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Title: Philosophical kingship in eighteenth-century Europe : Frederick II, Catherine II, and the philosophes
Author: Lim, Shi Ru
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 8765
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis offers a re-reading of the intellectual and historical significance of the relationships that Frederick the Great of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia maintained with a number of leading French philosophes. It makes four overarching points. Firstly, these long-standing relationships were more than assertions of 'soft power' and vehicles by which rulers and philosophers cultivated their celebrity and posthumous glory. They were also sites of intellectual contestation, where all participants engaged seriously with contemporary ideas. Secondly, the philosophes exercised considerable power and enjoyed remarkable success in persuading Frederick and Catherine of the value of their philosophic causes and agendas. Thirdly, their exchanges and their contexts show that these causes and agendas were firmly rooted in the philosophes' political thinking, and revolved around determining the terms of the relationship between philosophy and government. Fourthly, the most important aspects of Frederick and Catherine's relationships with the philosophes-the correspondence and other negotiations that undergirded them-all took place in a space between, yet inadequately captured by conventional conceptions of the public and the private. The picture of Frederick and Catherine's relationships with the philosophes advanced here therefore not only revises existing pictures of the power dynamics between eighteenth-century Europe's intellectual and political elites; it also reveals their relationships to be valuable in enhancing our understanding of central issues in the intellectual history of and beyond the period, including conceptions of philosophy, enlightened despotism, and public opinion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available