European Contexts for English Republicanism


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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
ism – England – History – 17th century. 2. Republicanism – Europe –

. 3. Republicanism – England – History – 18th century.
ism – Europe – History – 18th century. 5. Political science – England –

nces. 6. Political science – Europe – Foreign in�uences.
g, Gaby. III. Wiemann, Dirk.
Library of Congr
ess Cataloging-in-Publication Data
ics and culture in Europe, 1650–1750)
graphical references and index.

at Britain – History. 2. Republicanism – Europe –
. 3. Political science – Great Britain – History. 4. Political science – Europe –
. 5. Harrington, James, 1611–1677 – In�uence. 6. Great Britain – Foreign

rope. 7. Europe – Foreign relations – Great Britain.
g, Gaby. II. Wiemann, Dirk.
List of Figures and Tables




Gaby Mahlberg and Dirk Wiemann
PART I: ENGL
SM AND
NTAL
HOUGHT
N TH
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800

Blair Worden
Spectacles of Astonishment: Tragedy and the Regicide in
England and Germany, 1649–1663

Dirk Wiemann
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State

Harrington, Grotius, and the Commonwealth of the Jews,
Marco Barducci
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
Why the Dutch Didn’t Read Harrington: Anglo-Dutch

Arthur Weststeijn
Popularizing Government: Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch

Hans W. Blom
European Contexts for English Republicanism
ART
WANSL
T OF
NGTON’S
The Wansleben Manuscript
Wansleben’s Harrington, or ‘The Fundations & Modell of a
Perfect Commonwealth’
Gaby Mahlberg
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
Stefano Villani
English Harringtonian Republicanism in France and Italy:
Changing Perspectives

ART
11
The Harringtonian Legacy in Britain and France

Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism

211
Pierre Lurbe
Prussian Republicanism? Friedrich Buchholz’s Reception of
James Harrington
Iwan-Michelangelo D’Aprile

List of Figures and Tables
Figures
Somer I, c. 1600. Museo del Prado, Madrid. © Wikimedia
Commons. This image is in the public domain.

The Inthronization of Their Majesties King James II and Queen
, by William Sherwin(?), c. 1685–87. The British Museum,
London. © Trustees of the British Museum.

Marco Barducci
has taught History of Political Thought at the University of
Florence (Italy), and now holds a fellowship at the Folger Library (Washington,
DC). He is currently working on a monograph on Anthony Ascham’s political
thought for Manchester University Press. His recent publications include a
monograph on Grotius’s in�uence on English political and religious thought
1632–78, with a preface by Glenn Burgess (Florence, 2010), and a revised edition
of Salvo Mastellone’s two volumes,
Ideologies in Europe
(English translation
from Italian) from Savonarola to Marx (Florence, 2011–12). He is also preparing
an extended monograph in English on Grotius’s in�uence on seventeenth-century
Hans W. Blom
is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at Erasmus University,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
is Senior Lecturer in History at Newcastle University. She
is the author of a number of books, articles and chapters on English republicanism
and its in�uence in eighteenth-century France, including
French Revolutionaries
and English Republicans: The Cordeliers Club, 1790–1794
(Woodbridge, 2005,
paperback 2011) and, most recently,
The English Republican Tradition and
in Political Science from Harvard, and an LLM in International Law from Sussex.
Secularisation and the Leiden Circle
(Leiden, 2011) and articles on Augustine, Machiavelli, Grotius, Heinsius, Hobbes,
Harrington, Alexander Hamilton, John Selden and H.G. Wells.
Stefano Villani
is Associate Professor in Early Modern History at the University
of Pisa (Italy) and Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland (College Park,
US). His early research was oriented towards the cultural and religious English
history of the seventeenth century, and he has worked on the Quaker missions
in the Mediterranean and published numerous articles and books in this area.
More recently he has worked on the religious history of the English community in
Leghorn and on Italian translations of the Book of Common Prayer.
Arthur Weststeijn
We would like to thank the Fritz Thyssen Foundation for its generous funding
Gaby Mahlberg and Dirk Wiemann
Books are no absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them
… they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons
John Milton, ‘Areopagitica’, in Ernest Sirluck (ed.),
European Contexts for English Republicanism
can be ‘realized’ only by the ‘decisive collaboration on the side of the reader’,
who thus becomes a virtual co-author. The text therefore exists simultaneously
in ‘two historical situations’:
where it is appropriated into, and articulated with, the horizon of understanding
and expectation of the recipient. Proceeding from this general assumption, this
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Umberto Eco,
The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts
James Chandler,
England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of
Introduction
as the major in�uence on the American Constitution.
Pocock and many other
scholars before him and since have explained to us the in�uence of Harrington,
Marchamont Nedham, John Milton, Henry Neville, Algernon Sidney and other
thinkers of the English Revolution of the 1640s and 1650s on the American
While studies of the Atlantic republican tradition have their established
place in histories of early modern political thought, it is only comparatively
recently that historians and literary scholars, such as Blair Worden and Rachel
Hammersley, have begun to pay more attention to the European connections of
J.G.A. Pocock, ‘Machiavelli, Harrington and English Political Ideologies in the
Eighteenth Century,’ in the same (ed.),
Politics, Language, and Time: Essays in Political
(New York, 1971), pp. 104–47, p. 107; the same,
Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage
, edited by Martin van
Gelderen and Quentin Skinner, which appeared in 2002.
However, while Skinner
Regarding the distribution of English republican works on the Continent more work
Introduction
Monarchical Republic of Early Modern England: Essays in Response to Patrick Collinson
Classical Humanism and Republicanism in English Political
Writing the English Republic
Jonathan Scott,
Commonwealth Principles: Republican Writing of the English
(Cambridge, 2004); the same, ‘What Were Commonwealth Principles?’,
, 47 (2004), pp. 591–613; William Walker,
Tradition from Aristotle to Machiavelli
(Turnhout, 2009).
The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: The Church of England and
(Cambridge, 1992); Mark Goldie, ‘The Civil Religion of James
Harrington’, in Anthony Pagden (ed.),
The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern
Europe
(Cambridge, 1987), pp. 197–222; David Ainsworth,
Milton and the Spiritual
Reader: Reading and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England
(New York, 2008); Eric
The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European
(Cambridge, MA, 2011).
Milton and the Revolutionary Reader
European Contexts for English Republicanism
republican works produced by a German scholar in Italy and later taken to France
– raises a number of wider questions about the distribution, the reception and the
uses of English republican ideas on the European Continent while challenging an
established historiography focused on the American and transatlantic connections
of English republicanism. The case study of the Wansleben Manuscript as well as
actually materializes as a
Trauerspiel
, i.e. a tragedy proper’ and for being ‘haunted
by the re�exive and self-interrogative insecurity whether its ostensibly absolute
Rachel Foxley, meanwhile, has identi�ed several German works among the
range of sources used by the political journalist Marchamont Nedham in support
of the English Commonwealth. Turning her attention to Nedham’s ‘footnotes’ and
marginal references, Foxley shows that he drew heavily on northern European
writing on ‘mystery of state’, a tradition which picked up and modi�ed Italian
notions of reason of state. While works such as Christoph Besold’s
Introduction
Politicae Doctrinae
(1623) and Arnold Clapmar’s
De Arcanis Rerum Publicarum
(1605) ‘had points of contact with, and complicated debts to, Machiavellian
thought’, however, they also ‘belonged to a tradition which was not marked by any
commitment to republicanism’, which should lead us to ‘question the relationship
European Contexts for English Republicanism
The essays in section II all focus on the 1665 Wansleben manuscript digest of
Harrington’s major works. While Gaby Mahlberg focuses on Wansleben’s reading
Introduction
model Buchholz criticized or simply ignored’ as to consider what he adopted and
admired. In similar ways as other contemporary Prussian liberals such as Kant or
Hegel, D’Aprile argues, Buchholz was led by an anti-feudal or anti-aristocratic
impulse and tried to combine republican motives with a strong centralist,
‘monarchical’ power that would guarantee equality and liberty.
Spanning the period from the regicide in 1649 to the French Revolution and
PART I
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’
Blair Worden
Until recent decades, the word ‘republicanism’ rarely appeared in accounts of the
political or intellectual history of early modern England. Now it is everywhere
in them. It was unknown to most of the inhabitants of the period to whom it has
It became widespread
only with the political and social agitation of the 1790s. ‘Republican’, as a noun
or adjective, has a longer history, but scarcely a much longer one. It was rare
until 1659, and did not enter common circulation until the ‘Exclusion Crisis’ of
1679–81, when the succession of the future James II to the throne came under
challenge. ‘Republican’ could signify more than one thing. It could have an
approving meaning, to denote and commend the public good or a commitment to
it. It could have a neutral one, which signi�ed the state, or the sphere of public life.
But mostly it was a smear, as ‘republicanism’ was. Before and after the Revolution
of 1688 it was used to associate extreme Whigs with the memory of the institutional
havoc and sectarian and military rule of the period 1649–60, when England had
been ruled without a king. In the late seventeenth century the term throve on its
own imprecision and on the scope it offered for caricature. By the late eighteenth
century, it is true, there were people ready to call their political programmes
Some Cursory Re�exions Made upon Mr. Richard Baxter
The Rights of Man
European Contexts for English Republicanism
complained that no term had been so abused: ‘the word republican,
Today the label ‘republicanism’, as it is used by historians and, more commonly,
by literary critics, has lost its pejorative connotations and gained a number of
Charles S. Hyneman and Daniel S. Lutz (eds),
American Political Writings during
The Works of John Adams
Andrew Had�eld,
Shakespeare and Republicanism
(Cambridge, 2005); Patrick
Cheyney,
Marlowe and Republican Authorship
Jonson’s Theatrical Republics
Classical Humanism and Republicanism in
English Political Thought 1570-1740
(Cambridge, 1995) and David Norbrook,
Writing the
English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics 1627-1660
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English history, a period when no one
proposed the abolition of the monarchy. Historians and literary critics, frustrated
by that constricting de�nition, now extend it, principally in one or both of two
Stephen Alford, ‘The Political Creed of William Cecil’, in John F. McDiarmid
The Monarchical Republic of Early Modern England: Essays in Response to Patrick
European Contexts for English Republicanism
that kingship was sanctioned (though far from everyone took it to be unalterably
prescribed) by law, by rights, by history, by custom. The debate was about what
There is a test to be applied to any historical label, particularly to one with
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
Queen Elizabeth I’.
His subject was the limits of the nation’s deference to, and of
its dependence on, the monarch, in both national politics and in the running of local
communities. By ‘republicanism’ (or ‘quasi-republicanism’, a term which has also
been found convenient elsewhere) he meant self-government, both national and
local: what used to be called ‘self-government at the king’s command’. His title
has been appropriated by a whole book, in which his argument is interrogated.
Able and valuable essays in it bring new knowledge and thought to old questions
Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester
Monarchical Republic
European Contexts for English Republicanism
In the mid-seventeenth century the monarchy broke down, and alternatives to
Thomas More,
, ed. George M. Logan and Robert M. Adams (Cambridge,
I discussed Starkey’s thought in
Thomas Starkey,
A Dialogue between Reginald Pole and Thomas Lupset
Kathleen M. Burton (London, 1948), pp. 104, 154, 156, 159. Specialists need to consult the
edition by Thomas F. Mayer,
A Dialogue between Pole and Lupset
Starkey,
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
the royal will seeps through society and dis�gures private relations.
Blair Worden,
The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney’s ‘Arcadia’ and Elizabethan
Sir Philip Sidney,
The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (The Old Arcadia)
European Contexts for English Republicanism
participation in the
, is not to be found in any distinctive form in pre-Civil War
Classical political in�uences
anyway shrank as the war neared. The language of early Stuart politics was, if
anything, increasingly insular. It turned on the content ever less of classical, ever
more of native and medieval history. Its main concerns were the prescriptions of
English statute, custom and common law.
The Civil Wars
In 1649 the monarchy which rested on those prescriptions was cast aside. The
of�ce of king was abolished; the House of Lords was abolished with it; and
England began a brief period, unique in its history, of kingless rule.
The House
of Commons, as the representative body of the nation, claimed a monopoly of
sovereign power. The unicameral and undivided rule of the lower chamber
persisted for �ve years, until Oliver Cromwell’s elevation as Lord Protector
in December 1653. If we want to �nd a ‘republican’ moment in early modern
The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the
Atlantic Republican Tradition
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
Pride’s Purge, excluded or drove away a majority in the Commons. Then, under
Arthur S.P. Woodhouse (ed.),
Puritanism and Liberty
(repr. Chicago, 1974), pp. 408,
Parliamentary or Constitutional History
, vol. 19, pp. 76–7, 360; John T. Rutt (ed.),
Samuel Rawson Gardiner (ed.),
The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan
Revolution 1625–1660
(2nd edn, Oxford, 1906; repr. 1962 [1889]), p. 377;
Memorials of the English Affairs
(4 vols, Oxford, 1853),
Pride’s Purge
European Contexts for English Republicanism
was available in his son-in-law, William of Orange, who was duly crowned. Had
there been such a candidate in 1649 there would have been no republic. Instead, a
week after the king’s execution, a two-day debate in the Commons ended with a
resolution to abolish the kingly of�ce.
After a further six weeks an act abolishing
it passed a thinly attended House.
It was worded with puzzling ambiguities which
suggest trouble in committee and which, on one reading, left the door open for the
Gardiner,
Parliamentary or Constitutional History
Diary of Thomas
, vol. 3, pp. 173, 176; British Library, Add MS 5138, p. 157.
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
monarchy.
Parliamentary sovereignty was the source of political authority, not, in
normal circumstances, its exercise. The two unicameral parliaments of Cromwell’s
Protectorate, to which MPs who had been purged before the trial of the king were
The presiding judge at the trial of Charles I, John Bradshaw, did compare the English
Parliament to Rome’s tribunes and Sparta’s ephors; but he was explaining the resemblance
of the existing English constitution to classical practice, not calling for constitutional
alteration (David Lagomarsino and Charles J. Wood (eds),
The Trial of Charles I
(Hanover,
New Hampshire, 1989), p. 123). It is often observed that one of the prosecuting counsel at
the trial, Isaac Dorislaus, had got into hot water by advancing contentious political opinions
in a lecture at Cambridge in 1627. But the lecture was not hostile to kingship itself. It was
Dorislaus’s commitment to the principle of political consent that caused the trouble.
The MP Nathaniel Bacon’s
An Historicall Discourse of the Uniformity of the
Government of England
(2 vols, 1647–51) provides an excellent introduction to that attitude.
Edmund Ludlow,
A Voyce from the Watch Tower
, ed. Blair Worden (London, 1978),
p. 143; Whitelocke,
Diary of Thomas Burton
Parliamentary or Constitutional History
Diary of Thomas
The Moderate Intelligencer
, 11 January 1649, pp. 1825–6;
Mercurius Politicus
European Contexts for English Republicanism
to do so. MPs who offered Cromwell the crown in 1657 explained that in 1649
‘one parliament thought the [present] state of affairs required the taking away of
the name and of�ce of king’, and that ‘this parliament judgeth the present state of
Walter Scott (ed.),
A Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts
Gardiner,
Acts and Ordinances
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
people’ whom the new government claimed to represent, and whose interests he
championed against all kingly and ‘lordly’ rule.
Nedham caught a mood which the regime was unable to control. The regicide
and the change of government had roused, alongside fury and despair, some high
hopes and excitement. Novel impulses were propelled by a spiritual urgency
foreign to Nedham himself. Must not the epic and unprecedented transformation
of 1649, belonging as it did to a series of convulsions across the Continent and
The Excellencie of a
Free-State
See e.g. John Cook [Parliament’s Solicitor General at the king’s trial],
King Charles
(London, 1649), p. 40; Ludlow,
Voyce from the Watch Tower
Worden,
God’s Instruments
European Contexts for English Republicanism
A critical moment in that development was the offer of the Crown to Cromwell
in 1657 by a conservative parliament which sought to dull the reform movement.
If that was what parliamentary sovereignty would lead to, then reformers needed
another argumentative base from which to oppose him. By 1659 – the year the
word ‘republican’ acquired familiarity – opposition to the rule of any ‘single
person’ had become a powerful force in Puritan politics.
It was also in 1659 that the constitutional proposals announced three years
earlier in James Harrington’s
came to exert widespread in�uence. In
pointing England away from its native constitutional history towards the emulation
The Commonwealth of Oceana
The Political Works of James Harrington
, ed. J.G.A. Pocock (Cambridge, 1977), pp. 155–359,
p. 205; Henry Neville,
Plato Redivivus
(1681), in Caroline Robbins (ed.),
Two Republican
Tracts
Perfect Occurrences of Every Dayes Journall in Parliament
Worden,
God’s Instruments
, pp. 310–11.
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
Nedham, the Rump’s employee, contrived to remain semi-independent of it and
to condemn it implicitly, as Harrington and Neville did explicitly, as an oligarchy.
His newsbook makes clear the regime’s refusal to learn the lessons of classical
politics which he taught. In place of the ‘grandee-government’ of the Rump he
His close friend John
Milton, who until 1659 had held a �exible view of forms of government, moved in
Mercurius Politicus
The Readie and Easie Way
European Contexts for English Republicanism
at the same time. The works edited in 1698–1700 would be often reprinted in the
eighteenth century, when they were exported to America, France and other nations.
Caroline Robbins,
The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in
the Transmission, Development and Circumstance of English Liberal Thought from the
Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies
(Cambridge, MA, 1959).
Rachel Hammersley,
The English Republican Tradition and Eighteenth-Century
(Manchester, 2010).
Wolfe,
Complete Prose Works
Hammersley insists, rightly, on the preoccupation of her authors with liberty; but
that concern, which spread across the political range, cannot by itself be thought of as
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil
Wars and the Passions of Posterity
Excellencie of a Free-State
Two Republican Tracts
See my ‘Republicanism and the Restoration’, in David Wootton (ed.),
Republicanism,
Liberty, and Commercial Society 1649–1776
As cited in Worden,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
that the English constitution needed adjusting, so as to bring it closer to classical
principles, can certainly be read as a plea for radical innovation, as can Sidney’s
commendation of the Roman system of consular kingship. We can contrast
Neville’s and Sidney’s approaches with those of two other writers of the Civil
Wars who acquired eighteenth-century followings, the Roundhead MPs Nathaniel
Bacon and Bulstrode Whitelocke.
Bacon and Whitelocke likewise compared the
English constitution to classical ones, but they saw it as an embodiment of, rather
than a break with, classical principles. The same position had been adopted, albeit
momentarily, by Charles I in 1642.
The constitutional proposals of Neville and
Sidney under Charles II may seem cautious in comparison with Harrington’s, but
they look far-reaching alongside Bacon’s or Whitelocke’s.
Toland can also be suspected, to my mind rightly, of seeking fundamental
Worden,
God’s Instruments
See the discussions of the king’s
Answer to the Nineteen Propositions
Weston and Janelle R. Greenberg,
Subjects and Sovereigns: The Grand Controversy over
Legal Sovereignty in Stuart England
Worden, ‘Republicanism and the Restoration’, pp. 179–80.
Worden,
Roundhead Reputations
, pp. 152–3. Similar reasoning had been used to
Liberty for Export: ‘Republicanism’ in England, 1500–1800
In themselves, at least until the Tory reaction early in George III’s reign, they
were uncontentious. What marked out the Real Whig reverence for the works edited
by Toland was again a historical sense. Real Whigs remembered the bravery and
in�exibility of the political and moral conduct of Toland’s authors and their stoic
superiority to power and its inducements: virtues which were saluted in classical
busts and engravings commissioned by Hollis, and which Real Whigs yearned to
transplant to the present. Toland appealed, with high success, to the country-party
sentiment – what in the eighteenth century would come to be known as the ‘patriot’
outlook – which applauded, where it could be found, the courageous independence
of mind that the corruption sponsored by an expanding executive was allegedly
eroding. Ludlow and Sidney, as presented to their eighteenth-century readers,
were immune not only to venality but also to all the temptations of power and
Toland omitted from the canon the pioneering but venal Nedham. Hollis
and Baron, who worshipped the characters of the other authors, printed Nedham’s
The Excellencie of a Free-State
Plea for Limited Monarchy
Excellencie of a Free-State
, ed. Worden, ‘Introduction’.
John Milton,
Eikonoklastes: In answer to a book intitled, Eik�n Basilike
̄, the
portraiture of His sacred Majesty in his solitudes and sufferings
Excellencie of a Free-State
, ed. Worden, ‘Introduction’.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
be ‘practicable’ in America, where indeed they were taken up.
But in England it
seems to have been by virtue of his articulation of principles of government, rather
than of the non-monarchical programme he derived from them, that Harrington
attracted broad eighteenth-century thinking. He won attention as a scientist of
politics: as the discoverer of the principle, which became an eighteenth-century
commonplace, that power follows or should follow property; and as the theorist of
checks and balances, which the Hanoverian age turned into a cardinal constitutional
Hugh F. Russell Smith,
Harrington and his ‘Oceana’: A Study of a Seventeenth-
Century Utopia and its In�uence in America
(repr. New York, 1971).
Spectacles of Astonishment: Tragedy and
the Regicide in England and Germany,
Dirk Wiemann
In the aftermath of Charles I’s execution, the ‘whirlwind of publication and
Steven N. Zwicker,
Lines of Authority: Politics and English Literary Culture,
Nigel Smith, ‘Exile in Europe during the English Revolution and its Literary
Impact’, in Philip Major (ed.),
Literatures of Exile in the English Revolution and its
(Farnham, 2010), pp. 105–18; here p. 118.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
its subject matter which �gures as a crucial bone of contention for the contestants.
At his regicidal best, in
, Milton follows
the satirical strategy to de�ate the ‘bombast’ of royalist conventions of the
king’s execution as tragedy. The �rst
exposes Salmasius as an impostor
‘feigning strange tragedies’
where, in fact, there is bathos at best, and in a later,
truly ‘chilling passage’
derides Charles’s stoic stance, not least his conduct on the
scaffold, as poor histrionics:
In death as in life, even the worst of men wish to seem good, fearless, innocent,
or even holy, and, in the very hour of execution for their crimes, they will for the
John Milton, ‘A Defence of the People of England’, in
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
as a ‘pre-generic plot structure’
that offers a speci�c ‘mode of explanation’.
A subtextual matrix rather than a particular literary form, tragedy functions as
a steering narrative by sequencing and con�guring actual events so that they
function as plot elements within a speci�c ordering pattern that ‘endows them with
shape and meaning’
and thus holds their fundamental contingency at bay. In this

