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An Account of Denmark

Robert Molesworth

Publication Year: 2012

The Liberty Fund edition of An Account of Denmark, with its related texts, is the first modern edition of Molesworth’s writings. This volume presents not only An Account, a text that for most of the eighteenth century was recognized as one of the canonical works of Whiggism, but also his translation of Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor. These texts encompass Molesworth’s major political statements on liberty as well as his important and understudied recommendations for the application of liberty to economic improvement, all presented here with editorial apparatus to provide historical and contextual background for the reader.

In An Account of Denmark, "Robert Molesworth famously diagnosed the causes of a disordered commonwealth," writes Champion in the introduction. "Unlike the reception of Locke, Molesworth's writings provided insight into processes of corruption rather than simply a set of prescriptive juristic values. In the Account of Denmark, especially, Molesworth established how tyranny worked, identifying the contaminating ideologies and institutions."Robert Molesworth (1656–1725) was an Irish politician and diplomat.

Justin Champion is Chair of the History Department at Royal Holloway College, University of London.David Womersley is Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Series: The Thomas Hollis Library

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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The Thomas Hollis Library

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pp. vii-viii

‰Thomas Hollis (1720–74) was an eighteenth-century Englishman who devoted his energies, his fortune, and his life to the cause of liberty. Hollis was trained for a business career, but a series of inheritances allowed him to pursue instead a career of public service. He believed that citizenship demanded activity and that it was incumbent on citizens to put themselves in a position, by reflection ...

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pp. ix-xl

Robert Molesworth (1656–1725) famously diagnosed the causes of a disordered commonwealth in the much reprinted and translated An Account of Denmark (1694).1 His works connected the three ages of revolution between 1649 and 1776.2Á According to his insights, manners and customs were shaped by the experience of the institutions and laws of a nation: ...

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Editorial Apparatus

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pp. xli-xlii

Th‰e edition of the Account of Denmark reproduced here is a collated text from the first four English-language editions (1694–1738) identified below in Bibliographical Descriptions as items 1–3 and 5 under the heading “English Editions.” ‰The copy text is the third edition of 1694 (item 3), which is the final textual state to be corrected and acknowledged by the author. ...

Biographical Descriptions

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pp. xliii-xlviii

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Textual Policy

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pp. xlix-l

‰The intention has been to produce an edition of Molesworth’s major political writings that is accurate yet easily accessible to modern readers. ‰The text has been modernized only in minor respects. Capitalization has generally been retained according to the original printed editions. Significant adjustment has been made to typographical layout: section titles, running ...

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List of Sources

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pp. li-lii

Where possible, all sources used by Molesworth in the Account of Denmark have been identified in appropriate footnotes. In Molesworth’s edition of Hotman’s Francogallia, he meticulously reproduced, generally in the main body of the text, references from the original editions that he had consulted (the 1576 Latin and French versions rather than the 1574 edition). ...

Further Reading

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pp. liii-lv

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pp. lvii-61

I am very grateful to David Hayton, Blair Worden, and David Womersley for their direct help and advice in the preparation of this edition, both for pointing me toward items I certainly would have missed and for general and specific comment. I am also exceptionally grateful to Rachel Hammersley, who very generously allowed me to read a draft of her important ...

An Account of Denmark

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pp. 1-63

The Contents

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pp. 5-6

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The Preface

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pp. 7-25

Health and Liberty are without dispute the greatest natural Blessings Mankind is capable of enjoying; I say natural, because the contrary states are purely accidental, and arise from Nature debauched, depraved or enforced. Yet these Blessings are seldom suÎciently valued whilst enjoy’d; like the daily advantages of the Sun and Air, they seem scarce regarded ...

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1 Of the Territories belonging to the King of Denmark, and their Situation

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pp. 27-29

If we consider the Extent of the King of Denmark’s Dominions, he may with Justice be reckoned among the greatest Princes of Europe; but if we have regard to the importance and value of them, he may be put in Balance with the King of Portugal, and possibly be found lighter. ...

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2 Of Denmark in particular, and the Island of Zealand

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pp. 30-34

Th‰is being the most considerable, and in value four parts in five of all the Territories belonging to the Crown of Denmark, I shall give a more particular account of it than of the rest. Others, I know, have given us the Genealogies and Succession of its Kings, ancient Names, Inhabitants, Conquests, etc. my business is only to inform how it stands at this day, ...

