By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance. Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum, ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in activities not officially classed as war.
In the summer of 1666, Samuel Pepys recorded the following social event in his diary:
Thence to my Lord Bellasyse by invitation, and there dined with him and his lady and daughter; and at dinner there played to us a young boy, lately come from France, where he had been learning a year or two on the viallin, and plays finely. But impartially, I do not find any goodness in their ayres (though very good) beyond ours.1
Like so many entries, this brief passage prompts various lines of inquiry. This chapter pursues just one of these: Pepys’s engagement with ‘Frenchness’. It argues that this engagement was structured by two powerful but contradictory stereotypes. On one hand, French things, people and France itself were identified with excess, or the absence of moderation.2 In such cases, a national identity was constructed, if often only implicitly, in relation to a stereotyped French ‘other’. At the same time, France, French things and, more equivocally, the French themselves were habitually identified with contemporary notions of distinction.3 Here, the same constellation of places, things and people was used to construct and differentiate a cosmopolitan social identity. In other words, Pepys embraced a series of contradictory stereotypes, invoking different aspects of them depending on contexts. These conflicting stereotypes were bolstered by, and in turn buttressed, other social representations – relating to gender, class, religion and age – that were central to contemporary constructions of both ‘self’ and ‘other’. This chapter is primarily expository in ambition. It uses a single source, Pepys’s diary, to examine the production and reproduction of specific stereotypes within a circumscribed milieu and at a particular conjuncture, deploying theoretical insights from social psychology. At the same time, it is also intended as a historiographical intervention, challenging the accepted representation of English attitudes towards the French in the opening decades of the Restoration.
A study of national stereotypes might seem peculiar, even perverse.4 The historiographical imperative of the last two decades has, after all, been ‘the enlargement of scale and broadening of perspective’: a concerted effort, that is, to escape from what one practitioner has aptly termed ‘methodological nationalism’.5 Consequently, the recommended measure of scholarly inquiry is now anything but national. This transnational turn has certainly been welcome. Indeed, this chapter is indebted to this scholarship, incorporating its questions, methodology and vocabulary, and attentive to its shortcomings, particularly the failure to properly consider countervailing forces of repulsion and resistance. This is manifested in an inattentiveness to politics and to the question of power more generally. To their credit, historians of transnationalism are aware of these problems. Patricia Clavin, for instance, has commented on the ‘tendency … to present transnational encounters as consistently progressive and co-operative’.6 Likewise, Peter Burke has admitted, historians are typically more inclined than their host populations to celebrate what he terms ‘cultural hybridity’.7 It is undoubtedly desirable that historians avoid writing ethnocentric histories, by which I mean something quite different from the very real need for transnationally informed histories of ethnocentrism – with all their associated stereotypes and stereotyping practices. As such, this chapter is conceived as continuation and critique of the transnational project.
Aping these wider historiographical developments, national stereotypes remain decidedly outré in the more restricted field of Restoration history. Indeed, since the Second World War British historiography as a whole might be characterised as a rejection – more and less successful – of the earlier whig narrative of English, i.e. national, exceptionalism. More recently, as Mark Knights has noted, early modern historians have concentrated their collective energies on religious and gender identities, a feature replicated elsewhere in this collection.8 Again, the object of inquiry here should not be taken as criticism of such scholarship. Nevertheless, the lack of interest in national stereotypes is still surprising. Firstly, the late seventeenth century was a critical juncture in the evolution of the Westphalian system. During this period, national identities took on added weight alongside the double helix of institutional form and interstate system. Next, the Restoration itself witnessed a tectonic shift in the national imaginary: the Hispanophobia that had characterised the previous century being displaced by a Francophobic disposition that extended well into the nineteenth century – and, arguably, continues to this day in the ‘Little Englander’ form which fuelled anti-European Union sentiment during the 2016 British referendum on Brexit and beyond.9
Amongst Restoration historians, Steven Pincus is the exception to the rule. He has argued that English ‘public opinion’ was anti-Dutch in the 1660s before turning anti-French in the 1670s.10 This was a consequence of shifting judgements upon which of these nations aspired to ‘universal monarchy’: a construct based, in his account, on ‘political economy’. Pincus’s reading of public opinion is based primarily on printed material circulating in a world of coffee houses, taverns and similar institutions: that is, within a Restoration public sphere. While not rejecting Pincus’s position wholesale, this chapter takes a different approach to this problem and reaches different conclusions. In place of ‘political economy’ and ‘public opinion’, it examines national stereotypes through the concepts of ‘distinction’ and ‘moderation’. Discussions of the former, influenced by the work of Pierre Bourdieu, have proliferated across the social sciences and humanities over the last two decades.11 In comparison, the uptake of ‘moderation’ has been quite limited. Yet, as Ethan Shagan has shown, this was a keyword in the early modern period.12 While his study covers considerable ground, it does not explicitly address the role of moderation in constructing national identity and difference. Besides being attentive to seventeenth-century thought and practice, the benefits to this approach are twofold. First, viewing national stereotypes through these twin lenses highlights their connections with the other stereotypes – and stereotyping practices – that collectively shaped early modern society. Second, this approach spans the divide between the public and private spheres – wherever this happens to be drawn – recognising the connections between ideas and practices in each realm.
