Working Paper No. 4/2015 | Dimitrie Cantemir, the Monarchia Borealis and the Petrine Instauration
Nikolas Pissis – 2015
This paper considers a short memorandum titled Monarchiarum Physica Examinatio, which the exiled Moldavian prince Dimitrie Cantemir dedicated to Peter the Great in 1714. The text is based on the biblical scheme of the sequence of the Four Empires, but the interpretation presented diverges from the conventional readings. Cantemir reserves the place of the fourth and last Empire for the upcoming Monarchia Borealis and describes its rise in Aristotelian terms as a natural necessity. In identifying Cantemir’s hitherto unnoticed alchemical source of inspiration and commenting upon the epistemic shift from political theology to political physiology and the argumentative purpose it serves, the paper discusses the modalities of knowledge transfer, the resultant configuration of knowledge within a new cultural context and implications of this for a more complex understanding of the Phanariots’ intellectual outlook as well as the Petrine reforms and their legitimization.