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3 Of the Sound

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pp. 35-40

This Passage or Streight called the Sound, or Ore-sound, which has so great a Reputation in these Northern Parts of the World, lies between this Island of Zealand and the firm Land of Schonen. On Denmark side, where it is narrowest, stands the Town of Elsinore, and the strong Fortress of Cronenburg; near which is a tolerable good Road for Ships. ...

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4 Of the other Islands, and Jutland

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pp. 41-43

... Funen is second to Zealand, whether its bigness or the goodness of its Soil be considered; it has plenty of Corn, Hogs, Lakes, and Woods; the chief Town of it is Odensee, a well-seated, and formerly a flourishing little City, but at present much fallen to decay. Th‰is Island produces nothing for the Merchant to export, except some few Horses, the Inhabitants ...

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5 Of the Rest of the King of Denmark’s Countries

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pp. 44-48

‰The Dutchy of Sleswick is in general a very good Country; its convenient Situation between two Seas, the Ocean and the Baltick, rendering it considerable for Trade, although the natural Commodities, fit for Exportation, are in no great quantity. Some Corn, Cattle, Horses, and Wood for Firing it affords to its Neighbours, over and above a sufficient store of each for its own Inhabitants. It is divided between the King and the ...

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6 Of their Form of Government

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pp. 49-52

Th‰e Ancient Form of Government here was the same which the Goths and Vandals established in most, if not all, Parts of Europe, whither they carried their Conquests, and which in England is retained to this day for the most part.14 ’Tis said of the Romans, ‰at those Provinces which they Conquer’d were amply recompensed, for the loss of their Liberty, ...

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7 Manner How the Kingdom of Denmark Became Hereditary and Absolute

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pp. 53-64

After the Conclusion of the Peace between the two Northern Crowns Anno 1660, some considerable care and time was necessary to redress the Disorders occasioned by so terrible a War. Denmark had been most violently shaken; and although the Fury of the Tempest was over, the Agitation caused by it still continued: ‰The Army was not yet disbanded, nor ...

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8 The Condition, Customs, and Temper of the People

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pp. 65-75

All these do so necessarily depend upon, and are influenced by the Nature and Change of Government, that ’tis easily imagined, the present Condition of these People of all Ranks must be most deplorable; at least it appears so to an English Man, who sees it, possibly more than to them that suffer it: For Slavery, like a sickly Constitution, grows in time so habitual, ...

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9 Of the Revenue

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pp. 76-89

‰The Revenue of the King of Denmark arises from three Heads: First, The Taxes and Impositions of his own Subjects: Secondly, Customs paid by Foreigners: Th‰irdly, Rents of his own Estate, Crown Lands, and Confiscations. Each of these shall be treated of apart. ....

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10 Of the Army, Fleet, and Fortresses

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pp. 90-102

Having done with the Revenue, I come in the next place to shew how those Sums are expended: And it is certain, that the levying of them is not more grievous to the Subject than the Reason for which they are levied, viz. the Maintenance of a great standing Army: so that the People are Contributors to their own Misery; and their Purses are drain’d in order ...

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11 Of the Court

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pp. 103-121

‰The present King of Denmark, Christian the Fifth, is but of a moderate stature, rather lean than corpulent, yet well proportioned, and strongly built; his Complexion is Sanguin, he wears a black Perriwig; the Lines of the lower part of his Face are not unlike those of King Charles the Second; his Constitution has been very robust, capable to endure, and loving ...

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12 Disposition and Inclinations of the King of Denmark towards his Neighbours

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pp. 122-127

‰The Kingdoms and States which border upon the King of Denmark, are towards the North and Northeast, the Territories belonging to Sweden; towards the South, the Duke of Holstein’s part of Sleswick and Holstein, the City of Hamburg, and the Dutchy of Bremen. Towards the West and Southwest, England, and Scotland; which are separated from them by the ...

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13 The Manner of Dispossessing, and restoring the Duke of Holstein Gottorp

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pp. 128-136

Th‰e Affairs between the King and Duke being on the terms abovementioned, that is to say, Ambition and Reason of State guiding the Designs of one Party, Fear and Weakness of the other, Hatred and Distrust of both; there seemed to be wanting nothing but a fair Opportunity to put in practice what had been long projected by the Danes, which at length ...

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14 The Interests of Denmark in relation to other Princes

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pp. 137-142

In treating of the Interests of the King of Denmark in relation to other Princes or States which do not con¾ne upon his Dominions, and of his Affections towards them, it will not be necessary to observe strictly the order and rank which those Princes hold in the World, I shall therefore take them as they come indifferently. ...

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15 Of the Laws, Courts of Justice, etc.