Like the other contributions in this collection, this chapter is also intended as an exercise in that most faintly praised of activities, interdisciplinary investigation. For most historians of early modern Britain ‘theory’ is a four-letter word. This chapter proceeds from an earlier premise that theoretical awareness sharpens empirical analysis (and vice versa). The goal, as Caroline Bynum has commented, is to write history in such a way that ‘theory is not merely present [but] enables insights of sophistication and subtlety’.13 This chapter utilises the conceptual tools and interpretative insights developed by social psychologists. This intellectual debt explains the preference for the terms ‘stereotype’ and ‘stereotyping’ rather than the more familiar vocabulary of ‘identity’.14 Historians have recently become aware of the possibilities presented by this interdisciplinary encounter. In part, this simply reflects common interests.15 More importantly, however, each field offers the other the means to address pressing methodological problems. For historians, social psychology’s insistence on the social and political (and not merely cognitive) aspects of stereotypes serves as an antidote to the discursive orientation of much cultural history. Specifically, social psychology provides historians with the intellectual resources to examine the social construction of such representations – to denaturalise them – whilst remaining attentive to their very real political effects.16 Finally, since intellectual exchange should benefit both parties to the transaction, this enquiry is also intended as a contribution to an ongoing historicist turn within social psychology. It is hoped that the empirical detail within this study will be of use to social psychologists interested in what Sandra Jovchelovitch has termed the ‘long standing psychological problem [of] apprehending time in its lived and experiential dimension’ – or, put more simply, history.17 As such, this investigation is a response to Vlad Glăveanu and Koji Yamamoto’s recent call for ‘bridge-building’ between the two disciplines.18
This chapter draws the bulk of its evidence from a single source, Samuel Pepys’s diary. The limitations of the case study form require little by way of elaboration. The specificities of time, location and individual subjectivity necessarily restrict the applicability of any findings. Whilst acknowledging the costs of this approach, they should not be overstated. Firstly, the resulting restrictions can be more positively construed as richly textured temporal and spatial contexts. Indeed, as a source, Pepys’s diary addresses Martin Daunton’s insistence that, ‘[the] transnational turn should be complemented by a concern for localities’.19 Likewise, Mary Fulbrook and Ulinka Rublack have countered that the supposed radical subjectivity of the ‘self’ is greatly overstated. In reality, the ‘self’ that Pepys narrates is undeniably ‘social’.20 In fact, using the diary has clear benefits in this case. Specifically, it provides an unrivalled account of the conjunction of the private and the public in at least two senses: first, by marrying action and reflection, and second, by chronicling both the public sphere and domestic life. It does so, moreover, in, at times, remarkable, and, elsewhere, mundane, but, above all, exhaustive detail. Consequently, when taken together, the conceptual structure, the subject matter and the referential density of the diary offer rich terrain for unearthing what Jovchelovitch has termed the ‘apparently ordinary and inconsequential’. Here, she argues, we can begin to unpack ‘the modalities of thinking [and] the behaviours and imaginations’ that constitute the social practices of stereotyping.21 Indeed, it is hardly far-fetched to reimagine Pepys as a proto-social psychologist, providing an exhaustive field report on the ‘social objects’ or ‘common sense’ of his day, albeit one whose own social representations are now themselves subject to historical analysis.
Frenchness in Pepys’s Diary
A preliminary question: why Frenchness? After all, this encounter is just one subset of a larger set encompassing people, objects and practices from around the world that Pepys recorded in his diary. Persians and Turks, Russians and Swedes, Dutch and Germans, French, Spaniards and Italians rubbed shoulders with Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen (and women). Similarly, he recorded in his journals foreign objects as diverse as parmesan cheese, ‘a brave turkey carpet’, chocolate, Spanish books, a ‘parti-coloured Indian gown’, a ‘very fine African mat’, French pornography, Dutch yachts and a west African baboon.22 Various cities, countries and regions – from China and Africa to the Americas – were the subjects of everyday and more rarefied discussion.23 This diversity of interactions has been reflected in recent early modern research. Accordingly, historians have tended to look either closer to home or further afield. The ‘archipelagic turn’ has, thus, focused on connections and interactions between Ireland, Scotland and England (the last of these taken to encompass Wales).24 In the latter case, Atlantic, imperial and global historians have investigated the importance of much wider frames of reference. To be sure, there have been contrary voices. Pincus and Jonathan Scott, for instance, have insisted on the centrality of an alternative, triangular, English-French-Dutch axis: a contact zone marked by emulation as much as antagonism.25 Nonetheless, if, historically, French national markers were one such grouping among many, historiographically they have receded into the background. Focusing on Frenchness, then, requires something by way of justification.
First some numbers.26 The terms ‘France’, ‘French’ and ‘Frenchman’ (but never ‘Frenchwoman’) occur 495 times in the Diary.27 By contrast, the terms ‘Holland’, ‘Hollander’, ‘Dutch’ and ‘Dutchmen’ occur in 585 places, or a little under 20 per cent more often (see Table 7.1).28 The greater incidence of terms relating to the Dutch should come as no surprise, since the English and Dutch fought the Second Anglo-Dutch War in this period. When this factor is accounted for, the picture is materially altered. Outside the period of conflict (1664–7), there are 248 references to the nexus of French terms but just 118 to the Dutch – more than twice as many references to the former than the latter. The relative incidence of French/Dutch markers is put into wider perspective, however, when compared to other nations and nationalities. Notwithstanding Pepys’s well-known interest in Spanish cultural production, terms relating to the other great power in western Europe occur just 153 times in total. Closer to home, various cognate terms for Scotland and the Scottish appear just 85 times; the equivalent Irish terms, 104; whilst the Welsh elicited comment on a mere 17 occasions. Similarly, the American colonies, bar passing comments on naval actions in the Caribbean, barely registered at all.
