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
3. The Evolution of the Concept Verbesserung and the Anonymous German Discourse of Improvement
4. "Changes to preserve everything the way it always was": the Idea of Reform and the Slow Disintegration of the Old Regime
5. "Changes are harmful to the state": The Concept of Reform in Russian Political Thought, 1700-1790
6. Reform and Utopia in Early-Modern Italian Political Economy: Historicising a Tension
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
8. Joseph von Sonnenfels and the Political Codex (1763-1817)
9. The Translation, Adaptation and Mediation of Cameralist Texts in Austrian-Habsburg Lombardy’s "Age of Reform"
10. How Undiplomatic Memoirs Shaped Enlightenment Reform: Melchor Rafael Macanaz’s Memorias & Contexts of Change in Bourbon Spain
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