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Anti-Jesuit patriotic absolutism: Robert Filmer and French ideas (c. 1580–1630)
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 23:35 authored by Cesare Cuttica
This article examines the patriarchalist ideas of Robert Filmer (1588–1653) under a new light, both conceptually and contextually. Against the grain of mainstream historiography whereby Filmer is a quintessentially English character on the stage of seventeenth-century political thinking, the article studies Filmerian doctrines as part of a wider European framework of political theories. Thus, they present Patriarcha (1620s) as the elucidation of themes conceptualized in early modern France in reaction to Jesuit ideas. In particular, the treatise's patriarchalism is analysed in relation to the language used by French absolutists such as Pierre de Belloy, François Le Jay, Jean Bédé to reject the opinions of Bellarmine and Suarez. Together with attacking the theory of papal deposing power and justifications of tyrannicide, Belloy, Le Jay and Bédé argued in favour of absolute puissance so as to protect national kingship against all forms of external political allegiance. In so doing, they represented the monarch as pater patriae. By way of a detailed textual analysis, it is here claimed that it was precisely this paradigm of political reflection – for which the author resorts to the category of patriotic absolutism – that Filmer adopted to depict Adamite sovereignty and oppose his many adversaries in Patriarcha.
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