‘Moderates’ Promoting Radical Enlightenment: Lafayette and His Supporters, 1792–1799

in The Radical Enlightenment in Germany
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Abstract

Jonathan Israel appears not to credit sufficiently how ‘moderates’ could contribute in practice to the agenda of the Radical Enlightenment. General Lafayette struck compromises with the old order in France up to 1792, for instance, but only so as to promote radical values that he had pursued from youth and would continue to pursue for the rest of his long life. Liberal or centrist sympathizers, particularly those in London and Hamburg, provide another instance. During Lafayetteʼs incarceration and exile in 1792–1799, they supported him financially, maintained secret communications, plotted breakouts, and publicized his case. By defying the traditional order and helping enable his release and eventual return to public activity, they too promoted the radical agenda.

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