not want to die, but by accepting his or her death manages to socialize it, put it
on public show and converts it into a sign, places it at the emancipatory service
of others and thus salvages some value from it.’
It is in this sense that Salmasius
‘textualizes’ Charles not simply as stoic hero but as ‘primus Angliae regum
martyr’
Hayden White, ‘Interpretation in History’,
New Literary History
pp. 281–314; p. 291. White here relies on Northrop Frye’s discussion of mythoi in
Hayden White,
Representation
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Ce qui restoit de la Tragedie iusques à la conclusion a esté le personnage des
In Walter Benjamin [1925], ‘Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels’, in Rolf
Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser (eds),
Walter Benjamin: Gesammelte Schriften
, IV.2, p. 1035.
, IV.2, p. 1042.
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
and, indeed, a crime more atrocious than the cruci�xion:
‘Compared with this, the crime of the Jews in crucifying Christ was nothing,
towards an epiphany of the law.
Milton’s invectives against this application of the tragic subtext are therefore
more than only an elitist re�ex against a perceived demeaning of tragedy;
are also part of an attempt to combat a whole metahistorical edi�ce that posits
the restoration of monarchy as necessity. From Milton’s republican position,
tragedy and martyrology have to be ruled out categorically from the possible
modes of representing the regicide. This, however, is precisely what happened
outside the sphere of control of the English republic where a wide range of
continental respondents resorted to the tragic subtext in order to extract meaning
in the hands of a monarchist but at the same time irenicist writer.
Gryphius’s Charles and the Pitfalls of
The hyperbole with which the
Defensio regia
Regii sanguinis clamor
introduce the execution of Charles as a world-shaking ‘terror’ is a commonplace
in German responses to the regicide, too. In the establishing opening soliloquy
of Andreas Gryphius’s
Carolus Stuardus
, the regicide will cause tectonic
repercussions as ‘the horri�ed world will be shaken by this fall’.
Salmasius and Du Moulin, such ‘horri�ed’ and ‘compassionate’ responses are
clearly in tune with classical notions of the effects tragedy has on its audience.
To achieve these effects, the royal protagonist invariably appears as martyr if not
Du Moulin, ‘Cry’, p. 1042.
Ibid., p. 1049.
Ibid., p. 1081.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
typological revenant of Jesus himself, and the host of republican antagonists as
cunning dissimulators and equivocators. Thus, in one of August Buchner’s 1649
�ctional ‘king’s speeches’ Charles unmasks his enemies’ histrionic intrigues while
at the same time leniently forgiving his persecutors:
actually materializes as a
Trauerspiel
, i.e. a tragedy proper; second, the text is
haunted by the re�exive and self-interrogative insecurity of whether its ostensibly
Carolus Stuardus
king. On the night before the execution, the Lady Fairfax, wife of the powerful
New Model Army general Thomas Fairfax, tries to persuade her husband into
complicity with her design to have the convict released. The rather static play
soon abandons this potentially dramatic intrigue and concentrates instead on the
pro�ling of the treacherous judges on the one hand and the innocent king on the
other. Drawing on sources like Salmasius’s
Defensio regia
, the
Eikon Basilike
Thomas Edward’s
English Memorial
, a popular anthology of
regicide documents in German translation published in 1649,
Carolus Stuardus
deploys the same martyrological topology as nearly all extant regicide works from
Some authors, such as Johann Rist in his 1651 long poem
Blutige Thränen
Bleeding Tears
) or Georg Gre�inger in ‘Ihrer Majestät von Großbritannien Karls
Klage oder Sterbe Lied’ (‘His Majesty Charles’s of Great Britain Lament’,
1649), follow Salmasius by identifying Charles with Stephanus.
August Buchner,
Eine gedoppelte Rede welche Carolus I. / König von England /
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
however, Charles is not simply a martyred saint but is ‘modelled on the prototype
of all martyrs: Jesus’.
Gryphius’s usage of political typology, in which secular
– ‘Charles speaks like Stephanus, asking God not to avenge him on his subjects who break
their oath to his displeasure. … Instead he says he is willing to die as a faithful martyr’; Johann
Rist, ‘Blutige Thränen’, in
An die Tugendedle/Kunstliebende und Hochbegabte Schaffer
(n.p,
1649), pp. 5–39; here p. 16. Rist’s own annotation to this stanza clari�es the indebtedness to
the Eikon: ‘That King Charles loved above all the fear of God as the mother of all virtues is
testi�ed to by his hearty and spirited prayers in prison, many of which can be found in the
book titled Image of King Charles’ (Rist, ‘Blutige Thränen’, p. 37). Gre�inger’s dirge presents
Charles as another Stephen: ‘Damit will ich zum Tode gehen / Wie Stephanus gegangen hat /
[…] / Indem ich wie ein Martyr Sinn / In dem Tode muthig bin’; – ‘ Herewith I want to go to
my death like Stephanus did … and thus die with con�dence as a martyr’; Georg Gre�inger,
Ihrer Majestät von Großbritannien Karls Klage=oder Sterbe=Lied
(n.p., 1649), p. 5.
Mary E. Gilbert, ‘Carolus Stuardus by Andreas Gryphius: A Contemporary Tragedy
European Contexts for English Republicanism
most German responses to the regicide cannot go unnoticed. In Gryphius’s play, a
Buchner, ‘Eine gedoppelte Rede’, p. 1.
King’s Two Bodies
The classical account of analogical thinking is Michel Foucault’s
The Order of
Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences
W.H. Greenleaf,
Order, Empiricism and Politics: Two Traditions of English
Order
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
Karl Löwith,
Weltgeschichte und Heilsgeschehen: Die theologischen
European Contexts for English Republicanism
and the notion of
in general; at least two of his tragic plays –
Carolus Stuardus
among them – culminate in ‘the supreme form of emulation, in
See Phillip Marshall Mitchell (ed.),
Johann Christoph Gottscheds Ausgewählte
Werke VI.4: Versuch einer christlichen Dichtkunst
Katja Malsch,
Literatur und Selbstopfer: Historisch-systematische Studien zu
(Würzburg, 2007), p. 67.
Habsburg,
Catholic and Protestant Translations
Marx’s phrase from
The Eighteenth Brumaire
gets a bit further down speci�ed
to ‘Cromwell and the English people [who] borrowed for their bourgeois revolution the
language, passions and illusions of the Old Testament’; for an extensive analysis of OT
Order
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
, Milton rehearses the same application of
the Samuel–Agag analogy to the regicide (
, III, p. 193); moreover, Merritt Hughes
The revolt against Joram, ‘who had forsaken God’, serves as one among many
of Milton’s OT ‘examples’ of legitimate anti-monarchical resistance: ‘Defence’,
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
Thus in the confrontation of divine-right monarchy and popular self-
Political Unconscious
, p. 88.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
[I come to avenge death and murder and unsheathe this sword on you, you
henchmen and your house. Woe, trembling Albion! Revenge swears by the god
of gods and by your king’s blood […] England shall become hell. Listen, you
furies, to what Revenge commands: Come, sword! Come, civil war! Come,
A far cry from the meekness ascribed to Charles on the scaffold forgiving his
martyrological typology that the play claims to represent. More pointedly put, it
turns against its own martyred hero and against the version of Christ he stands for
by superseding the merciful god of the New Testament with the vengeful one of
the Old Testament and, in that sense, the religious code of Charles with that of the
Smith, ‘Exile’, p. 117.
Habersetzer,
Politische Typologie
‘Erfordert was gerecht / und rechte Waffen liebt / Zu rächen diesen Fall. Heer,
Schwerter aus den Scheiden!’; quoted in Habersetzer,
Politische Typologie
Smith, ‘Exile’, p. 117.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
tragedy be contained within an overarching narrative which is dominantly shaped
In his response to Philautus, Harrington’s Lord Archon describes the execution
of Charles I as an event of high international visibility: ‘we have seen a throne […]
to have fallen with such horror as hath been a spectacle of astonishment unto the
whole earth’.
True, this reference to the ‘horror’ that the regicide instils in the
audience (‘we have seen’) may only be a minor point in a speech (and indeed a
whole book) which is basically intended to delineate how monarchy is principally
unnatural and its abolition accordingly legitimate: ‘If the monarchy may make
of so many, nay, for the good of all.’
Into this republican framing the regicide is
embedded as an extremity, an oddity that Harrington’s text by no means attempts
to normalize but rather to pro�le as a singularity. It could be argued with Jonathan
Scott that ‘the fundamental purpose of [
culminating in regicide, and make sure it was never repeated.’
Thus, like
Hobbes’s
, the whole project of
works towards a containment
without, of course, advocating the necessity of absolute sovereignty.
True, the means that Harrington envisages for his pacifying programme are
primarily constitutional and not so much artistic: his is not a Schiller-style agenda
Tragedy and the Regicide in England and Germany, 1649–1663
has given us a grave admonition in a dreadful tragedy.’
The passage in question
demonstrates not only how tragedy serves for the controlled representation of
anomalous violence but also how the form as such requires to be contained as
a textual component of
: the ‘dreadful tragedy’ of Caesar is not rendered
dramatically but summarized in an embedded and strictly circumscribed narrative
Traiano Boccalini,
Advertisments from Parnassus in Two Centuries
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Writing
It is some measure of the extraordinary qualities of Marchamont Nedham that he
managed to serve virtually all of the political causes and regimes of two of the most
unstable decades of English history, and lived to �ght another day. Having served
both Parliament and king in the Civil Wars of the 1640s, and charted a precarious
but pro�table path through the shifting regimes and factions of the 1650s, he
turned again after monarchy was restored, and just before his death in the later
1670s was accepting pay for his attacks on Shaftesbury.
His willingness to test the
limits of his current political masters with audacious and provocative journalism
was apparently matched only by his aptitude for slipping across political divides
The brilliance of Nedham’s wit attracted his paymasters in the political
turmoil of the Civil Wars and Interregnum, and it attracts scholars now. The
apparent �exibility of his conscience has been more of an embarrassment, and
Joseph Frank,
Cromwell’s Press Agent: A Critical Biography of Marchamont
Nedham, 1620–1678
(Washington, DC, 1980), is now supplemented by much recent work,
including Joad Raymond, ‘Nedham, Marchamont (
. 1678)’,
Oxford Dictionary
. For an analysis of some of the
vicissitudes and turning-points of Nedham’s career, see Raymond, ‘“A Mercury with a
Winged Conscience”: Marchamont Nedham, Monopoly and Censorship’,
Media History
4 (1998), pp. 7–18; Jason McElligott,
Royalism, Print and Censorship in Revolutionary
(Woodbridge, 2007), pp. 111–26; Jason Peacey,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
The plausibility of this rests not only on his parliamentarianism in his
career up to 1646, which culminated in a series of controversial attacks on Charles
I, but also on the quality of his writings under the republic and protectorate: he
seemed keen, at least at times, to offer far more challenging models of republican
government than his political masters were willing or able to implement.
, pp. 120–25; contrast Raymond, ‘The
On Nedham’s views in his parliamentarian writing to 1646, see Joyce Macadam,
‘Mercurius Britanicus on Charles I: An Exercise in Civil War Journalism and High Politics,
August 1643 to May 1646’,
Historical Research
, 84 (2011), pp. 470–92; Joad Raymond,
(Oxford, 1996),
pp. 42–8, but see Peacey,
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State
well as offering controversial prescriptions for rulers; and there is no doubt that
they all contributed signi�cantly to the distinctive character of Nedham’s thought.
Nedham’s range of reference, however, is much broader than this. His use of
classical authors in citation and quotation, and his references to a wide range of
more modern authorities, have facilitated his adoption into the canon of ‘classical
republicanism’ and elicited a (cautious) admiration for his learning and the base
of reading on which he built his topical and versatile political argumentation. His
sources did not, of course, predetermine the direction of his political argument.
As Blair Worden once nicely put it, Nedham’s arguments had a habit of ‘turning
on their footnotes’: the same material might be marshalled for or against a
proposition as circumstances demanded.
We should certainly never expect
Nedham’s relationship to his sources to be simple. Nonetheless, it is perhaps
surprising that so little attention has been paid to Nedham’s ‘footnotes’ – the
marginal citations which appear only in a couple of his publications in the early
Commonwealth period – as they turn out to tell us some surprising things about
the way in which he wrote and the reading matter to which he most readily turned
The two works which used marginal citation of authorities to bolster their
arguments were
Certain Considerations Tendered in all Humility, to an Honorable
Member of the Councell of State
(1 August 1649) and the much longer and better-
, published in May 1650.
Both were concerned with the problems faced by governors and people under the
new regime of the Commonwealth. The �rst, a 14-page pamphlet, offered some
advice to the Council of State on how to manage its potential opponents – advice
which Nedham advertised as drawn out of ‘the Opinion and Practice of many
Statesmen’, but which was skilfully oriented towards the lenient treatment of Nedham himself (he had been thrown into prison) as well as
the potential success of the new regime. The second, Nedham’s ‘job application’
to his employers in the new regime,
arguments justifying
the power of the sword as the only title to government, as well as analyses of the
‘interest’ of the different groups which found themselves in opposition to their
new governors, and �nally a classicizing peroration on the superiority of ‘free
states’ to monarchies, to try and induce the new regime’s unwilling population
to offer it their obedience. Both texts cited an impressive mixture of ancient and
modern texts in their marginal notes. There is little scholarly comment on
, but Joad Raymond �nds it ‘signi�cant for its extensive use of
Roman precedent’, and suggests that it pre�gures Nedham’s phase of classical
republican writing. Joseph Frank commented on its ‘outpouring of classical
Blair Worden, ‘“Wit in a Roundhead”: The Dilemma of Marchamont Nedham’,
in Susan Amussen and Mark Kishlansky
Political Culture and Cultural Politics in
Early Modern England: Essays Presented to David Underdown
York, 1995), p. 301.
Against Throne and Altar
European Contexts for English Republicanism
allusions’ and pronounced the tract ‘judicious and learned’.
Nigel Smith notes
its ‘solid references’ to Seneca, Suetonius and Livy, and entertains the thought
that it was the result of Nedham’s reading of classical sources in prison, marking
the ‘emergence of the republican theory’ which Nedham was then to develop
Mercurius Politicus
received more scrutiny, and Philip Knachel’s 1969 edition completed Nedham’s
citations and attempted – sometimes in vain – to collate them with the works cited.
Knachel noticed some inaccuracy in quotation, lamented Nedham’s ‘casual habits’
in citation and suspected him of ‘short cuts’, asking, ‘Had he actually read each of
the authors he quotes?’ – a suspicion presumably fostered by the incidences noted
in the footnotes where Knachel found citations of other works lifted from Gregor
Richter’s
Axiomatum Politicorum
of 1604 (Görlitz). Nonetheless, he concluded
that Nedham’s more obscure citations ‘must have required some hard searching,
which does suggest that he had read widely.’
More recent scholars, not forced to
do such painstaking editorial work, have tended to look directly to the classical
authors cited in the margins, and to pick out a few canonical names from early
This is a mistake, as it turns out that Richter’s
Latin textbook by a German author that Nedham had on his desk as he wrote – or,
in some cases, compiled – his tracts. Nedham seems to have been inordinately fond
of the genre, and two other systematic and compendious treatises lie behind a large
number of his citations. One is Arnold Clapmar’s
De Arcanis Rerum Publicarum
�rst published posthumously by his brother in 1605 (Bremen). This in�uential
book took up many of the ideas of the Italian reason of state tradition – Clapmar
had been a correspondent of Scipione Ammirato and was particularly heavily
indebted to him – and repackaged them under the notion of ‘arcana imperii’,
transforming ‘reason’ of state into ‘mysteries’ of state. Among the authors who
followed Clapmar’s lead in this analysis was the jurist Christoph Besold, whose
De Arcanis Rerum Publicarum Dissertatio
Clapmar’s work, including, I suspect, the one which Nedham used.
The second,
Cromwell’s Press Agent
Nigel Smith,
Literature and Revolution in England, 1640–1660
(New Haven and
Marchamont Nedham,
The Case of the Commonwealth of England, Stated
ed. P.A.
Knachel (Charlottesville, 1969), pp. v, xxxiii, 10, 11, 13.
Nedham’s citation of this as a ‘dissertatio’ points towards an edition such as Arnold
Clapmar,
De Arcanis Rerum Publicarum Libri Sex … Accessit Chr. Besoldi De eadem
(Leiden, 1644) rather than the Elsevier edition (Amsterdam, 1644), which
also includes the Besold tract but refers to it as a ‘discursus’ rather than a ‘dissertatio’. I will
cite the Leiden edition for both texts. The Camena project at Heidelberg and Mannheim
has made this volume available conveniently online: http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State
longer treatise used heavily by Nedham was Besold’s own
Nedham’s use of these texts was intensive, and to a modern reader could seem
is effectively a tissue of material translated out
of both Clapmar’s and Besold’s texts on the arcana, plus Clapmar’s
appear among them. Besold’s
De Arcanis
was at least cited more than once, but
in very small proportion to the amount of material which Nedham mined directly
from it.
The Case of the Commonwealth
is a more considered piece and is certainly
For examples, references to Bodin, Pierre Gregoire, Contzen and Polybius
, ed. Knachel, pp. 101, 103–4) are taken from Besold,
Ann Blair,
Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern
European Contexts for English Republicanism
only a slight change of order, the quality of that in�uence feels rather different.
Of course, it does not preclude the possibility that Nedham did have a fair degree
of familiarity with some of the authors he was citing. He had a classical education,
at the free school in Burford and then at All Souls, Oxford: an education which led
him to a job – which he kept patience with for only three years – at the Merchant
Taylors’ School in London.
He worked comfortably from the Latin compendia
producing an English version of Selden’s
Mare Clausum
We cannot be sure
, pp. 2–3; Clapmar,
De Arcanis
Cromwell’s Press Agent
John Selden,
Of the Dominion, or, Ownership of the Sea
