1st Edition

Political Reason and the Language of Change Reform and Improvement in Early Modern Europe

    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    This collection of essays re-examines ideas of change and movements for change in early modern Europe without presuming that "progressive" change was the outcome of "reforms".

    "Reform" today implies rational, incremental change to public institutions and procedures. "Improvement" has a more general application, emphasising the positive outcome to which "reform" is oriented. But the language of reform is today used of historical personalities and movements that did not themselves use the term, and who in many cases were not necessarily seeking the progressive change that we would understand today. The activities of "reform" were embedded in contemporary politics, and while "improvement" was part of a contemporary vocabulary, its real presence has been obscured by the range of natural languages in which it was expressed. Contributors to this volume seek to establish what was meant by contemporary usage. Bringing together scholars of Russia, Southern, Western, Central and Northern Europe, this collection sheds new light on both common and divergent features of a political process too often treated as a uniform movement towards modernity.

    This volume is a useful resource for students and scholars interested in Enlightenment studies, intellectual history, and conceptual history in early modern Europe.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

      1. Introduction: Reform and Improvement in Early Modern Europe

      Adriana Luna-Fabritius, Ere Nokkala, Marten Seppel, and Keith Tribe

      Part 1: Rethinking Key Concepts of Political Economy: Reform and Improvement

      2. Reform: Elements for a Conceptual History

      Keith Tribe

      3. The Evolution of the Concept Verbesserung and the Anonymous German Discourse of Improvement

      Marten Seppel

      4. "Changes to preserve everything the way it always was": the Idea of Reform and the Slow Disintegration of the Old Regime

      Alexandre Mendes-Cunha

      5. "Changes are harmful to the state": The Concept of Reform in Russian Political Thought, 1700-1790

      Sergey Polskoy

      6. Reform and Utopia in Early-Modern Italian Political Economy: Historicising a Tension

      Adriana Luna-Fabritius

      Part 2: Agents and Ideas of Improvement and Reform in Context

      7. Projects for the Improvement of Constitutional Order: Late Cameralists as Advocates of Political Change

      Ere Nokkala

      8. Joseph von Sonnenfels and the Political Codex (1763-1817)

      Ivo Cerman

      9. The Translation, Adaptation and Mediation of Cameralist Texts in Austrian-Habsburg Lombardy’s "Age of Reform"

      Alexandra Ortolja-Baird

      10. How Undiplomatic Memoirs Shaped Enlightenment Reform: Melchor Rafael Macanaz’s Memorias & Contexts of Change in Bourbon Spain

      Edward Jones-Corredera

      11. Making and Trading Metals: A Narrative of Swedish Improvement

      Måns Jansson and Göran Rydén

      12. National Economics in Sweden: Reform and the Political Economy of Industrial Progress 1800-1850

      Lars Magnusson

      13. Epilogue

      Kari Saastamoinen


      Adriana Luna-Fabritius is the President of the European Society for the History of Political Thought and University Researcher at the University of Helsinki. She studies early-modern languages of republicanism, natural law and political economy in the Spanish monarchy: Naples, Catalonia and New Spain. Her research is grounded on the transformation of imperialism through scientific, legal and political practices of its communicating networks.

      Ere Nokkala is a University Researcher at the University of Helsinki. His main research interests are in eighteenth-century German and Swedish intellectual history. He is the author of From Natural Law to Political Economy. J.H.G. von Justi on State, Commerce and International Order (2019).

      Marten Seppel is Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Tartu. His main interests of research include: the spread of German cameralist teaching, Eastern Europe serfdom, and hunger relief policies in early modern Europe. He is the editor (with Keith Tribe) Cameralism in Practice: State Administration and Economy in Early Modern Europe (2017).

      Keith Tribe is Associate Professor of History at the University of Tartu. He is an economic historian and translator who has published widely in the history of economic discourse. His most recent book is Constructing Economic Science. The Invention of a Discipline 1850-1950 (2021).