|% of total||8||7||5||13||9||8||9||25||12||5||101|
|% of total||6||1||4||4||22||18||15||25||3||2||100|
Clearly, quantitative exercises of this nature have their limitations. It is not suggested here, for instance, that Pepys recorded anything like the absolute totality of his encounters with the national constellations that these terms – French, Spanish, Irish, etc. – signify. His diary was not a comprehensive record of his lived experience in this – or any other – respect.29 Nor is it assumed that Pepys marked every encounter with a foreigner or foreign object that he did record in his diary with the appropriate national signifier. For instance, the famous Dutch-born artist Sir Peter Lely, whose studio Pepys visited on a number of occasions, is identified simply as ‘the painter Lilly’.30 This measure is, at best, then, a rough-and-ready indicator of the absolute presence of the foreign ‘other’ in Pepys’s social world. The real value of these diary data points lies, instead, in what they reveal about Pepys’s spatial imaginary. Their presence is suggestive of how these national clusters of place, practices, products and people impressed themselves on Pepys’s edited textual consciousness: that is, as a quantification of the qualitative. With these caveats in mind, two conclusions may be ventured. Firstly, these findings confirm, for Pepys’s represented experience, the paramount significance attached to a triangular Anglo-French-Dutch relationship – and the diminished importance of ‘archipelagic’ and Atlantic spatial configurations.31 Secondly, allowing for the impact of the Anglo-Dutch War, Pepys recorded the cluster of terms relating to the French/France far more frequently than any other national grouping.
Francophile habitus: prestige, taste and cosmopolitanism
In both the representational space of the diary and the social world it recorded, Pepys and his contemporaries were predisposed to identify French products and practices with prestige, taste and learning. The French ‘things’ present in the Diary took many forms: clothes, wigs, prints, fricassees, the French language, heroic drama, among others. If the technical quality of such ‘products’ – material and cultural – was undoubtedly important, it was, nonetheless, what Arjun Appadurai terms their ‘semiotic virtuosity’ that was critical.32 Thus understood, an object or thing is ‘no longer just a product or a commodity, but signs in a system of signs of status … devices for reproducing relations between persons’.33 Alexandra Shepard has recently argued that social identity in early modern England ‘was rooted in the possession of moveable estate’ – things. This, she adds, ‘made for the regular scrutiny of the goods people owned’. These ‘forms of reckoning’, as she terms them, were not restricted to elites but ‘articulated throughout the social scale’.34 In Pepys’s hierarchical, status-conscious world, French things, French people and even France itself were incorporated into critical processes of individual self-fashioning and social stratification: that is, in the formation of social stereotypes and stereotyping practices.
Pepys’s first reference to France sets the tone for the entire diary. Thus, whilst serving with the fleet dispatched to collect Charles II from his Continental exile in 1660, he noted ‘[t]his afternoon I first saw France … with which I was much pleased’.35 Thereafter, Pepys repeatedly expressed his desire to visit France. In February 1661, for example, perhaps prompted by an afternoon reading ‘some little French romances’, Pepys noted that he and his wife Elizabeth ‘did please ourselves talking of our going into France’.36 In this respect, Pepys was wholly unremarkable. The same year, he noted, ‘I dined with my Lord, and then with Mr. Shepley and Creed (who talked very high of France for a fine country)’.37 Creed’s comments, and the discussion itself, exemplify the attraction that France exerted over the metropolitan middling classes.38 It also crossed religious affiliations. Younger members of the related Crew and Mountagu families, parliamentarian in the Civil Wars and puritan in sympathy, travelled to France (and beyond) in the diary period. Pepys’s travel plans, thus, corresponded to an established practice amongst early modern English elites. This nascent ‘grand tour’ functioned, inter alia, as a means for the Restoration ‘gentleman’ to acquire the cultural capital deemed appropriate to his station.39 Overseas travel was thus intimately linked to domestic display. Francis Osborne, one of Pepys’s favourite authors, whilst generally sceptical of its merits nonetheless admitted that travel, ‘advanceth Opinion in the world, without which Desert is useful to none but it self’.40
The acquisition of other languages – and, by the Restoration, French in particular – was a ubiquitous justification for foreign travel. Hence, Osborne argued that ‘French is the most useful, Italian and Spanish not being so fruitful in Learning’.41 Pepys did make use of his knowledge of French in his official capacity.42 Such linguistic competence was not solely a professional requirement, however: it was also a sociocultural marker. Consequently, fluency in French could become a matter of competitive social display. On one such occasion, Pepys compared his own linguistic prowess with that of his colleague, Sir William Penn, noting: ‘[a]fter supper Mr. Pen and I fell to discourse about some words in a French song my wife was saying, “D’un air tout interdict,” wherein I laid twenty to one against him which he would not agree with me, though I know myself in the right as to the sense of the word, and almost angry we were, and were an hour and more upon the dispute’.43 Whilst fuelling in-group competition, linguistic facility also demonstrated and reinforced social stratification. Sandwich and Pepys at times conversed in French before the former’s servants. On one such occasion, Sandwich disclosed the politically sensitive news of Anne Hyde’s pregnancy.44 Here, French served as an oral equivalent to Pepys’s use of shorthand in his diary: a convenient means for elites to manufacture domestic secrecy. The wisdom of this strategy is, however, called into question by a quite extraordinary incident recorded later in the diary. In 1664, Pepys noted that, on his deathbed, his brother, Thomas, ‘did talk a great deal of French very plain and good’.45 Unlike his brothers Samuel and John, Thomas Pepys had not received advanced education, and how he acquired his knowledge of French remains unclear.46 Regardless of how he came to possess this capacity, his recourse to French at this most existential of moments suggests a surprising social depth, at least within London, to some basic familiarity with the French language. This linguistic imperium, or ‘Francosphere’, extended spatially as well as socially. While in the United Provinces in 1660 to collect Charles II, Pepys discovered that ‘every body of fashion’ among the natives spoke French.47 Consequently, he found the Dutch admiral Lord Opdam’s lack of French remarkable.48
