Cesare beccaria: functionary, lecturer, cameralist? Interpreting cameralism in Habsburg Lombardy

Alexandra Ortolja-Baird*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the engagement of Milanese philosopher, lecturer and Habsburg administrator Cesare Beccaria with cameral science in three forms: as a university discipline, an intellectual discourse and a set of governance practices. Initially addressing Beccaria’s role as the inaugural Chair of Scienze Camerali at the Palatine School in Milan, the chapter outlines the divergences in the interpretations of cameral science held by Beccaria and officials of the Habsburg Court, before exploring the predominantly critical reception of his lectures across Europe. This is followed by an assessment of the availability of the cameralist “canon” in Habsburg Lombardy and the role of the Milanese economic book trade in shaping Beccaria’s thought. Finally, turning to Beccaria’s administrative career, the chapter considers his involvement in public health and smallpox inoculation, linking his actions to the concept of Medizinische Polizey and his collaboration with Habsburg health officials Gerard van Swieten and Johann Peter Frank. The chapter concludes that Beccaria’s understanding of cameral science was not only heavily mediated by Italian and French political economy, but also by his concerns for the applicability of theory to the Lombard context. In so doing, it calls the homogeneity of cameralism outside of German-speaking lands into question.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCameralism and the Enlightenment
Subtitle of host publicationHappiness, Governance and Reform in Transnational Perspective
EditorsEre Nokkala, Nicholas B. Miller, Anthony J. La Vopa
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780367360511
ISBN (Print)9781000761719
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2019


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