Department of English, Jadavpur University

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Renaissance Political Thought. PG 1 and 2

Department of English

Classes: PG 1 and PG 2

Semester: July-December 2013

Course (Optional) Title: Renaissance Political Thought

Lecture Timings: Tuesdays & Wednesdays 2.10 p.m. Fridays 2.10-3.45 p.m.

Lecture Schedule

Week 1: 1-2: The Legacy of Classical Political Thought      Professor A Das Gupta

Week 1: 3-4: Political Thought as Moral Philosophy: The Paradox of Political Liberty          Professor S


Week 2: 1-4: The Question of Sovereignty and Republican City States: Res publica Christiana and ius

        gentium       Professor S Chakravorty

Week 3: 1-4: The Problem of Laws, Jurisdiction and Diplomacy: Post-Glossators and Bernard du Rosier’s

  Short Treatise about Ambassadors (selected passages)         Professor S Chakravorty

Week 4: 1-4: Political Systems: Monarchy, Tyranny and Republicanism: Ars dictaminis and Civic

Humanism  Professor S Chakravorty

Week 5: 1-2: Leonardo Bruni: Laudatio Florentinae urbis                               Professor A Das Gupta

Week 5: 3-4:  Coluccio Salutati: A Treatise on Tyrants       Professor S Chakravorty

Week 6: 1-3: Entitlement of Rank and the Court Culture of the Italian Renaissance: Castiglione’s Book of

        the Courtier (Selections)                       Professor A Das Gupta

Week 6: 4: Class Test

Week 7: 1-2: The Context of Machiavelli’s Prince               Professor S Chakravorty

Week 7:  3-4: Machiavelli’s Prince and the Question of Political Systems and Political Liberty

Professor S Chakravorty

Week 8: 1-2: Machiavelli’s Prince and the Question of Political Systems and Political Liberty

Professor S Chakravorty (Contd.)

Week: 8: 3-4: The Impact of Machiavelli                 Professor S Chakravorty

Week 9: 1-4:  Resistance to Tyranny: du Plessis Mornay and  Neo-Stoicism

Professor A Das Gupta and Professor S Chakravorty

Week 10: 1-4: Colonial Expansion, Menippean Satire and Humanism: Thomas More’s Utopia                                                   Professor S Chakravorty

Week 11: 1-4: Renaissance Political Thought and Renaissance Historiography       Professor S Chakravorty

Week  12: 1-3: Jean Bodin: Six Books of the Commmonweal (trans. R. Knowles; selections)

Professor A Das Gupta

Week 12: 4: Class Test

Week 13: 1-4: The Reformation: Luther and Calvin            Professor  A Das Gupta

Week 14: 1-4: The English Revolution: Milton and Radical Strains                               Professor A Das Gupta

Week 15: 1-4: Conclusions           Professor  S Chakravorty

Week 16:  1-4: Discussions and Class Test


Texts, editions and selections to be set and recommended by teachers concerned.

Supplementary reading may be recommended in the course of lectures.



  • Berlin, I., “Two Concepts of Liberty’, in Four Essays on Liberty (1969)
  • Burns, J. H. and Goldie, M., eds, The Cambridge History of Political Thought, 1450-1700. (new edn., 1994)
  • Godman, P., From Poliziano to Machiavelli: Florentine Humanism in the High Renaissance (1998)
  • Kohl, B. G. and Witt, R G., eds, The Earthly Republic: Italian Humanists on Government and Society (1978)
  • Rawls, J., ‘Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical’ (1985), in Collected Papers, ed. Samuel Freeman (1999)
  • Rubinstein, N., ‘Political Theories in the Renaissance’, in A. Chastel et al, eds, The Renaissance: Essays in Interpretation (1982)
  • Skinner, Q., The Foundations of Modern Political Thought (2 vols, 1978)
  • Skinner, Q., ‘The Paradoxes of Political Liberty’, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values delivered at Harvard University (1984)
  • Skinner, Q, ‘Political Philosophy’, in C. B. Schmitt and Q. Skinner, eds, The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (1988), ch. 8
  • Wood, E. M., Liberty and Property: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Renaissance to Enlightenment ( 2012)


Coluccio Salutati, De Tyranno (also for Philippe Duplessis-Mornay)

  • Bushnell, R., Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance (1990)
  • Emerton, E., Humanism and Tyranny: Studies in Italian Trecento (1925)
  • Ford, F.L., Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism (1985)
  • Piccolomini, M., The Brutus Revival: Parricide and Tyrannicide during the Renaissance (1991)
  • Witt, R. G., Coluccio Salutati and His Public Letters (1976)

Leonardo Bruni, Laudatio florentinae urbis

  • Baron, H., The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny (1966)
  • Baron, H., From Petrarch to Leonardo Bruni: Studies in Humanistic and Political Literature (1968)


Machiavelli, Il Principe

  • Bock: G., Skinner, Q., and Viroli, M., eds, Machiavelli and Republicanism (1990)
  • Coyle, M., ed., Niccolò  Machiavelli’s The Prince: New Interdisciplinary Essays, (1995)
  • Najemy. J. M., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli (2010)
  • Pocock, J.G.A., The Machiavellian Moment (1975; reissue with new postscript, 2003)

Baldassare Castiglione, Il Cortegiano

  • Burke, P., The Fortunes of the Courtier: European Reception of Castiglione’s Cortegiano (1996)
  • Kolsky, S., Courts and Courtiers in Renaissance Northern Italy (2003)

Justus Lipsius, Politica

  • Morford, M. P.O., Stoics and Neo-Stoics: Rubens and the Circle of Lipsius (1991)
  • Oestreich, G., Neostoicism and the Early Modern State (1982)

Thomas More, Utopia

  • Baker-Smith, D.,  More’s ‘Utopia’ (1991; repr. 2000)
  • Fox, A., Utopia: An Elusive Vision (1993)
  • Hexter J. H., and Surtz, E., ‘Introduction’, in Thomas More, Utopia, eds J. H. Hexter and E. Surtz (The Complete Works of St Thomas More, vol. IV) (1965)
  • Logan, G. M., The Meaning of More’s Utopia (1983)

Jean Bodin, Les six livres de la République


Renaissance Historiography

  • Collingwood, R. G., The Idea of History (revised edn., 1994)
  • Patrides, C. A., The Grand Design of God: The Literary Form of the Christian View of History (1972)
  • Wilcox, D. J., The Development of Florentine Humanist Historiography in the 15th Century (1969)

Luther, Calvin and the English Revolution

  • Cargill Thompson, W. D. J., The Political Thought of Martin Luther (1984)
  • Hill, C., The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (1984)
  • Hill, C., Milton and the English Revolution (1978)
  • Höpfl, H.,  The Christian Polity of John Calvin (1982)
  • Kingdon, R. M., ‘John Calvin’s Contribution to Representative Government’, in P. Mack and M. C. Jacob, eds, Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe (1987)
  • McDowell, N., The English Radical Imagination: Culture, Religion, and Revolution, 1630-1660 (2004)

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