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Chapter 2 - Rapin on the Origins and Nature of Party Division in Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2021

Max Skjönsberg
Affiliation:
University of Liverpool
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Summary

This chapter demonstrates the importance of Paul de Rapin-Thoyras (1661–1725) for subsequent discussion of political parties in the eighteenth century. Before his famous Histoire d’Angleterre (1724–7), the Frenchman had already made a name for himself by writing a pamphlet entitled Une Dissertation sur les Whigs et les Torys (1717), which is the chief focus of this chapter, although the Histoire is also briefly surveyed and contextualised. The chapter examines Rapin’s intervention against the backdrop of his expulsion from France along with other Huguenots in 1685, the Glorious Revolution of 1688–9, and the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. By focusing on Rapin’s Dissertation, this chapter demonstrates the centrality of religion and religious denominations in the construction of political parties. In political theory, Rapin’s Dissertation can be regarded as an intellectual milestone, as it was the first clear expression of the idea that balance between parties, as distinct from Machiavelli’s social orders, is recommendable as a way to achieve proper balance in a mixed constitution.

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Chapter
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The Persistence of Party
Ideas of Harmonious Discord in Eighteenth-Century Britain
, pp. 40 - 76
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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