French philosopher, politician, and anti-Jewish writer; born Oct. 2, 1774; died at Nomma Nov. 23, 1840. Being opposed to the Revolution of 1789, he emigrated in 1791 and settled at Heidelberg, where he wrote his first important work, "Théorie du Pouvoir Politique et Réligieux dans la Société Civile," which was condemned by the Directorate. Later he returned to France, and became the leader of the political and ecclesiastical reaction. He endeavored to reduce the Jews to their former degraded position.
In an article, "Sur les Juifs," in the "Mercure de France," Feb. 8, 1806, Bonald repeated the usual anti-Semitic accusations. The burden of his tirade was that the Jews were at war with morality, that they formed an "imperium in imperio," and that the majority of them were parasites. Before Jews could be emancipated they must be uplifted morally and religiously: in other words, they must embrace Catholicism. The French Jews, not realizing the full import of Bonald's attacks, did not defend themselves energetically enough; only Moses Pinado of Bordeaux replying to his diatribes.
After the Restoration, Bonald became a member of the council of public instruction, and from 1815 to 1822 he sat in the Chamber as a deputy. His speeches and votes were invariably on the extreme conservative side. From 1816 onward he was a member of the Academy; and in 1830 he retired to his country seat, where he remained till his death.
- Encyc. Brit.;
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, xi. 246 et seq.;
- La Grande Encyclopédie;
- P. Larousse, Dict. Universel.