, trans. Marchamont
See for example Nedham,
, p. 8: the words ‘opprobria’ and
‘& suos’ are Nedham’s own; the quotation is from Tacitus,
2.50, not Suetonius;
Nedham takes it from Clapmar,
De Arcanis
, p. 312. More than once Nedham credits a phrase
to the wrong name from a selection cited on that point in his source text; he sometimes cites
parts of Clapmar’s or Besold’s own wording as if they were quotations from another text.
Nedham substituted Greek typography for ‘Isonomia’ when following Besold:
Synopsis Politicae Doctrinae
, p. 125; Nedham,
Case of the Commonwealth
, ed.
Knachel, p. 98; in
Nedham’s
, the quotations from Seneca are
virtually the only Latin phrases which cannot be traced to the Clapmar/Besold volume on
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State
to be found in Besold, so we have no evidence that Nedham had read Guicciardini
In some ways, this insight into Nedham’s way of writing and citing raises more
questions than it answers: further work will be required to pin down the balance
De Arcanis
, p. 22; Besold,
Synopsis Politicae Doctrinae
, pp. 4–5, 314;
, p. 3; Nedham,
, ed. Knachel,
title page, pp. 100, 117.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
legal penalties by lawyers was to be supplemented by politicians’ use of guile and
‘persuasiuncula’ to secure subjects’ obedience.
Nedham certainly seemed to be
comfortable, at least at times, with the culture of political mystery which these
writings promoted. In
Mercurius Politicus
in October 1651 he endorsed the Roman
division between people and Senate, which allowed the ‘secrets of Government’
to be handled by men wise and experienced enough for such ‘State-Affairs’.
A
few issues later, he made a similar argument for the Athenians’ placing of ‘State
Transactions’ in the Areopagus.
Even while arguing for a form of government by
De Arcanis
Mercurius Politicus
70 (2–9 October 1651), p. 1111.
Mercurius Politicus
73 (23–30 October 1651), p. 1158.
John Streater,
A Glympse of that Jewel, Judicial, Just, Preserving Libertie
1653), p. 1; cf. the same,
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State
those among whom there was no place for reason (the margin helpfully explained
that this meant the people); therefore the plebs were to be handled by using tricks
and obfuscations and images (simulacra).
Nedham’s recommendations were
less explicitly deceptive, recommending instead a certain indulgence and lenity
on the part of the new regime, but he was happy to lift from Clapmar Aristotle’s
thought that (in Nedham’s translation) ‘The common people are naturally of a
loose disposition, so that if they may enjoy a kind of dissolute liberty, they like the
present state of Government whatsoever it be.’
The anti-populist tone continued
in Nedham’s condemnation of the Levellers in the
where many of the anti-democratic tropes thrown at the Levellers were taken
from Besold’s account of ‘democratia libera’, the Greek stereotype of extreme
democracy, as discussed in Besold’s
Synopsis Politicae Doctrinae
. Nedham also
endorsed Clapmar’s assertion that the ‘�agitia’ �ourished in democratic states.
Even in making an argument
popular, electoral government in
Mercurius
Clapmar,
De Arcanis
Certain Considerations
, p. 2; Clapmar,
De Arcanis
, p. 308; Aristotle,
VI.4, on extreme democracy and the democratic indulgences offered by tyrants.
Mercurius Politicus
84 (8–15 January 1652), p. 1334; the fuller Juvenal quotation
is also given in Latin on p. 2 of
, from Clapmar,
De Arcanis
, p. 316.
Mercurius Politicus
97 (8–15 April 1652), p. 1522.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Equally sly was Nedham’s use of the arcana of rule. His condemnation of informers
– naturally harsh, as it was just such an informer who had put him in prison – was
facilitated by the inclusion of the use of informers as one of the impermissible
‘�agitia’ characteristic of kingly rule by Clapmar.
Virtually the whole of the rest
, pp. 12–14; Clapmar,
De Arcanis
, pp. 267–9;
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State
Clapmar calls them) could not be suppressed, were ways in which rulers could
were. The examples with which Clapmar illustrated this section of his book were
largely taken from Rome after the fall of the republic.
Nedham slyly applied them
to exactly the opposite constitutional situation: the replacement of a monarchy by
a supposedly ‘free state’. He covered his back, saying ‘If Emperors then allowed
so great a liberty of writing and speaking, much more may it be expected in a
free
But within a few lines he slipped back away from
the notion of real freedom, and wrote that ‘this licence is to be reckoned
simulacra libertatis
In a phrase which he did not translate into the vernacular,
Nedham thus slyly drew attention to the provocative suggestion that the new
regime had no desire to bring about true liberty. Nedham did not declare that he
was prescribing the deliberate simulation of democratic government, and he did
not disclose his source. But an alert reader, particularly one with the minimal Latin
required to pick up the hint about simulated liberty, would surely notice that it was
odd to advise a state which had just thrown off monarchy by recommending the
wiles of Augustus, Tiberius and Lorenzo de’ Medici.
government rather than a simulation; or on the contrary that he positively wanted
what on the face of it he recommended: a stable new regime which did just enough
to seem like a free state. His slowness to abandon the royalist cause and make his
peace with the new regime may suggest that he merely noted a certain hypocrisy
in a government whose crackdown on opposition in print was at odds with its
profession to be a free state. Nedham was adding his own gloss to Clapmar’s and
Besold’s material when he pointed out that ‘above all others’ the governors of a
free state ‘must bear with these things, and take heed of crossing the people in this
licentious humor’.
Why was the new free state so frightened of its own people?
As he established himself as an indispensable servant of the new regime, and
as that regime established itself more securely in power, Nedham offered a far less
ambiguous commentary on the shadow and substance of liberty, and the appearance
and reality of constitutional forms. His vocabulary and some of his material show
that in his republican editorials for
Mercurius Politicus
on the mysteries and simulacra of rule derived from Clapmar and Besold, although
the direct in�uence of Machiavelli also became more prominent.
Clapmar,
De Arcanis
, pp. 309–12, naturally drawing heavily on Tacitus.
Ibid., p. 8; cf. Clapmar,
De Arcanis
De Arcanis
Nedham’s use of Clapmar’s terminology: ‘�agitious Enormities’,
Mercurius
100 (29 April–6 May 1652), p. 1572; ‘
inter �agitia Dominationis …
one of the
peculiar enormities, that attends the
Lordly interest of Domination
Mercurius Politicus
(1–8 April 1652), p. 1506.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
editorials beginning in the autumn of 1651, he set out to show that liberty would
be best preserved by the people electing their own successive assemblies. When
he came to refute objections, one urgent task was to answer the objection that
Mercurius Politicus
Mercurius Politicus
Mercurius Politicus
Mercurius Politicus
101, pp. 1586, 1588–9; 102, p. 1594; cf. Clapmar,
De Arcanis
Mercurius Politicus
110 (8–15 July 1652), p. 1725; cf. Clapmar,
De Arcanis
, pp.
Mercurius Politicus
100 (29 April–6 May 1652), p. 1570. Joad Raymond, ‘The
King Is a Thing’, in Graham Parry and Joad Raymond
Milton and the Terms of
Marchamont Nedham and Mystery of State
His view of a political world full of disguises was not purely the
creation of the German mystery of state tradition. How to operate in that world
was the key question, to which Machiavelli and subsequent writers had offered
slightly differing answers. Nedham had a double strategy, of exposing the arcana
of monarchy and domination while exploiting the arcana of successful resistance
against the return of monarchy. But how far did the German tradition of the arcana
shape Nedham’s view of political morality, and how far could the requirements of
the state – or of a free state – justify the exploitation of the tricks of the mystery of
For all their discussion of apparently amoral strategies for deceiving
and manipulating the ruled, the reason of state and mystery of state traditions
Niccolò Machiavelli,
, ed. and trans. Julia Conaway Bondanella
, pp. 111–12.
De Arcanis
, p. 10; Clapmar,
De Arcanis
‘Bad reason of state’; Donaldson,
Machiavelli and Mystery of State
, pp. 112–13,
118–21.
Richard Tuck,
Kenneth Schellhase,
Tacitus in Renaissance Political Thought
(Chicago and
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of popular liberty and the ‘pernitious sprinklings’ of such cynical policy to be found
in his work, particularly ‘in that unworthy Book of his entitled
Rahe expresses surprise that Nedham, who had ‘long championed raison d’état’,
should ‘shy away’ from recommending Machiavelli’s political techniques alongside
his republican principles. Smith, too, sees Nedham’s repudiation of Machiavelli
as disingenuous in a thoroughly Machiavellian text.
Mercurius Politicus
112 (22–29 July 1652), pp. 1753–4; 113 (29 July–5 August
Against Throne and Altar
, p. 243; Smith,
Literature and Revolution
, p. 34;
Mercurius Politicus
De Arcanis
Praise for the Jewish commonwealth was a constant feature in James Harrington’s
(1656) onwards.
Hobbes. However, if the in�uence of Hobbes’s reading of Israelite theocracy was
prevalent in
Pian Piano
(1656), from the publication of
The Prerogative
of Popular Government
onwards, Harrington’s main source on Jewish politics was
Hugo Grotius. In this chapter I aim to show that Harrington’s use of Grotius’s
The Political Works of James
J.G.A. Pocock, ‘Introduction’ to
The Political Works of James Harrington
Political Works
European Contexts for English Republicanism
The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of
European Political Thought
Cf. Lea Campos Boralevi, ‘Classical Foundational Myths of European
Republicanism: The Jewish Commonwealth’, in Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner
Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage
Cf. Lea Campos Boralevi and Diego Quaglioni (eds),
Politeia Biblica
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
on the authoritative example of the commonwealth of the Jews, and particularly
on the Jewish Sanhedrin, which had both a religious and a civil authority.
jure divino
clericalism.
Explicatio gravissimae questionis
(London, 1589). The tract was
published posthumously.
Jonathan Scott,
Commonwealth Principles: Republican Writing of the English
Marco Barducci, ‘Clement Barksdale Translator of Grotius: Erastianism and
Episcopacy in the English Church, 1651–1658’,
The Seventeenth Century
Johann Sommerville, ‘Hobbes, Selden, Erastianism, and the History of the Jews’,
in G.A.J. Rogers and Tom Sorell (eds),
(London and New York, 2000),
Jeffrey Collins,
The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes
European Contexts for English Republicanism
As regards the manner of election among the Hebrews and primitive Christian
churches, he observed that ‘the ecclesiological argument of
was rightly
to be read as a republican intensi�cation of that of
Accordingly, Eric
The Hebrew Republic
, p. 117.
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
mainly as a modern disciple of Machiavelli and con�ne Hobbes’s in�uence to his
in�uence on Harrington’s thought. In the �rst part of the
Preliminaries
Harrington described Machiavelli as the only ‘learned disciple’ of the ancients,
and therefore as the modern master of ‘ancient prudence’.
Machiavelli had, in
fact, not only begun the analysis of feudal dependence and its incompatibility with
republican government, but also perceived that the only way of combating the
terrible Polybian law of anacyclosis was to balance the virtue of the many with
that of the few, following which Harrington would de�ne the principle of ‘divide
Furthermore, Harrington articulated the rudimentary Machiavellian
The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes
Gary Remer, ‘Machiavelli and Hobbes: James Harrington’s Commonwealth of
Hebraic Political Studies
, 4 (2006), pp. 440–61; the same, ‘James Harrington’s
New Deliberative Rhetoric: Re�ection of an Anti-Classical Republicanism’,
of Political Thought
, 16 (1995), pp. 532–77; Jonathan Scott, ‘The Rapture of Motion:
James Harrington’s Republicanism’, in Nicholas Phillipson and Quentin Skinner (eds),
Political Discourse in Early Modern Britain
‘Antiquity Surpassed: The Repudiation of Classical Republicanism’, in David Wootton
European Contexts for English Republicanism
It has been said that Harrington was a disciple of Hobbes, and consequently
not a representative of the classical republican tradition, since both
shared the aim of state peace and stability.
However, in his
Harrington elaborated a doctrine of the preservation of the republic which he
thought could unify Machiavelli’s republicanism as expressed in the
and the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. In
republic’s stability took on utopian tendencies, by means of which Harrington
Cf. Scott, ‘The Rapture of Motion’.
J.C. Davis,
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
The range of Hobbesian in�uences on Harrington is even plainer if we focus
The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes
, pp. 186–90; Mark Goldie, ‘The Civil
Religion of James Harrington’, in Anthony Pagden (ed.),
The Languages of Political Theory
in Early Modern Europe
, ed. Richard Tuck (Cambridge, 1996), p. 282.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of hands) because citizenship and
Harrington focused primarily on the manner of election of the Jewish Sanhedrin
to endorse a democratic ecclesiology which would cast down the authority of the
national church (Hobbes) or suit the fundamental laws of the republic of
However, the work in which Harrington dealt more extensively with the
issue of church government was
Pian Piano
(1657). Despite Hobbes’s in�uence
Harrington’s
did not dedicate too much space to the discussion of modes
of election amongst the Jews and early Christians. In a passage concerning the
role of the universities in teaching and spreading the civil religion of
If the Jewish religion were directed and established by Moses, it was directed
and established by the civil magistrate; or if Moses exercised this administration
chirotonia
amongst the ancient Hebrews. The Anglican theologian Ferne had put
forward two main criticisms of Harrington’s work, one relating to the concept
of ‘balance’ and the other relating to his ‘thinking the Israel commonwealth
or government under Moses so applicable unto his purpose as he would make
It was on that occasion that Ferne noted that Harrington’s view on church
Political Works
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
referring to him several times both in the text and in his footnotes), although
dissenting both from his preference for a moderate episcopal or Presbyterian
ecclesiology and from his claim for
chirotesia
(imposition of hands) in the election
of civil and religious magistrates. Why, we might wonder, did Harrington after
1656 start to support Hobbes’s arguments by taking on Grotius’s ideas? What
exactly did Harrington take from Grotius, and how did it differ from what he took
from Hobbes? In order to answer these questions, I will examine Harrington’s use
of Grotius’s reading of the commonwealth of the Jews.
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews
After 1656, Harrington’s post-utopian and post-Hobbesian purpose to ‘heal and
European Contexts for English Republicanism
referring to a comment on Ecclesiastes (10: 5–7), drawn from
Annotationes ad
Matthew Wren,
Considerations upon Mr. Harrington’s Commonwealth of Oceana
Prerogative
, p. 411. Here Harrington quoted Grotius’s
summarum potestatum circa sacra
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
over the land of Canaan, and of that held by Moses before the advent of Aaron,
de�ning them as ‘both king and priest’. ‘The consent of the nations evinceth’,
, ‘that the function of the clergy
On Harrington’s Erastianism see also Nelson,
The Hebrew Republic
, pp. 117–21.
Prerogative
On Barksdale’s translation of
De jure
of 1654, see also Marco Barducci,
Grozio ed
il pensiero politico e religioso inglese, 1632-1678
Wren,
Prerogative
Wren,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
In chapter 11 of the �rst book of
The Prerogative
, concerning the relation
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
The Art of Lawgiving
Political Works
European Contexts for English Republicanism
the families of Israel.
In chapter 5 (Book II), ‘Showing the state of the Jews in
Ibid., p. 624.
Ibid., p. 647n.
Ibid., p. 651, n1.
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
The Hebrew Republic
, pp. 117, 120.
William J. Packer,
The Transformation of Anglicanism, 1643–1660, with a Special
Reference to Henry Hammond
(Manchester, 1969), pp. 106–23.
Cf. Sarah Mortimer,
Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: The Challenge
European Contexts for English Republicanism
the biography of Grotius which was published for the �rst time in 1654 under the
Memorial of the Author’s Life and Death
as an appendix to his translation of
De jure belli ac pacis
. Most of all, Barksdale emphasized Grotius’s Erastianism,
asserting that, from his youth, ‘Our Author thought it his Duty to vindicate the
Right of the State [in the church government] … and shew the way to peace in
those and other Differences that disturb the Christian World.’
The second book of Harrington’s
Prerogative
, being in part dedicated to
the controversy with Hammond, could therefore also be read as a confrontation
For Barksdale’s biography of Grotius see Barducci,
Grozio ed il pensiero politico
, Appendix I. It is worth noting that Barksdale and Hammond slightly differed in
their reading of Grotius. While the former more overtly adhered to the Erastianism of the
Dutch author, the latter was more interested in Grotius’s
non-jure divino
arguments in
support of episcopacy and in his Remonstrant theology.
Prerogative
Harrington, Grotius and the Commonwealth of the Jews, 1656–1660
In order to assess the range of in�uences of Grotius’s commonwealth of the Jews
The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes
Republic in Harrington’s
For if these were but notions, – I mean these instances I have given you of
dangerous doctrines both in civil things and spiritual; if, I say, they were but
I am grateful to Ioannis Evrigenis, Gaby Mahlberg, Dániel Margócsy, Isaac
Nakhimovsky, Koen Stapelbroek and Dirk Wiemann for their comments on various drafts,
and to József Kömüves for technical assistance. Many thanks to the program Rechtskulturen:
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of politics from religion or
vice versa
Here I show how Harrington drew on the
existing discourse of irenic secularization, including Selden and Grotius, and how
he adapted their techniques to accommodate, reconcile and contain the volatile
Among Harrington’s secularizing techniques, such as the systematic
subversion of conventional biblical exegeses, the historicization of biblical
episodes, and natural theology, the one in focus here is his neutralization of the
Hebrew commonwealth as a potential source of political disagreement in
The reason for this choice is the rapid expansion of scholarly literature concerning
the Hebrew Republic. The theme takes increasingly ambitious roles, not only
in textual analysis but also in reconstructions of the rise of modern democracy,
I would like to point out a fundamental misunderstanding in some of this
