Recent research has emphasized the continuities in European republican political thought from the late Middle Ages until well into the Renaissance and even beyond. Two of the central figures in the story of the persistence of republicanism are Ptolemy of Lucca, who is commonly viewed as the quintessential late medieval republican, and Niccolò Machiavelli, whose work is generally regarded as the classic statement of early modern republicanism. We argue that these two remain conceptually at considerable remove from one another, a (...) claim we illustrate by analyzing the impact of the reception, Latin translation and transmission of the Histories of Polybius, and especially the theory of constitutional change proposed in Book 6. The unavailability of the Histories to Ptolemy and its rather ample use by Machiavelli at the beginning of the Discourses signal an important divergence in the theoretical principles underlying the defense of republican institutions. In turn, this variation captures one facet of the distinct qualities of republican thought that separated the intellectual terrain of the early fourteenth century from that of the sixteenth century. (shrink)
This article challenges two dominant views of religious and cultural toleration, namely, that it is modern and that it is Western. It claims instead that both medieval Latin thought and many non-Western traditions embraced a position that coherently defends tolerance beliefs and practices. Specifically, the article identifies four approaches that clearly favour toleration: scepticism, functionalism, nationalism and mysticism.
In recent years, scholars have begun to give greater attention to the 14th-century political writer, Ptolemy of Lucca, mostly on account of his avid defense of republican government in the treatise, De regimine principum. Educated in the scholastic curriculum at the University of Paris, Ptolemy has typically been identified by scholars as one of the most thoroughly Aristotelian medieval thinkers. Ptolemy, like many of his contemporaries, peppered his writing with citations from Aristotle's major works. This article, however, examines the sources (...) employed in Ptolemy's republican arguments, finding that the legacy of Republican Rome played a far more critical role in shaping his republicanism than could be attributed to Aristotle's moral or political works. Though conversing fluently in an Aristotelian language system, Ptolemy's arguments in De regimine principum are derived, at their core, from his reading of Roman Republican sources, not from Aristotelian influence. This discovery reveals Ptolemy to be an even more artful and original writer than was previously assumed, and should add to, rather than detract from, his place as a key figure in the development of western political thought. (shrink)
Life and career -- Early life and education (1115/1120-1147) -- In the service of Canterbury (1148-1156) -- Author and administrator (1157-1161) -- The Becket dispute (1162-1170) -- Final years (1171-1180) -- Writings -- Entheticus de dogmate philosophorum -- Policraticus -- Metalogicon -- Historia pontificalis -- Miscellaneous and spurious writings.
The mid-thirteenth-century theorist and rhetorician Brunetto Latini proposed a vigorous republican account of the art of government and the nature of community in his encyclopedic treatise, Li Livres dou Tresor. The interpretation of Latini's republicanism has been heavily based on its literary sensibilities, its attachment to rhetoric, and its praise for classical civic virtues. But Latini deserves to be classified as a republican insofar as he founds social and political order upon commercial principles-the production and exchange of material goods for (...) profit-and consequent economic defense of republican government. Hence, the example of Latini challenges one of the principal remaining barriers that supposedly separates medieval defenses of republicanism from Renaissance versions. The essay contends that Latini holds that self-governing institutions depend upon and are especially well suited to sustain a society whose conception of the common good includes the creation and exchange of those material necessities required for physical welfare and comfort. (shrink)