The purpose of this dissertation is to reinterpret early seventeenth-century French understandings of raison d’état and interest by focussing on and comparing the work of two major authors, Henri duc de Rohan (1579-1638) and Gabriel Naudé (1600-1653). This study adds an essential feature to the historiography of both ‘reason of state’ and the individual authors. Through the bibliographical embedding of the books in the politics of their time, it takes the intentions of the authors more empirically into account. Furthermore, this thesis stresses the intellectual-political dynamics in which Rohan and Naudé were involved rather than taking them as tokens for militant Calvinism, libertinism, atheism, secularisation or the rise of the modern state. The political reflections of Rohan and Naudé are interpreted as supporting, though never unambiguously and from different perspectives, the oftentimes haphazard politics of ‘crisis-management’ in the era of the Cardinal-ministers Richelieu and Mazarin. The authors never presented an abstract and coherent theory that displays processes of modernisation and secularisation in seventeenth-century politics. Instead, their writings were inherently practical and circumstantial. Their particular uses of the rhetoric of political prudence were responses to ever-imminent and immediate political problems, challenges and crises.

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Keywords reason of state, raison d'état, interest, Henri Duc de Rohan, Gabriel Naudé
Promotor R.C.F. von Friedeburg (Robert) , H.J.M. Nellen (Henk)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
Sponsor This research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The study is part of a larger research project ‘Reason of state’ or ‘reason of princes’? The ‘new monarchy and its opponents in France, Germany and the Netherlands, during the seventeenth century (2011-2016).
Persistent URL
Schaap, J.W. (2019, October 17). French ‘Reason of State’ from the Fall of La Rochelle to the Frondes Political Prudence in the Writings of Henri duc de Rohan and Gabriel Naudé. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from