The prestige afforded to France as a country and to the French language extended to French cultural products and practices. This was especially true of what, at one time, would have been termed ‘high culture’. Thus, in his professional capacity, Pepys was a regular visitor to Whitehall, where he listened appreciatively to the French music and, often, the French musicians that Charles II favoured over their domestic counterparts.49 As the quotation that opened this chapter demonstrates, such performances took place in both private and public venues. Likewise, Pepys’s frequent trips to the capital’s theatres exposed him to the vogue for rhymed-heroic drama, a French genre that had accompanied the Stuarts back from their European exile.50 At a less exalted level, he acquired numerous French books. He read these at home with his wife Elizabeth and, more visibly, with friends and acquaintances. Pepys was, for instance, an early reader of De Bussy’s Histoire amoureuse des Gaules – a work that Kate Loveman has recently described as a ‘touchstone of fashionable and cultured reading in England’.51 Interestingly, in a will he made in 1660, he stipulated that his French books should be left to Elizabeth.52 Moreover, books, French or otherwise, were not owned just to be read but to be displayed. The high symbolic value attached to French works is confirmed by their prominent position in the library Pepys bequeathed to his alma mater, Magdalene College.53 A good selection of foreign, but especially French, books helped Pepys project himself as a discerning reader: elite, educated and wealthy.54 It was altogether appropriate, then, that this collection was fashioned according to the precepts laid out by the French ‘librarian’, Gabriel Naudé.55 French prints performed a similar function. Pepys was an admirer of Robert Nanteuil, eventually owning no less than forty-seven of his prints.56 In the period covered by the Diary his collection included portraits of Louis XIV and the latter’s chief minister, Colbert. Prints of France were displayed at Pepys’s home – a domestic feature intended to impress select publics.57 By the end of the diary, Pepys was using his greater wealth and influence to secure French books and prints at source.58
As Fernand Braudel recognised many years ago, ‘costume everywhere is a persistent reminder of social position’.59 Osborne advised his readers to ‘[w]ear your Cloaths neat’, warning them to ‘spare all other ways rather than prove defective in this’.60 Pepys, a tailor’s son, clearly agreed. On one occasion, after purchasing a new cloak-and-suit ensemble, he noted ‘I must go handsomely, whatever it costs me, [as] the charge will be made up in the fruit it brings’.61 In this respect, Pepys seems to have been typical. Recent research has revealed the considerable economic investment in clothing in the early modern period by women and men alike, and across the social spectrum.62 Outer clothing was amongst the most conspicuous items of early modern consumption, visibly signalling internal cultural dispositions as much as material wealth. Within this field of social display, French clothing – or French styles – occupied a privileged position. In 1669, the commentator Edward Chamberlayne stated that ‘[f]or Apparel or Clothing the French Mode hath been generally used in England of late years’.63 Early in the Diary, Pepys marvelled at Sandwich’s hugely expensive French-tailored suit, purchased at the incredible cost of £200, for Charles II’s coronation (his annual salary after the Restoration was £250).64 Sandwich’s revelation of the price tag identifies this item as a Restoration ‘Veblen good’ par excellence.65 ‘Taste-makers’ at court – like Sandwich on this occasion – performed what Appadurai has termed a ‘turnstile’ function, prompting cultural diffusion and social emulation across wider segments of Restoration society.66 As with books and prints, Pepys was acquiring clothes directly from France for Elizabeth by the end of the period recorded in his diary.67 He himself was an early adopter of the Restoration vogue for wigs: a product and practice imported from the court of Louis XIV.68 He experimented with various locally made models before finally settling on one made by a French artisan resident in London – an indication itself of English demand for ‘authentic’, fashionable French apparel.69 The social stakes involved in such affectations could be high. Pepys was at first acutely sensitive to responses to his new accessory. The reward, however, merited the risk. In 1667, Pepys noted: ‘I to church, and with my mourning [clothes], very handsome, and new periwigg, make a great shew’.70 In this manner, the timely adoption of French fashions helped form recognisable social stereotypes, lending visible and legible prestige in the everyday competition over social status.
This desire for French ‘things’ extended to French cuisine. In 1668, after eating at the Covent Garden house of his fellow royal officer, but social superior, Thomas Chicheley, Pepys noted ‘[a] very fine house, and a man that lives in mighty great fashion, with all things in a most extraordinary manner noble and rich about him, and eats in the French fashion … and mighty nobly served with his servants, and very civilly; that I was mighty pleased with it: and good discourse’.71 Here, French food constituted an integral part of a ‘fashionable’ lifestyle. As Thomas Cohen and Elizabeth Cohen have noted, in addition to displaying the host’s cultural credentials, such social events were the occasion for forging social bonds.72 French wine served the same functions. Thus, somewhat earlier in the Diary, Pepys noted ‘with Sir J. Cutler and Mr. Grant to the Royall Oak Tavern … where Alexander Broome the poet was … and here drank a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan, that hath a good and most particular taste that I never met with’.73 As in the examples above, the diarist’s favourable experience of a material object was mediated by the social context. At the time, Pepys’s status was beneath those of Cutler, a city-merchant-cum-politician, and the courtier-poet, Brome. Pepys’s appreciation of the wine, whilst no doubt genuine, was shaped by the company and setting in which he drank it.74 This association extended to the most quotidian items. In 1665 Pepys attended a meeting of the Royal Society where French bread was afforded the imprimatur of the nation’s authoritative ‘scientific’ body.75 As in the twenty-first century, appreciation of French gastronomy signalled both the consumer’s economic status and their cultural capital.76 This was not simply a matter of French food tasting good, but of good ‘taste’.
