ERC Consolidator Grant 2020 "Pamphlets and Patrons. How courtiers shaped the public sphere in Ancien Régime France (PAPA)", Projektleiter: Prof. Dr. Damien Tricoire

Proposal summary
PAPA will rewrite significantly the story of the emergence of modern politics, re-evaluate Ancien Régime society, and re-assess the origins of the French Revolution. To do so, it will develop a new way to look at the rise of the public sphere in the 18th century. The focus is on the study of political pamphlets: 1) the PI and his team will establish a new paradigm in the research on illegally published writings, and 2) develop a database that will open tremendous new possibilities for future research in intellectual and political history.

1) According to the dominant narrative, early modern France experienced a growth of state authority, and a decline of aristocratic power. While earlier royal authority was allegedly sacral, the Enlightenment era is presented as an epoch that witnessed the rise of the bourgeoisie and gave birth to a new criticism of both aristocracy and absolutism. The French Revolution is supposedly the result of these long-term processual changes. PAPA will question major theses of 17th- and 18th-century studies supporting this narrative, and develop new venues of research in these fields. PAPA’s main hypotheses are that a) courtiers shaped the 18th-century public sphere in a crucial way, b) 18th-century society and politics show more continuities than ruptures to the 17th century, and c) the French Revolution had at its inception much more in common with 17th-century princely uprisings than has been hitherto recognised.

2) The PAPA research team will create the first database devoted to Ancien Régime pamphlets. As several humanities and social sciences have a keen interest in these sources, the significance of PAPA goes largely beyond historical studies. The PAPA database will enable ongoing analyses of the content of these sources. This will greatly facilitate future research on Ancien Régime France and make scholarly results accessible within and outside academia.