Monday, August 13, 2012

Renaissance Republicanism

SINRS ONE-DAY SYMPOSIUM, Saturday, 24 November, 2012 School of Arts and Humanities, Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling From the middle of the sixteenth to the middle of the seventeenth centuries in England, Scotland, and on the continent of Europe the issue of governance was repeatedly addressed. There has been a tendency in scholarship to reason backwards from the English Revolution and to seek to find evidence for these considerations of various alternatives to monarchy. With the publication of a translation of Aristotle’s The Politics in 1598, and with the already extant publication of the writings of George Buchanan and Bishop John Ponet, in addition to Sir Thomas Smith’s De Republica Anglorum (1572), Hooker’s The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1596), Lewis Lewkenor’s translation of Contarini’s The Commonwealth and Government of Venice (1599), Bodin’s Sixe Bookes of the Commonwealth (1606), through to Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha (1639), political theorists were particularly fascinated by the concept of ‘republicanism’. This interest also extended into the drama of the period, with settings in Venice and considerable focus on Roman history. Plays by the likes of Shakespeare, Jonson, Webster, and Massinger dramatise elements of the history of Rome and of the Italian city states. In addition to publication and performance, writers such as Fulke Greville circulated their own thoughts on governance, as evidenced in his long poem ‘A Treatise on Monarchy’ (c.1600). In addition, the writings of Machiavelli, Luther, Calvin, and Hobbes all have a significant bearing on this theme. This symposium aims to investigate the ‘republican’ strain in the political and religious thinking of the period and in artistic representations, and seeks to try to distinguish between ‘republicanism’ as an alternative mode of government and criticism, occasional, and/or developed, directed at absolute monarchy. What we discover may indicate a reformulation of ideas about Renaissance censorship, as well as providing a discriminating insight into some of the ways in which critical, or indeed, subversive thinking was possible during this period. The seminar will take the form of a series of short papers (15-20 mins) on any aspect of this rich and complicated theme. Anyone wishing to offer a paper at the Symposium, please email or


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