Moreau, "Principles of Monarchy" (1773)


Moreau, "Principles of Monarchy" (1773)


Jacob–Nicolas Moreau wrote his "lessons of morality, politics and law" for the instruction of the Dauphin. Throughout the 200–page book, Moreau defends the power of the King to rule France without opposition. In this passage, he emphasized that the current King must be actively involved in governing and could no longer inspire respect from his subjects merely by occupying the throne, as had monarchs in earlier times. Furthermore, Moreau wrote, only an active King could defend order and thus preserve the liberty of his people.


Jacob-Nicolas Moreau, Leçons de Morale, de politique et de droit public (Versailles: De l'imprimerie du Département des affaires étrangères, 1773), 15–16, 21–26, 49, 76–80, 139–48.







The main fruit you will get from the study of our History will not be to convince you that your authority is absolute. Instead, it will be to know its purpose, its measure and its rule. You will also learn—through the experience of centuries—that . . . the most independent Sovereignty is like all human matters. It is conserved through good use, changed by abuse and destroyed if used wrongly. . . .

Indeed, to reign does not mean to be delighted, it rather means to delight others; it means to provide them with the benefits of Nature and to defend society against its own injustice as well as against its neighbors. . . . To govern a State implies to ensure men with all the advantages the Author of Nature attributed to the establishment of Societies, and this through steady and regular rules. The choice and the enforcement of these rules is what we call Public Administration, and we refer to Public Law as the science that teaches the principles of this administration and the Laws that are responsible for guiding it. . . .

Through comparisons, you will be convinced of the inalienable rights of humanity, these same rights are the true and fundamental principles of all societies and represent the dedicated outlines of all human Laws. After examining the nature of the Government throughout our history, you will then look for the one that should always exist so that Kings are powerful and Peoples free and happy. You will notice that the Public Law of a Nation can never be arbitrary, because natural Law is the base of it. Art can always improve its tools, but can never change its principles or invert its end.


“Moreau, "Principles of Monarchy" (1773),” LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY: EXPLORING THE FRENCH REVOUTION, accessed August 14, 2020,