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Greetings,

Here is my second critical review for HIEU 913 Comprehensive Examination and Readings in Early Modern Europe,

Hankins, James, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

James Hankins is Professor of History at Harvard University. He specializes in Renaissance intellectual history, with primary research study in the history of Renaissance political thought, history of the classical tradition, and history of philosophy. He is the Associate Editor of the Catalogus Translationum and Commentariorum (Union Academique Internationale), as well as the originator and General Editor of the I Tatti Renaissance Library (Harvard University Press).[1] His books include Plato in the Italian Renaissance, 2 vols.(Brill,1990), along with various analyses on Renaissance humanism and Platonism.”[2]

Hankins, the editor of Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections, contemplates, via several experts, historiography and understanding of “Civic humanism” during the Renaissance. He indicated his aim was to challenge the complacency of Renaissance political thought historians. He remarked, “historians of Renaissance political thought have made few serious attempts to revise the orthodox view of civic humanism as established by [Hans]Baron and [J.G. A. ]Pocock.”[3] Moreover, Hankins describes Baron’s, The crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny as “possibly the most important monograph in Renaissance history written since the Second World War.”[4]

The term “Civic humanism” was first coined in 1925, by Hans Baron while writing a review for Meinecke’s Historische Zeitschrift. Baron’s new term was created to illustrate what he understood to have been a pivotal period of transformation in Western thinking. A metamorphosis of sort, from the monarch-controlled, contemplative society of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, with its republican ideals of “active citizenship” and then onto American republicanism. [5] Baron, crucial to this concept of “Civic humanism”, saw in early fifteenth-century Florence the appearance of a newly conceived concept which emphasized a city republic. It stressed, for a city republic to function properly, all citizens must participate in both government and civic life. This civic participation was needed for the cultivation of individual virtue, as well as spurring new growth in liberty and prosperity for the city[6].

In his Machiavellian Moment, Pocock, argued, the Machiavellian Moment “denotes the moment, and the manner, in which Machiavellian thought made its appearance”…meaning the rise of Florentine republicanism, i.e., the birth of classical republicanism. He suggested, this “moment” was based on the early Aristotelian republican language which had been smoldering for centuries in the western world and could later be found in “the temporal consciousness of medieval and early modern Europeans.”[7]

The essays in Hankins book explores how far scholarship in Renaissance history has shifted since Baron coined the phrase. Consulting the works of Nicolai Rubinstein, Charles Till Davis and Quentin Skinner, James Blythe, according to Robert Black, demonstrated “that medieval thought could be richly republican, anti-monarchical and favourable to active political participation.”[8] Blythe argued, northern advocates of monarchy understood the Italian cities sympathy with the ancient Greek city-states. These advocates frequently applied Italian republican thinking to comprehend or employ Aristotelian principles and could defend republicanism or incorporate republican principles into their theories of monarchy. Furthermore, Blythe disagreed with Skinner, who compared northern monarchists Engelbert of Admont, Nicole Oresme, and John of Paris to the Italian republicans, Ptolemy of Lucca and Marsilius of Padua. He stated, Skinner’s theories “do not make sense.”[9]

William Connell’s contribution to Hankins explored the historiography of Baron’s republican argument, demonstrating the slow path of republican Machiavelli and communitarian republicanism. He indicated, when Gordon Wood found a new lens to scrutinize the American Revolution as an incident of Machiavelli republicanism, it was due to Bernard Bailyn’s encounter with communitarian thinking in the American colonies. This he said, showed the Founding Fathers were more interested in Machiavelli’s republicanism than in Lockean self-interest. Citing Woods, Connell, explained, “the Revolution was not about the protection of colonial tax exemptions but rather about brotherhood, self-sacrifice, and the defense of the community.” Furthermore, he added, Lockean influences surfaced only when the constitution was being drafted. [10]

Alison Brown, citing Florentine, Alamanno Rinuccini and Francesco Guicciardini, expressed, “The city of Florence was always more enthusiastic for liberty than other cities… liberty is no less engraved in men’s hearts than it is written on our walls and banners.” She explained, the widespread notion of the republican ideal was already waning in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century when Rinuccini and Guicciardini were writing. Although, the republican ideal may have been less credible at the time, Florence still proudly displayed its blue shield with the word “liberty” crossing its breast. [11] Yet, she remarked, Rinuccini and Guicciardini would eventually undermine the images and meaning of liberty with a warning, stating, ‘‘these exotic signs and words clash with the facts, for liberty is no more than a ‘‘name’’ whose ‘‘appearances and image” are used as a pretext to deceive people and to ‘‘dazzle’’ them.””[12]

