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Culture and Politics in Europe: Was there any place for women in the Republic of Letters ?

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  1. The theme of the Salonnières
  2. The other groups of women within the Republic of Letters
  3. The philosophes' opinion relating to the enlightened women

The Network of private correspondence between "Men of Letters", was, at the beginning, the Republic of Letters. The heiress of Erasmus and her colleagues developed it into a more complex and institutionalized organization. As a universal community of scientists and knowledge, the Republic of Letters included all sciences recognized since the knowledge of Latin and Greek was required for the understanding of old medical, mathematical and philosophical texts. The Republic of Letters was an international organization. Philosophers stayed in contact and presented their new ideas, exchanging letters, manuscripts, or books. They also met in academies, libraries, cabinets de curiosité and salons. All its members had a common ideal: the liberty of judgment, love of reason and truth. The main values defended by these enlightened philosophers were tolerance, liberty and equality. The Republic of Letters declared equality for all its members, and recognized only one hierarchy, based on merit, not on birth. However we may wonder what kind of place was given to a specific group of the population which was neglected and denigrated and usually held well away from the society at this period within the Republic of Letters: women. Was there any place for women in the Republic of Letters?

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