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Economic thought on the eve of the 1821 Revolution: The example of the commercial encyclopaedia “Ermis O Kerdoos”



Economic thought on the eve of the 1821 Revolution: The example of the commercial encyclopaedia “Ermis O Kerdoos”


2 October 2021


The ideological preparation for the 1821 Revolution has been studied to a considerable extent. We know the ideological influences of the American and, especially, French revolutions in the process of developing political and state ideas in the spaces of the Greek world. These ideas were put into practice during the state organisation of the revolution and the drafting of its constitutions. In the same context of the modern Greek Enlightenment, the components of the transfer of the scientific and philosophical thinking of the European Enlightenment have been studied with the aim of awakening and educating the people. In other words, it was an embrace of knowledge with a direct practical goal and result. At the same time, however, we know of the unequal, that is, small, transfer of knowledge in the field of economic thinking, despite the practical nature of this knowledge and its utilitarian role in the formation of public finances during the revolution and the first years of the newly formed Greek state. A few studies dealing with the transfer of this specific knowledge have already pointed out this phenomenon.

This talk aims to explore both the attempts to transfer economic ideas and the relationship of this economic thinking with the political ideas that circulated among merchants and scholars, through works written on the eve of the revolution, with the main example being of Nikolaos Papadopoulos’ commercial encyclopaedia Ermis O Kerdoos (1815–1816). The transfer of this economic thought, which had immediate practical objectives that went beyond individual education and activities, concerns: a) the recording and classification of “economic material” according to the example of the French encyclopaedia, aiming at the knowledge and organisation of specific economic fields; b) the promotion of models of economic organisation, not of individual transactions but of political entities and in the promotion of political systems capable of supporting effective economic activity. At the same time, the talk will attempt to investigate the relation of the modern Greek Enlightenment with physiocratic and mercantilist ideas and to trace the imprint of these ideas in the organisation of the finances of revolution and the newly formed Greek state.

(Edited and translated abstract from conference website)

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