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Journal > Volumes > 45 (2014) / 2 (Summer)
Anti-Machiavellianism and Roman Civil Religion in the Princely Literature of Sixteenth-Century Europe
Gregory Murry
Mount Saint Mary’s University

This article uses a diachronic lens to examine the way in which humanistic attitudes towards classical civil religion, particularly Roman religion, changed over the course of the sixteenth century.Using princely tracts from across sixteenth-century Europe, the study argues that Reformation disputes and Machiavelli’s enthusiasm for “false” Roman religion pushed anti-Machiavellians to classify religion as a set of doctrines in place of its more traditional classification as a species of the moral virtue of justice.This focus on doctrine and religious veracity drove later sixteenth-century writers to take a far more negative view of classical civil religion than had their earlier sixteenth-century predecessors, thereby closing off an era of optimism in which Renaissance humanists had liberally used classical religion as exempla for contemporary politics and had sought to elide, obscure, and blur the differences between pre-Christian religion and Christianity.

Pages: 331 - 350