The Centre for the Study ofthe History of Political Thought

Ideas of Poverty in the Age of Enlightenment

Although the Age of Enlightenment saw the development of radically new approaches to comprehending and reforming society and politics, our current understanding is that the existence of poverty was rarely problematized by eighteenth-century thinkers, writers and officials – notwithstanding that ‘the poor’ made up the clear majority of Europe’s population. This picture only changed in the transformative decade of the 1790s. This conference brings together historians with a wide range of geographical and theoretical expertise to re-examine the ways in which poverty was conceptualised in the social, political and religious discourses of eighteenth-century Europe.

The conference is generously supported by the King’s College London Faculty of Humanities Research Grant Programme, Dept. of History Research Fund and Centre for Enlightenment Studies; University College London’s History Dept. Events Fund; and the Royal Historical Society.

Those wishing to attend are requested to register by emailing Niall O’Flaherty (niall.o’ and Robin Mills ( by 31 August. Places are limited and will be offered on a rolling basis. Please click here to download a copy of the conference programme.