348. The Sweet Restraints of Liberty: Republicanism and Civic Humanism

Posted on 3 May 2020

Did “civic humanism” really make republicanism a newly dominant political theory in the Italian Renaissance?

Further Reading

• B.G. Kohl and R.G. Witt (eds), The Earthly Republic: Italian Humanists on Government and Society (Manchester: 1978).

• J. Kraye, Cambridge Translations of Renaissance Philosophical Texts, vol.2: Political Philosophy (Cambridge: 1997).

• R.N. Watkins (trans), Humanism and Liberty: Writings on Freedom in Fifteenth-Century Florence (Columbia SC: 1978).


• H. Baron, The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny (Princeton: 1966).

• H. Baron, In Search of Florentine Civic Humanism, vol. 1: Essays on the Transition from Medieval to Modern Thought (Princeton: 2014).

• J. Hankins, “The ‘Baron Thesis’ after Forty Years and some Recent Studies of Leonardo Bruni,” Journal of the History of Ideas 56  (1995), 309-38.

• J. Hankins (ed.), Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections (Cambridge: 2000).

• J. Hankins, Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge MA: 2019).

• M. Jurdjevic, “Civic Humanism and the Rise of the Medici,” Renaissance Quarterly 52 (1999), 994-1020.

• A. Rabil, “The Significance of ‘Civic Humanism’ in the Interpretation of the Italian Renaissance,” in A. Rabil (ed.), Humanism in Italy (Philadelphia: 1988), 141-74.

• F. Ricciardelli, The Myth of Republicanism in Renaissance Italy (Turnhout: 2015).

• J.E. Seigel, “‘Civic Humanism’ or Ciceronian Rhetoric? The Culture of Petrarch and Bruni,” Past and Present, 34 (1966), 3-48.

• Q. Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, Volume 1: The Renaissance (Cambridge: 1976).

• R.G. Witt, In the Footsteps of the Ancients”: the Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni (Leiden: 2003).

Stanford Encyclopedia: Civic Humanism



Tribolet 5 May 2020

Do you know of any connection between the humanist republicans and Marsilius of Padua and the Defensor Pacis?

Peter Adamson 6 May 2020

In reply to by Tribolet

Oh great question. They are probably aware, I think, of Dante's De Monarchia which has similar ideas but I don't remember coming across anything in my reading on direct connections to Marsilius. Others may know better.

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