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pp. 143-150

Some Naturalists observe, that there is no Plant or Insect, how venomous or mean soever, but is good for something towards the use of man if rightly applied: in like manner it may be said, ‰That several useful Lessons may be learnt, conducing to the benefit of Mankind, from this Account of Denmark, provided things be taken by the right handle. ...

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16 The State of Religion, of the Clergy, and Learning, etc.

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pp. 151-155

When the Corruptions of the Roman Church grew so intolerable to many Nations in Europe, that an Universal Reformation became necessary, Denmark, among the rest of the Northern Countries (which had been less managed and more abused by the Priests than the Southern) shook off that yoke, and instead of the Roman-Catholick, embraced the Doctrine and Opinions of Martin Luther. ...

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The Conclusion

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pp. 156-161

It has been a great Mistake among us, Th‰at the Popish Religion is the only one, of all the Christian Sects, proper to introduce and establish Slavery in a Nation, insomuch that Popery and Slavery have been thought inseparable: not to derogate from the merit of the Roman Catholick Persuasion, which has been the Darling of so many Monarchs upon that account; I ...

Francogallia, Or an Account of the Ancient Free State of France

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pp. 163-165

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The Preface to the Reader

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pp. 167-169

Th‰e following Treatise was composed by that most Learned and Judicious Civilian …‡›FRANCIS HOTOMAN‡, a grave, sincere, and unexceptionable Author, even in the opinion of his Adversaries. ‰is Book gives an Account of the Antient Free State of above three Parts in four of all Europe; and has of a long time appeared to me so convincing and instructive in those ...

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The Translator's Preface

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pp. 171-190

Many Books and Papers have been publish’d since the late Revolution, tending to justify the Proceedings of the People of England at that happy juncture; by setting in a true Light our just Rights and Liberties, together with the solid Foundations of our Constitution: Which, in truth, is not ours only, but that of almost all Europe besides; so wisely restor’d and establish’d ...

Index of the Chapters

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pp. 191-192

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A Short Extract of the Life of Francis Hotoman

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pp. 193-199

Francis Hotoman (one of the most learned Lawyers of that Age) was Born at Paris the 23rd of August, 1524. His Family was an Ancient and Noble one, originally of Breslaw, the Capital of Silesia. Lambert Hotoman, his Grandfather, bore Arms in the Service of Lewis the 11th of France, and married a rich Heiress at Paris, by whom he had 18 Children; the Eldest of ...

Explication of the Roman Names mention’d by Hotoman

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pp. 201-202

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The Author's Preface

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pp. 203-207

’Tis an old Saying, of which Teucer the Son of Telamon is the supposed Author, and which has been approved of these many Ages, “A Man’s Country is, where-ever he lives at Ease.”26 For to bear even Banishment it self with an unconcern’d Temper of Mind like other Misfortunes and Inconveniences, and to despise the Injuries of an ungrateful Country, which uses one more like a Stepmother than a true Mother, seems to be the Indication ...

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1 The State of Gaul, before it was reduced into a Province by the Romans

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pp. 209-214

My Design being to give an Account of the Laws and Ordinances of our Francogallia, as far as it may tend to the Service of our Commonwealth, in its present Circumstances; I think it proper, in the first place, to set forth the State of Gaul, before it was reduced into the Form of a Province by the Romans: For what Caesar, Polybius, Strabo, Ammianus, and other Writers ...

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2 Probable Conjectures concerning the ancient Language of the Gauls

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pp. 215-219

In this Place it seems proper to handle a Question much disputed and canvass’d by Learned Men; viz. What was the Language of the Gauls in those old Times? For as to what belongs to their Religion, Laws, and the Customs of the People, Caesar, as I said before, has at large given us an account. In the first place we ought to take notice, that Caesar, in the ...

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3 The State of Gaul, after it was reduced into the Form of a Province by the Romans

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pp. 220-224

’Tis very well known to all learned Men, that Gaul, after having been often attempted with various Success, during a ten Years War, and many Battles, was at last totally subdued by Caesar, and reduced into the Form of a Province. It was the Misfortune of this most valiant and warlike People, to submit at length to the Great Beast, as it is called in Scripture, ...

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4 Of the Original of the Franks;who having possessed themselves of Gallia, changed its Name into that of Francia, or Francogallia

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pp. 225-231

Th‰e Order of our Discourse requires, that we should now enquire into the Original of the Franks, and trace them from their first Habitations, or (as it were) their very Cradles: In which Disquisition ’tis very much to be admired, that no mention has been made of them by Ptolomy, Strabo, or even by Tacitus himself, who of all Writers was most accurate in describing ...

