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¦ » Nicolson, English historical library, II, p. 20; Bingham, Origines ecclesiasticae, I, p. 348.
Mapping a Gothic Europe 239

ing French ecclesiastics and Archbishop Wake about the possibility of an
ecclesiastical union of the Anglican and Gallican churches. Nothing came
of the project, but a residual sympathy for the ˜learned assertors of the
liberties of the Gallican church™ remained a legitimate feature of Anglican
churchmanship.¦ ¦
The early Hanoverian era was characterised by a relaxation of British
policy towards France, signalled by the Anglo-French alliance in 1716. A
central strand of Walpolean foreign policy was an awareness that the
Jacobite threat, despite its potential bridgehead in the Highlands of
Scotland and the passive ideological and cultural support which it enjoy-
ed throughout Britain, depended to a large extent on the patronage of
members of the European states system disenchanted, for one reason or
another, with Britain or Hanover. Thus, despite the scope for friction
generated by Jacobitism, the Wrst decades of the Hanoverian regime were
remarkable for the relative lack of turbulence between the two powers.¦  
This rapprochement was paralleled by a good measure of fruitful
intercourse between the respective political cultures of England and
France. For eighteenth-century France, despite its code of censorship,
was not an absolutist monolith. A broad school of revisionism led by Dale
van Kley and Keith Baker, which vigorously eschews any suggestion of a
teleological high road to the French Revolution, has demonstrated none
the less the existence of a vigorous culture of ˜political contestation™
within the traditional contours of ancien regime France.¦ À Ecclesiastical
´
and theological disputes internal to Catholicism, in particular the contro-
versies surrounding Gallicanism and Jansenism, were drawn into the
temporal dimension of politics, becoming interwoven with the defence of
the powers of the constitutional courts, the parlements. An embryonic
public opinion developed over these issues, none of which posed a direct
threat to the underpinnings of the ancien regime system.
´
The Gothic past was as much at the heart of eighteenth-century French
political argument as it was across the Channel. Indeed, the debate over
the continuity of the ancient English constitution that had Xared up
around 1680 in the battle over the Brady thesis was mirrored by a similar

¦ ¦ N. Sykes, William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury 1657“1737 (2 vols., Cambridge,
1957), I, pp. 252“314.
¦   Black, Natural and necessary enemies, ch. 1; D. Szechi, The Jacobites: Britain and Europe
1688“1788 (Manchester, 1994).
¦ À D. Van Kley, The Jansenists and the expulsion of the Jesuits from France, 1757“1765 (New
Haven, 1975); Van Kley, The religious origins of the French Revolution (New Haven,
1996); K. Baker, Inventing the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1990); J. Merrick, The
desacralisation of the French monarchy in the eighteenth century (Baton Rouge, 1990),
pp. 31“2, 50“2, 70, 76“7, 167.
240 Points of contact

