The Concepts of 'Liberty', 'Virtue' and 'the World Empire' in the Thoughts of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun
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The article deals with reflections on the 'universal monarchy' contained in 'Discorso dello cose di Spagna', a brochure published in 1698 in Edinburgh. Its author was Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, the most outstanding Scottish political thinker of the turn of the seventeenth century. Upon the example of Spain. assuming that the death of Charles II would be followed by thorough reforms introduced by his successor, Fletcher portrayed the threats posed by the 'universal monarchy'. These hazards were to stem no so much from the configuration of forces on the international arena as the conception of the state and society, based on 'liberty' and 'virtue', borrowed from N. Machiavelli. Fletcher introduced a new element in a discussion on the 'universal monarchy' conducted on the British Isles and the majority of European states. The significance of 'Discorso' is, however, much further reaching. Fletcher presented the perils created by the 'universal monarchy' combined with a situation in which an increasing part in international relations was played by commerce and control over the seas, thus indicating the novel nature of relations between Europe and the rest of the world. His approach was reflected in the vocabulary - Fletcher used the concepts of 'universal monarchy' and 'the world empire' interchangeably. Upon the basis of these observations one may formulate a new definition of the 'universal monarchy', expanding its geographical span and stressing new elements of the concept. It also became possible to formulate a novel view of the character and objectives of the British foreign policy in the first half of the eighteenth century (to the end of the Seven Years' War). Despite the fact that 'Discorso' does not refer directly to Scottish-English relations it also depicts the backdrop against which the political fends over their form were conducted.
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