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The Crisis of the Absolute MonarchyFrance from Old Regime to Revolution$
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Julian Swann and Joël Félix

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265383

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265383.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 05 December 2021

Necker and Aristocratic Constitutionalism

Necker and Aristocratic Constitutionalism

The British Connection*

(p.127) 7 Necker and Aristocratic Constitutionalism
The Crisis of the Absolute Monarchy

Nigel Aston

British Academy

Jacques Necker progressively advocated political values for the French monarchy that were broadly in line with those operative within a British constitutional nexus. He came to see the value of a bicameral constitutional settlement that would allow ‘aristocracy’ in one chamber to act as a counterweight to ‘democracy’ in another. However, he was slow to acknowledge the core difference between the tightly defined British nobility — synonymous with the peerage — and the tensions that existed within the formal, juridical unity of the French Second Estate. Necker's view of what a publicly responsible nobility might undertake within a state had its origins in his (and his wife, Suzanne's) many conversations with David, Seventh Viscount Stormont, British Ambassador to France, 1772–78, whom they saw as the embodiment of aristocratic state service. With the failure of the proposal for a two-chamber National Assembly in the autumn of 1789, Necker was forced to admit that the majority of his countrymen had turned against British models just as he had decided to embrace them wholeheartedly.

Keywords:   Jacques Necker, Stormont, aristocracy, bicameralism, constitution, Anglo-French, elite connections

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