Secularisation and the Leiden Circle
(Leiden, 2011), pp. 1–6, 30–42,
Examples are Christopher Ligota, ‘L’histoire à fondement théologique: la
République des Hébreux’, in
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
Why not? Because they recognized the irresolvability of con�icts based on
religiously founded truth claims. England saw numerous cases throughout the
seventeenth century, most prominently during the Civil War, of con�icts that
could be easily rejected as irrelevant. Secondly, groups and individuals who tried
to resolve religious con�icts through precipitate secularization, including French
New Historians and the Leiden Circle, suffered oppression.
Harrington’s best hope of being effective was to �gure out a way to minimize
. For the British-Jewish context of Harrington’s handling
, see Sten B. Liljegren, ‘Harrington and the Jews’,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
be reproduced were not directly ordained by God as the historical ruler of the Jews.
The third group contains Harrington’s institutions and policy recommendations
that have no biblical precedent. Fourth, Harrington gives several reasons why
institutions derived from the divine polity, even if it were possible to reproduce
The argument that the divine polity holds no special status as a model can be
gleaned from the very opening of
, where we read that ancient prudence was
‘�rst discovered unto mankind by God himself, in the fabric of the commonwealth
of Israel,
and afterward picked out of his footsteps in nature and unanimously
followed by the Greeks and Romans’ (161).
Key institutions, like the agrarian,
sortition, and consent, are shown to have existed in the Hebrew Republic, but also
as deducible from nature and other, equally instructive historical examples (164).
To support the existence of a natural aristocracy, Harrington cites Deuteronomy
1:13 emphatically as only one example of ‘a natural aristocracy diffused by God
throughout the whole body of mankind’ (173).
Election, parliament, bicameralism,
the Council of Legislators and other constitutional components are treated in the
same fashion. When the Hebrew Republic is cited in
as a viable model,
Harrington always states that its emulable qualities can also be deduced from
nature and other historical examples.
Harrington summarizes his argumentative
refer to J.G.A. Pocock’s edition of
Works of James Harrington
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
power to appoint their successors by ordination. It is this corrupt political practice,
The Prerogative of Popular Government
, II.iv, in
Political Works
Prerogative
European Contexts for English Republicanism
religious titles to civil magistrates. Although senates, congregations, comitia and
elections were protected by an aura of religious trappings, they remained civil
institutions, and religious matters were �rmly subservient to public order. When
civil and ecclesiastical laws were identical in the exceptional and irreproducible
case of the Hebrew Republic, government was still civil, and fully comparable to
Prerogative
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
Good Things Not from the Divine Polity
In addition to treating most institutions of the Hebrew Republic as one of several,
not only comparable but equally compelling historical cases, and showing its
few unique institutions to be irreproducible, Harrington also describes several
important Oceanic institutions that are adopted from, and/or justi�ed with
reference to, models other than the divine polity.
Jethro is a key �gure for this technique. Harrington invokes him often. Early on he
systematically discusses several institutions of the divine polity, such as the divisions
into groups of various sizes, the meritocratic election of natural aristocracy into a
representative body, the mixed constitution, popular sovereignty, public assemblies,
the agrarian laws, the use of the ballot, the Sanhedrin, and the central and local courts
(172–7). Harrington cites numerous biblical passages to support his occasionally
these being that part of this commonwealth which was instituted by Moses upon
Prerogative
, pp. 519, 524-5 on the functions of Romulus as ‘the
Protector
’, and why Moses was different.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Some Tannaim, for instance, thought he converted to Moses’ religion before he advised
him; others thought he remained a Midianite, and his praise of the true God is a warning to
Jews who praise little or without soul. See e.g. Babylonian Talmud, Zevachim, 116a.
Harrington describes Jethro for the �rst time as ‘king and priest in the commonwealth
of Midian’ in
Prerogative
, p. 411.
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
non-Jewish priestly origin draws more heavily on Selden’s
, a major
Liljegren raises the intriguing possibility that Harrington saw Buxtorf’s 1656
Vindiciae Judaeorum
‘Pars vero illa legis … adstricta habitationi terrae Cananaeae’, Hugo Grotius,
Veritate Religionis Christianae
See note 11 to
European Contexts for English Republicanism
King James I of England and VI of Scotland
, by Paulus van Somer
I, c. 1600. Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
For Wansleben’s recognition of the signi�cance of Harrington’s Jethro, see Gaby
Mahlberg’s chapter in this volume.
Prerogative
The Inthronization of Their Majesties King James II and Queen
, by William Sherwin (?), c. 1685–87. The British Museum,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Liljegren rightly identi�es Grotius’ commentary on Matthew 19:28 as the source
that Harrington’s marginal note refers to.
There Grotius explains that Jesus told
the Apostles that they will rule with him, on twelve thrones, because the Hebrew
, governors or princes of the tribes who sat
, and whose majesty in ancient Israel approximated
James Harrington’s Oceana
, ed. Sten B. Liljegren (Heidelberg, 1924), p. 289.
Annotationes in Novum Testamentum
Groningen, 1828), II, pp. 124–5.24    Thus in the 1583 Cologne edition. The 1583 Frankfurt edition has ‘Phylarchis’. For
the story of the two editions see Guido Bartolucci (ed.), ‘Introduction’, in Carolo Sigonio,
The Hebrew Republic
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
Through Harrington’s particular string of biblical references in the above
passage (absent from the Talmud, Vulgate, Geneva, Authorized Version,
Selden or Grotius); through his explicit use of other books by Sigonius; given
his references to
in the 1656
Pian Piano
and the later
Prerogative
because Sigonius’
J.G.A. Pocock, ‘Lipsius and Harrington: The Problem of Arms in Ancient and
Despite emphasis on
De Antiquo
’s impact on Harrington, e.g. in Nelson,
Hebrew Republic
, p. 84, I believe that the reference to Sigonius on ‘the commonwealth of
the Hebrews’ in
Pian Piano
, p. 380, is to
De Republica Hebraeorum
. Harrington’s
Prerogative
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of great authority and the inventor of so many of the divinely approved Hebrew
Republic’s institutions, �ts well with the other irenicist and secularizing set of
refers to Eldad and Medad, pp. 176, 245, and to Nicodemus, p. 306.
Melchizedek appears in
The Art of Lawgiving
Works
, pp. 616–17. Cf. John Selden,
The Historie of Tithes …
(London, 1618). For Grotius
on Melchizedek, see Somos,
Secularisation
, chapter V, and the Appendix for a survey of
Melchizedek’s political signi�cance.
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
1653, 1655) is likely to be the main inspiration. A similarly major reassessment
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Jethro is not Harrington’s only vehicle for deriving de�ning features of Oceana
from sources emphatically other than the divine polity. The curious relationship
The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: The Church of England and its
Cf. Lucius Cary, ‘The Lord of Faulklands Reply’, in
Sir Lucius Cary, Late Lord
Viscount of Falkland, His Discourse on Infallibility with an Answer to it: And His Lordships
Reply, Never Before Published
(London, 1651), e.g. pp. 117–19.
David Armitage, ‘The Cromwellian Protectorate and the Languages of Empire’,
Principles: Republican Writing of the English Revolution
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
models. Whenever biblical language is used in this speech, it never leads to policy
advice (320–40). No part of the Bible is cited in discussions of empire, of holding,
dividing, conducting war, or colonizing. Rome is the main model, and the biblical
A possible objection to this statement is the benignity of Oceana’s imperialism.
help the Lord against the mighty
’ from Judges 5:23 as
one of the two marks that a nation is ready for liberty (330). The passage, known as
in Christian international relations
theory. Meroz is cursed for neutrality and not coming to the aid of Israel. Although
in this case Archon cites a biblical passage, the two marks that a nation conquered
by Oceana is ready for independence are explained and analyzed in non-biblical
terms. Such a nation must ‘be capable of an equal agrarian’, and help Oceana
further expand (330–32). Rome had a similar policy, and a modern-day realist (in
international relations) would have no trouble understanding Harrington’s account.
There is no requirement to learn, adopt, or submit to Oceana’s religion, ecclesiastical
hierarchy, rulings and laws in religious matters, or anything of the kind.
We established that in order to irenically accommodate a range of con�icting
views regarding the nature of Israel and the desirability of its emulation,
Prerogative
on Rome as the best historical paradigm despite the divine ordainment of Israel. An
important comparison is with Selden’s view of Rome; see Somos, ‘Selden’s
Mare Clausum
The Secularisation of International Law and the Rise of Soft Imperialism’,
History of International Law,
. For Selden, Somos, ‘Selden’s
Mare Clausum
European Contexts for English Republicanism
provides the non-biblical foundations for Oceana’s institutions. The fourth group
Prerogative
We will see later Harrington change the origin of primitive Christian institutions
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
Prerogative
, Book II, chapters iii and iv.
Cornelis S.M. Rademaker,
The Life and Work of Gerardus Joannes Vossius
, trans. H.P. Doezema (1967; Assen, 1981), and the same, ‘Inleiding’, in Gerardus
J. Vossius,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
anticlerical but non-obviously so, inasmuch as it concerns political prudence, not
Aphorisms Political
Political Works
Oceana’s immortality depends on the reproductive passion, which Harrington develops
from Grotian natural sociability, common to beasts, and wicked and righteous men. Wren
explicitly raises the point that men are not beasts (
Prerogative
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
recommends for emulation directly, without quali�cations. When he recommends
an institution from the Hebrew Republic for emulation (with quali�cations),
he always adds other historical exemplars to prove and explain the institution’s
merits. Harrington never argues that any of these institutions should be emulated
because of their divine origin; he accords the Hebrew Republic the same status
as other historical cases. Further, he recommends numerous institutions for
emulation from models other than the Hebrew Republic. He also gives several
reasons why the Hebrew Republic’s various institutions
He gives other cases, including the shift to monarchy, when they
replicated. Although the Hebrew Republic was instituted by God, Harrington
Prerogative
The Art of Lawgiving
pp. 692ff.
See Blair Worden’s chapter in this volume.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
prudence, comformable to nature and reason, is not atheism; but it is a tectonic shift
in intellectual history toward the reprioritization of natural over divine laws. Neither
’s secularizing techniques reveal Harrington as self-contradictory or
deceitful. In the mid-seventeenth century, it was
to adopt the Hebrew
Christopher Hill,
Irenic Secularization and the Hebrew Republic in Harrington’s
the programmatic nature of his commitment to secularization that is illustrated
The last few decades’ invaluable reassessment of the place of religion in
early modern political theory, developed in reaction to the ‘Marxist and Whiggist
of an unstoppable and linear march toward a questionably rationalized
modernity, has made it both possible and necessary to re�ne our understanding
of secularization. That religious justi�cations faded out of mainstream political,
legal, and scienti�c argumentation is a stubborn historical fact. Reclaiming
‘secularization’ as a term in a more sophisticated framework seems preferable
to disavowing even its commonsensical meaning due to its specialized misuses
But instead of engaging with limited and limiting terminological
the English Revolution
(Cambridge, 1998). Jonathan Scott, ‘Classical Republicanism in
Why the Dutch Didn’t Read Harrington:
Arthur Weststeijn
In 1651, when John Milton sharpened his pen to defend the English regicides
in reply to the Leiden scholar Claudius Salmasius, he clearly intended to reach
a broad international audience. In the
Defensio pro populo Anglicano
First Defence
as it is known in English, Milton not only sought to discredit the
reputation and claims of Salmasius in the eyes of his English readers, he also
John Milton, ‘Defence of the People of England’, in
Areopagitica and Other
Political Writings
(Indianapolis, 1999), pp. 99, 105. For the contextual background, see
Blair Worden,
Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England: John Milton, Andrew
Marvell, Marchamont Nedham
European Contexts for English Republicanism
With these words, Milton claimed that the fate of England and that of the
Dutch Republic were intrinsically intertwined. Both had faced the tyrannical
aspirations of one man, respectively king Charles I and stadholder William II,
Both had temporarily been saved from slavery thanks to decisive measures and
On the ideological aspects of Dutch Orangism in this period, see the comprehensive
Orangism in the Dutch Republic in Word and Image, 1650–1675
Milton probably would not have expected. Here and there Milton encountered
some praise, especially among the personal enemies of Salmasius, such as the
scholar Isaac Vossius, who stressed that he ‘had expected nothing of such quality
Joannis Miltons Engelsmans verdedigingh des gemeene volcks van Engelandt,
tegens Claudius sonder naem alias Salmasius Konicklijke Verdedigingh
4    Quoted in Herman Scherpbier,
Milton in Holland: A Study in the Literary Relations
of England and Holland before 1730
(PhD dissertation University of Amsterdam, 1933),
Joost van den Vondel, ‘Op den Vader-moort in Groot-Britanie’, in
Vondel
European Contexts for English Republicanism
James Harrington’s seminal
This is the most obvious explanation of the absence of Dutch reading of
Marika Keblusek, ‘The Exile Experience: Royalist and Anglican Book Culture in
European Contexts for English Republicanism
110
empathically, as the ‘First Stadholderless Era’) – a new political framework that
Lauweren-krans gevlochten voor Syn Hoocheyt Wilhelm, de
(n.p., 1650), sig. A2: ‘den Geessel van Spanjen, de poort onser Vryheyt,
an anti-republican ‘party’, the miscellaneous front of Orangists merely envisaged
a republican polity of sorts, a perfectly balanced, mixed regime ful�lled by the
�gure of the stadholder. Unlike across the North Sea, the main adversaries in the
Dutch political arena did therefore not clash over royalist versus commonwealth
European Contexts for English Republicanism
112
all members of the House of Orange from any high political of�ce (an act sealed,
[Johan de Witt],
Deductie, ofte declaratie van de Staten van Hollandt ende West-
Vrieslandt
Tractatus Theologico-Politicus
113
including his international correspondence, for example with Henry Oldenburg
in London, there is no single reference to any English republican, be it Milton,
Nedham or Harrington. Spinoza’s political thought, we can safely assume in light
of the available evidence, developed in blissful ignorance of republican thinking
For a contextualized republican reading of Spinoza’s political thought, see Raia
(Basingstoke and New York, 2004).
Baruch Spinoza, ‘Tractatus Politicus’, in
The Political Works
, ed. and trans. A.G.
Wernham (Oxford, 1958), VII.31, p. 365. See the analysis in Hans W. Blom, ‘Spinoza on
European Contexts for English Republicanism
114
corpus of texts from his late brother Johan, which he revised and extended into a
range of treatises published throughout the 1660s.
The �rst and most important
of these treatises, the
Politike Weeg-schaal
Political Balance
], critically surveys
different governmental structures, empathically equates monarchy with tyranny,
115
was already included in the �rst edition of the work, published in 1660, the year
of the Restoration. Nothing is said about England’s republican experiment of the
De la Court’s remarkable silence on the English Commonwealth is only
implicitly explained in another part of the work that focuses on the biblical Hebrew
Republic. Discussing the transition from the rule of the Judges to the Kingdom of
Israel under Samuel, this passage rebukes the Israelites for trading one form of
tyranny for another, quoting: ‘
We must
not take away the name, King, but the thing King
This last phrase (the original
Ibid., I.I.32, pp. 157–8. On the Hebrew Republic in seventeenth-century political
The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of
European Political Thought
The Excellencie of a Free-State: or, The Right Constitution
Politike Weeg-schaal
European Contexts for English Republicanism
116
Whoever considers the case well will realize that the popular government can
very easily consist of many cities and provinces, the inhabitants of which yearly
choose per capita and by majority of votes their deputies from their own ranks
Amsterdam University Library, MS XXV C41, addition to
Politike Weeg-schaal
III.I.6, p. 577: ‘Maar die daar en boven de sake wel insiet sal bevinden dat de populare
regeeringe seer wel kan bestaan uit veele steeden en provintien, welkers inwoonders hoofd
117
by having, not as they … many Sovranties united in one Commonwealth, but
many Commonwealths under one united and entrusted Sovrantie’.
The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
Areopagitica and Other Political Writings
Algernon Sidney,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
118
1672. Apparently, De la Court wrote this letter at the explicit request of Harrington,
but there is no evidence of any other correspondence; nor do we have certainty
Pieter de la Court, ‘Consideratiën over den gevreesden oorlog, die de koningen
van Engeland ende Vrankrijk souden mogen ofte konnen aandoen’, addressed to James
Harrington, written on 31 December 1671 and signed on 1 January 1672. The original draft
119
basis of a common ideological struggle, De la Court argued two decades later to
J.G.A. Pocock, ‘Spinoza and Harrington: An Exercise in Comparison’,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
had been nothing but a failure. Kevin Sharpe has argued compellingly that English
republican culture failed in its ideological representation in England itself.
Kevin Sharpe, ‘“An Image Doting Rabble”: The Failure of Republican Culture in
Seventeenth-Century England’, in Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker (eds),
Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
Hans W. Blom
It is ironical that recent developments in intellectual history seem to have made us
European Contexts for English Republicanism
in their respective science of politics shown. In conclusion, Harrington in�uenced
Modern Republicanism, Hobbes and other Red Herrings

Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
A second important event was the publication of
from which Dutch political thinkers most of all obtained their knowledge of Thomas
See C. Louise Thijssen-Schoute,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Hans W. Blom and Ivo W. Wildenberg
Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
Theo van Tijn. This shows very clearly in the one book that we can unequivocally
attribute to Johan de la Court, who died in 1660: the
Politieke Discoursen
This book, with its Machiavellian title, was constructed after the
(1650) of Boxhornius, which itself was a Tacitean collection of
and their explanation. Marcus Boxhorn had been a proli�c writer, and
it seems that he hid his political views in his massive scholarship. Commenting
on the Burgundian period in the Low Countries, he criticized the church and its
religious houses for holding an inadmissible monopoly that lowered the prospects
for citizens to develop any economic activity of their own, both by undercutting
and by cultural domination. Landed property was a means of domination that was
not balanced in the Northern Low Countries of the late Middle Ages. A similar
critique of monopolistic tendencies we �nd in Pieter de la Court’s manuscript text
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of the rulers is dependent upon the well-being of the ruled, so that the former
a new commission in case negotiations exceeded the original instruction, as also
Politieke Weeg-schaal
(4th edn 1662), University Library Amsterdam,
Pijnacker Collection, MS XXV C41.
Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
Political Works
Eco O.G. Haitsma Mulier,
The Myth of Venice and Dutch Republican Thought in
Political Works
, ed. Pocock, p. 406: ‘The balance in money may be as good or
European Contexts for English Republicanism
done them in the past. The discussions on the regicide have been treated as a �ght
Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
books as diverse as Hugo Grotius’s
(1610) and Guido Bentivoglio’s
(1630). Grotian political thought was in�uential through the impact
of Grotius’s book on church politics,
(1647), and the attention paid
De Veritate Religionis Christianae
Moreover, Dutch politicians
were disliked in England, but the Dutch humanist scholars were not. There was
a very noticeable exchange of students and ideas across the Channel, maybe best
exempli�ed in the enigmatic Isaac Dorislaus (or, in Dutch, Doreslaer), doctor
of law, republican propagandist while teaching in Oxford, suspected to have
been the henchman of Charles I, killed in 1649, in a cloak-and-dagger affair by
English royalists in The Hague.
Moreover, Dutch historians should not fall for
the temptation to regard the cross-Channel contacts as a one-way affair. It may
be true that the English plundered Dutch glory, to use Lisa Jardine’s phrase, and
it is certainly true that the Dutch did not have to wait until the publication of
Montesquieu’s
from English politics and its history.
Yet, the con�ation with Stuart revanchism
See Marco Barducci, ‘Hugo Grotius and the English Republic: The Writings of
Anthony Asham, 1648–1650’,
Grotiana
, 32 (2011), pp. 40–63; and Justin Champion,
‘“Socinianism Truly Stated”: John Toland, Jean Leclerc and the Eighteenth Century
Reception of Grotius’s
De Veritate
Grotiana
, 33 (2012), pp. 119–43.
P. Alessandra Maccioni and Marco Mostert, ‘Isaac Dorislaus (1595–1649): The
Career of a Dutch Scholar in England’,
Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical
European Contexts for English Republicanism
the government of the Republic will be ruled best. In the meantime they paid the
Indeed, the immediate and structural issues of government were being
discussed in those very last years of the 1650s. Harrington’s
, Prynne’s
and Stubbe’s writings, Vane’s involvement in the improvement of the government
of the Commonwealth – they were all part of a lively discussion about how to
institutionalize a system of popular government. One issue was central, that of
the quality of popular decision-making. The committee from the Council of State
The original reads: ‘Soo hebben sy een Comittee geappointeert van 10 persoonen
Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
And thus we come to the notion of balance. In De la Court, ‘balance’ does not
refer to an adequate distribution of power as support and guarantee of the form
Political Balance
Works
, ed. Pocock, p. 409: ‘A king is a soldier or a lover, neither of which makes a good
Haitsma Mulier,
Myth of Venice
European Contexts for English Republicanism
well-being are beyond their understanding. They are easily talked out of their trust.
inhabitants of the Dutch cities, the burghers or citizens who were the consumers
of government and had opinions about government, who were the producers and
Political Balance
, Part III, book 1, chapter 2, p. 524.
Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
Political Balance
, Part III, book 1, chapter 3, p. 525.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
true that in no other republic or government one can �nd fewer vices and more
virtues than in the popular government. Because in that case the people will not
be misled by the eloquence of any eminent citizen who attempts to dress up his
and the communality, which here is one and the same, without falling into any
Political Balance
, Part III, book 1, chapter 6, p. 566; for a similar insertion see
Democratic Tendencies in Anglo-Dutch Republicanism
will exert all his powers), and that alike in peace and war they may �nd out,
what an advantage his single self is to them. And thus he will then be most
independent, and most in possession of dominion, when he most consults the
For Spinoza there is nothing utopian about political science, and the very existence
of a particular state at least suggests that also the conditions for its existence are
actually realized. This simple, naturalist rule leads him to assume that the historical
origins of monarchies show that the concentration of sovereignty in the hands of
one man requires that he also is the exclusive owner of the landed property, and
that thereby his interests and that of the people are best interconnected and served.
(Harrington said exactly the same, but added that a king with barons arises when
there are several large landowners; Spinoza does not discuss this – or rather, he
advises against barons.) In an aristocracy, land cannot be concentrated in the hands
of a few, and the only practical solution is private property of land, whereby the
quali�cations (wisdom, experience, money), while at the same time the separation
of consultation and decision-making prevents the instability of popular opinion,
or any oligarchic tendencies among the rulers, to bring havoc to the state. Both
Harrington and his Dutch colleagues De la Court and Spinoza were re�ecting on
the shortcomings of their own republics. They searched the remedy in a structural
Benedictus Spinoza,
Tractatus Politicus
(Amsterdam, 1677), chapter vii.8 and
vii.11. The translation follows the
Political Treatise
PART II
The Wansleben Manuscript of
Harrington’s Works (1665)
The Wansleben Manuscript
My chance discovery of the Wansleben Manuscript (1665) among the
was the starting point for a larger venture now
Bibliothèque Universitaire de Poitiers, France,
hereafter Wansleben MS.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Dubois made a donation of over 6,000 books to the University Library: the �rst
part containing works on economic and political theories before the Physiocrats; the
second one works on socialist, anarchist and utopian movements of the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries, including Saint Simon, Fourier, Cabet, Blanqui and
The donation also included all his books in English, but these works
Both the move of collections from Catholic libraries to the
University Library after 1905 and the richness of the already existing collections
in the Law Library of France’s second oldest university certainly account for the
initial relapse into oblivion of Wansleben’s digest.
The manuscripts in the
Fonds
were not classi�ed, and the �rst available list of all manuscripts in the
Fonds
was drawn up in 1971 by the then head librarian Denise Humbert. The 1971
Extraits en anglais des ouvrages suivants de Harrington: The Art of Lawgiving,
1659, the Commonwealth of Oceana: 1656, The Prerogative of Government
1658, datés de 1661. 21,5// 16,5. Reliure moderne, copie d’ancien, maroquin noir.
[Extracts in English of the following works by Harrington: The Art of Lawgiving,
1659, the Commonwealth of Oceana: 1656, The Prerogative of Government
1658, dated 1661. 21,5//16,5. Recent, black morocco binding, tooled in imitation
des idées politiques en France et en Italie: Parcours comparés d’une discipline (1920–1970)’,
Revue Française d’Histoire des Idées Politiques
A detailed description of the �rst donation is available online at http://
A �rst attempt at listing some of the anonymous English works bought by Dubois
was made by Charlotte Besse,
Liste alphabétique d’ouvrages anonymes appartenant au
The Wansleben Manuscript of Harrington’s Works (1665)
The name of the author of the digests is not mentioned anywhere, even though
Wansleben did sign his name on folio 10 of the manuscript. It seems likely that
Humbert initially thought she was dealing with Harrington’s lost manuscripts, as
the pencilled note ‘Harrington author of “Oceana”’ on folio 1 is crossed out and
replaced with ‘Sur Harrington Oceana’.
The third digest, containing the
Political Aphorisms
The �gures given in the 1971
note (21, 5//16, 5) refer to the size of the manuscript in centimetres. The binding
while folio 2 carries the note ‘Phillipps MS 7487’ in ink.
The signi�cance of the N in bold upper case on folio 1 still remains unclear,
but the ink annotation on folio 2 referring to Phillipps MS 7487 has enabled us
to trace the more recent travels of the manuscript. According to this information,
The Oceana of James Harrington and his other works, with an
account of his life pre�xed by John Toland. To which is added ‘Plato redividus’ or a
dialogue concerning government (by H. Neville)
) at her disposal, on
European Contexts for English Republicanism
the manuscript once belonged to the well-known antiquary and book collector Sir
Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872). It was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in New York
on 27 April 1903, under lot number 529.
The catalogue entry reads:
HARRINGTON. THE FUNDATIONS AND MODELL OF A PERFECT
COMMONWEALTH, layed by J[AMES] HARRINGTON, and approved by J.
M. de Wanslebiis di Erffort, also the Prerogative of Popular Government 8vo
** Wansleb has added notes, and appears to have had the volume in Leghorn
in 1661. For an account of this learned German see Chalmers’s Biographical
Dictionary. Harrington was the author of “Oceana”.
The unbound volumes were auctioned off as a lot. No indication is given of
Phillipps’s binding number. The mention that eight of them were put on sale is
most intriguing. The other four digests could well have been purchased by an
unknown buyer, as the French professor often resorted to intermediaries who
made acquisitions on his behalf.
At this stage, the mystery of the unexpected
Sir Thomas Phillipps,
Bibliotheca phillippicca; catalogue of a further portion of
the classical, historical, topographical, genealogical and other manuscripts and autograph
The Wansleben Manuscript of Harrington’s Works (1665)
He may have written digest one earlier on, in England or Germany, and digest
European Contexts for English Republicanism
English Catholics and, hopefully, question the pertinence of the notion of ‘export’
As to the four missing digests, we shall try not to follow a Braudelian approach
on the matter. We are enjoying the journey very much, but we do intend to reach
Blair Worden’s chapter in the present volume raises the slightly different question
of what exactly was being exported from England; in other words, of the speci�c
Wansleben’s Harrington, or ‘The Fundations
Gaby Mahlberg
On 16 February 1665 the German orientalist Johann Michael Wansleben got off
the ship from Egypt in Leghorn.
Weary and penniless, he had been forced to cut
short his latest research trip in the service of the Duke of Saxe Gotha and come
to Tuscany to recover.
With his long beard and oriental dress he must have cut a
strange �gure, even in an international place like this northern Italian port.
his appearance also ensured that he would not remain a stranger for long. The
English merchant Charles Longland took an interest in him, paid for his passage
He also brought him to the attention of the Tuscan
Grand Duke Ferdinand II, who would invite him to Florence and introduce him
I would like to thank Thérèse-Marie Jallais, who introduced me to the Wansleben
Manuscript of Harrington’s works; Stefano Villani, who established the contact; the staff of
the Poitiers University Library, in particular Anne-Sophie Traineau-Durozoy, who made the
manuscript electronically available for us; and �nally the Thyssen Foundation, who funded
part of the work on this chapter with a Herzog Ernst Scholarship at the Research Center
for Social and Cultural Studies in Gotha in August 2011. I would also like to thank Andrew
McKenzie-McHarg, Alexander Schunka and Dirk Wiemann for their helpful comments on
earlier drafts of this chapter. All foreign-language translations as well as possible mistakes
Johann Michael Wansleben to Duke Ernest I from Leghorn, 19 June 1665,
Forschungsbibliothek Gotha (hereafter
FB Gotha), Chart A 101, fos 54–5. He names the
Wansleben to Ernest I from Florence, 18 July 1665, FB Gotha, Chart A 101, fos
FB Gotha, Chart A 101, fol. 7.
Extract of a letter from Wansleben, dated 19/29 May in Leghorn, FB Gotha, Chart
A 101, fol. 51r.
Johann Michael Wansleben, ‘Relazione dello stato presente dell Egitto’, autograph
copy, c. 1668, British Library London (hereafter
BL), Add MS 8780, fos 1v–2r. On
Longland, see Timothy Venning, ‘Longland, Charles (d. 1688)’,
Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography
(Oxford, 2004); online edn, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/
article/64777 [accessed 30 May 2010]. On the Accademia del Cimento, see Stefano Villani,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
several months later, meanwhile, Wansleben was busy producing some signi�cant
work. He wrote his account on his travels in Egypt and, in his own words, did
‘otherwise not spend my time in a useless way’.
In fact, he produced a 300-page
annotated manuscript digest of the major works of the English republican James
Harrington (1611–77), including
The Art of Lawgiving
of Oceana
, the
Political Discourses
and
as well as
Prerogative of Popular Government
‘Between Anatomy and Politics: John Finch and Italy, 1649–1671’, in Margaret Pelling
and Scott Mandelbrote (eds),
The Practice of Reform in Health, Medicine, and Science,
1500–2000: Essays for Charles Webster
Wansleben’s Harrington
It thus offers a rare glimpse at the audience’s engagement with
Harringtonian ideas. In Wansleben’s case, I would like to argue, this engagement
focused on the search for universal rules of government that represented the will
of God; and Harrington’s works held the key to �nding these divinely inspired and
divinely approved rules. But it might �rst be necessary to say a few words about
Wansleben and how he came to be acquainted with Harrington’s works.
Johann Michael Wansleben
Johann Michael Wansleben (1635–79) was the son of a Protestant pastor from the
After having tried his luck as a mercenary
in the Northern War,
he received employment at the Saxon court in Gotha as an
assistant to his former tutor Hiob Ludolf, one of the foremost scholars of oriental
languages of his time and then tutor to the Duke Ernest’s sons.
It is through
Ludolf that Wansleben made contacts in England as he was sent to London in 1659
to oversee the printing of Ludolf’s Ethiopian dictionary by Thomas Roycroft, who
had both the expertise and the right sort of type for the project, having previously
printed Brian Walton’s
Polyglot Bible
While in England, Wansleben also took
up temporary employment as an assistant to Edmund Castell, who was at the time
of oriental languages as a supplement to
There is a growing literature on early modern reading practices, including Lisa
Jardine and Anthony Grafton, ‘“Studied for Action”: How Gabriel Harvey Read his Livy’,
Past and Present
, 129 (1990), pp. 30–78; Kevin Sharpe,
Reading Revolutions: The Politics
of Reading in Early Modern England
(New Haven and London, 2000); and Ann Blair,
‘Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload ca. 1550–1700’,
, 64 (2003), pp. 11–28.
FB Gotha, Chart A 101, fol. 6, and Hans Stein, ‘Die Biogra�e des Orientreisenden
Johann Michael Wansleben (1635–1679)’, in Roswitha Jacobsen and Hans-Jörg Ruge (eds),
Ernst der Fromme: Staatsmann und Reformer 1601–1675: Wissenschaftliche Beiträge und
Katalog zur Ausstellung
Between Poland and Sweden. Wansleben calls it ‘Polnisch[er] Krieg’. See Johann
Michael Wansleben, ‘Relation von Egypten’, autograph copy, c. 1668, BL, Add MS 8779,
fol. 107v.
Detlef Ignasiak,
Ernst der Fromme: Herzog von Sachsen-Gotha; ein Zeit- und
(Bucha, 2001), p. 111.
BL, Add MS 8779, fol. 108r; Job Ludolf,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Walton’s
– a lexicon which also included Ludolf’s work.
According to his
own account, Wansleben stayed for two years, giving him enough time to acquire
the high level of �uency in the English language that would enable him to copy
Harrington’s works later.
That he must have been in England between 1659 and
1661 is also con�rmed by a quarrel Wansleben had with another German scholar
and assistant to Castell, Theodorus Petraeus, who was in England in 1659 and
Edmund Castell,
Wansleben’s Harrington
As Gerald Toomer has observed, alongside ‘the acquisition of scienti�c
knowledge’ one of the main motivations for Europeans to study oriental
languages in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was ‘Christian missionary
Toomer,
Eastern Wisedome and Learning
Ernst der Fromme
European Contexts for English Republicanism
one of his servants destitute and stranded in a foreign country.
Cf. Wansleben to Ernest I from Florence, 18 July 1665, FB Gotha, Chart A 101,
Cf. Wansleben’s
, especially his chapters ‘Del Gouerno politico’,
Wansleben,
Bisher ungedruckte Beschreibung
Alexandre Pougeois,
Wansleben’s Harrington
There is clear evidence for an interest in Harringtonian republican ideas in
Catholic Italy, or rather Tuscany. Ferdinand II and especially his son Cosimo were
known Anglophiles, who surrounded themselves with Protestant Englishmen at
the court in Florence.
One of their regular guests was the English republican and
Harringtonian Henry Neville, who is known for defending Harrington’s political
theory in the Parliaments of 1659 and 1660.
Neville was in Italian exile between
1664 and 1668 and is recorded as staying in Florence in late January 1665.
See Anna Maria Crinò,
Fatti e �gure del Seicento Anglo-Toscano: Documenti
European Contexts for English Republicanism
called to account whenever necessary. This idea was not dissimilar to Harrington’s
proposed government by an ‘equal representative’ and a senate with four executive
councils that would be in charge of the administration of matters of state, of war,
of religion and of trade.
Given that Wansleben lived in the factor’s house for
some four months and expressed gratefulness for his charity on a number of
occasions, Longland seems the more likely candidate. In fact, Wansleben had told
Ernest that he would not have known what to do without the ‘honest Englishman
Signor Carlo’.
Either of the two men, Neville or Longland, could have provided
Wansleben with copies of Harrington’s works. But what did Wansleben make of
Charles Longland to John Thurloe, 23 April 1660, in
Thurloe State Papers
, vol. vii,
pp. 896–7, quoted in Villani, ‘“Se è vero”’, pp. 606–7. Cf. James Harrington,
The Political Works of James Harrington
Wansleben to Ernest from Florence, 18 July 1665. The original reads: ‘wenn ich
den ehrlichen Englander Sig[nor] Carlo nicht hette angetroffen, was hette wohl drauß
werden sollen.’ FB Gotha, Chart A 101, fos 61–2.
The Art of Law-Giving: In III Books
It is dated in March 1665 (‘Marzo’, Wansleben MS, f. 11r), while
The Prerogative
is dated ‘13th March’, when Wansleben started copying it, and
of May 1665’, when he completed it. (Wansleben MS, fos 116bis r, 156r).
The Art of
Wansleben’s Harrington
Aphorisms Political
(1658). The last section of the manuscript covers
the �rst book of
The Prerogative of Popular Government
The Oceana and other Works of James Harrington, with an account of his Life by
John Toland
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Wansleben’s Harrington
If we look at his digest of
The Art of Lawgiving
, which covers only the �rst book
concerned with Harrington’s theory of the ‘balance’, it is clear that Wansleben
aimed to cut down the text while remaining as faithful as possible to the original
and maintaining as much as possible of Harrington’s own distinctive terminology
of the property ‘balance’ and the constitutional ‘superstructures’ required to create a
stable national government. As can be seen from the example of pages 19–21 from
the second chapter of
The Art of Lawgiving
, headed ‘Shewing the variation of the
English Balance’ (see Table 8.1), this was achieved by using a number of simple
abbreviations, such as ‘CW’ for ‘Commonwealth’ or ‘Govt’ for ‘government’ in the
manuscript digest. Throughout the text, Wansleben also uses �gures where Harrington
has numerals, as well as the ampersand (&) for ‘and’. While ‘Govt’ or ‘gvt’ for
