Elie Bertrand and the Polish question:Contribution of the legal and political ideason the basis of unknown correspondence
This short essay, while being an introduction to deep reflections, consists of three parts: 1. Elie Bertrand’s profile; 2. the role of correspondence as a particular source for discussion; 3. contribution of the legal and political ideas in Elie Bertrand’s correspondence.
The first part presents Elie Bertrand as a Helvetic scholar who skillfully combines the duties of a Calvinist pastor with his scientific activities, especially in the following areas: politics, law, religion, and geology. It also shows his relations with the Republic of Poland through education of Polish magnates — Michał Jerzy and Józef Mniszchów, and projects of reforms for the Republic of Poland prepared at the request of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski and Polish magnates.
The second part shows the fundamental meaning of correspondence, including unknown correspondence, as a source basis for finding legal and political ideas, popularized in Poland by Elie Bertrand. Versailles and Ossoliński correspondence, carried out between Elie Bertrand and, among others, Katarzyna Mniszchowa of Zamoyscy, Feliks Łoyka, comprises invaluable source material, regarding legal and political situation in the Republic of Poland in 1768.
The third part presents the Helvetic scholar as a reformer of the Republic of Poland (projects for the reform of Polish agriculture and foundation of the Academy of Science and Useful Arts), who believed that political, legal and economic order will uplift the country from backwardness. Moreover, he is also presented as a legalist who criticizes Polish anarchy and intolerance, a great supporter of people’s equal subordination to law.