Alberico Gentili (1552–1608) is associated with two different aspects of the political heritage of Rome in early modern England: first, with the English reception of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy, and thus with republican-ism in a Roman idiom; second, with the absolutist revival of Roman civil law under James VI and I. This essay argues that we cannot understand this apparent contradiction within a purely English context. We need to broaden our lens to the international arena, which is where Gentili situated both his jurisprudence and his politics. It is the confrontation between these that is Gentili’s ultimate concern, and this essay suggests how he negotiated the divide in a new style of legal writing.
Machiavelli’s Discorsi; Roman sources in legal culture; mediation between law and politics; republicanism; George Buchanan