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Title: A study of the term 'politique' and its uses during the French Wars of Religion
Author: Claussen, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 0123
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This study of the term politique during the French Wars of Religion (c. 1562-98) argues that it is a keyword in the sense that it is is active and actively used in French explorations of the political, in the forming and undermining of collective identities in a period of civil crisis, and in the self-fashioning gestures of a shifting political class. I sample and analyse a range of texts - from treatises that form part of the canon of early modern French political writing (such as Bodin's Six livres de la Republique [1576] and the Satyre ménippée [c. 1593]) to anonymous polemical pamphlets - all of which feature prominent uses of the term politique. Certain of these sources gave rise to a longstanding historiographical impression that politique referred, in the period, to a coherent third party in the religious wars as well as to a related kind of expertise and its practitioner. This thesis builds on and extends recent work showing that there was no such party and no one in the period who directly identified as politique. Rather than seeking to identify the 'real' politiques or to establish a corrected definition of the term as used in sixteenth-century French, I argue that the term is strikingly and increasingly mobile across the period, coming at times to refer to mobility itself in conceptions of politics and political action. Dialogue emerges in the thesis as a key conceptual arena and discursive mode for writers attempting to work out what they and others mean by the term politique. I use philological and word-historical methods to examine writers of the period who seek to determine what makes a good or bad politique, to present themselves as politique, or to condemn politiques as morally bankrupt, and - in some cases - to do all of the above in the same text. Almost every text I analyse in the thesis offers its own definition of politique, and attempts to be definitive, but I show that all these attempts to make the reader recognise the 'true' meaning of politique are extending the drama rather than concluding it.
Supervisor: Scholar, Richard Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early Modern French Literature ; History of Political Thought ; politique ; politics ; word history ; French Wars of Religion ; polemic