Counter-revolution

The issues of war and peace in Joseph de Maistre’s thought. From the Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars to the Restoration


Language: English
Subject(s): History
Page Range: 9-32
No. of Pages: 24
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Summary/Abstract: I have studied Joseph de Maistre’s texts in order to research his views on the issues of war and peace in the era of the Revolution and the Restoration. Maistre (1753-1821) was a conservative, Catholic philosopher, diplomat, and a political refugee. Maistre’s general views on war were complex. He granted war a purifying and chastising function in human society. Maistre was against both the Revolution and the Napoleonic regime, between which he saw no difference. Nevertheless, he was equally consistent in his conviction that the French nation should not be confused with Napoleon, and thus he opposed all the plans of “Carthaginian peace” for France while he supported such peace when it came to the Napoleonic regime. Maistre’s most direct personal contribution to the war consisted of providing intelligence and writing propaganda texts for the cause of the counter-revolution; these activities took place when Maistre was in Switzerland in 1790’s. Probably the most conspicuous feature in Maistre’s propagandist work is its straightforward populism. Furthermore, he saw that the fortunes of war belonged entirely to the realm of Divine Providence and thus they were way beyond human wisdom and science. When the Napoleonic wars were over Maistre was not entirely happy for he was afraid that the victorious great powers would disdain the small powers’ legitimate rights. He found himself disappointed in both of the two most emblematic phenomena of the Restoration era, namely the Congress of Vienna and the Holy Alliance.
Open access on CEEOL: NO



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