Friday, April 17, 2015

Barbeyrac's Practical Leadership of the Polarized Huguenot Diaspora

This blogpost is my initial attempt to piece together the ideological background of Jean Barbeyrac, a thinker I discovered through my focus on the emergence of Glasgow and the important role it played in forming presbyterian ministers from England, Scotland and Ireland after the 1707 Act of Union. The correspondence between Gershom Carmichale and Jean Barbeyrac takes on increased meaning in the context of the emergence of the presbyterian church in America around that same period. My first thoughts and collection of sources for further investigation and creative reflection. Some information on his family background can be read in the Nobiliaire universel de France. Fabrizio Lomonaco writes in the Berlin Refuge, 1680-1780: Learning and Science in European Context:
'However, Barbeyrac deviated from leaders of the Huguenot party - such as Jean Claude and Pierre Jurieu-, through his intention to re-examine the problem of freedom of conscience in the light of natural law.'
'Jean Lecler, Locke's closest disciple and the principal early carrier of his ideas into continental discussion.' Barbeyrac declared that he agreed with the theses of his friend Le Clerc and quotes in particular Parhassia which contains 'Pensées sur la nécessité et su la manière d'étudier, pour les personnes qui ne font pas profession de lettres.' (This book is mentioned in the context of the thought of Jean Jacques Rousseau as well.) I disagree however with Lomonaco when he says that the dominant feature of Barbeyrac's work is juridical and not theological. Mark Goldie & Robert Wokler, in their history of 18th century political thought, cut to the core when they write:
'In attempting to meet the challenge of the French king's assertion of a right to sovereignty over his subjects' religious beliefs, Huguenot opinion had polarised.'
And propose Barbeyrac as the mediator between the two extreme positions of Jurieu and Bayle:
'The focus of these debates was conscience. Barbeyrac's importance lay in analysing this concept in order to rebut Bayle's scepticism and reach a more prudent political standpoint than Jurieu's.'
Tim Hochstrasser makes the same argument in his article 'The claims of conscience: Natural law theory, obligation, and resistance in the Huguenot diaspora'. This reconciliatory approach reminds immediately of the reconciliatory aims of Antoine Barbeyrac, Jean's father, in a january 1688 sermon on Corinthians 13:13. In this sermon Antoine Barbeyrac wades into the 'french prophet' debate alluded to by the Jesuite historian Leon Ménard in his history of Nimes like this:
'Tels furent les torts du monarque; ils n'auraient peut-etre pas suffi pour exciter la guerre civile, mais les ministres protestants exilés ne purent pardonner au gouvernement qui les avait bannis. il firent jouer tous les ressorts d'un aveugle fanatisme. Desécoles de prophétie s'éleverent; on osa prédire la chute de l'église catholique et la ruine de la monarchie francaise; des émissaires soudoyés soulèrent les peuples;...'
His father subsequently presided over the important conference of March 23 1688 in Lausanne to determine how to find places of refuge elsewhere. When Antoine Barbeyrac died in 1690 and his mother in 1691, Jean survived on funds for refugees in Lausanne.
Raúl Pérez Johnston agrees with Tim Hochstrasser that Barbeyrac's Huguenot affiliations are underappreciated in the quest towards the understanding of his thought. Johnston argues
 'that one of the keys to understanding the particular trajectory of their thought was the position they occupied in the Huguenot Refuge, who had sought to define the social space that could be allocated to rights of conscience under absolutist rule'
On the one hand I agree with Tim Hochstrasser that Jean Barbeyrac needs to be 'securely sited within the context of Huguenot theology after the diaspora.' On the other hand I disagree with Hochstrasser when he immediately adds 'within whose paradoxes he remained trapped.' The importance of Antoine Barbeyrac's role in his son's education not just as Jean's tutor in Montagnac, but also as a top leader of the Refuge, eloquently illustrated by Antoine's role at the 1688 conference in Lausanne and in the above quoted sermon, has sofar received little to no attention.