Hankins discussed Leonardo Bruni’s civic eulogies which he used to reinforce the positions of Najemy and Hörnqvist. He stated, Leonardo Bruni was not the forceful republican ideologist and anti-elitist that Hans Baron imagined. Moreover, Harkins indicated close scrutiny of Bruni’s famous discourses revealed, “Their primary purpose was to serve as propaganda vehicles, and their primary audience was foreign elites.”[13]

Pocock’s, The Machiavellian Moment, according to Mark Djordjevic, has for the last two decades directed the historiographies of English and American political thoughts on republicanism. He remarked, from Renaissance Florence the revitalized language of republicanism echoed strongly in Stuart and Hanoverian Britain along with colonial America. Moreover, he added on Pocock’s sentiments, “republicanism-not liberalism-provided the intellectual weapon with which the English and the Americans rebelled against the Stuart and Hanoverian monarchies.” Thus, it is fair to say, this notion of republicanism countered the importance of John Locke and liberalism, which indicated the founders of the 1641, 1688, and 1776 revolutions were not looking forward into a grand political ideology of liberalism. Instead, they were peering to the romanticized past, wanting to “restore a classical political order.” Djordjevic, indicated, this school of political thought is an ongoing active debate in academia. [14]

George McClure, remarks historian Paul Rahe rejects any dogma implying ancient republican tradition is connected to Machiavelli’s republicanism, thus arguing that Machiavelli represents a considerable departure from the ancient republican theory.[15] Moreover, Robert Black suggested, “Most Renaissance political thought was not civic, and much medieval and Renaissance civic thought was not humanist. It is time for ‘civic humanism’ to be allowed to rest in peace along with its creator.” [16] While Leonardas Vytautas Gerulaitis remarks, “the book is a valuable survey of the various angles of a disputed thesis in history… greatest value would be for a graduate student, or a historian not involved in the ongoing controversy.”[17]

The historiography James Hankins provided, gives detailed information concerning the varied aspects on the birth of “Civic humanism” and Renaissance republicanism, along with the supporting arguments contesting their Renaissance era conception. In 1925, Hans Baron coined the term “Civic humanism” to describe what he deemed a pivotal period of transformation in Western thinking. J.G. A. Pocock’s Machiavellian Moment suggested Florentine republicanism was born out of the ancient Greek classical view of republicanism. James Blythe indicated medieval thinking could be deeply republican, favor active political participation, and be anti-monarchical. Yet, Robert Black suggested much medieval, and Renaissance political thought was neither civic minded, nor humanist. And the thinking of Rinuccini and Guicciardini, presented by Alison Brown, related Florentine republicanism with its prideful display of civic liberty was dangerous as it was used to sway, deceive, and dazzle people. In other words, a propaganda tool of social control.

The information presented in this terse paper, established the complexity of hypotheses surrounding the theories of Baron and Pocock. Unfortunately, there is much to cover in this modest paper and justice cannot be achieved in discussing the birth of the “Civic humanism” and Machiavelli republicanism in the time allowed.

Bibliography

Black, Robert. “Reviewed Work: Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by James Hankins.” The English Historical Review 116, no. 467, 2001: 715–16. http://www.jstor.org/stable/579854.

Blythe, James M. “‘‘Civic humanism’’ and medieval political thought.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, 30. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Brown, Alison. “De-masking Renaissance republicanism.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, 179-199. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Chavasse, Ruth. “Reviewed Work: Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by James Hankins.” Renaissance Quarterly 55, no. 1 , 2002: 289–90. https://doi.org/10.2307/1512540.

Connell, William J. “The republicn idea.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James. Hakins, New York. Cambridge Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Gerulaitis, Leonardas Vytautas. “Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by Hankins, James, ed.” History: Reviews of New Books, 29:1, 2012: 33. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1080/03612759.2000.10525688.

Hankins, James, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Harvard University History Department. James Hankins Professor of History. 2021. https://scholar.harvard.edu/jameshankins/home (accessed Sept 20, 2021).