‘government’ are universally used abbreviations, ‘CW’ for ‘Commonwealth’ is more
speci�c to republican or Harringtonian literature, suggesting that Wansleben was
already well read in the �eld. Notably, he seems to have developed his abbreviation
system after copying
, where the word ‘Commonwealth’ is still spelt out or
appears as ‘Commonw.’.
The four individual digests also relate to each other in more
ways than this, as can be seen from the fact that Wansleben’s manuscript copy of
The
leaves out an explanation of the ‘law of population’ which can be
For
this and other reasons it is likely that Wansleben copied
�rst before producing
the other digests. The text itself, meanwhile, is only changed where it is necessary
to make a smooth transition to the next section after leaving out long passages in
Cf. Wansleben MS, f. 21r.
Wansleben MS, f. 5v.
Ibid., f. 6r.
Wansleben’s Harrington
Table 8.1
James Harrington,
The Art of Lawgiving
(1659), Book I, Chapter
II, ‘Shewing the variation of the English Balance’: visualization of
Wansleben MS (1665)
advanced unto a Throne which had no foundation,
therefore fell the Tower in Silo. [Nor may we think
that they upon whom this Tower fell, were sinners
There remained nothing unto the destruction of
advanced unto a thron which had no fundation,
dared to put this unto unseasonable Tryal, on
whom therefore fell the Tower of Siloah.
Therefore the ballance not
heeded no effectual work can be made as to
Architecture. The sum of which particulars
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Wansleben’s interest in Harrington as a general textbook of republican
learning is con�rmed by the fact that his manuscript copy of
various other annotations, also includes a to-do list for further reading and study
of Harrington’s sources, including Machiavelli, the Bible and Hugo Grotius’s
Jure Belli ac Pacis
These would help the reader understand Harrington
and the rules and principles of government more generally. Wansleben clearly was
a republican and a Harringtonian. He did not only read and study Harrington’s
‘Perfect Commonwealth’ but, as he notes on his title page to the
he ‘approved’ of it.
The study and understanding of republics, however, was so important to
Wansleben not simply as an end in itself but also, as I will argue, because he
considered the republican form of government as having divine approval. Out of
the queries at the end of Harrington’s
Prerogative of Popular Government
defends the principles of
, Wansleben chose to copy only those addressed
‘To the godly man’, asking �rst, ‘Whether humane prudence be not a Creature of
God, & to what end God made this creature’ and second, ‘Whether the C[ommon]
W[ealth] of Israel in her Main Orders, i.e. the senate, the Peeple & the Magistracy,
where not erected by the same Rules of human Prudence, with other C[ommon]
These questions imply that God made human prudence, and human
prudence in turn made republics or commonwealths. Therefore a commonwealth
was the manifestation of God’s will on earth; or, rather, God af�rmed human
prudence, which was his own creation. Both the Commonwealth of Israel and other
republics followed the same principles. However, I disagree with scholars such as
Eric Nelson, who think that Harrington wanted to recreate in England nothing
less than the Commonwealth of Israel and that all other commonwealths were
modelled on this one.
In fact, Harrington (and through his copying Wansleben
too) emphasized that the divinely inspired commonwealth, like the examples of
ancient prudence, was so much in agreement with reason and nature that even a
Wansleben MS, f. 10v. On Harrington’s dependence on Grotius, see Marco
Barducci’s chapter in the present volume.
Wansleben MS, f. 10r.
Ibid., f. 150r. Other queries were addressed to ‘the scholar’, ‘the grandee’ and ‘the
rational man’. Wansleben himself presumably considered himself as a ‘godly man’. James
The Prerogative of Popular Government: A Political Discourse in Two Books
Political Works
The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of
European Political Thought
On the wider implications of Harrington’s use of the �gure of Jethro, see also Mark
Somos’s chapter in the present volume.
Wansleben’s Harrington
of Israel’.
To con�rm this observation, Wansleben �nished the last of his four
books with an emphatic ‘Deo Laus!’ – ‘Praise be to God!’
Wansleben MS, f. 150r.
He habitually concluded pieces of writing with similar praises of the Lord: e.g. his
German autograph copy of his ‘Relation von Egypten’ ends with the exclamation ‘Soli Deo
Gloria!’ BL, Add MS 8779, f. 105.
The use of a hired amanuensis was not unusual. Cf. Blair, ‘Reading Strategies’,
Wansleben MS, f. 10r.
E.g. ‘De�nitions of Government’, f. 11r; ‘Absolut Monarchy, Mixed Monarchy,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Figure 8.1
Title page of Johann Michael Wansleben’s digest of James
Harrington’s
Wansleben’s Harrington
Dictator Oceanae
”, but with “Dictator Erffurti”, clearly a reference to himself and
his home town, thus stressing his German identity and the value of
’s laws
for a German audience.
One might question, however, why Wansleben should
send the model of an ideal republic home as a gift to his prince, unless it was as
a model for a Christian commonwealth. It is not totally out of the way to think
that Wansleben might have considered Oliver Cromwell as a version of Luther’s
as an ideal model of government for Ernest’s
Protestant state and as an alternative model to Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff’s
Teutscher Fürsten Stat
(1656) would certainly seem intriguing.
However, if it
was the case that Wansleben had originally intended to send
he must have abandoned his plans, for nothing is mentioned in Ludolf’s extensive
�le on the Wansleben case.
Third, we �nd explanatory Latin marginalia paraphrasing from the body of
the text. For instance, ‘non oportet ut illi qui in imperio nationali possent potentia,
admittantur ad imperiu[m] exteran[um]’ [‘those who hold power nationally should
not also hold power in foreign territories’] on folio 13v refers to Harrington’s
that haue the Ballance of Dominion
in the Province, because that would bring
the Goverment from Provinciall & dependent, to National or Independent.’ Given
that Wansleben’s Latin was likely better than his Italian (it was still the common
language of learning in Europe) he could have intended the manuscript for scribal
publication among learned circles at the Tuscan court and beyond.
This would explain why we also �nd individual Italian references in the
manuscript margins, either intended as a reading aid for an Italian native speaker
or added with a view to a possible later translation into Italian. For instance,
the Italian ‘tempo del af�tto’ (‘length of the lease’) on folio 13r explains what
Harrington meant when he suggested that ‘Without an Agrarian, Government
Ibid., f. 58v. Even though Wansleben was probably born in Sömmerda he referred
to himself as hailing from Erfurt, where he received his education. See BL, Add MS 8779,
f. 106r. Ludolf follows his example in FB Gotha, Chart A 101, f. 6r.
Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff,
Teutscher Fürsten Stat: Mit einem Vorwort von
(2 vols, Glashütten, 1976). Seckendorff’s
on Ernest’s government as well as a critique of it. Cf. Roswitha Jacobsen, ‘Die Brüder
Seckendorff und ihre Beziehungen zu Sachsen-Gotha’, in Jacobsen and Ruge (eds),
der Fromme
To be found in FB Gotha, Chart A 101.
E.g. ‘quando’, f. 23v, ‘bilanza’, f. 36v, etc.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of English (although there were only few – Lorenzo Magalotti was one of them,
Wansleben might have made those notes himself with a view to translation. After
all, his travels to Egypt were �rst published in Italian in a translation by the Roman
priest Don Giovanni Emanuele, revised by the Dominican Abbott Francesco
Marucelli, the founder of the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence. However, no
such plans for an Italian (or indeed Latin) translation of Harrington’s works are
Wansleben was soon to move on from Florence to Rome, where he attended
the Maronite College and subsequently converted to the Roman Catholic faith
basilica Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.
This gave him access to the great libraries
Wansleben,
and BL, Add MS 8779, f. 126v. Cf. entry in the British
Library’s Manuscripts Catalogue.
In a letter to Francesco Barberini, Athanasius Kircher asked the cardinal to
recommend a recent Maronite graduate, Michael Wansleben, who wished to become a
Dominican. See Kircher to Barberini, 21 November 1666, Bibliotheca Vaticana, Barberini,
Lat. 647, fol. 38. I owe this reference to Thérèse-Marie Jallais. See also FB Gotha, Chart A
Wansleben’s Harrington
immediate context might be more likely drawn to the general lessons that could
be learnt from Harrington’s observations on English history and his comparative
of his ideas were drawn to Harrington’s works as general textbooks of republican
learning, and these readers might include English exiles and émigrés as well as
foreign scholars and princes, Protestants as well as Catholics. Johann Michael
Wansleben, the German orientalist, Catholic convert and later Dominican in the
service of a French minister, was an unlikely and unusual Harringtonian, but a
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn:
Stefano Villani
A manuscript containing a summary of the major works of James Harrington,
including his
, is kept at the University of Poitiers.
The manuscript was
written in Leghorn in 1665, and a note in the code clearly identi�es the author as
Johann Michael Wansleben (‘author J.M. Vansleb’). A theologian and orientalist,
Part of this chapter has been published as Stefano Villani, ‘“Se è vero secondo
Galileo che il mondo ha suo moto quotidiano, non è da maravigliarsi della instabilità d’ogni
cosa in esso …”. Charles Longland: Un “rivoluzionario” inglese nella Livorno del ’600’,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Galilean Academy of Cimento at the Tuscan court. He then moved to Rome where
he entered the Dominican Order. Initially a Lutheran he had already converted to
Catholicism in Egypt, joining the Maronite Church. He stayed in Rome until 1670
before moving on to France.
While in Rome he wrote of his travels in Egypt in
German. The manuscript of the Italian translation, dated Rome, May 1668 (now
in the British Library), was dedicated to Ferdinand II.
printed and published in Italian, in Paris, three years later, in 1671, Ferdinand had
In his �rst dedication, from May 1668, Wansleben remembered that three years
earlier, on his way back from Egypt, he stopped in Leghorn, where upon learning
of his arrival ‘Mr. Charles Longland, a man of many signi�cant prerogatives,
immediately sent for me and started to question me minutely about all things
Egyptian, and about my other studies.’ He added that he felt that his relation was
somehow too short and poorly conceived, and for this reason decided to write
down this fuller version.
The reference to Longland was dropped in the printed
edition, but we have many attestations of Wansleben’s friendly relations with
Longland while in Leghorn. In the summer of 1665 Longland was requested by
FB Gotha
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
the ambassadors of Muscovy during their stay in Tuscany in 1656 and 1660,
obtaining a lucrative exclusive contract of the trade of caviar in the Mediterranean
Longland was also the �rst to meet a group of Quakers who stopped
in Leghorn in 1657 on their way to Jerusalem, and likely introduced them to Origen
Marchant, a French merchant living in Leghorn since 1620. Of Huguenot origins but
converted to Catholicism, Marchant offered his vineyard to these Quakers to preach
the Gospel of the Light in Counter-Reformation Italy. In the same vineyard, much
later, in 1672, Longland would gather a nonconformist conventicle. The Franciscan
friar who denounced it to the Inquisition did not fail to notice that Marchant had an
entire ‘library of forbidden books full of blasphemies against the purity of the holy
Catholic faith’ in his house
– a library, we think, to which Longland was a frequent
visitor. More signi�cant with regard to the Harrington manuscript was the fact that
Longland had been an of�cial of the English republican government for nine years
and played a key role in the intelligence service of the Protectorate. As we will see,
his political involvement for the English Commonwealth and Protectorate was not
merely motivated by material opportunism but by what seems to have been serious
Stefano Villani, ‘Ambasciatori russi a Livorno e rapporti tra Moscovia e Toscana
The original reads: ‘una libraria di libri prohibiti, pieni di bestemmie contra la purità
della santa fede cattolica’. Archivio di Stato di Firenze (hereafter ASFi),
Miscellanea Medicea
European Contexts for English Republicanism
had in�icted considerable damage on English maritime trade. The �rst convoy
to travel in the Mediterranean with the task of protecting English ships was led
by Captain Edward Hall, who crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in early 1651 and
remained in the Mediterranean until August 1651. At the same time, another
squadron commanded by Admiral William Penn entered the Mediterranean and
The months during which these squadrons patrolled the Mediterranean
were characterized by a series of frictions and contrasts with the Grand Ducal
Longland’s credentials were written in November 1651 and his instructions on
December; cf. ASFi,
Miscellanea Medicea
97/76; ASFi,
Mediceo del Principato
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
republican authorities, suggesting that the document would, at best, not be taken
This refusal to sign can in fact be considered Longland’s �rst act as the English
agent of the Admiralty in Leghorn, although his formal appointment and the
instructions that de�ned his tasks were only given to him in March 1652. From the
‘[T]enuto per gran parlamentario’. ASFi,
Mediceo del Principato
, 4203,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
eldest of his sons, Edward, guardian of the royal park at Windsor, married Cicely
Edolph of Kent, with whom he had six daughters and �nally a son, Charles, born
around 1603. Because he was still a minor at the time of Edward Longland’s death
in 1619, Charles’s considerable inheritance, estimated at £2,000, was entrusted to
Robert Barker, an important and well-known printer and publisher at the time of
King James. Charles was placed as an apprentice to a merchant of London named
For the biographical information on Charles Longland’s father and grandfather, cf.
Lawrence G. Chorley,
(Rochester,
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
On this battle, cf. R.C. Anderson, ‘The First Dutch War in the Mediterranean’,
The Mariner’s Mirror
, 49 (1963), pp. 241–65; Marcella Morviducci,
‘Lo scontro anglo-
olandese avvenuto nel porto di Livorno il 14 marzo 1653’, in
Atti del convegno ‘Livorno
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Longland also had to justify himself in December of 1653 by sending a long,
articulate self-defence to the Council of State. The investigation ended in favour of
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
European Contexts for English Republicanism
On 28 November 1653 Longland made reference to information he had
received from Rome from a certain ‘Mr. Whyt’, who can perhaps be identi�ed
as the philosopher Thomas White (Blacklo), the promoter of a sort of Catholic
Hobbesianism that from a practical standpoint nurtured a policy of openness to
the Cromwellian regime in the hope of gaining freedom of action for a renewed
national Catholic Church. It was through this ‘Mr. Whyt’ that Longland proposed
to Thurloe the services of a certain Abbot Costa, who he boasted was privy to
accurate intelligence from the court of Rome. In September 1654 Longland
proposed to recruit Bartholomew Harris, a former representative of the Parliament
i, p. 595, ii, pp. 580, 719–20, iv, pp. 232–3. Cf. Albert J. Loomie,
‘Oliver Cromwell’s Policy toward the English Catholics: The Appraisal by Diplomats,
(2004), pp. 29–44. On the Blackloists, see
Thérèse-Marie Jallais in the present volume. Bacon is mentioned in Evelyn’s diary.
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
concessions for a public chapel for Protestant worship in Leghorn and pushed Blake
to formally present a request to this end to the Grand Duke. A supporter of militant
Ibid., vol. 2, p. 447; vol. 6, pp. 368, 846–7; vol. 7, p. 897. Cf. Vivian Salmon,
‘Orthography and Punctuation’, in Roger Lass (ed.),
The Cambridge History of the English
Villani, ‘Cum scandalo catholicorum’, particularly pp. 47–8, n. 51.
TNA
Prob
10/1189;
Prob
11/392. Of interest is also an inventory of some precious
stones and miniatures owned by Longland and compiled after his death: ASFi,
Protocolli
, 21092, ff. 57r–58r; cf. also TNA
Prob
Prob
European Contexts for English Republicanism
A ‘Republican’ in Leghorn
The original reads: ‘Se è vero secondo Gallileo che il mondo ha suo moto
quotidiano, non è da maravigliarsi della instabillità d’ogni cosa in esso’ [but it was] ‘cosa di
stupore’ … [to see how] ‘la revolutitione di uno governo, all’apparenza di tutti ben fondato’
[came] ‘in uno momento senza oppositione’. ASFi,
, 2432, ff. not
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
Not long before the Restoration, on 13 February 1660, Longland informed
Thurloe that he would send him a book on the ancient history of Tuscany that
had recently fallen into his hands and which, in his opinion, �tted perfectly with
the situation in contemporary England. From what Longland says we can identify
European Contexts for English Republicanism
two Italians who commented on the latest news from England. One argued that
the new Parliament would undoubtedly restore the king. In his opinion this was
clearly the will of Parliament because it had replaced the commonwealthmen as
commanders of the militia with the friends of the king and cavaliers acting as
sheriffs. The other Italian responded that even if these observations were correct,
he did not think that a body as wise as the Parliament of England had so quickly
forgotten all the blood spilt and money spent in previous years as to restore
precisely the form of government which had been the cause of the bloodshed. This
would be culpable folly. He added that when Athenians, Tuscans and Romans cut
off royal power, the king was not restored smoothly, despite the fact that all these
nations combined shed less than half the blood England had during the Civil Wars
in divesting themselves of the monarchy. He concluded his argument saying:
You and I hav wyves and children. How soon it may pleas God to send siknes
Thurloe SP
A ‘Republican’ Englishman in Leghorn: Charles Longland
Returning to the Harrington manuscript elaborated in Leghorn some �ve
An anonymous report of these celebrations was published in 1660 in Italian in
Relatione delle feste celebrate dalli signori della natione inglese nella città
The recent discovery of Johann Michael Wansleben’s 1665 manuscript digest of
James Harrington’s major works raises questions not only about the existence
Bibliothèque Universitaire de Poitiers, France,
Wansleben MS). On the manuscript and its author, see Thérèse-Marie Jallais and Gaby
Mahlberg, ‘“The Fundations & Modell of a Perfect Commonwealth”: Johann Michael
Vansleb (1635–79) as a Harringtonian Scholar’, presented at the Thirteenth International
Conference, Durham Centre for Seventeenth-Century Studies, Durham Castle, July 2010,
as well as my introduction to the Wansleben Manuscript and Gaby Mahlberg’s chapter in
Gaby Mahlberg,
Henry Neville and English Republican Culture in the Seventeenth
Century: Dreaming of Another Game
(Manchester, 2009), pp. 198–220.
Dictionnaire de théologie catholique
(14 vols, Paris, 1920), hereafter
: entry on
‘Concile de Trente, XIVème session’, p. 1443.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
The other apparent paradox lies in the fact that, in 1665, the German
Wansleben MS, fol. 10r.
Alexandre Pougeois,
that republicanism and Catholicism are mutually exclusive? This is the very
assumption we would like to question. In other words: could there be a shared
Many articles dealing with networks, whether political or scienti�c, actually
concentrate on the relationships between a few well-known �gures and their connections.
See, e.g., Agnès Bresson, ‘Les correspondants de Peiresc’,
Archives de Philosophie
(1996), pp. 10–11.
The study of the relationship between Jansenists and Gallicans deserves particular
attention. The �rst studies on the French Jansenists’ in�uence in different European countries
were initiated by Edmond Préclin, ‘L’in�uence du Jansénisme français à l’étranger’,
, 182 (1938), pp. 46–56. As far as Italy is concerned, Préclin’s studies were
mainly centred on the eighteenth century and so were the works of his followers, including
Vaussard’s
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Le jansénisme, c’est comme le couteau de Jeannot. On change la lame, on
[Jansenism is like John’s knife. Change the blade, change the handle, it still is
John’s knife.]
Jansenism, nevertheless, could be described as a three-headed entity: theological
Jansenism, political Jansenism and moral Jansenism. It should be noted that its
birth, development and political defeat corresponded to the agony and death
of Protestantism in France.
Even when it did not advocate anti-social stands,
political Jansenism became a �erce opponent to absolute monarchy. Obviously,
the resistance to absolutism could echo some Harringtonian positions, for most
Jean Orcibal, ‘Qu’est-ce-que le jansénisme?’ in
the Jansenists partook in a process of political resistance that led the way for