Finally, the diary also records numerous encounters with French people. Certainly, as will be discussed below, not all such interactions were positive. Many, however, were. They occurred in locations ranging from domestic spaces to the various institutions of the public sphere. Closest to home, Elizabeth’s fluency in French clearly enhanced her status. As noted above, the Pepys’ common appreciation of French culture was not restricted to the household. Loveman has shown how Elizabeth displayed her superior knowledge of fashionable French romances in other social settings.77 These sociable gatherings formed an integral part of the couple’s strategy for their mutual advancement. Here, Elizabeth assumed the role of ‘cultural mediator’: converting her facility in the French language and awareness of French literature into cultural capital. Outside the home, such prestige was most likely to accrue to those French ‘cultural entrepreneurs’ who congregated around the court and other cultural spaces of polite London. This is evident in a variety of culturally charged but otherwise mundane interactions. In the summer of 1661, Pepys heard a Frenchman play ‘the Gittar, most extreme well’ at George Mountagu’s chamber; two years later he shared a coach with the Royal Physician’s wife Mrs Clarke’s ‘Frenchman (who sings well)’; in 1667, he noted seeing ‘a Frenchman ... one Monsieur Prin, play on the trump-marine, which he do beyond belief’.78
The French person most often recorded in the diary, however, is an altogether more exalted figure: Louis XIV. His pre-eminence within this textual universe is unrivalled by any other foreign figure. His presence as both the subject of everyday talk and object of domestic display serves as a reminder of the unstable boundary between cultural and political interactions in the early modern era.79 As Burke demonstrated, the ‘fabrication’ of Louis’s ‘greatness’ was the central concern of an array of cultural institutions and associated actors, including the musician Lully and the engraver Nanteuil.80 Such French cultural production was intended to promote the ‘soft power’ of France, as a nation, and the image of its ruler Louis XIV. Moreover, Louis’s influence extended to such items of everyday luxury as periwigs. As noted above, Pepys was an avid consumer of the products of this French cultural-political complex. His observation, at the end of 1663, that the ‘great talk is the designs of the King of France … and all the Princes of Europe have their eye upon him’, neatly encapsulated England’s peripheral position in an emerging transnational system centred on Louis and France.81
In Pepys’s social world, then, France and French things were routinely associated with notions of prestige, taste and cosmopolitanism. These attributes extended to those people – French or not –who mediated these cultural transactions. To realise the full social value of this cultural investment, it had to be recognised by one’s peers. Thus, clothes and wigs had to be worn, French spoken, French books read, French prints had to be displayed, French food and wine had to be consumed – and all before appropriate, and appreciative, audiences. This involved the internalisation of prevalent notions of ‘taste’, and their externalisation through social performance. These performances, in turn, extended from intimate domestic settings to the capital’s various public spaces. In Pepys’s world, French products and cultural practices were, thus, incorporated into discursive stereotypes and stereotyping practices that shaped critical processes of identity formation and social differentiation. If these interactions were initially the result of cultural exchange, the effects were also social and political. Certainly, French goods and practices did not exercise anything like a complete monopoly in Shepard’s ‘culture of appraisal’.82 Instead, they shared these qualities and functions with other products and practices, both foreign and domestic: ownership of Dutch paintings, drinking coffee and chocolate, familiarity with classical texts and reading natural philosophy, to name but a few. However, as Pascale Casanova has pointed out, within the early modern transnational economy of national prestige, French things had the highest exchange value.83 The Restoration pursuit of distinction, then, involved the public adoption of what, following Bourdieu, might be termed a Francophile habitus.
Francophobia and practices of moderation
Restoration London, then, was an exemplary transnational space and the Diary itself an invaluable record of the phenomenon Rodgers has recently termed ‘cultures in motion’.84 Pepys, like many of his contemporaries, appears to have generally experienced these cultural transactions as a form of gain. This, however, was neither his nor his contemporaries’ only response. As Tim Harris’s Chapter 1 has noted above in relation to English attitudes towards the Scots, it was possible for early modern men and women to entertain both positive and negative stereotypes about the same group of people, highlighting certain of their features depending on the context.85 Indeed, many people, including those most intimately involved in cultural mediation with the French, were uneasy about the evidently unequal terms of exchange, and at the resultant transformation of native, ‘English’ identities.86 This anxiety was shaped by, sustained and expressed in the form of negative stereotypes of Frenchness. These social representations were, in turn, contained within the central structural binary of moderation and excess – with the French, and Frenchness more generally, attached to the latter, negative pole. Unpacking the coexistence of such contradictory attitudes – what social psychologists would call cognitive polyphasia – now allows us to shed fresh light on English attitudes to the French.87
‘Moderation’, as Shagan has recently argued, was a central organising concept in post-Reformation England and, indeed, Renaissance Europe as a whole.88 In Shagan’s account, the English increasingly valorised what they identified as ‘moderate’ behaviour in this period. He thus notes, ‘worldly virtue was achieved when the moderation of people’s urges, passions or appetites produced a middle way between excess and deficiency’. Ultimately based on Aristotelian notions of virtue, ‘moderation’ was ‘at the centre of virtually all ethical writings in early modern England’.89 ‘Moderation’, on this account, was double-edged: it involved the exercise of self-control whilst justifying the imposition of coercive constraints on those who were incapable of such self-government. ‘Moderation’, moreover, operated across a whole range of discursive fields: religion and politics, gender and generational relations, and the social hierarchy.90 In each instance, those groups that successfully laid claim to the mantle of ‘moderation’ occupied the central normative position, whilst those identified as lacking in this respect were, with more or less success, marginalised. ‘Moderation’, then, serves as a key to Renaissance claims to normativity, both as a term in public discourse and as a guide to everyday practice. Phrased somewhat differently, such discursive practices were responsible for forming and sustaining the stereotypes and stereotyping practices that structured early modern society. Pepys’s own internalisation and externalisation of negative stereotypes of the French – as a form of ‘common sense’ and set of everyday practices – are representative of a prevalent Francophobic habitus.
