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‘County republicans’ and the concept of active citizenship in sixteenth-century Poland and France

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Chapter Summary

Monarchists and constitutionalists, those are two categories any specialist of western Europe would recognise, but what of the ?county republicans'? These men, in the Commonwealth, defended the laws and the forma mixta. Mark Kishlansky's classic study Parliamentary Selection indicates diversity similar to that of Poland-Lithuania, not only in selections for knights of the shire (MPs) but for representatives of the boroughs. Sixteenth-century French county republicans, like the noble deputy Pierre de Blanchefort, who kept a diary of the Estates General of 1576-77, had a political programme that scarcely differed from that of Gerson or the Polish szlachta. The county republicans everywhere stood for the ideals of citizenship, using Ciceronian rhetoric. The new men of the state created a new vocabulary, essentially that of empire, and borrowed their rhetoric from Tacitus, not Cicero.

Keywords: active citizenship; county republicans; sixteenth-century Poland; sixteenth-century France



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