Political Meritocracy in Renaissance Italy: The Virtuous Republic of Francesco Patrizi of Siena


Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.14 X 9.29 X 1.5 inches | 1.7 pounds

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About the Author

James Hankins is Professor of History at Harvard University and founder and General Editor of the I Tatti Renaissance Library. He is the author of Virtue Politics: Soulcraft and Statecraft in Renaissance Italy, winner of the Marraro Prize and a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year; Political Meritocracy in Renaissance Italy: The Virtuous Republic of Francesco Patrizi of Siena; and Plato in the Italian Renaissance; and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy. Widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on Renaissance philosophy and political thought, he is a Corresponding Member of the British Academy.


Through meticulous scholarship and forceful argumentation, James Hankins restores Francesco Patrizi to his rightful place among leading Italian humanists such as Petrarch and Machiavelli, and also among giants of pan-European humanists such as Thomas More. A tour de force in intellectual history and political theory.--John P. McCormick, author of Reading Machiavelli
In this remarkable book James Hankins argues that Francesco Patrizi, an all-but-forgotten fifteenth-century humanist, was one of the most important thinkers of his era, up there with Machiavelli. He was a committed and sophisticated meritocrat who provided both a philosophical defense of the meritocratic principle and a detailed blueprint of how to turn that principle into practice. One of Patrizi's admirers praised 'not only the gravity and majesty of the argument but the writer's brilliant mind, learning, and elegance.' The same can be said of Hankins's book.--Adrian Wooldridge, author of The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World
James Hankins shows that humanist political thought signaled an important shift from a concept of legitimacy founded on the sources of power to one based on merit and virtue. In fifteenth-century Italy, governments increasingly grounded their claim to rule on the virtue of their rulers--whether monarchs or republican civic leaders--rather than on divine approval, heredity, popular election, or law. He shows that the Sienese humanist Francesco Patrizi--unjustifiably neglected in modern histories of political thought--was the most profound and exhaustive advocate of this new meritocratic approach to politics. Political Meritocracy in Renaissance Italy is an absolute must-read for all students and teachers of political thought, and for anyone interested in Renaissance politics and intellectual history.--Robert Black, author of Machiavelli and Machiavelli: From Radical to Reactionary