The mildest manifestation of this Francophobic Angst was cultural equivocation. Literary scholars have long identified this as a characteristic of Restoration cultural production. Hume and Love, for instance, have noted that John Dryden’s ‘view of France and the French is always conflicted … [he] resists, apes, envies, and filches from the French’.91 The quotation that opened this chapter demonstrates that such anxieties were not restricted to the producers and products of ‘high culture’ but, instead, percolated down through Restoration society. When Pepys, for example, noted hearing a Frenchman play the guitar, he immediately undermined his praise by adding ‘though at the best methinks it is but a bawble’.92 These comments express widespread unease at what was evidently experienced as a musical centre–periphery relationship. These concerns, moreover, were not restricted to the field of cultural production. In 1661, arriving at a friend’s home, Pepys discovered ‘a Frenchman, a lodger of hers … just as I came in was kissing my wife, which I did not like’. His subsequent comment, ‘though there could not be any hurt in it’, carries less conviction.93 Three years later, Pepys recorded the rumoured rape of an English woman, ‘her husband being bound in his shirt, they both being in bed together, it being night, by two Frenchmen, who did not only lye with her but abused her with a linke’.94 In these cases, fear of the national ‘other’ was linked to gendered anxieties about domestic patriarchy and, by extension, social order. Fears of excessive French influence extended to politics and religion. As the diary progressed, these were increasingly linked, and more so still in the years that followed its conclusion.95 While Pepys was generally sceptical of plots, whether ‘papist’ or ‘fanatic’, after the Dutch (and therefore Protestant) victory on the Medway he recorded widespread anger ‘that we are bought and sold, and governed by Papists, and that we are betrayed by people about the King, and shall be delivered up to the French’.96 In his account, these anxieties often coalesced on the court as an institution, and the persons of the Queen Mother, Henrietta Maria and James, Duke of York in particular. If Henrietta Maria served as a proxy for the French ‘other’, the Duke of York represented the unduly ‘Frenchified’ English self. Interestingly, despite England’s being at war with the United Provinces for a good part of the period covered, Pepys registers no comparable concerns regarding the Dutch. Fears of the French and of Frenchness thus extended from the domestic sphere to the public realm and, as these latter examples demonstrate, was linked to anxieties regarding patriarchal authority.97
These anxieties about cultural exchange took the form of disciplinary national stereotypes. Pepys recorded an everyday example that occurred during a routine trip on the Thames with his professional and social superior, Sir William Coventry. Pepys subsequently noted, ‘he told me the passage of a Frenchman through London Bridge, where, when he saw the great fall [i.e. violent current around the wide bridge piers], he begun to cross himself and say his prayers in the greatest fear in the world, and soon as he was over, he swore “Morbleu! c’est le plus grand plaisir du monde”’. To indicate he had understood the moral of the story – or had got the joke – Pepys then added, ‘[this] being the most like a French humour in the world’.98 A little under a year earlier, another entry provides a further example of such Francophobic stereotypes. The context on this occasion was an armed confrontation on the streets of London between the households of the Spanish and French ambassadors. Observing the beaten French, Pepys commented that ‘there is [sic] no men in the world of a more insolent spirit where they do well, nor before they begin a matter, and more abject if they do miscarry, than these people’. For good measure, he added, ‘we do naturally all … hate the French’.99 For all their differences, these two entries share important characteristics. First, they each carry out the same cognitive operation. The ascribed behaviour of a single Frenchman, or small sample of them, was extrapolated to the French as a nation. Next, the alleged characteristics revealed in these incidents were not, in themselves, deemed remarkable. Instead, they embodied collective and commonplace assumptions. Finally, the structural form this stereotype took was a lack of moderation – although described here, in the negative sense, as a propensity to excess. As explicit statements of national stereotypes go – Francophobic or otherwise – they are also unique within the Diary.
This almost deafening silence in an account spanning nearly a decade is less damaging than it might at first appear, however. The reason lies in Pepys’s use of the concept of moderation in his stereotyping of the French. Admittedly, ‘moderate’ and its various cognate terms are not keywords in the Pepysian lexicon – at least if measured quantitatively. They are used sparingly, and typically operate as value-neutral modifiers.100 Occasionally, however, there is a clearer normative sense to Pepys’s usage of these words. The diarist, for example, considered the alderman and goldsmith, Sir Robert Vyner, ‘a very moderate man’: an indication of approval.101 The Conventicle Bill, by contrast, was deemed ‘too devilish a severe act … beyond all moderation’, by the diarist’s cousin, the MP Roger Pepys.102 The underlying concept of ‘moderation’, nonetheless, saturates Pepys’s prose and guided his day-to-day practice. Pepys attempted, with mixed success, to moderate his own behaviour – be it illicit sexual activity, excessive drinking, compulsive play-going or his rampant bibliophilia.103 Thus, in autumn 1663, Pepys wrote, ‘to Westminster Hall, thinking to meet Mrs. Lane, which is my great vanity … but I must correct it’.104 He took equally, if not more, seriously his role as a ‘moderator’ of others’ behaviour – whether his wife’s, his relations’, his clerical assistants’ or his servants’. This often took the form of physical violence. After beating his personal servant Wayneman Birch, he told Birch’s sister Jane ‘how much I did love the boy … and how much it do concern [me] to correct the boy … or else he would be undone’.105 While the notion of affectionate violence may now jar, there is no reason to suspect Pepys of being disingenuous on this occasion.106 His actions, nonetheless, were undeniably self-interested. Pepys occupied the dominant ‘moderate’ position in an array of hierarchical relationships that collectively structured his own world, and early modern society more generally. At the same time, his practice of moderation, of himself as much as others, was a response to deep-seated anxieties about his personal authority and public reputation: a condition characterised by Mark Breitenberg as ‘anxious masculinity’.107 ‘Moderation’ of self and others, then, was of equal and central importance to Pepys in his exercise of domestic and public authority. As such, it represented an essential aspect of Restoration ‘common sense’, shaping Pepys’s thought and directing his actions.
