Sismondi, Jean Charles Léonard Simonde de
Sismondi, Jean Charles Léonard Simonde de zhäN shärl lāônär´ sēmôNd´ də sēsmôNdē´ [key], 1773–1842, Swiss historian, economist, and critic. A member of the circle of Mme de Staël, he was a moderate liberal; his political views colored his writings. His celebrated History of the Italian Republics in the Middle Ages (16 vol., 1809–18; tr., abr. and rev., 1906) is marred by his Calvinist bias against the Roman Catholic Church, which he considered chiefly responsible for the loss of liberty in the Italian states. However, the work shows Sismondi to have been among the first historians to appreciate economic influence on cultural and political developments. Sismondi popularized the laissez-faire economics of Adam Smith in his De la richesse commerciale (1802). However, the social effects of the Industrial Revolution in England led him to become a critic of capitalism and a precursor of socialism in Nouveaux Principes d'économie politique (1819). In literary history, Sismondi's De la littérature du Midi de l'Europe (1813) helped found the romantic school of criticism. Sismondi considered literature a natural product of political and social institutions.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Historians, European: Biographies