(Un)masking the Realities of Power

Justus Lipsius and the Dynamics of Political Writing in Early Modern Europe


If Justus Lipsius’s Politica of 1589 and its importance to the history of political thought needs no introduction, Lipsius's Monita et exempla politica (1605), conceived as a sequel to the Politica, has been overlooked time and again despite the fact that it is a unique key to understand the precise character of Lipsius's political thought. For, is his widely read political dialogue a Neostoic discourse or is it Tacitean, Machiavellian, or even anti-Machiavellian in nature? Did the work play such a pivotal role in the genesis of the modern, centrally governed nation state, as some scholars tend to believe? This book collects essays by scholars from different disciplines and backgrounds. All of them endeavour to solve this apparent deadlock in scholarly research on Lipsius’s political thought. All of them offer new and fascinating insights in the genesis and developments of the nature and impact of political discourses in Early Modern Europe.

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Erik De Bom, Ph.D. in Classics (2009), Catholic University of Leuven, has published on intellectual history, the history of political thought and Neo-Latin literature. Focus laid on political writings, their different genres and translations, and various authors such as Justus Lipsius, Carolus Scribani, Nicolaus Vernulaeus and Johannes a Chokier.

Marijke Janssens, Ph.D. in Classics (2009), Catholic University of Leuven, prepared a critical edition with English translation of Lipsius's Monita et exempla politica. She published on classical and Neo-Latin literature, ancient, medieval and Early Modern philosophy (especially Stoicism), rhetoric and intellectual history.

Toon Van Houdt, Ph.D in Classics (1999), teaches Latin and reception studies in the Department of Literature of the Catholic University of Leuven. His research focuses on late scholastic and humanist moral and political thought, as well as on Jesuit emblem literature.

Jan Papy, Ph.D. in Classics (1992) and MA in Philosophy (1996), is Research Professor of Neo-Latin at the Catholic University of Leuven. He has published on Italian humanism, Humanism in the Low Countries, Intellectual History and Renaissance Philosophy in the Low Countries.
"The editors conclude their introduction with the observation that ‘‘it is not—nor has been—our ambition to offer a single scholarly exemplum unreservedly and unfalteringly to be imitated by others,’’ but that they would nevertheless ‘‘feel honored and satisfied if the various contributions . . . proved to contain useful insights and offer fresh approaches which inspire other scholars to explore in more detail the intriguing dynamics of political writing of the early modern period, in general, and one of its most brilliant representatives, the Louvain humanist Justus Lipsius, more particularly’’ (22). Quite so."
Martine Julia van Ittersum, Renaissance Quarterly 64 (2011), no. 4, pp. 1205-1207.

“Nicht nur die Spezialisten, die sich mit Lipsius beschäftigen, werden diesen Band zu schätzen wissen. Hier wurden, eng an den Quellen arbeitend, neue wichtige Aspekte der ‚Realities of Power‘ aufgezeigt und kompetent im weiteren Diskussionszusammenhang erörtert. Einmal mehr hat das Verlagshaus Brill in seiner exquisiten Serie ‚Studies in Intellectual History‘ ein wichtiges Forschungsprojekt vorbildlich veröffentlicht.“
Peter Schröder, London. In: Zeitschrift für historische Forschung, 40. Bd., Heft 3 (2013), pp. 523-524.
About the Editors
About the Contributors


Introduction: Towards a More Balanced View of Justus Lipsius’s Political Writings and Their Influence, Erik De Bom, Marijke Janssens, Toon Van Houdt and Jan Papy


Exempla, Prudence and Casuistry in Renaissance Political Discourse, Mikael Hörnqvist

History and Exemplarity in the Work of Lipsius, Harro Höpfl

Stoicism in Political Humanism and Natural Law, Bo Lindberg


Monita et exempla politica as Example of a Genre, Ann Moss

Rhetoric and Exemplarity in Justus Lipsius’ Monita et exempla politicav, Marijke Janssens

Justus Lipsius and the Challenges of Historical Exemplarity, Harald E. Braun

Justus Lipsius and the Cento Form, George Hugo Tucker


Stoic Fate and Christian Rule: Superstition, Fate and Divination in Lipsius’s Monita et exempla politica (1605), Jan Papy

The Clementia Lipsiana: Political Analysis, Autobiography and Panegyric, Violet Soen

Prudence in Lipsius’s Monita et exempla politica: Stoic Virtue, Aristotelian Virtue or not a Virtue at All?, Diana Stanciu

Secret compensation: A Friendly and Lawful Alternative to Lipsius’s Political Thought, Wim Decock


Carolus Scribani and the Lipsian Legacy. The Politico-Christianus and Lipsius’s Image of the Good Prince, Erik De Bom

A Lipsian Legacy? Neo-Absolutism, Natural Law and the Decline of Reason of State in France 1660-1760, Jacob Soll

Scholars interested in Early Modern European political thought, the history of ideas, the history of philosophy, intellectual history, the classical tradition and Neo-Latin literature.
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