Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e, de 17h à 18h30, Salle D421 (La séance aura lieu en présentiel uniquement. Un enregistrement sera diffusé ultérieurement sur la chaine youtube du séminaire).
Jeudi 2 février 2023 à 17h. David Armitage, Harvard/ Queen Mary University London: ‘John Locke, Treaties, and the Two Treatises of Government’
In the Two Treatises of Government (1690), John Locke offered an account of the separation of powers that was at once novel and almost entirely without influence. In chapter XII of the Second Treatise, he divided the powers of government conventionally between the legislative and the executive; unprecedentedly, the third power he enumerated was the “federative,” “the power of War and Peace, Leagues and Alliances, and all the Transactions, with all Persons and Communities without the Commonwealth”. Just why Locke highlighted the federative in this way—and then almost immediately collapsed it back into the executive power—presents a conundrum. This paper accounts for its prominence by tracing Locke’s engagement with treaties and treaty-making across his career, from his earliest appearance in print (with two poems celebrating a treaty), via his early diplomatic activities, his trafficking in treaties in France and the Netherlands, his notes on treaties in his journals and elsewhere, and his engagement with treaties as a colonial administrator in both the early 1670s and the late 1690s. It shows that Locke was deeply immersed in the burgeoning treaty culture of his time and that this hitherto unremarked interest shaped his peculiar and mostly unparalleled account of the royal prerogative as it stood on the eve of the Glorious Revolution. The paper concludes with reflections on how we might construe the relationship between Locke the diplomatic actor and student of treaties on the one hand and Locke the constitutional analyst and political theorist on the other.
David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and currently also an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought, Queen Mary University of London. He is the author or editor of eighteen books, among them The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000), The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007), Foundations of Modern International Thought (2013) and Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (2017). He is currently completing an edition of John Locke’s colonial writings for the Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke and working on a new global history of Britain through its treaties and on a study of opera and international law.
The Queen v. Parnell: A state trial and the Irish Land War, 1879-82
In nineteenth century Ireland, the end result of state trials was generally a foregone conclusion with conviction inevitable. State trials were political trials aimed at thwarting sedition or political movements. Examples include the trial of Daniel O’Connell and others in 1844 and the Fenian Special Commission in 1866. However, during the Irish Land War 1879-82 much had changed in Ireland. The case, The Queen v. Parnell and others was a more nuanced and complicated affair. From the outset the government had little confidence that they would secure convictions. The Irish Land War, 1879-82, resulted from a compact between the transnational Fenian movement and radical politicians in Ireland led by Charles Stuart Parnell. Central to the agitation, which ostensibly sought to gain peasant proprietorship for tenant farmers, was a national organisation, The Irish National Land League. Through the summer and autumn of 1880 Land League branches were founded throughout Ireland with mass meetings being held even in the remotest districts.
By autumn 1880 government appointees in Ireland were at loggerheads with Gladstone over his refusal to continence a coercion act for Ireland. While Gladstone resisted draconian measures, the Irish administration sought to appease potentates who demanded habeas corpus suspension. It was clear to the Dublin Castle administration that should the trial fail to result in convictions Gladstone’s hand would be forced and he would have to introduce a coercion in Ireland. Thus, the state invested a vast amount of human and financial capital in pursuing the case.
The documentation associated with the preparation for the trial and the evidence presented offers unique insights into the Irish National Land League’s rapid growth and also the nature of government in Ireland in the 1880s. The trial itself and its aftermath, which included the introduction of habeas corpus suspension in Ireland, illustrates the complexity of the Irish political situation during the Land War. It is also clear that the leaders of the Irish Nationalist movement revelled in the prospect of a state trial for conspiracy; confident in acquittal and relishing such a platform for promoting their agenda. This paper will also examine the preparation for the trial and the remarkable throve of evidence the government compiled. It is clear that rather than being a further example of what nationalists might have concluded was the judicial suppression of a political movement, The Queen v. Parnell illustrates a symbiotic propaganda exercise by both the government in Ireland and the Land League.
Frank Rynne is a Senior Lecturer in British Studies and Irish history at CY Cergy Paris Université and a Visiting Research Fellow at The School of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of Agora (EA 7392) CY Cergy Paris Université and an associate member of Prismes (EA 4398) Université Sorbonne Nouvelle.