enemies and free itself of its evils. His fundamental idea is that of a human perfectibility which has manifested itself in continuous progress in the past, and must lead to indefinite progress in the future. He represents man as starting from the lowest stage of barbarism, with no superiority over the other animals save that of bodily organization, and as advancing uninterruptedly, at a more or less rapid rate, in the path of enlightenment, virtue and happiness. The stages which the human race has already gone through, or, in other words, the great epochs of history, are regarded as nine in number. The first three can confessedly be described only conjecturally from general observations as to the development of the human faculties, and the analogies of savage life. In the first epoch, men are united into hordes of hunters and fishers, who acknowledge in some degree public authority and the claims of family relationship, and who make use of an articulate language. In the second epoch—the pastoral state—property is introduced, and along with it inequality of conditions, and even slavery, but also leisure to cultivate intelligence, to invent some of the simpler arts, and to acquire some of the more elementary truths of science. In the third epoch—the agricultural state—as leisure and wealth are greater, labour better distributed and applied, and the means of communication increased and extended, progress is still more rapid. With the invention of alphabetic writing the conjectural part of history closes, and the more or less authenticated part commences. The fourth and fifth epochs are represented as corresponding to Greece and Rome. The middle ages are divided into two epochs, the former of which terminates with the Crusades, and the latter with the invention of printing. The eighth epoch extends from the invention of printing to the revolution in the method of philosophic thinking accomplished by Descartes. And the ninth epoch begins with that great intellectual revolution, and ends with the great political and moral revolution of 1789, and is illustrious, according to Condorcet, through the discovery of the true system of the physical universe by Newton, of human nature by Locke and Condillac, and of society by Turgot, Richard Price and Rousseau. There is an epoch of the future—a tenth epoch,—and the most original part of Condorcet’s treatise is that which is devoted to it. After insisting that general laws regulative of the past warrant general inferences as to the future, he argues that the three tendencies which the entire history of the past shows will be characteristic features of the future are:—(1) the destruction of inequality between nations; (2) the destruction of inequality between classes; and (3) the improvement of individuals, the indefinite perfectibility of human nature itself—intellectually, morally and physically. These propositions have been much misunderstood. The equality to which he represents nations and individuals as tending is not absolute equality, but equality of freedom and of rights. It is that equality which would make the inequality of the natural advantages and faculties of each community and person beneficial to all. Nations and men, he thinks, are equal, if equally free, and are all tending to equality because all tending to freedom. As to indefinite perfectibility, he nowhere denies that progress is conditioned both by the constitution of humanity and the character of its surroundings. But he affirms that these conditions are compatible with endless progress, and that the human mind can assign no fixed limits to its own advancement in knowledge and virtue, or even to the prolongation of bodily life. This theory explains the importance he attached to popular education, to which he looked for all sure progress.
The book is pervaded by a spirit of excessive hopefulness, and contains numerous errors of detail, which are fully accounted for by the circumstances in which it was written. Its value lies entirely in its general ideas. Its chief defects spring from its author’s narrow and fanatical aversion to all philosophy which did not attempt to explain the world exclusively on mechanical and sensational principles, to all religion whatever, and especially to Christianity and Christian institutions, and to monarchy. His ethical position, however, gives emphasis to the sympathetic impulses and social feelings, and had considerable influence upon Auguste Comte.
Madame de Condorcet (b. 1764), who was some twenty years younger than her husband, was rendered penniless by his proscription, and compelled to support not only herself and her four years old daughter but her younger sister, Charlotte de Grouchy. After the end of the Jacobin Terror she published an excellent translation of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments; in 1798 a work of her own, Lettres sur la sympathie; and in 1799 her husband’s Éloges des acadêmiciens. Later she co-operated with Cabanis, who had married her sister, and with Garat in publishing the complete works of Condorcet (1801–1804). She adhered to the last to the political views of her husband, and under the Consulate and Empire her salon became a meeting-place of those opposed to the autocratic régime. She died at Paris on the 8th of September 1822. Her daughter was married, in 1807, to General O’Connor.
A Biographie de Condorcet, by M. F. Arago, is prefixed to A. Condorcet-O’Connor’s edition of Condorcet’s works, in 12 volumes (1847–1849). There is an able essay on Condorcet in Lord Morley of Blackburn’s Critical Miscellanies. On Condorcet as an historical philosopher see Comte’s Cours de philosophie positive, iv. 252-253, and Système de politique positive, iv. Appendice Général, 109-111; F. Laurent, Études, xii. 121-126, 89-110; and R. Flint, Philosophy of History in France and Germany, i. 125-138. The Mémoires de Condorcet sur la Révolution française, extraits de sa correspondance et de celles de ses amis (2 vols., Paris, Ponthieu, 1824), which were in fact edited by F. G. de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, are spurious. See also Dr J. F. E. Robinet, Condorcet, sa vie et son œuvre, and more especially L. Cahen, Condorcet et la Révolution française (Paris, 1904). On Madame de Condorcet see Antoine Guillois, La Marquise de Condorcet, sa famille, son salon et ses œuvres (Paris, 1897).
CONDOTTIERE (plural, condottieri), an Italian term, derived ultimately from Latin conducere, meaning either “to conduct” or “to hire,” for the leader of the mercenary military companies, often several thousand strong, which used to be hired out to carry on the wars of the Italian states. The word is often extended so as to include the soldiers as well as the leader of a company. The condottieri played a very important part in Italian history from the middle of the 13th to the middle of the 15th century. The special political and military circumstances of medieval Italy, and in particular the wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, brought it about that the condottieri and their leaders played a more conspicuous and important part in history than the “Free Companies” elsewhere. Amongst these circumstances the absence of a numerous feudal cavalry, the relative luxury of city life, and the incapacity of city militia for wars of aggression were the most prominent. From this it resulted that war was not merely the trade of the condottiere, but also his monopoly, and he was thus able to obtain whatever terms he asked, whether money payments or political concessions. These companies were recruited from wandering mercenary bands and individuals of all nations, and from the ranks of the many armies of middle Europe which from time to time overran Italy.
Montreal d’Albarno, a gentleman of Provence, was the first to give them a definite form. A severe discipline and an elaborate organization were introduced within the company itself, while in their relations to the people the most barbaric licence was permitted. Montreal himself was put to death at Rome by Rienzi, and Conrad Lando succeeded to the command. The Grand Company, as it was called, soon numbered about 7000 cavalry and 1500 select infantry, and was for some years the terror of Italy. They seem to have been Germans chiefly. On the conclusion (1360) of the peace of Bretigny between England and France, Sir John Hawkwood (q.v.) led an army of English mercenaries, called the White Company, into Italy, which took a prominent part in the confused wars of the next thirty years. Towards the end of the century the Italians began to organize armies of the same description. This ended the reign of the purely mercenary company, and began that of the semi-national mercenary army which endured in Europe till replaced by the national standing army system. The first company of importance raised on the new basis was that of St George, originated by Alberigo, count of Barbiano, many of whose subordinates and pupils conquered principalities for themselves. Shortly after,