A History of Political Thought: From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance

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9780631186533: A History of Political Thought: From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance

This volume continues the story of European political theorising by focusing on medieval and Renaissance thinkers. It includes extensive discussion of the practices that underpinned medieval political theories and which continued to play crucial roles in the eventual development of early-modern political institutions and debates. The author strikes a balance between trying to understand the philosophical cogency of medieval and Renaissance arguments on the one hand, elucidating why historically-suited medieval and Renaissance thinkers thought the ways they did about politics; and why we often think otherwise.

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From the Back Cover:

Janet Coleman's two volume history of European political theorizing, from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance is the introduction which many have been waiting for. It treats some of the most influential writers who have been considered by educated Europeans down the centuries to have helped to construct their identity, their shared "languages of politics" about the principles and practices of good government, and the history of European philosophy. It seeks to uncover and reconstruct the emergence of the "state" and the various European political theories which justified it.


This volume continues the story by focusing on medieval and Renaissance thinkers and includes extensive discussion of the practices that underpinned medieval political theories and which continued to play crucial roles in the eventual development of early-modern political institutions and debates. Throughout the author draws on recent scholarly commentaries written by specialists in philosophy, contemporary political theory, and on medieval and Renaissance history and theology. She shows that the medieval and Renaissance theorists' arguments can be seen as logical and coherent if we can grasp the questions they thought it important to answer. Janet Coleman strikes a balance between trying to understand the philosophical cogency of medieval and Renaissance arguments on the one hand, and on the other, elucidating why historically-situated medieval and Renaissance thinkers, respectively, thought the ways they did about politics; and why we often think otherwise.

The volume will meet the needs of students of philosophy, history and politics, proving to be an indispensable secondary source which aims to situate, explain, and provoke thought about the major works of political theory likely to be encountered by students of this period and beyond.

About the Author:

Janet Coleman is the Professor of Ancient and Medieval Political Thought in the Government Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Previously she taught in the Politics Department at Exeter University and for the History Faculty of Cambridge University. She Studied at Yale University and at L'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris. Her numerous publications include The Individual in Political Theory and Practice (ed. 1996), Ancient and Medieval Memories: Studies in the Reconstruction of the Past (1992), Against the State: Studies in Sedition and Rebellion (1990) and English Literature in History 1350-1400: Medieval Readers and Writers (1981). She is co-founder and co-editor of the international journal History of Political Thought.

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