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The Idea of Europe

 | 
Catriona Seth
, 
Rotraud von Kulessa

17. Christian Europe as a Great Republic?

Texte intégral

1In Chapter Two, ‘On the States of Europe before Louis XIV’, of his historiographical treatise The Century of Louis XIV, Voltaire (1694–1778) underlines the common legal principles of Christian Europe before Louis XIV came to the French throne.

2For a long time, Christian Europe (with the exception of Russia) could have been viewed as a sort of large republic split into several States, some of which were monarchies, others mixed; some aristocratic, others popular; but all corresponding with each other; all having a same basis of religion, though they were divided into several sects; all having the same principles of public law and politics, unknown in the other parts of the world. It is thanks to such principles that European nations do not make their prisoners into slaves, respect the ambassadors of their enemies, agree together about the pre-eminence and particular rights of certain Princes, like the Emperor, Kings and other lesser potentates; and that they agree above all on the wise policy of trying inasmuch as possible to maintain amongst themselves an equal balance of power, always employing negotiations, even in the middle of war, and maintaining, in each other’s lands, ambassadors or less honourable spies capable of warning all the courts of a single one’s plans, at once to sound the alarm in Europe and to secure the weakest against the invasions the strongest is always ready to undertake.

3Voltaire, The Century of Louis XIV (1751).

Read the free text in the original language (1878 edition):
https://fr.wikisource.org/​wiki/​Le_Siècle_de_Louis_XIV