French revolutionary ideas. Lastly, it could also have been Protestant England’s
perceptions of Jansenism that played a central role in consolidating the intellectual
af�nities between English republicans and French Calvinists. In a seminal work,
Ruth Clark has shown that the Jansenists were considered by English Protestant
This partially explains Blaise Pascal’s position on miracles. See Tetsuya Shiokawa,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of Spalato and Anglican convert, had during his exile in London in the early
seventeenth century developed an immense editorial activity, which contributed
to making Sarpi’s thoughts known to an English audience.
De Dominis’s own
Lukaris, the patriarch of Constantinople, who considered the work the foundation
of an international network against Rome.
The penal laws against Catholics in
England, and the success of both the English College at Douai (founded in 1568)
and of the Jesuit schools at Saint Omer in France all contributed to the development
Nouvelle biographie générale
(Paris, 1855), article on ‘Marc’Antonio De
Dominis’, pp. 642–50; Eleonora Belligni,
Auctoritas e Potestas: Marcantonio De Dominis
fra L’Inquisizione e Giacomo I
(Turin, 2003); Noel Malcolm,
right to constrain offenders by visible and external force. 4) Ministers [both civil
These famous four articles were in fact the exact copy of the
Declaration des
quatre articles
of 1681.
The third article put an end to the long-lasting con�icts
, article on ‘Le Gallicanisme’, vol. 6, p. 1136.
Interestingly, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Wake, resided in Paris
at the time of this
affaire de la Régale
(1673–93). A few years later, he proposed a plan
of reunion between Anglicanism and Gallicanism. The project failed, but Wake had
European Contexts for English Republicanism
[The Gallican doctrine differs from the Roman doctrine, which does not mean
that the former’s view on the essential characteristics of the Church of Christ
J.G.A. Pocock, ‘Machiavelli, Harrington and English Political Ideologies in the
Eighteenth Century’, in
Politics, Language and Time: Essays on Political Thought and
(London, 1972), pp. 104–47. The three ‘pure’ forms of government were monarchy,
aristocracy and democracy, represented in England by King, Lords and Commons. A
mixture of the three forms was necessary to avoid the natural degeneration of any one of the
three forms, hence the phrase ‘mixed constitution’; see ibid., pp. 118–29. The parallel to the
perfect equilibrium within the Catholic Church is striking: monarchy (Pope), aristocracy
Algernon Sidney,
Discourses Concerning Government
, ed. Thomas G. West
Sidney did not develop a clear concept of church government. See Jonathan Scott,
Algernon Sidney and the English Republic 1623–1677
(Cambridge, 2004);
Algernon Sidney
and the Restoration Crisis, 1677–1683
(Cambridge, 2002); and
Republican Writing of the English Revolution
from a Catholic political point of view, the ‘hereditary elect’, that is those chosen
through their aristocratic birth. Gallicans in France at least did not constitute a
political threat and evolved in the highest and most in�uential circles. In Italy, the
Republicanism and French Protestantism
French Protestants, the most natural allies of English republicans, stood in a very
dif�cult position in the 1660s, even though their of�cial political defeat was
completed later in 1685.
On 17 October that year, at Fontainebleau, 12 articles
under the explicit title
Edit du Roi portant défenses de faire aucun exercice public
de la Religion Prétendument Réformée dans son royaume
revoked the 1598
Edict of Nantes, thus ringing the death knell of Protestantism in France.
famous saying, ‘Un royaume, une religion’, forced Protestants to go under cover
after a century of ‘tolerance’.
The expression implicitly acknowledges that the
very conception of monarchy was undermined by Protestantism. Long before
1685, some Protestants had gone into exile to welcoming Protestant countries
(Switzerland, England) or become crypto-Catholics, for example in Italy, where
they continued their militant activity.
But the �rst major defeat of the so-called
‘reformed religion’ took place when their political assemblies were forbidden in
For an excellent study of the con�icts of theological terminology in the mid-
seventeenth century, see Isabel Rivers,
Reason, Grace and Sentiment: A Study of the
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Thus, early on, Protestants had forged foreign alliances, with La Rochelle
clearly standing out as the of�cial link between French Protestants and England.
More speci�cally, do we know of direct links between English republicans and
French Protestants? Yes, the very president of the general assembly of French
Protestants which united a body of 16 provinces, Philippe Duplessis Mornay, was
a personal friend of Sir Philip Sidney’s family. In 1683, in a letter from prison,
Algernon Sidney mentioned a possible ground of accusation against him: ‘Some
say Protestants of Holland, France and Piemont are guilty of Treason, in bearing
culture could not be eradicated, especially in the strongholds where Protestant
academies had existed for decades. When English republicans travelled through
France, they tended to stop in these centres of resistance. Algernon Sidney, who
had been educated in Paris and at the Huguenot Academy at Saumur, chose
Montpellier – historically a stronghold of the movement and one of the most
active intellectual Protestant academies in France – as his abode of exile in 1666.
Incidentally, Wansleben, compiler of the Harrington digest, went to France after
several years in Italy.
To ease his introduction into French circles, he obtained
a letter of recommendation from François de Bosquet, bishop of Lodève and
Montpellier, and a staunch supporter of Gallicanism in a region where Jansenism
was prospering and Protestantism still had a few strongholds.
In his case, all
The Two Missing Links: Blackloism and the ‘Third Party’ in Rome
Jansenists, political Gallicans and Protestants thus shared af�nities with the
Histoire de l’eglise réformée de Montpellier depuis son origine
(Montpellier, 1861).
Emma Lorimer, ‘“Une voie publique pour ef�cacement agir”: Les assemblées
générales des Eglises réformées de France (1572–1622) devant l’insécurité des guerres
le formulaire
was approved of by 15 bishops. In 1656 it was approved by
the Assembly of the Clergy, and in 1657 by the Pope. It became compulsory in 1661.
‘Comment l’Angleterre devint une île.’ See Fernand Braudel,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
reconciled with Aristotelian thought, much to the admiration of Leibniz.
Well
established and a regular member of the Mersenne circle in Paris, he was, unlike
English republicans, extremely well connected in Port-Royal.
Apart from being a
recognized scientist and extremely versatile in languages, White was also known
as a talented theologian, second only to the Pope, for he was a Roman Catholic and
had been the of�cial agent of English Catholics in Rome between 1625 and 1629, in
‘Letter to Thomasius’, dated 1669 in Gottfried W. Leibniz,
of the roles of magistrates perfectly coincided with Harrington’s.
White clearly
opposed Hobbes by standing for ‘�delity’ against obedience. To White, political
‘�delity’ implied that no one could ever relinquish one’s freedom of conscience.
Certainly, the theological originality and extreme coherence of his thought is best
revealed when he elaborates on the concept of ‘tradition’ in the Catholic Church.
With tradition being a succession of transmitted doctrines, different types of errors
Thomas White,
The Grounds of Obedience and Government
, ed. Thomas A. Birrell
(Farnborough, 1986); Southgate,
Journal of the History of Ideas
, 61 (2000), pp. 97–133. Neveu,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
The Blackloists’ sympathies for Gallicanism had been stated early on. As early
as 1626, White had written a memorandum in which he questioned the validity
of the Tridentine debates on the Scriptures very much along Sarpi’s lines.
links with French Gallicans were actively maintained by another member of the
group, Henry Holden, alias Johnson. As an agent of the English Catholic clergy
in Rome (1638–39), he had obtained his
1921), vol. 1, pp. 381–7 and Neveu,
An oversimpli�ed, monolithical, historiographical vision of Catholicism certainly
accounts for the lack of understanding of the complexities of the ideological
af�nities between English Harringtonian republicanism and the �ve Catholic groups
addressed above. A more dialectical approach is now needed that will highlight the
extreme subtleties of what Henri Brémond long ago called
le sentiment religieux
Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France
PART III
An English Republican Tradition
Chapter 11
At the time of its publication in the autumn of 1656, few would have predicted that
James Harrington’s
and fruitful afterlife. It did not immediately receive the sort of acclaim, or even
provoke the kind of controversy, that its author had hoped.
In part the problem was
one of form and style. Model constitutions do not make particularly entertaining
reading, and
is also written in very dense prose. Furthermore, while it was
apparently about an imaginary country,
was very clearly a blueprint for a
successful English republic, and for this reason the applicability of Harrington’s
ideas to other places was far from evident. Moreover, the work not only relates to
a particular country, but also to a very speci�c moment in that country’s history,
namely the English Interregnum. Given that England has been ruled as a monarchy
more or less continuously since 1660, a republican constitutional model has had
Despite this, Harrington’s work was not consigned to oblivion at the
Restoration, but went on to exercise considerable in�uence in a variety of contexts.
In Britain, Harrington’s in�uence was largely con�ned to the scholarly worlds of
debate and publishing, but even there the nature of his initial ideas meant that
they could easily be modi�ed and applied to rather different circumstances from
those that had originally inspired them. In eighteenth-century France (just as in
America) his ideas had a much more tangible political impact, in�uencing the
thought of leading political thinkers and ultimately being adopted in revolutionary
The main purpose of this chapter is to trace the in�uence of Harrington’s ideas
in eighteenth-century France by means of three case studies. However, before doing
so a little more needs to be said about the nature of Harrington’s republicanism and
The author would like to thank John Gurney, Martyn Hammersley and Gaby
Mahlberg for reading and commenting on this chapter. She is also grateful to the organizers
European Contexts for English Republicanism
why his ideas proved so amenable to being adapted to circumstances very different
The Nature of Harrington’s Republicanism
Ever since the publication of Zera Fink’s in�uential book
in 1945, Harrington’s
has tended to be viewed as the epitome
of English republicanism and to be placed at the heart of the republican tradition.
The historian John Pocock has engaged extensively with Harrington, but there are
also more recent examples of this approach.
Indeed, even Eric Nelson’s 2010 book
on the Hebrew Republic, which challenges a number of conventional assumptions
about republicanism, persists in presenting Harrington as a leading representative
The Classical Republicans: An Essay on the Recovery of a Pattern of
The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the
Atlantic Republican Tradition
199
For a more extended discussion of the ideas of this section see Rachel Hammersley,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
he presented himself as an advocate of ‘democracy’. He and his associates were
among the �rst to use this term positively as a synonym for ‘commonwealth’ or
The Prerogative
of 1658 and used it de�nitively in
A Discourse Showing …;
Valerius and Publicola
, all of which appeared
A Proposition in Order to the Proposing of a Commonwealth or Democracy
(London, 1659); Anon.,
A Model of a Democraticall Government, humbly tendered to
Consideration, by a Friend and Wel-wisher to this Common-Wealth
(London, 1659). The
of government should suit the underlying distribution of property. Indeed he even
admitted: ‘Kings, no question, where the balance is monarchical, are of divine
right, and if they be good the greatest blessings that the government so standing can
be capable of’.
Moreover, by 1659 Harrington was even blurring the distinction
While the British commonwealthmen of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries republished and drew not only on the works of Harrington but also those
of other seventeenth-century English republicans, Harrington does seem to have
been crucial in shaping their thought in a number of key areas – especially those
In line with Harrington, the commonwealthmen called for a national church
(and were willing to accept Anglicanism), and combined this with a belief in
Ri�essione Storica di Franco Venturi
‘Exclusivist Republicanism and the Non-Monarchical Republic’,
Political Theory
The Hebrew Republic
Political Works
The Principles of a Real Whig: Contained in a Preface to
the Famous Hotoman’s Franco-Gallia, written by the late Lord-Viscount Molesworth; and
now Reprinted at the Request of the London Association
Toland,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
of representatives – to produce a virtuous whole out of the self-interested actions
Plato Redivivus: Or, A Dialogue Concerning Government, Wherein
by Observations drawn from other Kingdoms and States both Ancient and Modern, an
Endeavour is Used to Discover the Present Politick Distemper of our own with the Causes,
and Remedies
, 3rd edn, in
The Oceana of James Harrington, Esq; and his other works …
Republican Learning: John Toland and the Crisis of Christian
Culture, 1696–1722
(Manchester, 2003), p. 106. For further exploration of this frontispiece,
see Justin Champion, ‘Toland as Editor of Harrington and the Concept of “Priestcraft”’,
in Gaby Mahlberg and Dirk Wiemann (eds),
Perspectives on English Revolutionary
(Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming).
undeniably manifest that the English Government is already a Commonwealth,
Despite having exercised a deep and penetrating in�uence on the thought of
the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century British commonwealthmen,
Harrington’s works were of little interest to the �rst generation of Francophone
authors who drew on English republicanism – the Huguenots. A couple of reviews
of Harrington’s works did appear in Huguenot periodicals, but they tended to be
shorter and less enthusiastic than the reviews of the writings of other English
Moreover, unlike those of Sidney and Ludlow, Harrington’s works
were not translated by Huguenot writers and therefore remained unavailable to the
French-speaking world until the end of the eighteenth century. The main reason
for the Huguenots’ neglect of Harrington was probably that they were interested
in English republicanism primarily for its use of resistance theory, and this
John Toland, ‘Preface’, in
The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington
John Toland (London, 1737), p. viii.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
commonwealthmen – and especially those of Viscount Bolingbroke, who spent
almost 20 years of his life in France, was married to a French woman and had close
connections with a number of important French �gures. Indeed, as the following
case study demonstrates, the works of several eighteenth-century French thinkers,
not least the baron de Montesquieu and the Abbé Mably, offer a distinctively
The Harringtonian Vision of the British Constitution
Montesquieu did own a copy of Harrington’s
, but his direct references
L’Esprit des Lois
This has
Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de Montesquieu
1954), p. 169, no. 2376. Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu,
The Spirit of
, ed. Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller and Harold Samuel Stone (Cambridge,
Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu,
Le Spicilège
, in
Pensées: Le
Byzantium before his eyes’.
Thus Montesquieu followed very closely the moves
that had already been made by British commonwealthmen in the late seventeenth
and early eighteenth centuries to render Harrington’s ideas more applicable to a
modern constitutional monarchy.
Like Montesquieu, the Abbé Mably also adopted a positive view of the British
Gabriel Bonnot de Mably,
republicanism, see Rachel Hammersley,
The English Republican Tradition and Eighteenth-
European Contexts for English Republicanism
by devoting two entire issues of his periodical to Harrington.
The following year
in which he further developed his argument
Rutledge’s endeavours did not pass unnoticed. In late 1789 a young author
named François-Jean-Philibert Aubert de Vitry included Rutledge on a list of
authors whose works he deemed relevant to the current situation in France.
selected Rutledge primarily on account of his enthusiasm for Harrington, who, he
claimed, offered a means of reducing economic inequality – an issue of particular
concern at the time. Aubert de Vitry, who appears to have known Rutledge
personally, claimed that the latter had been working for more than 20 years on a
book based on Harrington’s ideas, which would soon appear.
François-Jean-Philibert Aubert de Vitry,
J.J. Rousseau à l’Assemblée Nationale
Jean-Jacques Rutledge,
of the writings of both Milton and the British commonwealthman Thomas Gordon
and echoed Harrington’s ideas about the need for good laws rather than good men.
Finally, Théophile Mandar, another club member, produced a translation of Nedham’s
The Excellencie of a Free State
Camille Desmoulins,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
the current situation was also noted by Jean-Baptiste Lefebvre de Villebrune, the
librarian at the Bibliothèque Nationale, who published an article in
on 4 July 1794 in which he called for a French translation of Harrington’s works.
The call was soon heeded, and in 1795 two French translations appeared. The
�rst, which was edited by Pierre François Henry, was of Toland’s edition of
Harrington’s
Political Works
; the second, which was translated by P.F. Aubin, was
of Harrington’s aphoristic works,
A System of Politics
In the case of the Cordeliers there is deep engagement with and appreciation
of the ideas of Harrington and his English contemporaries, and a development of
those ideas in a more democratic direction. However, there is little evidence of
their exerting a direct in�uence on practical politics. For example, Rutledge’s draft
constitution does not appear to have been considered with any seriousness by the
National Assembly. By contrast, in the third and �nal case study, that of the Abbé
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, there is evidence of the direct and practical in�uence
that Harrington’s ideas exerted on revolutionary legislation.
The Abbé Sieyès and Harringtonian Legislation
Moniteur Universel: Réimpression de l’Ancien Moniteur; Seule Histoire
Sieyès’s proposals for the rotation of of�ce also bear the hallmarks of
Harrington’s thoughtful and distinctive views on this subject. Though rotation had
been employed within the Venetian system of government, Harrington was the �rst
to propose its introduction within the popular assembly. Moreover, his version of
the practice was also distinctive in its incorporation of limited duration of of�ce; the
replacement of national legislative bodies by parts, rather than at general elections;
and the requirement that retiring deputies serve at least one term out of of�ce before
becoming eligible for re-election. The system of rotation that Sieyès proposed for the
Vue sur les Moyens
which appeared in 1789, Sieyès proposed that the duration of of�ce for deputies
be limited to three years; that the legislative body be renewed annually by thirds;
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès,
Views of the Executive Means Available to the
Representatives of France in 1789
, in
Sieyès: Political Writings
, ed. Michael Sonenscher
Archives Nationales, Paris, 284 AP 5-1/1-. 160v. As reprinted in
de Sieyès, 1773–1779
, ed. Christine Fauré, with Jacques Guilhaumou and Jacques Valier
François Antoine Boissy d’Anglas,
European Contexts for English Republicanism
matter; and he also introduced an element of silent consideration into the latter’s
role. Moreover, once again there is evidence among Sieyès’s papers that he had
taken particular note of Harrington’s ideas on this issue.
Interestingly, these borrowings were not lost on British observers. In an
article that �rst appeared in the
Morning Chronicle
on 22 September 1797 it was
noted that: ‘The mode at present adopted by the French Constitution for
renewing in part their Legislative Assemblies seems to have been borrowed
from a similar idea formerly started by our
Rota Club
Moreover, as a leading
director who helped orchestrate Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup, Sieyès was directly
involved in drawing up the Constitution of 1799, and both rotation of of�ce and
Thus, despite an inauspicious beginning, Harrington’s
exercised
considerable in�uence in a variety of contexts and appealed to a diverse range of
political thinkers and actors. In large part, this re�ects the fact that his ideas were
�exible and adaptable to different conditions. Not only were they amenable to being
reworked to suit the very different circumstances in England after 1660, but they
also provided a useful constitutional resource for those seeking to adapt or overthrow
