1794, 1795, 1796: Joseph de Maistre on Reason, Monarchy, and Aristocracy

  • Paul H. Beik
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


Joseph de Maistre was the most famous continental counterrevolution- ary publicist, author of the book Considérations sur la France (1797), which became a classic of its kind, rivaling Burke’s earlier Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). Although de Maistre was not French but was a resident of Savoy who was driven out by the advancing French armies in 1793 and spent the years 1802–1817 in Russia as Sardinian minister to St. Petersburg, his education had been shaped by the French cultural diffusion of the Enlightenment and he was a master of French prose. By virtue of his prominent counterrevolutionary role he was, moreover, deeply involved with France and the revolution emotionally and intellectually and was indebted to them for his career and reputation as a spokesman for traditional values. During the crucial years 1794, 1795, and 1796, as he was maturing the views that were to make him famous, de Maistre recorded many of his ideas in a manuscript which he called Étude sur la souveraineté and which remained unpublished until after his death in 1821. The following passages, of which the first two are short chapters with their own titles and the last is part of a chapter that has been given an identifying heading in brackets, are from pp. 375–378, 411–416, and 430–435 of Oeuvres complètes de J. de Maistre. Nouvelle édition contenant ses oeuvres posthumes et toute sa correspondance inédite. Vol. I (Lyon, 1884).


Social Contract Individual Reason National Reason French Army Human Philosophy 
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© Paul H. Beik 1970

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  • Paul H. Beik

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