Mark Knights: “Anti-corruption in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-century Britain”

Mark Knights , de l’Université de Warwick, présentera sa communication “Anti-corruption in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-century Britain” le jeudi 18 février, de 17h à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421.

En raison des contrôles de sécurité, les personnes extérieures à Paris IV souhaitant assister à ce séminaire sont invitées à se munir d’une carte d’étudiant ou d’une carte professionnelle, ou encore d’une carte d’identité et de cette annonce imprimée.


This paper examines anti-corruption in Britain and its colonies, from the late sixteenth century reformation to the reform movements of the nineteenth century (when the term ‘anti-corruption’ was coined). There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to treat the topic across a period of 250 years.

The first is to emphasise that cultural, administrative and political changes took a very long time to effect: anti-corruption was waged in bitter skirmishes that were part of a long battle drawn out over a very considerable timeframe. There was no quick ‘anti-corruption’ moment, even if the pace of change did undoubtedly accelerate during some key periods, such as the 1640s-50s, and the 1780s-1830s.
Second, treating the topic over several hundred years shows that although ‘early modernity’ was a period of transition, it was not a simple linear process towards a modern, uncorrupt state. Corruption was not simply eradicated in the nineteenth century; and there were interesting fluctuations both in the scale and success of anti-corruption over time. Seeing anti-corruption in terms of waves of activity and success seems more realistic than a teleological trajectory that charts progress towards the triumph of anti-corruption.

Third, we should be wary about suggesting too abrupt a shift from a corrupt pre-modern world to a non-corrupt modern one, and about equating anti-corruption solely with modernisation. In the era of the renaissance and reformation, an anti-corruption ethos (as opposed to state reforming measures) was driven by religious and humanist motives but that did not mean that those forces were weak or ineffective. Anti-corruption, then, was not just a modern concern or symptom of modernity; it just took different forms at different times to meet changing circumstances in the dynamic religious, political, administrative, legal, economic, social and cultural spheres.

Citer ce billet
Claire Delen (2016, 11 février). Mark Knights: “Anti-corruption in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-century Britain” Séminaire franco-britannique d'histoire. Consulté le 22 mai 2024, à l’adresse