conXagration in France around 1730.¦ Ã The classic phase of the his-
toriographical battle of the French Gothicists and Romanists began with
the posthumous publication of the political writings of Henri de Boulain-
villiers, comte de St Saire (1658“1722), which propagated the canonical
version of the these nobiliaire.¦ • This met a sharp rebuke from the Abbe
` ´
Jean-Baptiste Dubos (1670“1742) in his Histoire critique de l™establissement
de la monarchie fran§aise (1734). Dubos argued that the Franks had not
come as conquerors, but as allies of the Romans. The powers of the
emperor descended intact to the French monarchy in a story of continu-
ity.¦ ’
France had two distinct traditions of Gothicist constitutionalism. Both
parlements and Estates-General, their respective champions claimed,
enjoyed a Gothic lineage. The Gothicist arguments made by Boulainvil-
liers and his ilk for the privileges of the noblesse de race and their institu-
tions, were also to be appropriated by the parlementaires in their battle on
behalf both of Jansenism and their own self-preservation.¦ “ According to
Franklin Ford, ˜by the eighteenth century, both the robe and the sword
were committed to the Germanic theory of French history, to the notion
of Frankish innovation as an element of cleavage with the heritage of
Rome, and to the Champ de Mars as a cherished institutional ances-
tor™.¦ “ The usable past bequeathed by the Gothic Franks was to supply a
major part of the ˜ideological arsenal™ of parlementaire ideology in the
middle of the eighteenth century, most prominently in the work of Louis
Adrien Lepaige.¦ ”
Anglomania was a prominent feature of eighteenth-century French
discourse.¦À» English country whiggism held some appeal for Jansenist
constitutionalists, while the Abbe Mably, an admirer of Magna Carta,
´
was to derive inspiration for his anti-feudal republicanism from Bolin-
¦ Ã N. O. Keohane, Philosophy and the state in France (Princeton, 1980), pp. 346“50;
F. L. Ford, Robe and sword: the regrouping of the French aristocracy after Louis XIV
(Cambridge, MA, 1953), ch. 12; E. Carcassonne, Montesquieu et le probleme de la
`
constitution fran§aise au XVIIIe siecle (Paris, 1927), ch. 1. For the early eighteenth-
`
century French Gothicist vision of ˜a pre-Carolingian, quasi-democratic Germanic
society™, see T. Kaiser, ˜The Abbe Dubos and the historical defence of monarchy in early
´
eighteenth-century France™, SVEC 267 (1989), 93.
¦ • V. Buranelli, ˜The historical and political thought of Boulainvilliers™, JHI 18 (1957),
475“94; Carcassonne, Montesquieu, pp. 18“20; G. Chaussinand-Nogaret, The French
nobility in the eighteenth century (1976: trans. W. Doyle, Cambridge, 1985), ch. 1;
J. Q. C. Mackrell, The attack on feudalism in eighteenth-century France (London, 1973),
pp. 20“4.
¦ ’ Ford, Robe and sword, pp. 231“2; Mackrell, Attack on feudalism, pp. 26“7; Kaiser, ˜Abbe´
Dubos™, 77“102; Carcassonne, Montesquieu, pp. 42“4.
¦ “ Merrick, Desacralisation, pp. 84, 127. ¦ “ Ford, Robe and sword, pp. 228“9.
¦ ” Baker, Inventing the French Revolution, pt 1; Van Kley, Religious origins, pp. 203“10;
Carcassonne, Montesquieu, ch. 6, pt 3; Merrick, Desacralisation, p. 85.
¦À» Dedieu, Montesquieu, esp. ch. 3, for the early eighteenth century.
Mapping a Gothic Europe 241

gbroke.¦À¦ Most famously, Montesquieu, who travelled to England be-
tween November 1729 and the spring of 1731, devoted a chapter of De
l™esprit des lois to an analysis of the workings of the English constitution,
though this was, in some respects, misleading, and a qualiWed encomium.
In spite of these drawbacks, Montesquieu became something of an hon-
orary whig, not least for his pursuit of the misty origins of English liberties
and institutions back to the customs which once prevailed in the ancient
forests of Germany.¦À  In Lettres persanes he had already appeared to
endorse Revolution principles, glorifying limitations upon monarchy as
˜le principe fondomental™ of all the various historic kingdoms of Europe
which the Goths established on the demise of the Roman Empire.¦ÀÀ
Given the importance of Gothicism to the likes of Boulainvilliers and
Montesquieu, it should occasion little surprise that the traYc between
England and France during the Wrst half of the eighteenth century was by
no means all one way. Hostile criticisms of Bourbon despotism coexisted
with a decidedly Frankish “ if not quite Francophile “ dimension to
English political culture. Bolingbroke, who revamped English toryism by
stealing whig clothes and constructing an anti-partisan patriotic ancient
constitutionalism which distanced the tories from Jacobitism, began the
process after returning from a decade™s exile in France. Though he was a
high-Xying tory, the years in France had not infected him with absolutist
notions; indeed, his journalistic vehicle, The Craftsman, expressed sup-
port for the parlementaire cause, and his historical writing was inXuenced
by Rapin™s Huguenot Gothicism. On the other hand, Bolingbroke was no
uncritical admirer of the sort of aristocratic Frankish constitutionalism
championed by Boulainvilliers. Though he recognised the common

