Bel esprit
(1,189 words)

1. Conceptualization

The concept of the bel esprit (German Schöngeist), which was developed in France in the 16th and 17th centuries, established itself as a powerfully effective social model promoting a specific ideal of cultured sociability. The bel esprit distinguished itself by extensive knowledge of all kinds of art and literature and in particular by a capacity for intellectually stimulating conversation as well …

Cite this page
Eckert, Georg, “Bel esprit”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 24 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160907

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