Joseph Marie de Maistre

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Maistre, Joseph Marie de


Born Apr. 1, 1753, in Chambery, Savoie; died Feb. 26, 1821, in Turin. Count; French publicist, political figure, and religious philosopher.

De Maistre was educated by Jesuits; in 1774 he graduated from the University of Turin. From 1774 to 1788 he was a councillor in the Savoie senate; in 1788 he became a senator. From 1802 to 1817 he was an envoy of the Sardinian king to St. Petersburg, where he wrote his major works, namely, Dissertation on the Causative Principle of Human Institutions (1810), On the Pope (1819), and St. Petersburg Evenings (1821).

At the beginning of his career, de Maistre thought that a new religious world order could be established by means of Masonry. Subsequently, repelled by the French Revolution, de Maistre offered extremely reactionary means of establishing a religious Utopia. In his antirevolutionary treatise Considerations About France (1796), he criticized Rousseau’s ideas about the social contract and natural virtue, as well as Voltairean rationalism. De Maistre’s political views were determined by his idea of establishing a new world order based on religion. As supporters and founders of such an order, he was ready to accept not only the Bourbons or Napoleon but even a revolutionary government, insofar as it renounced anarchy (whence also his notorious apology for the executioner as the supreme enforcer of order). De Maistre considered medieval Europe of the 12th and 13th centuries to have been an ideally ordered society, and suggested that the conglomerate of monarchial states united by the uncontested spiritual authority of the pope be restored.

As a philosopher of history, de Maistre was a proponent of religious providentialism: divine providence was allegedly opposed by an evil, willful element, which, de Maistre proposed, should be tamed by severe measures. Along with L. Bonald, de Maistre served as an inspiration and ideologist for the European clerical-monarchial movement of the first half of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the most zealous promoter of de Maistre’s ideas was C. Morras. The influence of de Maistre’s polemical writings is seen in the Philosophical Letters of P. Ia. Chaadaev and the political essays of F. I. Tiutchev.


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–14. Lyon, 1884–86.


Istoriia filosofii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1943. Pages 379–85.
“Zhozef de Mestr v Rossii: Pis’ma.” In Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vols. 29–30. Moscow, 1937.
Paulhan, F. Joseph de Maistre et sa philosophie. Paris, 1893.
Goyau, G. La Pensée religieuse de Maistre, 2nd ed. Paris, 1921.
Rohden, P. R. Joseph de Maistre als politischer Theoretiker. Munich, 1929.
Dermenghem, E. J. de Maistre mystique. Paris, 1946.
Brunello, B. J. de Maistre: Politico e filosofo. Bologna, 1967.


References in periodicals archive ?
Lebrun's collection: Joseph de Maistre and the Legacy of Enlightenment.
Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) has been seen by many as an archetypal example of Catholic and monarchical reaction to the French Revolution and even as the philosophical father of fascism, but according to Armenteros (U.
218: de Maistre: war and revolution, the revolutions ending up in the hands of the madmen- Joseph de Maistre, Considerations on France (1796)
During the Restoration, France saw the revival of corporatist thought in the works of Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Boland.
Beginning, perhaps, with Joseph de Maistre and other early-nineteenth-century royalist (and ultramontanist) supporters, the author relays a clear message.
Since there was not the slightest likelihood of anyone in the Soviet Union giving him a platform or taking him seriously, his criticisms appeared de facto to be of the left: but, on reading him, one is never quite sure whether he was a follower of Trotsky or Joseph de Maistre.
Gray drags into his discussion too many unexplained allusions to arcane theorists for a general readership to follow; if you happen not to know why Joseph de Maistre is important to the history of political discourse, you will be offered no hint here.
Joseph de Maistre, who preached that the whole era was Providence's bloody reckoning, declared to the statesmen of the Restoration, "You wish to build and the ground is still trembling.
May I misquote Joseph De Maistre (1753-1821): Every city has the government it deserves.
If it's true that, as Joseph de Maistre said, every country has the government it deserves, we're one sorry lot.
The case of Joseph de Maistre is instructive and important, given his prominence as a leader of the Ultramontane Movement in the 19th century.
It was developed by such thinkers as Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald, J.