This study focuses on the idea of virtue and its place in political thought in 18th century France. Virtue could be used to impart moral authority to arguments about political power. The development of this strategic idea is traced through the works of key Enlightenment thinkers. There is also consideration of the ways in which numerous popular writers of the day, including clerics, eulogists, journalists, novelists and lawyers, employed the idea of virtue in polemical discussions in their writings.
MARISA LINTON is a Senior Lecturer in History at Kingston University, London. She has published numerous articles, including work on the political ideas of Robespierre, on religious toleration in Enlightenment France, on the origins of the French Revolution, and on women in the Paris Commune of 1871.