“Governments are warned by an invincible instinct that force is no title…and that, while they rest upon…violence, they are entirely destitute of right.”
“All the great elements of society were drawn within the feudal enclosure, so even the…most trifling circumstances of common life, became subject to feudalism.”
“The Church, indeed, taken as a whole, has been constantly changing—constantly advancing—her history is diversified and progressive.”
“There is in the very nature of religious society a powerful inclination to elevate the governors above the governed; to regard them as something distinct.”
“Modern Europe, indeed, is born of this struggle between the different classes of society.”
“They greatly diminished the number of petty fiefs, petty domains, and petty proprietors; they concentrated property and power in a smaller number of hands.”
Guizot surveys the variegated, complex, and indispensible history of monarchy in the creation of western civilization.
Guizot surveys the seemingly endless array of would-be, failed archons—the long list of kings, conquerors, emperors, popes, and tyrants seeking total power.
After a thousand years of failing centralized government in Europe, our author turns to the successful rise of nation-states.
Though plagued by their own illiberal aspects, the early Protestant churches succeeded in breaking the Roman monopoly on European spiritual life.
Following the Reformation’s successful division of spiritual authority, the English Civil Wars opened space for civil society to sharply disrupt absolutism.
Our author concludes with a sobering analysis of the French Revolution, and the declaration that all power is dangerous and demanding of limitation.
“Can our condition be any worse? Can it be more mean and abject?…They cannot treat us worse; for they well know the day they do it they are gone.”
“Should tyrants take it into their heads to emancipate any of you, remember that your freedom is your natural right…God will dash tyrants…into atoms.”
“Man is a godlike being. We launch ourselves in conceit into illimitable space, and take up our rest beyond the fixed stars.”
“I am inclined to believe, that…every human creature is endowed with talents which…shew him to be apt, adroit, intelligent and acute.”
No class holds a monopoly on talent. Rather, “Every human creature…is endowed with talents, which…shew him to be apt, adroit, intelligent and acute.”
“There [is a contest] between the face of the earth…and the ingenuity of man…We cover immense regions of the globe with the tokens of human cultivation.”