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5 Of the Name of the Franks,and their sundry Excursions; and what time they first began to establish a Kingdom in Gallia

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pp. 232-238

But I think it requisite that we should enquire a little more carefully into this Name of Franks; which, as we told you before, is not to be found in any of the ancient Descriptions of Germany. That I may no longer detain the Reader in Suspense, it must needs be, that either the Nation of the Franks, by which such mighty things were done, was at first very obscure ...

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6 Whether the Kingdom of Francogallia was hereditary or elective; and the manner of making its Kings

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pp. 239-246

But here arises a famous Question; the decision of which will most clearly show the Wisdom of our Ancestors. Whether the Kingdom of Francogallia were Hereditary, or conferr’d by the Choice and Suffrages of the People? That the German Kings were created by the Suffrages of the People, Cornelius Tacitus, in his Book De moribus Germanorum, proves plainly; and we ...

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7 What Rule was observ’d concerning the Inheritance of the deceased King, when he left more Children than one

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pp. 247-251

All that we have above said, tends to prove, that the Kingdom of Francogallia in old times, did not descend to the Children by Right of Inheritance (as a private Patrimony does); but was wont to be bestow’d by the Choice and publick Suffrages of the People: So that now there is the less Room left for the Question,—What Rule was observed in Relation to the ...

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8 Of the Salick Law, and what Right Women had in the King’ s their Father’s Inheritance

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pp. 252-255

Because we have undertaken to give an Account of the Law and Right of Regal Inheritance, we must not omit making mention of the Salick Law; which is both daily discours’d of by our Countrymen, and in the memory of our Forefathers serv’d to appease a great and dangerous Contention, which arose touching the Succession to the Crown.83 ...

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9 Of the Right of Wearing a large Head of Hair peculiar to the Royal Family

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pp. 256-259

It will not be amiss in this Place to give some Account of a Custom of our Ancestors, relating to the Hair worn by the Royal Family: For ’tis recorded, that our Forefathers had a particular Law concerning it; viz. That such as were chosen Kings by the People, or were of the Regal Family, should preserve their Hair, and wear it parted from the Forehead, on both ...

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10 The Form and Constitution of the Francogallican Government

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pp. 260-269

These Things being thus briefly premised, we think it proper now to set forth in what Manner the Kingdom of Francogallia was constituted. And we have already made it plain, that the People reserv’d to themselves all the Power not only of Creating, but also of Abdicating their Kings. Which Form of Government ’tis manifest our Ancestors had, before they were ...

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11 Of the Sacred Authority of the Publick Council; and what Affairs were wont to be transacted therein

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pp. 270-275

We think it necessary in this Place to consider what Kind of Affairs were wont to be transacted in this general Annual Council, and to admire the great Wisdom of our Ancestors in constituting our Republick. We have (in short) observed that they are these that follow. First the Creating or Abdicating of their Kings. Next, the declaring of Peace or War. The making ...

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12 Of the Kingly Officers, commonly call’d Mayors of the Palace

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pp. 276-279

Before we treat farther of the uninterrupted Authority of the Publick Council, we think it not improper to say somewhat of those Regal great Officers, which, during the Merovingian Race were called (Majores domus) Masters or Mayors of the Palace. These having for some Time encroach’d upon the Kingly Power, finding at last a fit Opportunity, seiz’d upon it ...

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13 Whether Pipin was created King by the Pope or by the Authority of the Francogallican Council

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pp. 280-284

Having in the former Chapter given an Account, that after the Expulsion of Childeric, (a stupid Prince, in whom the Line of the Merovingians ended) Pipin, from being Mayor of the Palace, was created King; It will be worth our Enquiry, to know by whose Authority the Kingdom was conferr’d upon him. For Pope Gelasius says thus, Cap. 15. Quest. 6. “A Roman ...

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14 Of the Constable, and Peers of France

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pp. 285-289

Besides the great Office of Mayor of the Palace before spoken of, there was another which we must take Notice of; because it seems, in the Memory of our Forefathers, to have succeeded in Place of the former: And that was the Office of Count of the Kings Stable; called at first, Comes stabuli; and by Corruption at last, Connestabuli. Now all those who enjoy’d any ...

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15 Of the continued Authority and Power of the Sacred Council, during the Reign of the Carolingian Family

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pp. 290-294

We have, as we suppose, sufficiently explain’d what was the Form and Constitution of our Commonwealth, and how great the Authority of the Publick Council was during the Reigns of the Kings of the Merovingian Family. We must now proceed to give an Account of it under the Carolingian Race. And as well all our own as the German Historians, give us ...