¦À¦ Baker, Inventing the French Revolution, pp. 90“3; Van Kley, Religious origins, pp. 216“17.
Bolingbroke™s political writings were known in France, inXuencing the parlementaire
cause. There was a 1737 edition of The Craftsman as well as a translation of the
Dissertation upon parties by Etienne de Silhouette in 1739 and further editions during the
1740s. See D. J. Fletcher, ˜The fortunes of Bolingbroke in France in the eighteenth
century™, SVEC 47 (1966), 217“20; H. T. Dickinson, Bolingbroke (London, 1970),
pp. 304“5.
¦À  Shackleton, Montesquieu, pp. 117“45; Shackleton, ˜Montesquieu, Bolingbroke, and the
separation of powers™, in Shackleton, Essays on Montesquieu and on the Enlightenment (ed.
D. Gilson and M. Smith, Oxford, 1988); Dedieu, Montesquieu, ch. 5; J. Shklar, Montes-
quieu (Oxford, 1987), p. 21; Baker, Inventing the French Revolution, p. 173; I. Kramnick,
Bolingbroke and his circle (1968: Ithaca, 1992), p. 150; M. Cranston, Philosophers and
pamphleteers (Oxford, 1986), pp. 34“5. For the inXuence in Britain of Montesquieu™s
reXections on the English constitution, see F. T. H. Fletcher, Montesquieu and English
politics (1750“1800) (London, 1939), esp. pp. 23“4, 30“1, 35“6, 116“28.
¦ÀÀ Montesquieu, Lettres persanes (Paris, 1973), Lettre CXXXII, pp. 294“5. The Spirit of the
Laws contributed to the Boulainvilliers“Dubos debate from a modiWed Germanist
position: Carcassonne, Montesquieu, p. 673, notes that the Spirit of the Laws ˜raVermit la
these germaniste, gravement compromise par les exagerations de Boulainvilliers et par la
` ´
critique de Dubos™.
242 Points of contact

libertarian characteristics of Europe™s Gothic peoples, he believed that
the Franks had from the very beginning introduced a democratic deWcit
into France™s institutions, unlike the Visigoths of Spain whose Cortes
˜may be more truly compared to a British parliament than the assembly of
states of France could ever pretend to be™. However, complacent English-
men should learn the same lesson from both the French and Spanish
experiences: the common Gothic heritage of liberties was liable to ero-
sion. Whereas the Franks, transformed into an aristocratic caste, lost their
democratic Germanic values soon after the conquest of Gaul, the Cas-
tilians experienced a long slide into political corruption until losing their
liberties in the Wrst half of the sixteenth century.¦ÀÃ
England was awash with translations of the French ˜whig™ classics.
Molesworth translated Hotman™s Franco-Gallia, while Charles Forman
rendered the work of Boulainvilliers as An historical account of the antient
parliaments of France (1739). Forman introduced Boulainvilliers to an
English readership as an interpreter of an expiring French whiggery which
once enjoyed a powerful institutional apparatus and the will to control the
monarchy: ˜That the French were once the freest nation in Europe, and
perhaps in the world, the Count has put out of dispute . . . The Count
shows the prodigious power of the ancient French parliaments, of which
the present are not even a shadow; he shows them sitting in judgment,
disposing of crowns, and passing sentences of deposition upon some
kings, and of death upon others.™¦À• The works of the Abbe Vertot on the
´
revolutions of Europe and on Frankish questions were also widely trans-
lated into English in numerous editions.¦À’
Anglo-French divergence was not assumed to be natural; at least there
was very little discussion along such lines among the ranks of the
educated who thought about such matters. Nevertheless, there were
tensions within English culture between a keen sense of Anglo-French
diVerence and a common heritage which historians acknowledged to
have been shared by the various Gothic nations of Europe. Bolingbroke,
¦Àà Bolingbroke, Dissertation on parties, Letters XIV“XVI, in Bolingbroke, Works (5 vols.,
London, 1754), II; Black, Natural and necessary enemies, pp. 190“1; Kramnick, Bolin-
gbroke and his circle, pp. 15“16, 253; B. Cottret, Bolingbroke™s political writings: the
conservative Enlightenment (Houndmills, 1997), pp. 39“42; Forbes, Hume™s philosophical
politics, pp. 240“1; O™Brien, Narratives of Enlightenment, p. 18.
¦À• Charles Forman, ˜Preface™, in Boulainvilliers, An historical account of the antient parlia-
ments of France, or states-general of the kingdom (trans. Forman, 2 vols., London, 1739), I,
p. xxviii. See J. Barzun, Race: a study in modern superstition (London, 1938), p. 30.
¦À’ Rene Vertot, ˜A dissertation, designed to trace the original of the French, by a parallel of
´
their manners with those of the Germans™, in Vertot™s miscellanies (trans. John Henley,
London, 1723); Vertot, ˜An enquiry, whether the kingdom of France, from the estab-
lishment of that monarchy, has been an hereditary or elective state™, in Dissertations by the
celebrated Abbots De Vertot and Anselm (trans. M. Paschoud, London, 1726); Baker,
Inventing the French Revolution, p. 208; Kaiser, ˜Abbe Dubos™, 93.
´
Mapping a Gothic Europe 243

