A Critical Companion to the 'Mirrors for Princes' Literature


Why devote a Companion to the "mirrors for princes", whose very existence is debated? These texts offer key insights into political thoughts of the past. Their ambiguous, problematic status further enhances their interest. And although recent research has fundamentally challenged established views of these texts, until now there has been no critical introduction to the genre.
This volume therefore fills this important gap, while promoting a global historical perspective of different “mirrors for princes” traditions from antiquity to humanism, via Byzantium, Persia, Islam, and the medieval West. This Companion also proposes new avenues of reflection on the anchoring of these texts in their historical realities.

Contributors are Makram Abbès, Denise Aigle, Olivier Biaggini, Hugo Bizzarri, Charles F. Briggs, Sylvène Edouard, Jean-Philippe Genet, John R. Lenz, Louise Marlow, Cary J. Nederman, Corinne Peneau, Stéphane Péquignot, Noëlle-Laetitia Perret, Günter Prinzing, Volker Reinhardt, Hans-Joachim Schmidt, Tom Stevenson, Karl Ubl, and Steven J. Williams.
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Noëlle-Laetitia Perret is Professor in Medieval History at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and Associate Researcher at the École Pratique des Hautes Études – PSL, Paris. She has published studies on social, cultural and diplomatic history of late medieval Europe, including Les traductions françaises du « De regimine principum » de Gilles de Rome(Brill, 2011).
Stéphane Péquignot is Research Professor of History at the École Pratique des Hautes Études – PSL, Paris, and Associate Researcher at the Universidade Nova of Lisbon. His main research fields are the history of diplomacy, the Crown of Aragon, the history of historiography and archives. His publications include Au nom du roi. Pratique diplomatique et pouvoir durant le règne de Jacques II d’Aragon (1291-1327) (Casa de Velázquez, 2009).
Notes on Contributors

Stéphane Péquignot and Noëlle-Laetitia Perret

PART 1: Mapping the Mirrors of Princes’ Traditions

1 Ideal Models and Anti-Models of Kingship in Ancient Greek Literature: Mirror of Princes from Homer to Marcus Aurelius
John R. Lenz
2 Greek and Roman Writers on the Virtues of Good Rulers: Praise, Instruction, and Constraint
Tom Stevenson
3 Carolingian Mirrors for Princes: Texts, Contents, Impact
Karl Ubl
4 Byzantine Mirrors for Princes: An Overview
Günter Prinzing
5 The Conception of Power in Islam: Persian Mirrors of Princes and Sunni Theories (11th–14th Centuries)
Denise Aigle
6 Western Medieval Specula, c. 1150–c. 1450
Charles F. Briggs and Cary J. Nederman
7 Refutation, Parody, Annihilation: The End of the Mirror for Princes in Machiavelli, Vettori and Guicciardini
Volker Reinhardt
8 Specula Principum and the Wise Governor in the Renaissance
Sylvène Édouard

PART 2: The “Making of”, the Circulation and Uses of the Mirrors of Princes – A Thought in Motion

9 The Influence of Aristotle’s Thought on Arab Political-Philosophical Ideas
Makram Abbès
10 The Arabic Mirrors for Princes as Witnesses to the Evolution of Political Thought
Makram Abbès
11 Royal Power and Its Regulations: Narratives of Hārūn al-Rashīd in Three Mirrors for Princes
Louise Marlow
12 The Pseudo-Aristotelian Secret of Secrets as a Mirror of Princes: A Cautionary Tale
Steven J. Williams
13 The Castilian Versions of the Pseudo-Aristotle’s Secretum secretorum and French Versions of Giles of Rome’s De regimine principum (13th–16th Centuries)
A Comparative Perspective
Hugo Bizzarri and Noëlle-Laetitia Perret
14 The Relation between Wisdom Literature, Law, and the Mirrors of Princes: Castile and Sweden
Olivier Biaggini and Corinne Péneau
15 The Use of Mirrors of Princes
Hans-Joachim Schmidt
Conclusion: Mirrors for Princes and the Development of Reflections on the State
Jean-Philippe Genet

Scholars and students interested in political and diplomatic thought of the Middle Ages, in the Byzantine, western, and Islamic worlds, and anyone using “mirrors of princes” as a historical source.
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