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Jacob Soll
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden (Camden, NJ 08102-1405)
The Secret Sphere: Jean-Baptiste Colbert and the Invention of the Knowledgeable State, 1640-1730

This project seeks to reveal for the first time the mechanics of how Jean-Baptiste Colbert built the French state’s large-scale information and intelligence network during the second half of the seventeenth century. Colbert realized that there was an information crisis as seditious news, critical history and even politically sensitive geographical information circulated in public. He thus formulated a plan to make his new centralized government into an intelligence-gathering machine, as a counter-balance to the public sphere. Drawing on humanist and scientific traditions, Colbert created the contours of the modern knowledgeable state.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
European History

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2005 – 6/30/2006