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Reason and Experience in Renaissance Italy
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  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: December 2021
  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online ISBN: 9781108955713
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Book description

Political life in Renaissance Italy was held together by political principles which underlay, or were used to justify, political proposals and decisions in practice. This wide-ranging comparative survey examines these political principles, as expressed in sources such as council debates, preambles to legislation and official correspondence, in the mid-fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century Italy. Focusing especially on the five republics - Florence, Venice, Genoa, Siena and Lucca - the book also considers princes and signori, and the principles underlying relations between states, particularly relations between major and minor powers. Many of the ideas articulated by those confronting practical political problems ranged beyond the questions dealt with in formal treatises of political thought and philosophy. Drawing on extensive archival research, Christine Shaw explores the relationship between 'reason and experience' in the conduct of political affairs in Renaissance Italy, and the gap between theory and practice.


‘After decades in which scholars have stressed the commonalities of the republican and princely states of Renaissance Italy, Shaw argues impressively that there were features that were distinctive in the practices of the republican governments and she has dived deep into archival record to show what these were.’

William J. Connell - Seton Hall University

‘Renaissance Italy has often been seen as a laboratory of political ideas and theories. In her remarkable new book, Shaw applies her unparalleled familiarity with the Italian records to a new perspective: by systematically taking the reader into the daily use of the language of political life in Renaissance Italy, Reason and Experience casts fresh light on its mechanisms and concrete workings.’

Isabella Lazzarini - Universita del Molise

‘Reason and Experience is indispensable for anyone interested in Renaissance republics and republicanism - a thoughtful, well-written, and comprehensive archival investigation into the structure and values of the Italian city-states. Shaw will fundamentally change the way we think of republics and principalities.’

Patrick Baker - Patrick Baker, author of Italian Renaissance Humanism in the Mirror


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