It is hardly surprising, then, that Restoration public discourse was populated by ‘immoderate’ Frenchmen. It was the ubiquity of this stereotype that provided the shared social meaning of Coventry’s anecdote and Pepys’s French diplomats. In an exact echo of Pepys’s assessment of the French diplomats, a jest book from 1666, for example, noted that ‘[the French] are brave fellows at a first On-set, begin an action like thunder, and end it in a smoke, at the first encounter more than men, in the close thereof less than women’.108 Likewise, the French were routinely depicted on the Restoration stage as cowardly braggarts. James Howard’s 1666 play, The English monsieur, which Pepys attended and enjoyed in 1666, and again in 1668, featured a pair of boastful, but ultimately craven, French tailors in its comic subplot.109 Robert Hume has noted that Restoration plays were ‘highly … conventional, imitative and repetitive’. The deployment of a variety of recognisable stereotypes – ‘stock characters’ – was an important element of this proven formula.110 The same national stereotype was pervasive in the various printed ‘characters’ of different nations that were published at the time. Shepard has noted that the authors of these works dealt in a common stock of derogatory stereotypes that were immediately recognisable to their audience.111 Their appeal, then, lay in the situational or topical treatment of the stereotype in question, not its general contours.
Certainly, early modern English authors across a range of genres identified specific characteristics with particular nations. Osborne, for instance, warned overseas travellers against ‘the external Levity of France, Pride of Spain, and Treachery of Italy’.112 These individual characterisations of the French, Spanish and Italians were entirely conventional, and would have been immediately familiar to his readership – including his admirer, Pepys. Yet, notwithstanding their specificity, each of these national ‘others’ was negatively characterised by excess. Thus, in The character of Spain, published in 1660, the anonymous author stated that ‘[the Spanish] have a saying of the French … Their first onset manifests them more then men, but their last less then women. But they [i.e. the French] to requite their kindness, have an ill-favor’d saying of them, That the Spaniards in point of true active valor, are but bearded women.’113 There is a strict homology between Coventry’s stereotypical Frenchman and these, quite literally, ‘caricatured’ Frenchmen and Spaniards. This commonality across generic forms testifies to the working of a structural template, as opposed to any evidence-based analysis of the French – or indeed other nationalities. This confirms the following observation by Wolfgang Wagner and other social psychologists: the ‘resulting trope [i.e. stereotype] is not “correct”’ – at least not in any rigorous empirical sense – rather, ‘[i]t is just good to think with’.114 If the foreign ‘other’ – French, Spanish, Italian or whomsoever – was laughably or alarmingly excessive, the English were, at least implicitly, reassuringly moderate.
The problem with this comforting conclusion was the all too visible evidence of wholesale cultural borrowing. Accordingly, the desire to contain the French ‘other’ was also directed at the English ‘self’. Excessive Francophobia was routinely caricatured in the stereotype of the ‘Frenchified’ fop.115 This figure ridiculed the lack of ‘moderation’ evident in pervasive Francophile affectations, of the sort outlined in the previous section. For instance, alongside its comical French tailors, The English monsieur featured an affected, and ridiculous, Francophile Englishman, the unimaginatively named ‘Mr Frenchlove’.116 This stereotype was not, however, restricted to theatrical representations: he was also a stock figure of travel literature and, as the Restoration progressed, political polemic. John Evelyn for instance, one of the leading cultural brokers of this period, mocked his compatriots’ emulation of French fashion in the suggestively titled Tyrannus. One ‘Frenchified’ contemporary was, Evelyn noted, ‘a silken thing which I spied walking through Westminster Hall, that had as much Ribbon on him as would have plundered six shops, and set up a twenty Country Pedlers: All his body was dres’t like a May-Pole’. For Evelyn, sartorial tyranny had serious consequences: ‘when a Nation is able to impose, and give laws to the habits of another’, he added, ‘it has (like that of Language) proved a Fore-runner of the spreading of their Conquests’.117 The location of this English abomination, Westminster Hall, is suggestive of the political element in this seemingly cultural anxiety. As Rublack has shown, such connections between national habit and national habitus were a Renaissance commonplace.118 The Frenchified fop, however, was not merely a discursive trope, but a flesh-and-blood figure that could be encountered on the capital’s streets. In 1664, for instance, after meeting the future Quaker leader William Penn, newly returned from France, Pepys noted ‘I perceive something of learning he hath got, but a great deal, if not too much, of the vanity of the French garb and affected manner of speech and gait’. Ventriloquising a familiar complaint, he added ‘I fear all real profit he hath made of his travel will signify little’.119 Penn’s embodiment of cosmopolitan values and affect, so evident in Pepys’s own clothing, diction and deportment, was now the subject of destructive, and entirely formulaic, criticism. For all its comedic effect, then, the Frenchified fop embodied genuine unease over cultural emulation and national domination. Across these same genres, the fop faced a similarly stereotypical counterpart: the culturally circumscribed ‘country gentleman’ – in The English monsieur, ‘Mr Wellbred’ and ‘Mr Comely’.120 The affected and, to some, excessive cosmopolitanism of London, and specifically the court, was contrasted with a more authentic and moderate ‘country’. In the case of the Frenchified fop, the Francophile urbane–rustic cultural binary was transformed into a Francophobic affected–authentic national configuration.
