Hugh Trevor-Roper, "The Religious Origins of the Enlightenment":
Moreover, if we look at the stages of the Enlightenment, the successive geographical centres in which its tradition was engendered or preserved, the same conclusion forces itself upon us. The French Huguenots, we are told—Hotman, Languet, Duplessis-Mornay and their friends—created the new political science of the sixteenth century.
Calvinist Holland brought forth the seventeenth-century concept of natural law and provided a safe place of study for Descartes. Cromwellian England accepted the scientific programme of Bacon and hatched the work of Hobbes and Harrington. The Huguenots in Calvinist Holland—Pierre Bayle, Jean Leclerc—created the Republic of Letters in the last years of Louis XIV.
Switzerland—Calvinist Geneva and Calvinist Lausanne—was the cradle of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in Europe: it was in Geneva that Giannone and Voltaire would seek refuge; it was a Calvinist pastor of Geneva, Jacob Vernet, who would be the universal agent of the movement: the correspondent of Leclerc, the friend and translator of Giannone, the friend and publisher of Montesquieu, the agent of Voltaire; and it was to Calvinist Lausanne that Gibbon would owe, as he would afterwards admit, his whole intellectual formation.
Finally, after Switzerland, another Calvinist society carried forward the tradition. The Scotland of Francis Hutcheson and David Hume, of Adam Smith and William Robertson carried on the work of Montesquieu and created a new philosophy, a new history, a new sociology. Thither, as Gibbon wrote, “taste and philosophy seemed to have retired from the smoke and hurry of this immense capital,” London; and Thomas Jefferson would describe the University of Edinburgh and the Academy of Geneva as the two eyes of Europe.
Calvinist Holland, Puritan England, Calvinist Switzerland, Calvinist Scotland . . .
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If we take a long view—if we look at the continuous intellectual tradition which led from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment—these Calvinist societies appear as the successive fountains from which that tradition was supplied, the successive citadels into which it sometimes retreated to be preserved. Without those fountains, without those citadels what, we may ask, would have happened to that tradition? And yet how easily the fountains might have been stopped, the citadels overrun!
Suppose that the Duke of Savoy had succeeded in subjugating Geneva—as so nearly happened in 1600—and that the Bourbons, in consequence, had imposed their protectorate on the remaining French cantons of Switzerland.
Suppose that Charles I had not provoked an unnecessary rebellion in Scotland, or even that James II had continued the policy of his brother and perpetuated a high-flying Tory Anglican government in England.
If all this had happened, Grotius, Descartes, Richard Simon, John Locke, Pierre Bayle would still have been born, but would they have written as they did, could they have published what they wrote? And without predecessors, without publishers, what would have happened to the Enlightenment, a movement which owed so much of its character to the thought of the preceding century and to its own success in propaganda and publicity?