Universidad Pablo de Olavide

May 22, 2017 – May 24, 2017

As part of the ANR project CURR "Cultures of Revolts and revolutions in Europe" (coordinated by Alain Hugon, CRHQ, Caen) – devoted to the analysis of cultural material of any kind (written, oral, iconographic) developed and disseminated during protest movements in Europe, expressing a desire for rupture with the established political order from the Middle Ages until the beginning of the Enlightenment – the question over the recollection of these events, whether successful or suppressed, was the focus of discussion at a conference organized in December 2015 (Formes et usages de la mémoire des révoltes en Europe, Madrid, Casa de Velázquez). This international gathering highlighted the contrasting uses of memory: in some cases, the memory of past events played a performative role in justifying, or even acting as an impetus for new protests. Conversely, a willingness to suppress or deny the recollection of movements has bean repeatedly observed, either by the protagonists of revolts or the authorities working to erase the traces of a rupture with obedience. A reminder of episodes and revolt were also noted in certain forms of discourse – not only historiographical, but also legal or political, notably in correspondence or other writings circulating within government circles – for preventative measures.

In continuation of this work, we wish to bring together international contributors once more in a discussion of the political thought brought about by various uprisings between the end of the Middle Ages and the modern era, whether it be reflections over a particular event, or more general considerations over the causes of sedition and protest movements, the means to prevent or suppress new episodes, and their adverse – or regenerative – effects.

These issues are indeed at the heart of political thought and give rise to considerable debate in the modern era; in this vein, Machiavelli, breaking with the Aristotelian concept of harmony – according to which a good government is one that maintains stability and avoids internal conflict – finds in these clashes a mechanism for the transformation and amelioration of institutions. Among the topics that saw considerable debate are those surrounding the links between religious toleration and sedition, as well as the relationship between internal conflict and wars beyond sovereign borders, the latter often being considered as an effective means to channel public energy, in particular that of a turbulent aristocracy, and thus forestall protest and dissent. Furthermore, the legitimacy of interventions to provoke or support seditious movements and revolts in foreign states, in order to avoid war or simply to support their right of resistance and of sovereign change, is also an object of study in the theoretical literature, such as in the writings of counsellors and governors in the modern era.

We propose to study the role that these movements in modern Europe have played in the evolution and orientation within the political thought over all of these issues that maintaining a central position within the literature – notably the propagation of the concept of “Reason of State” which makes the preservation of the state the primary purpose of good government.

This analysis will focus on political writings composed for government use or for a wider audience – memoirs and reports, as well as treatises on the statecraft that proliferated throughout Europe in the modern era and saw wide acceptance. There is a tendency in the current literature to make use of historical examples that are distant in time and place, and a need to consider the possible repercussions of theoretical reflection from experience drawn from recent or contemporary revolts.

Finally, it will be a matter of deepening the analysis of the links that unite theory and political action, as well as the influence that certain doctrines, on the origin and limits of power, on the right to resistance, etc., have been able to bring to light in the numerous discourses surrounding protest movements produced by their protagonists. A further exploration is required over the effects of these dissenting actions on the reflections and advice dispensed by governing bodies in the different forms of discourse developed throughout modern Europe, after the success or failure of uprising and revolt against a sovereign authority.


Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Francesco Benigno (Università degli Studi di Teramo)

Harald Braun (University of Liverpool)

Jean-Louis Fournel (Université Paris-8)

Alain Hugón (Université de Caen)

Giovanni Levi (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)

Tomás Mantecón Movellán (Universidad de Cantabria)

Pierre-François Moreau (ENS-Lyon)

Giovanni Muto (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II)

Luis Ribot García (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia)


  1. Alexandra Merle (ERLIS, Caen, France)
  2. Manuel Herrero Sánchez (Universidad Pablo de Olavide)
  3. Marina Mestre Zaragozá (IRHIM-UMR 5317, ENS Lyon, France)


  1. Cristina Bravo Lozano (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain)



Conference Information

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