for example, subscribed to the view that there were deep and historic
diVerences between English and French politics, though these did not
diminish his respect for a common Gothicism: ˜Both their ancestors and
ours came out of Germany, and had probably much the same manners,
the same customs and the same forms of government. But as they pro-
ceeded diVerently in the conquests they made, so did they in the estab-
lishments that followed.™¦À“ The French monarchy was founded on a
more rapid conquest of Gaul and centralisation of the monarchy. Of
course, Bolingbroke™s interpretation of the diVerences between France
and England was, like those of his contemporaries, institutional in focus,
rather than ethnocentric. William Robertson acknowledged the great
achievements of the Estates-General of 1355: ˜spirited eVorts were made
in France long before the House of Commons in England acquired any
considerable inXuence in the legislature™.¦À“ The subsequent decline of
French representative institutions was mysterious: ˜In England, almost all
attempts to establish or to extend the liberty of the people have been
successful; in France they have proved unfortunate. What were the
accidental events, or political causes which occasioned this diVerence, it
is not my business to enquire.™¦À” Similarly perplexed by the vast gulf
between the English constitution and the French monarchy, the Swiss
antiquarian De Lolme set out to explain ˜why, of two neighbouring
nations, situated almost under the same climate, and having one common
origin, the one has attained the summit of liberty, the other has gradually
sunk under the most absolute monarchy™.¦Ã» De Lolme noted that both
had enjoyed similar feudal governments, but there was a major diVerence
in the speed at which this form of government had consolidated: ˜instead
of being established by dint of arms and all at once, as in England, it had
only been formed on the continent, and particularly in France, through a
long series of slow successive events; a diVerence of circumstances this,
from which consequences were in time to arise, as important as they were
at Wrst diYcult to be foreseen™.¦Ã¦ In his Vindiciae Gallicae (1791), James
Mackintosh traced the decline of the French constitution from an ˜in-
fancy and youth™ which was similar to that of the English and other
Gothic governments to its early modern decrepitude. Why was its life
cycle so diVerent from the historical experience of the English body
politic? In his answer Mackintosh revealed a profound debt to the Scot-
tish Enlightenment: ˜the downfall of the feudal aristocracy happening in
France before commerce had elevated any other class of citizens into
importance, its power devolved on the crown™.¦Ã 
¦À“ Bolingbroke, Dissertation on parties, II, Letter XVI, p. 207.
¦À“ Robertson, Charles V, Note xix, in Robertson, Works, p. 403. ¦À” Ibid.
¦Ã» De Lolme, Constitution of England, pp. 17“18. ¦Ã¦ Ibid., p. 11.
244 Points of contact

Frankish analogies had an important place in English antiquarian
culture.¦ÃÀ The most sophisticated Saxonist antiquarianism remained
European in the breadth of its interests, and, in some sense, identity.
Rayner Heckford, for example, argued that from ˜the ancient laws indeed
of France, and other countries conquered by the Germans, much may be
gathered for the better understanding of our Saxon laws™.¦Ãà According to
John Whitaker, the ˜kindred nations™ of Franks and Saxons had both been
governed in the localities under systems of tythings, hundreds and coun-
ties.¦Ã• English antiquarianism was reinforced by the theoretical insights
of the Scottish Enlightenment on the evolution of feudal institutions.
Adam Smith noticed basic similarities in the structures of government
established by ˜the Saxons in Britain, the Franks in Gaul, and the Bur-
gundians and Wisigoths in the south of France™.¦Ã’ In his history of British
feudalism, John Dalrymple noted that the basic distinction between
allodial tenures and feudal beneWces was common to the early medieval
laws of both England and France: the Saxon division between allodial
reve or folk land and feudal thane or boc land had been replicated in the
Frankish categories of alleux and feodaux.¦Ã“ French comparisons were
´
perhaps a natural complement to the insights of the vein of tory“royalist
historiography inspired by Robert Brady, but such analogies were as often
found within whiggish histories. During the Convocation controversy, for
instance, proponents of the whig case drew on French constitutional

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