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The Age of the Democratic RevolutionA Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800$
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R. R. Palmer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161280.001.0001

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Aristocracy about 1760: Theory and Practice

Aristocracy about 1760: Theory and Practice

(p.42) Chapter III Aristocracy about 1760: Theory and Practice
The Age of the Democratic Revolution

R. R. Palmer

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the prevailing notion in the eighteenth century that nobility was a necessary bulwark of political freedom. Whether in the interest of a more open nobility or of a more closed and impenetrable nobility, the view was the same. Nobility as such, nobility as an institution, was necessary to the maintenance of a free constitution. There was also a general consensus that parliaments or ruling councils were autonomous, self-empowered, or empowered by history, heredity, social utility, or God; that they were in an important sense irresponsible, free to oppose the King (where there was one), and certainly owing no accounting to the “people.” The remainder of the chapter deals with the uses and abuses of social rank and the problems of administration, recruitment, taxation, and class consciousness.

Keywords:   nobility, free constitution, political freedom, social rank, abuse of power, administration, recruitment, taxation, class consciousness

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