Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Origins of the Word Politics
  As I (perhaps) already discussed, the word "Terrorism" comes from the French, specifically the State terror of Robespierre and the Jacobins.
  The word politique, with its current meaning, also comes to us via the French, but first a small explanation of my brief knowledge of the latter half of the 16th century European situation is in order.
  Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor ruler of Germany, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, parts/intermittently of Italy, and Spain's possessions in the New World, was dead.  The Protestant Reformation had taken hold, and while Luther himself was dead; Calvin, from his base in Geneva, was proving to be a powerful organizer of cross-continental forces.  Book-banning and Inquisitions were being stepped up in Spain and the Netherlands, and religious disharmony was being used by the aristocratic elite to help overthrow weakened Monarchs (tired from a long Spanish-French war and broke from the double default, both France and Spain, in 1557).  At the same time, the Calvinists connected with the aristocrats in order to gain, by force if necessary, the right to worship freely.  For the record, some of the most militant Calvinists didn't want anyone worshipping any other way than their own.

  From the book

Already in France, about the year 1564, the term "politique" had come into use to describe the growing body of middle-of-the-road opinion which, while holding no brief for the new religious doctrines, considered that repression would only precipitate the very disasters it was designed to avert.
I'm screaming on the inside with the irony of it all.

Most all of this is from J.H. Elliot's 1968 book Europe Divided 1559-1598, which I am currently reading.

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