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Bonville Place in Histoy-LUCHETTI

Bonville Place in Histoy-LUCHETTI

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 Introduction
1
Bonneville’s Place In History
 Introduction
 Bonneville’s Place In History
James Billington, the U.S. Librarian of Congress,wrote in
 Fire in the Minds of Men
(1980) that “Nicolas deBonneville” (1760-1828)
1
of Paris was one of the “foundingfathers” of the “modern revolutionary tradition.”
2
Indeed, in1845, Karl Marx honored Bonneville’s fraternal order and printing-house — the
Cercle Social 
— as having “com-menced the [modern] revolutionary movement.”
3
The most definitive exposition by Bonneville of hisideas was set forth in his
 L’Esprit des Religions
. This work appeared in two editions — one in 1791 and a virtually iden-tical one in 1792. In July 1792, he added the
 Appendices
.This book is of great historical significance. It allowsa correct identification of the ideology of the group known inhistory as the Brissotins. They are sometimes derogatorilyreferred to as the
Girondins
. Often this group’s orientation iscompletely misunderstood.The Brissotins were all members of Bonneville’s
Cer-cle Social 
. Once the Brissotins took dominant control of allexecutive posts in France in March 1792, the Brissotin Minis-ter of the Interior, Jean-Marie Roland (1734-1793) — also amember of the Cercle Social — financed distribution of 
 L’Esprit 
by “secret funds” from the French treasury. He
1.In French he is “Nicolas de Bonneville” but in English “Nicholas Bon-neville.” Hereafter I will refer to him as either Nicholas Bonneville or sometimes Nicolas.2.James H. Billington,
 Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolu-tionary Faith
(Basic Books, 1980)(2007 reprint) at 12.3.Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels,
 La Sainte Famille
(ed. Sociales)(1972)at 145. For full quote, see page13.
 
 Introduction
2
 passed these monies back to the Cercle Social to print
 L’Esprit 
via something Roland created called the
 Bureau of  Public Spirit.
Roland’s propaganda efforts with Bonnevillewent beyond merely
 L’Esprit.
“The Cercle Social was themajor recipient from the Bureau of Public Spirit.”
4
Withthese funds, numerous Cercle Social publications were dis-tributed nationwide to spread Brissotin ideology.As a result, from March 1792 to early 1793, the Cer-cle Social of Bonneville served as the
quasi-official 
propa-ganda arm of the French state.
5
This gave Bonneville great prestige and status. In this period, the Cercle Social created,with government funding, a daily newspaper; a monthly mag-azine; a separate journal for peasants and another for city-dwellers; and it published 193 books.
6
But among all of them,
 L’Esprit 
was the essential manifesto to spread Bonneville’sviewpoints.Thus,
 L’Esprit 
is not your average book. It holds animportant place in history. It clearly identifies what was theagenda of the Brissotins. Moreover, it was the founding man-ifesto for what became the modern world revolution.In recognition of this book’s importance, we here pro-vide the English translation of 
 L’Esprit’s
most significant pas-sages.Our intent is to offer in English a glimpse backward atBonneville. This way we can fully appreciate his impact onour modern world. In unfolding
 L’Esprit 
, we are unwrappingthe first manifesto of the modern world revolution. We also
4.Anne Kupiec, “La Gironde et le Bureau d’esprit public: livre et révolu-tion,”
 Annales historiques de la Révolution française
(1995) Volume302 Issue 3 at 577 (among the titles it published in 1792 was
 L’Esprit des Religions
); 582 (“the Cercle Social was the major recipient fromthe Bureau of Public Spirit”).5.During this period, the Cercle Social through funding from the Bureaudistributed thousands of pamphlets and books by Brissot, Paine, Con-dorcet, Lathenas, Bancal — all members of the Cercle Social.
 Id.
, at573 (Roland started March 1792), 574 (authors).6.James H. Billington,
 Fire in the minds of men
(1999) at 535-36 fn. 236.
 
 Introduction
3
Bonneville’s Cercle Social
discover the ideology that united the famous members of Bonneville’s society known as the Cercle Social: Brissot,Condorcet, T. Paine, Sieyès, Cloots, C. Fauchet, Babeuf,Maréchal, Bancal, Mercier, Varlet, etc. These names are allwell known to historians.However, what has hitherto remained a mystery wasthe bonds which united these men to advance the agenda inBonneville’s
 L’Esprit.
By examining
 L’Esprit,
we are able toexplain finally the multi-faceted yet common ideology whichall these men shared. Because their ideas were distinctly dif-ferent from those held by other societies at Paris, we finallycan explain their seemingly separate actions by now identify-ing the common center — their leader Bonneville and hismanifesto for action — his
 L’Esprit des Religions.
 Bonneville’s Cercle Social 
When
 L’Esprit 
first appeared in 1791, Nicholas Bon-neville was the primary founder, leader and “most activemember”
7
since October 1789 of the
Cercle Social 
— a pub-lishing house operated by a masonic-style secret society.Rose comments that Bonneville was “used to the spirit of thesecretive Masonic lodge, [and] intended [the Cercle Social]rather as a society of élite devoted to educating the masses.”
8
Albert Mathiez (1874-1932), Professor at the Univer-sité of Besançon, Dijon and renown scholar of the FrenchRevolution with over thirty-one scholarly books on the revo-lution to his credit,
9
says the Cercle Social
7.André Lichtenberger,
 Le socialisme et la révolution française
(Paris1899) at 69 (“Bonneville fut le membre le plus actif du cercle[social]....”)8.R. B. Rose, “Socialism and the French Revolution: The Social Circleand the Enragés,”
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Manchester 
 Vol. 41 No. 1 (September 1958) at 142, citing
Cercle Social 
, Letter xliii, in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, England.

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