Jurdjevic, Mark. “Virtue, Commerce, and the Enduring Florentine Republican Moment: Reintegrating Italy into the Atlantic Republican Debate.” Journal of the History of Ideas 62, no. 4, 2001: 721–43. https://doi.org/10.2307/3654336.

McClure, George,. “JAMES HANKINS, editor. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. (Ideas in Context, number 57.) New York: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Pp. x, 314. $59.95.” The American Historical Review, Volume 106, Issue 4, October, 2001: Pages 1490–1491, https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/106.4.1490.

Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment. Florentine Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradtion . Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Kindle Edtion, 1975 (2003).

Quillen, Carol Everhart. “Renaissance Civic Humanism (Book Review).” Canadian Journal of History Vol. 37. (2), August, 2002: 335-336.

Bibliography

Black, Robert. “Reviewed Work: Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by James Hankins.” The English Historical Review 116, no. 467, 2001: 715–16. http://www.jstor.org/stable/579854.

Blythe, James M. “‘‘Civic humanism’’ and medieval political thought.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, 30. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Brown, Alison. “De-masking Renaissance republicanism.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, 179-199. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Chavasse, Ruth. “Reviewed Work: Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by James Hankins.” Renaissance Quarterly 55, no. 1 , 2002: 289–90. https://doi.org/10.2307/1512540.

Connell, William J. “The republicn idea.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James. Hakins, New York. Cambridge Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Gerulaitis, Leonardas Vytautas. “Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by Hankins, James, ed.” History: Reviews of New Books, 29:1, 2012: 33. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1080/03612759.2000.10525688.

Hankins, James, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Harvard University History Department. James Hankins Professor of History. 2021. https://scholar.harvard.edu/jameshankins/home (accessed Sept 20, 2021).

Jurdjevic, Mark. “Virtue, Commerce, and the Enduring Florentine Republican Moment: Reintegrating Italy into the Atlantic Republican Debate.” Journal of the History of Ideas 62, no. 4, 2001: 721–43. https://doi.org/10.2307/3654336.

McClure, George,. “JAMES HANKINS, editor. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. (Ideas in Context, number 57.) New York: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Pp. x, 314. $59.95.” The American Historical Review, Volume 106, Issue 4, October, 2001: Pages 1490–1491, https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/106.4.1490.

Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment. Florentine Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradtion . Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Kindle Edtion, 1975 (2003).

Quillen, Carol Everhart. “Renaissance Civic Humanism (Book Review).” Canadian Journal of History Vol. 37. (2), August, 2002: 335-336.

  1. Harvard University History Department. “James Hankins Professor of History,” 2021. https://scholar.harvard.edu/jameshankins/home
  2. Hankins, James, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2000),i.
  3. Hankins. 7.
  4. Ibid. 1.
  5. Ibid. 6.
  6. James M. Blythe, “‘‘Civic humanism’’ and medieval political thought.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000),30.
  7. J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment. Florentine Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradtion . Princetonand Oxford: Princeton University Press. Kindle Edtion, 1975 (2003). 19,23,25.
  8. Robert Black. “Reviewed Work: Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by James Hankins.” The English Historical Review 116, no. 467, (2001):715.
  9. James M. Blythe, Civic humanism’’ and medieval political thought. In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000),34.
  10. Connell, William J. “The republicn idea.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism. Reappraisals and Reflections, by James. Hakins, (New York . Cambridge Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 22.
  11. Alison Brown. “De-masking Renaissance republicanism.” In Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections, by James Hankins, 179-199. (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000), 179 .
  12. Brown. 180.
  13. Hankins, James, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2000),12.
  14. Jurdjevic, Mark. “Virtue, Commerce, and the Enduring Florentine Republican Moment: Reintegrating Italy into the Atlantic Republican Debate.” Journal of the History of Ideas 62, no. 4, (2001): 721.
  15. McClure, George,. “JAMES HANKINS, editor. Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections. (Ideas in Context, number 57.) New York: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Pp. x, 314. $59.95.” The American Historical Review, Volume 106, Issue 4,( October, 2001):1492.
  16. Robert Black. “Reviewed Work: Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by James Hankins.” The English Historical Review 116, no. 467, (2001): 715–16.
  17. Gerulaitis, Leonardas Vytautas. “Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections by Hankins, James, ed.” History: Reviews of New Books, 29:1,( 2012): 33.