Such hostile stereotypes shaped encounters, everyday and extraordinary, with the French ‘other’. These interactions often took coercive form: Shagan’s moderating practices transposed onto the field of national identities. As is well known, xenophobia was a common complaint of travellers to early modern England. To be sure, such dislikes were not confined to the French. The Tuscan visitor Lorenzo Magalotti claimed that Londoners ‘were proud, arrogant and uncivil to foreigners’, before qualifying this by adding ‘especially the French’.121 Admittedly, this was not always the case. By contrast to Magalotti, the Dutch visitor William Schellinks’s stay appears to have passed without trouble.122 Ironically, Pepys himself was subjected to just such a xenophobic microaggression during a visit to the Chatham dockyard. He was, he recorded, woken in the middle of the night by a man ‘calling me “French dogg” twenty times, one after another; and I starting, as if I would get out of the bed, he fell a-laughing as hard as he could … I asked him what he meant: he desired my pardon for that he was mistaken, for he thought … that it had been Salmon the Frenchman, with whom he intended to have made some sport’.123 In other cases, the foreignness of those involved in these interactions may not have been the cause of the confrontations. Given the pervasiveness of negative stereotypes, however, it seems likely that it was an aggravating factor. In Pepys’s journal, this is clearest in the encounter, noted earlier in this section, when the French ambassador’s followers clashed with their Spanish counterparts on the streets of London. On this occasion, civic ritual took a distinctly carnivalesque turn, with the French subjected to a humiliating barrage of brickbats and insults.124 As social historians have shown, ‘crowd actions’ typically took on recognisable and legible form.125 The aim of such practices, according to this scholarship, was the public punishment of deviant behaviour, the reinforcement of shared values and the restoration of ‘appropriate’ power relations – in this case between the English and the French. As so often in Pepys’s diary, the extraordinary reconnected with the everyday, and the public with the private. Thus, on returning home, Pepys noted that he ‘vexed’ Elizabeth by ‘pleading’ for the Spanish. The patriotic ‘moderation’ of French excess in the public sphere, thus, seems to have presented an opportunity for the anxious husband to practise some patriarchal ‘moderation’ in the domestic sphere on his part-French wife.126
In Pepys’s Diary and the social world that it exhaustively but selectively recorded, national stereotypes and stereotyping practices took place in a transnational cultural space. This space was populated by people, practices and products from numerous parts of the world. In the resulting economy of national difference, however, Frenchness was distinguished, at least in Pepys’s account, by its quantitative incidence and qualitative value. It was habitually associated with prestige by Pepys and his contemporaries – from across the social and ideological spectrum – and appropriated in both individual strategies of self-fashioning and collective processes of social stratification. If the former might seem primarily cultural, the latter serve as a reminder that cultural distinction is always implicated in social reproduction. These positive stereotypes of Frenchness were pervasive in discourse and shaped everyday practices in public and private settings alike. The resulting Francophile habitus was internalised in notions of good taste, and externalised, inter alia, in reading, speech, dress and dining, as well as in more recognisably aesthetic choices. This cultural formation and its associated practices positioned England, like other European cultures, in a French-dominated transnational space. At the same time, the obvious implication of national inferiority provoked countervailing cultural tendencies that sought to assert English parity – or even superiority. In these cases, Frenchness was, instead, characterised by excess. Its opposite, moderation, structured a variety of domains of normative difference and justified coercive regimes and practices. Accordingly, this hostile stereotype shaped interactions in both public and private settings. This equation of Frenchness with excess underpinned a habitual Francophobe disposition amongst Pepys and his compatriots. Expressed in a variety of textual genres and public performances, it shaped Restoration ‘common sense’ and informed everyday interactions. As Pepys shows, these countervailing stereotypes coexisted at the individual and collective levels; their balance, at any moment, was determined by the local and national context. While at one level routine, even automatic, they were also subject to conscious manipulation. This understanding of dispositions towards French things, people and France itself complicates the existing understanding of ‘public opinion’ in this period articulated most forcefully by Pincus. To be sure, Restoration attitudes towards France and the French were shaped by political economy, print publication and coffee house discourse. Such attitudes however were much more complex than is suggested by the schematic account of the shift from the anti-Dutch to the anti-French positions. As we have seen, both positive and negative stereotypes about the French coexisted during the Restoration period. These operated in private as well as public settings, and were incorporated into social practices as well as political discourse. Different approaches are now needed if we want to assess the rising hostility against the French. How did latent prejudices against the French come to be mobilised in the 1670s? How was Francophile habitus sidestepped in decision-making in general and in the formation of diplomatic policies in particular? Who controlled the meanings of the Frenchness and swayed public opinion? What psychologists have called cognitive polyphasia and its evolution can thus be studied in concrete historical settings. Pursuing these questions, historians would be able to engage with social psychologists and political scientists interested in the role of ethnocentrism in the making of current foreign policies. Closer to home, studying the politics of stereotyping as advocated in this chapter would also enable us to bring closer together cultural history with political history and the history of imperial rivalry in late seventeenth-century England.