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16 Of the Capetian Race, and the Manner of its obtaining the Kingdom of Francogallia

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pp. 295-297

It has been already shewn, that the Kingdom of Francogallia continued in Three Families only, during One Thousand Two Hundred Years. Whereof the first was called the Merovingian Family. The second, the Carolingian, from the Names of their Founders or Beginners. For although (as we have often told you) the Succession to the Kingdom was not conferred ...

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17 Of the uninterrupted Authority of the Publick Council during the Capetian Race

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pp. 298-301

We may learn out of Froissard, Monstrellet, Gaguinus, Commines, Gillius, and all the other Historians who have written concerning these Times, that the Authority of the Publick Council was little or nothing less in the Time of the Capetian Family, than it had been during the two former Races. But because it would be too troublesome, and almost an in¾nite ...

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18 Of the Remarkable Authority of the Council against Lewis the Eleventh

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pp. 302-306

Th‰e Power and Authority of the Council and the Estates assembled, appears by the foregoing Testimonies to have been very great, and indeed (as it were) Sacred. But because we are now giving Examples of this Power, we will not omit a signal Instance of the Authority of this Council, which interposed it self in the Memory of our Fathers against Lewis the Eleventh, who was reputed ...

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19 Of the Authority of the Assembly of the States concerning the most important Affairs of Religion

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pp. 307-308

We have hitherto demonstrated, that the Assembly of the States had a very great Power in all Matters of Importance relating to our Kingdom of France. Let us now consider, what its Authority has been, in things that concern Religion. Of this our Annals will inform us under the Year 1300 when Pope Boniface the Eighth sent Ambassadors to King Philip the Fair, ...

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20 Whether Women are not as much debarred (by the Francogallican Law) from the Administration, as from the Inheritance of the Kingdom

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pp. 309-316

The present Dispute being about the Government of the Kingdom, and the chief Administration of Publick Affairs, we have thought fit not to omit this Question: Whether Women are not as much debarr’d from the Administration, as from the Inheritance of the Kingdom? And in the first Place we openly declare, that ’tis none of our intention to argue for ...

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21 Of the Juridical Parliaments in France

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pp. 317-324

Under the Capetian Family there sprung up in Francogallia a Kind of Judicial Reign, [Regnum Judiciale] of which (by reason of the incredible Industry of the Builders up and Promoters of it, and their unconceivable Subtilty in all subsequent Ages), we think it necessary to say something. A Sort of Men now rule everywhere in France, which are called Lawyers ...

Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor

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pp. 325-327

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To The Gentlemen of the Honourable House of Commons of Ireland

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pp. 329-389

Your Honourable House having under its Consideration the Heads of some Bills for the better providing for, and employing the Poor. And the Business of Agriculture being (next to that of the Fishery) one of the most easy and profitable Ways that can be thought of for that Purpose. The Writer of the following Sheets, cannot more properly Dedicate them than ...

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Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture, Etc.

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pp. 331-351

The dearth of Corn this last Winter, and the inconveniencies which arose from it, both in the misery of the common People, and the Exportation of our Mony for damaged Goods, (for so the most of it proved) shou’d set all heads a work to f_ind out the Causes of this Mischief, in order to provide proper remedies for the future; which cannot well be effected if we ...

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Appendix 1 Selected Sources Cited in Francogallia

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pp. 353-358

This bibliography identifies a selection of most of the less obvious sources Hotman used in his Francogallia. Molesworth was reasonably accurate in his reproduction of the citations from these works, but his translation, like the original text, does not commonly identify the works beyond a short title and a book or chapter. For many of these citations the sources are fairly obvious: ...

Loeb Classical Library

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pp. 359-360

Appendix 2 Ordonnance pour les Rangs du Royaumede Danemarck

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pp. 361-365


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pp. 367-394

E-ISBN-13: 9781614878933
E-ISBN-10: 1614878935
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865978041

Page Count: 450
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The Thomas Hollis Library

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Subject Headings

  • Denmark -- Politics and government -- Early works to 1800.
  • Denmark -- History -- Christian V, 1670-1699.
  • France -- Politics and government -- Early works to 1800.
  • Constitutional history -- France -- Early works to 1800.
  • Agriculture -- Ireland -- Early works to 1800.
  • Poor -- Ireland -- Early works to 1800.
  • Representative government and representation -- Early works to 1800.
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