the French government during the course of the eighteenth century.
Indeed, they
proved appealing to advocates of constitutional monarchy (such as Montesquieu),
representative republicanism (like Sieyès) and even democracy (the Cordeliers).
Archives Nationales: 284 AP5-1/1. As reprinted in
Morning Chronicle
La Constitution du 22 Frimaire An VIII
Nor were the French the only continental Europeans interested in Harrington’s
works, as Iwan D’Aprile’s chapter in this volume demonstrates.
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s
In his classic study on Algernon Sidney and the Restoration crisis, Jonathan Scott
argued that Sidney ‘reminds us of the complexity of the past, of how dif�cult
Jonathan Scott,
Algernon Sidney and the Restoration Crisis, 1677–1683
The adjective ‘French’ is placed within quotes to suggest that it applies to the
language used in the periodicals, not to their nationality, since the �rst two I shall be
mentioning were published in Amsterdam under the editorship of exiled Huguenots.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Sidney’s
were �rst published by John Toland in 1698.
The �rst
Nouvelles de la République
Algernon Sidney,
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism
contained a presentation of Sidney’s work as a whole, while the second one was
more in the nature of a specimen, focusing as it did on a single section from the
(Chapter II, section 24), a section Ginguené had chosen because it was
le plus d’ordre
, April 1700, p. 426.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
fois à ces derniers, et des Anglais, qu’il se propose toujours d’élever au-dessus
As late as 1784, Rivarol could write a book entitled
De l’universalité de la langue
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism
Notions �ow with readiness’.
Conversely, Boileau ridiculed and savaged all those
lay at the back of the minds of Bernard, Basnage de Beauval and even of Ginguené
close to a century later. Everything Boileau �nds fault with is echoed in their
respective accounts of Sidney’s
; for ‘an Author’, read ‘Sidney’, and
everything falls into place: ‘Sidney, fond of his own thought, pursues its object till
it’s overwrought’, in�icting on his reader the ‘tedious pomp’ of his shapeless prose
and the ‘barren super�uity’ of his endless, mind-numbing, examples.
Such premises were of paramount importance when it came to de�ning what
was no doubt that the whole point of translation was to ‘naturalize’ a foreign text,
which meant erasing anything that could single it out as foreign – as un-French –
and make it appear, or sound, as if it had been written in French in the �rst place.
Translation was not about producing a faithful, literal rendering of the original,
warts and all – something Nicolas Beauzée (1717–89) described contemptuously
– but about ‘Frenchifying’ it to such an extent that it looked like the
As late as 1794, it is still in fact this point of
European Contexts for English Republicanism
La lecture en plaît beaucoup aux Anglais … elle plairait aussi aux Français, …
si la traduction était meilleure. Mais elle est en général froide, prolixe, surannée.
Ces défauts y sont très souvent portés au point de la rendre illisible. En redonnant
l’original dans la forme même que leur aurait donné leur auteur s’il avait écrit en français.’
Daniel Mercier,
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism
[The third arbitrary rule which translators have had to submit to is the absurd
requirement that any author ought to be translated through and through. …
It is not to make us acquainted with the �aws of the Ancients that they are
translated into our tongue; it is to enrich our literature with what they excelled
in. Translating selections from them is not maiming them; it is to paint them in
pro�le, and all to their advantage. When translating a historian, what pleasure
can be drawn from rendering into French those parts of his narrative which are
as it was written is to bear the intertwining
of these intentions in mind. It is
Patriarcha
which entirely dictates the
’ formal
structure. It provides the test-pattern through which the message emerges. This message
cannot be unlocked therefore without reading the
as Sidney wrote it, with
Patriarcha
in hand.’ Scott,
Histoire des Ouvrages
, vol. 18, pp. 64–5. Much the same point is made by
Ginguené: ‘Le corps de l’ouvrage est sans méthode; l’auteur, attaché aux pas de son
antagoniste Filmer, ne se prescrit aucune marche régulière, et se borne à l’attaquer dans
European Contexts for English Republicanism
vague republican, or vaguely republican, principle (and not even that according to
The most obviously puzzled of the three was the earliest reviewer, Jacques
Bernard, who had to work under the additional constraint that the French
translation of the
was not available until 1702. In the opening section
of his March 1700 article, Bernard makes much of Sidney’s fame, but remains
Le seul nom d’Algernon Sidney est capable d’exciter la curiosité de tous ceux
qui savent quelles étaient sa pénétration, & ses lumières sur toutes les matières
qui ont quelque rapport au Gouvernement. Peut-être n’aurait-il pas perdu la tête
[It is suf�cient to mention the very name of Algernon Sidney to excite the interest
of all those who know how deep-sighted and enlightened he was concerning all
executioner’s hand if he had been less knowledgeable concerning these.]
The least that can be said is that these lines are not particularly helpful. It is
September 1700, Jacques Bernard had no qualms about calling him a ‘grand
‘A great republican from England.’ Cf. ‘La première pièce, qui paraît dans ce
volume, après l’épître dédicatoire, & la préface, est la vie de Jaques Harrington, grand
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism
Le plus sûr est de parcourir toutes ces sections l’une après l’autre, a�n d’indiquer
Histoire des Ouvrages
European Contexts for English Republicanism
[Mr Sidney gives the preference to Popular, or Mixed, or Aristocratic
government: for he does not tell which of these three forms of government he
What is beyond doubt for Beauval, however, is that Sidney is in favour of a theory
of popular sovereignty
– sovereign authority resides in the people and should
‘Mr. Sidney voudrait donc que l’autorité souveraine résidant originairement dans le
peuple, elle y retournât toujours comme à la source, dès que celui entre les mains duquel il
l’a déposée en a abusé, ou n’existe plus.’ Ibid., p. 65.
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism
examples Sidney adduces in support of his argument are thrown out of the window
as so much unnecessary clutter. The examples taken from the Bible are singled
out for special (mis)treatment, as evidence of Sidney’s unfortunate tendency to be
Décade
Ibid., p. 542.
Ibid., p. 540.
European Contexts for English Republicanism
A large part of Ginguené’s �rst article, in Volume III of the
devoted to drawing a list of all those chapter headings which the French
Ibid., pp. 542–3.
Ibid., p. 543.
Lost in [French] Translation: Sidney’s Elusive Republicanism
Ceux qui se sont tourmentés pour rendre éternelles les républiques mixtes,
se sont grandement trompés. De même que dans le corps humain les quatre
longue santé, s’altèrent à la �n, et celle qui prévaut cause la mort de l’homme;
that Sidney himself had been uncommonly outspoken and brave in the defence of
virtue and liberty. If he did not provide a model for a republic, he was himself a
role model worthy of imitation, on a par with the heroes of republican Rome. All
Ibid., pp. 543–4.
Buchholz’s Reception of James Harrington
Prussia is not known for its deep-seated republican or liberal traditions. According
to Perry Anderson’s classical comparative landscape of European absolutist states
it belongs to the Middle Eastern European type of centralized military states ruled
from above with no in�uential bourgeois middle class.
This might be one reason for
the very rudimentary reception of the theories of republican authors such as James
Harrington – even if, in the late seventeenth century, there were several instances
Lineages of the Absolutist State
In a rough survey I have found neither a research study on that topic nor a
great many sources. This volume might bring some light into the darkness. On early
Enlightenment radicals in Germany, see Martin Mulsow,
Moderne aus dem Untergrund:
Radikale Frühaufklärung in Deutschland 1680–1720
(Hamburg, 2002). On John Toland
and Brandenburg, see Iwan-Michelangelo D’Aprile, ‘John Toland und die spinozistische
Internationale in Brandenburg‘, in the same (ed.),
Friedrich und die Aufklärer
(Berlin,
Republican Learning: John Toland and the Crisis
of Christian Culture, 1696–1722
(Manchester, 2003).
Rachel Hammersley,
French Revolutionaries and English Republicans: The
Cordeliers Club 1790–1794
(Woodbridge, 2005). On the role of Harrington in the discussions
around the American Revolution, see Jonathan Israel,
Democratic Enlightenment
2011), pp. 444–6. An overview of the history of models of participation and balances of
power in German is given in Alois Riklin,
Machtteilung: Geschichte der Mischverfassung
European Contexts for English Republicanism
republicanism in general played for Buchholz’s career as a political author in the
age of revolutions. Secondly, I will demonstrate the crucial impact of Harrington’s
ideas on Buchholz’s sociology of government. And thirdly, I will outline some
characteristic transformations – one could also call them reductions – Harrington’s
The classic bio-bibliographical study on Buchholz is Rütger Schäfer,
Buchholz – ein vergessener Vorläufer der Soziologie: Eine historische und bibliographische
Prussian Republicanism? Friedrich Buchholz’s Reception of James Harrington
would become known in English, Al�eri’s thesis was that the sciences and arts
could only prosper in a republican state, and that in monarchies they would be
corrupted, persecuted or degenerate into ridiculous entertainment. According to
Al�eri, this was due to the tensions between the interests of the princes and the
purpose of the sciences. Whereas the prince wanted and had to wish ‘daß seine
‘[T]hat his subjects remain stupid, ignorant, and suppressed’. Vittorio Al�eri,
Der Fürst und die Wissenschaften
, trans. Friedrich Buchholz, ed. Enrica Yvonne Dilk and
Helmuth Mojem (Göttingen, 2011), § 4.
’§    9    The republican avant-garde was to disturb the general ‘somnolence … which is
Der Fürst und die Wissenschaften
Michel Foucault,
Sicherheit, Territorium, Bevölkerung: Geschichte der
Gouvernementalität I
(Frankfurt a. M., 2006), pp. 136–41, p. 137. Foucault argues that
Machiavelli’s
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Al�eri and Machiavelli both had a speci�c signi�cance for Buchholz’s
own political theory. From Al�eri, Buchholz acquired a sociological approach
to literature and the sciences, which he would later always analyse in their
interdependency within systems of power. From Machiavelli, he picked up an
anti-normativist, anti-idealist understanding of morals and politics. According
to Buchholz, Machiavelli’s main purpose was ‘die Zerstörung des Idealismus in
which �nds its equivalent in Buchholz’s application
pp. 69–100. Extracts from the works of Machiavelli and Harrington were printed in the
school textbooks edited by Buchholz’s friend Christian Ludwig Ideler:
Handbuch der
Italiänischen Sprache und Litteratur oder Auswahl interessanter Stücke aus den klassischen
italiänischen Prosaisten und Dichtern nebst Nachrichten von den Verfassern und ihren
Werken
Handbuch der englischen Sprache und Litteratur, oder Auswahl
Prussian Republicanism? Friedrich Buchholz’s Reception of James Harrington
he sharply criticizes the administrative and cultural elites of the old Prussian state,
In this context James Harrington served as one of his main reference points.
In his
Gallerie Preussischer Charaktere
, Buchholz considers Harrington as ‘de[r]
jenige[], der unter allen Politikern der modernen Welt, Machiavelli vielleicht
allein ausgenommen, die meiste Aufmerksamkeit verdient’.
gesellschaftlichen Zustandes im Königreiche Preussen bis zum 14. October des
Jahres 1806
Nie verdiente ein Schriftsteller mehr, die
Theorie der politischen Welt
aufzu�nden, als Harrington, der, vermöge seines schönen Gemüths, welches die
bürgerliche Freiheit wollte, und vermöge des Umfanges seiner Gelehrsamkeit,
welcher ihn in den Stand setzte, Vergleichungen aller Art anzustellen, mehr
seiner Fortdauer im neunzehnten Jahrhundert: Von dem Verfasser des neuen Leviathan
Gallerie Preussischer Charaktere
. Translated from the French
‘[T]he political author of the modern world who, maybe aside from Machiavelli,
deserves the most attention.’ Buchholz,
Friedrich Buchholz,
Gemählde des gesellschaftlichen Zustandes im Königreiche
Preussen, bis zum 14ten Oktober des Jahres 1806: Von dem Verfasser des neuen Leviathan
(2 vols, Berlin and Leipzig, 1808), vol. 2, pp. 11ff.
Ibid., vol. 1, title page. The original quotation is in James Harrington,
The Prerogative
of Popular Government: A Politicall Discourse in Two Books
European Contexts for English Republicanism
and intellectuals – up to state-run institutions such as the military, churches, schools
and universities. On the basis of this social analysis, he arrives at the question of
government, albeit only in the third book. He explicitly calls the government or the
In dieser Voraussetzung nun steht das Wort ‘König’ in einer Kategorie mit dem
algebraischen x, … bei welchem sich, wenn man es absolut nimmt, eigentlich
[Under this condition, the word ‘king’ appears in the same category as the
For his analysis of the function of government, Buchholz uses Harrington’s
A System of Politics
J.G.A. Pocock (Cambridge, 1992), pp 8ff.
Prussian Republicanism? Friedrich Buchholz’s Reception of James Harrington
Man sieht hieraus, daß das Wesen der Könige, wie alles in der Welt, der Verwandlung
Ibid., p. 15f.
‘[T]he grain-based feudal noble class’.
Gemählde
European Contexts for English Republicanism
republican assumptions – such as the value of equality, the necessity of a state
based on rights and civil freedoms, and a notion of the public sphere as the forum
of political deliberation – he thought that these elements were only possible on
the basis of a strong central government. The unity of government or, as he calls
it, its ‘concentricity’, is the basic assumption of Buchholz’s political theory. It is a
unity that, in Buchholz’s view, always has to be put in relation to the ‘centrifugal
‘Concentricity’ is a term he borrows from Adam Smith’s cosmology. See Friedrich
Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution
Prussian Republicanism? Friedrich Buchholz’s Reception of James Harrington
Harrington’s paradoxical character as a ‘republican nobleman’ (‘republikanischer
Most of all, Buchholz criticizes Harrington’s principle of the division of
power. According to Buchholz, the English Constitution of 1688/89, ‘by which
the legislative and the executive power have been divided’, became the evil demon
of Europe (‘der Kakodämon Europas’) or even of the world. The realization of
this principle after the 1688 Revolution, in his eyes, showed no result but the
exploitation of the British state by the nobility. By dominating Parliament they
forced the state to run up debts and, as a consequence, into never-ending colonial
expansion. Thus the goal of the Parliament or representative assembly was not
political participation but only to keep up a high public de�cit, and by this means to
‘… die Last der öffentlichen Abgaben zu vermehren und dadurch die erzwungene
Unterordnung der ganzen Gesellschaft unter den Vortheil der Grundbesitzer’. Friedrich
Jörn Garber, ‘Von der naturalistischen Menschheitsgeschichte (Georg Forster)
zum gesellschaftswissenschaftlichen Positivismus (Friedrich Buchholz)’, in Jörn Garber
and Tanja van Hoorn (eds),
Natur – Mensch – Kultur: Georg Forster im Wissenschaftsfeld
European Contexts for English Republicanism
that Buchholz always dismissed any cult of personal leadership. He repeatedly
explained that his concept of the monarchy should be understood as a principle or
an ‘idea’ (‘Idee’) which materialized in formal institutions such as the ‘European
international court of justice’ rather than in any single person.
It is illuminating in this respect to consider how Buchholz’s understanding of
the institution of political opposition underwent a process of change. As far as I can
see, this question had no place in his political theory for a long time. In the 1820s,
however, this changes. In an article published in 1822 in his
Neue Monatsschrift
and entitled ‘Giebt es einen speci�schen Unterschied zwischen
Royalisten und Liberalen?’
Bonapartismus, Führer, Chef, Imperialismus’, in Otto Brunner, Werner Conze and Reinhart
Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen
(Stuttgart, 1972), vol. 1, pp. 762ff.
‘Die wahre Universal-Monarchie muß sich in der Gewalt einer Idee offenbaren,
nicht in der Gewalt einer Person, wie die eines Französischen … Kaisers seyn würde;
Prussian Republicanism? Friedrich Buchholz’s Reception of James Harrington
[for as the administration/government, according to its nature, strives to subject
In a letter to his publisher, Cotta, Buchholz de�nes the main goal of his political
writing as an ‘acceleration of freedom’: ‘mein eigentlicher Zweck aber geht auf eine
European Contexts for English Republicanism
dreamed of a German avant-garde leadership within the European political order
after Napoleon. In contrast, Buchholz saw clearly that the main task of political
re�ection in Prussia was �rst of all to catch up with Western European standards.
[Es kommt] für mein Vaterland wohl eigentlich nur darauf an … daß es sich mit
Friedrich Buchholz,
Manuscript Sources
Amsterdam University Library, Amsterdam
MS XXV C41
Sant’Of�cio, Decreta
Mediceo del Principato
Notarile Moderno, Protocolli
, Manuscript 33 (Wansleben MS)
Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome
British Library, London
Chart A, 101
The Hague Royal Library, The Hague
Leiden Regional Archive, Leiden
FA De la Court, inv. nr. 59
The National Archives, Kew
SP 41/142
Prob
10/1189
Prob
11/392
Prob
Prob
European Contexts for English Republicanism
Westminster Archives, London
A VIII, n° 33, 7 November 1626 and XXXII, 294
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Der Fürst und die Wissenschaften
, ed. Enrica Yvonne Dilk and
Helmuth Mojem, trans. Friedrich Buchholz (Göttingen, 2011).
American Political Writings during the Founding Era
A Model of a Democraticall Government, humbly tendered to Consideration,
by a Friend and Wel-wisher to this Common-Wealth
A Plea for Limited Monarchy: As It Was Established in this Nation, before
the Late War …
A Proposition in Order to the Proposing of a Commonwealth or Democracy
Justi�catie voor de Vereenichde Nederlantse Provintien
Boissy d’Anglas, François Antoine,
Projet de Constitution pour la République
Française, et Discours Préliminaire Prononcé par Boissy-D’Anglas, au Nom
de la Commission des Onze, dans la Séance du 5 Messidor, An III
(Niort, Year
)Britain’s Glory
Buchholz, Friedrich,
Gallerie Preussischer Charaktere
. Translated from the
——, ‘Über Adam Smith, als Urheber einer neuen wissenschaftlichen Methode’,
——, ‘Giebt es einen speci�schen Unterschied zwischen Royalisten und
Neue Monatsschrift für Deutschland: Historisch-politischen
Idee einer arithmetischen Staatskunst mit Anwendung auf das Königreich
Preußen in seiner gegenwärtigen Lage
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zum 14ten Oktober des Jahres 1806: Von dem Verfasser des neuen Leviathan
Untersuchungen über den Geburtsadel und die Möglichkeit seiner Fortdauer
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(Hamburg, 1804).
——, ‘Ueber Niccolo Machiavellis Fürstenspiegel’,
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Record Of�ce
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Remonstrance of the Fight neer Legorn, between the English and the Dutch
European Contexts for English Republicanism
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Clapmar, Arnold,
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, ed. A. Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall
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Gre�inger, Georg,
Ihrer Majestät von Großbritannien Karls Klage oder
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European Contexts for English Republicanism
The Prerogative of Popular Government: A Politicall Discourse in Two
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Politik und Geschichte: Zu den Intentionen von G.W.F. Hegels
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Discourses on Livy
, trans. and ed. Julia Conaway Bondanella
European Contexts for English Republicanism
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Harrington, for the True Cause of the Commonwealth
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the Parable Opened. Wherein it appears, Neither the Spirit of the People, nor
the Spirit of men like Mr. R. but the Spirit of God, of Christ, of his People in
Parliament, and Adherents to the Cause is the Fittest for the Government of the
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Idées sur l’Espèce de Gouvernement Populaire qui
Pourrait Convenir à un Pays de l’Etendue et de la Population Présumée de la
Essai d’une Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen
)——, Quelques Pensées sur l’Unité du Législateur, par l’Auteur des Idées sur la
Constitution Populaire etc.
)——, Le Creuset: Ouvrage Politique et Critique
Calypso, ou les Babillards
Salmasius [Claude Saumaise], ‘Defensio Regia’, in
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John Milton
, ed. Don M. Wolfe et al. (8 vols, New Haven, 1953–82), vol. IV.2.
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