The question of opera reform became an urgent matter in the second half of the eighteenth century in France, especially under pressure from the Philosophes who campaigned loudly from mid-century for a new approach to the lyric theatre, using the experience of Italian opera buffa as a yardstick to measure French opera and the musicality of the French language. In fact, musical quarrels were a frequent phenomenon in eighteenth-century France: Lecerf de la Viéville and Francois Raguenet had disputed the relative merits of French and Italian opera in 1702—04; the increasing popularity of Rameau led to quarrels between 'Ramists' and 'Lullists' in the 1730s; and the early 1750s saw the best known of these: the Querelle des Bouffons. Robert Isherwood, whose important 1980 article on the controversy surrounding Gluck and Piccinni did much to put the quarrel back on the agenda of musicological research, provocatively titled his text 'The Third War of the Musical Enlightenment', thereby implying a long-term view of reform which attacked common elements over the century, an approach which underlay his article as a whole. In such an approach, it follows that the 'third' quarrel can only meaningfully be considered if the wider context is properly clarified. Accordingly, this chapter sets out some of the issues which were common to the century, and aims to sketch the critical and institutional 'heritage' as it appeared in 1774. However, I am not convinced that considering elements of continuity is the only, or even the best, approach to the 1770s, and so the chapter also aims to sketch out some of the specificities of the prior disputes, against which the originality of the 1770s debate can be better appreciated. The balance between continuity and specificity as concerns the Gluck—Piccinni quarrel will be a central element of my discussion throughout.