The Wealth of Republics, Monarchies and Nations after the Seven Years' War

Donnerstag, 6. Juni
14:15 bis 15:45 Uhr
Raum KO2-F-172

The Seven Years' War (1756-63) is sometimes referred to as the first "global war," not only because the conflict extended into Europe's overseas empires, but also because the scale of destruction was so tremendous that it warranted comparison with WWI. We propose a panel on Swiss and international intellectual history during the 1760s, concerning efforts to imagine a world where the competitive pursuit of riches would be prevented from descending into another military conflagration. Our panel will challenge the notion that the Enlightenment was a period of blind faith in human perfectibility. Against this, we will explore how hopes for a reformed future arose from a sophisticated understanding of the volatile nature of international economic competition.

One of the aims of our panel is to present the an ongoing FNS research project that focusses on Vaudois thinkers in the Economic Society of Bern. The project reveals how Polish reformers sought out Vaudois members of the Society who were leading theorists of how agrarian republics could develop into manufacturing economies. The publications that resulted from this collaboration were translated into German, Italian and English and were avidly read throughout Europe and in the United States. By examining the Vaudois-Polish nexus of the Economic Society of Bern, our panel will seek to understand how the unusually rich intellectual life of the Vaud – and Switzerland more generally – made it an international reference point for political economists such as the Physiocrats and Adam Smith, as well as statesmen (and women) in Poland, Saxony, Russia, Denmark, and beyond.