Moser, Friedrich Carl von

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Moser, Friedrich Carl von (1723-1798): German Jurist.

Moser was an administrator, diplomat and expert in constitutional law. In the typical manner of the enlightened German bourgeoisie, he tried to realize progressive ideas within the framework of the existing absolutist structures.

Moser studied in Jena and began his administrative and diplomatic career in 1747. He held positions in different Hessian states and worked for Emperor Joseph II, before he finally returned to Hesse-Darmstadt as head of the state administration (1772-80). He worked on financial consolidation and on administrative reforms. His special interest lay in the improvement of the subjects’ standard of life, which he sought to achieve by reforms from above aiming at an increased productivity of agriculture, foundation of factories and a rationalization of local administration. He met heavy opposition, however. Moser’s reform projects show how well-meant enlightenment politics could not succeed without being based on a proper understanding of the people’s traditions and aims. Enlightenment as a government measure from above would not function, unless local people were actively involved.

In his writings, he worked out the relationship between prince and servant, optimistic in his youth, but more realistic in old age when he found that his view on the absolute monarchs of his time had been too positive and that his ideas of solving the problems of this world by good will alone had failed.

Further Reading:

A. Stirken, Der Herr und der Diener. Friedrich Carl von Moser und das Beamtenwesen seiner Zeit, 1984.

Sibylle Plassman

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