Sandra Pott in her book 'Reformierte Morallehren und deutsche Literatur von Jean Barbeyrac'
mentions an anonymous author who sees a direct link between Antoine's sermon on first Corinthians and Jean's writings! Extremely interesting subject indeed. Sandra Pott herself writes:

'In einer Predigt, die er kurz nach der Revokation hält, entfaltet er jenes einfache Christentum als moralische une religiöse basis für die Gemeinde der Flüchtlinge ebenso wie für die Bürger der Stadt Lausanne'
Connecting the development of Jean Barbeyrac's political thought to his father's role in the Refuge might be an important key to understanding the history of Calvinism in the early 18th century. It might very likely uncover the strategic practical goal(s) Barbeyrac aimed to serve. Instead of trapping himself in the paradoxes of Huguenot theology after the diaspora, I see a picture emerging of a refugee aiming to serve the Huguenot Refuge living across Europe under constant threat of expulsion and/or xenophobia, by providing practical leadership. As Mark Goldie & Robert Wokler argue:
'The Lutheran philosopher's work had been adopted as an ally by leading Huguenots in the debates about their perilous situation after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, as is apparent in Gershom Carmichael's Glasgow lectures of teh 1690s and in his edition of Pufendorf's De officio hominis et civis (On the Duties of Man and Citizen). The crucial link was Jean Barbeyrac...'
His book Les Devoirs de l'Homme et Du Citoyen inspired a number of Reformed thinkers in Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was Barbeyrac's 
'Lockeified Pufendorf that continental audiences came to enjoy, and it was to become a central source for the language of 'natural and inalienable rights' that the American and French declarations of human rights later in the century were to solidify'.
That Jean Barbeyrac aimed for practical leadership is confirmed also in the article 'The Natural Jurisprudence of Jean Barbeyrac: Translation as an Art of Political Adjustment' by David Saunders who writes:
'This stance is provoked by the profound challenge that Pufendorf's radical post-Westphalian secularizing of civil authority posed for a Huguenot: how to grant that the state had legitimate authority to regulate all external conduct, but at the same time preserve an inviolable moral space for the exercise of individual conscience.'
Janet Glenn Grey wrote the article 'reformed protestant academies impact life in Berlin' in which she writes that several pastors and teachers at Berlin's Collège Francais were graduates of the Academy of Saumur, for example Pastor Jacques Abbadie and pre-Enlightenment figues Jacques Lenfant and Issac de Beausorbe. Here she investigates the content of the curriculum at the Academy of Saumur which impacted the French University in Berlin through the Huguenot diaspora. She writes:
'Calvin saw to it that a statement on eduction was included in Geneva's new ecclesiastical ordinances of 1541 which says: ...that we establish a college to instruct the children to prepare them for both the ministry and civil government'
Would William Penn have met some of these pastors in Berlin as fellow students when he studied in Saumur himself?

Puffendorf's Law of Nature and Nations with notes by Barbeyrac appears among a list of books proposed by Madison's committee purchased for the library(..) is printed as it appeared in the journal of the continental Congress. Craig Yirush in his book on the roots of early American political theory writes:

 'The Impact that Barbeyrac's editorial interventions had on the reception of natural law theory in the Anglo-American world in the eighteenth century remains to be studied.'
And :

'Barbeyrac was particularly concerned in drawing the reader's attention to the superiority of Locke's theory of resistance as well as his theory of property over those of Pufedorf.'

Barbeyrac's book 'An Historical and Critical Account of the Science of Morality; and the Progress it has Made in the World..' owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Andrew Fitzmaurice thinks 
'Like so many seventeenth-century natural law writers, Barbeyrac lived with the instability and danger caused by the Reformation and he sought the principles of a political order that would address those troubles.'
The introduction into the Refuge litterature might be a valuable resource as well. The book on Henri de Mirmand is certainly a must read to get a feel of the atmosphere and context in which Barbeyrac wrote his book. Many of the major players, like Charles Brousson and even Jean Claude have a link to Nîmes.

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