’s thematic pre-occupations, they do not offer concrete remedies for the ills of the French state. This chapter argues that Fénelon’s cohesive plans for France and the reform of its monarchy are to be found in his later Mémoires, written for Bourgogne when a young man and later Dauphin. In these later works, Fénelon encouraged a move away from Louis XIV’s centralised government towards a more constitutional form that would provide greater liberty for the people and a release from the suffering of continual war. The chapter forms an important bridge between the British and French contextual chapters as well as providing a foundation for investigating Ramsay’s ‘plan of government.’

Keywords:   Fénelon, Bourgogne, Absolutism, Louis XIV, Reform

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