The Machiavellian Moment
Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition
Publication Year: 2016
Originally published in 1975, The Machiavellian Moment remains a landmark of historical and political thought. Celebrated historian J.G.A. Pocock looks at the consequences for modern historical and social consciousness arising from the ideal of the classical republic revived by Machiavelli and other thinkers of Renaissance Italy. Pocock shows that Machiavelli’s prime emphasis was on the moment in which the republic confronts the problem of its own instability in time, which Pocock calls the “Machiavellian moment.”
After examining this problem in the works of Machiavelli, Guicciardini, and Giannotti, Pocock turns to the revival of republican ideology in Puritan England and in Revolutionary and Federalist America. He argues that the American Revolution can be considered the last great act of civic humanism of the Renaissance and he relates the origins of modern historicism to the clash between civic, Christian, and commercial values in eighteenth-century thought.
This Princeton Classics edition of The Machiavellian Moment features a new introduction by Richard Whatmore.
Published by: Princeton University Press
Title Page, Copyright
Introduction to the New Princeton Classics Edition
The Machiavellian Moment has awed and sometimes overwhelmed readers since its publication on May 21, 1975. Reviewers, even those who were critical, quickly identified the book as a masterpiece. For intellectual historians it confirmed that a new discipline had indeed been established. For scholars across the social sciences and the humanities, The Machiavellian Moment...
This book is in two main parts, and the complexity of its theme must be the justification of its length. In the first half—subdivided into Parts One and Two—I attempt a treatment of Florentine thought in the era of Machiavelli, which groups him with his contemporaries and peers—Savonarola, Guicciardini, Giannotti, and others—in a manner...
PART ONE. Particularity and Time The Conceptual Background
I. The Problem and Its Modes: A) Experience, Usage and Prudence
A sustained intention throughout this book will be that of depicting early modern republican theory in the context of an emerging historicism, the product of the ideas and conceptual vocabularies which were available to medieval and Renaissance minds—such as C. S. Lewis called “Old Western”1— for the purpose of dealing with particular...
II. The Problem and Its Modes: B) Providence, Fortune and Virtue
It is a dialectical paradox that while the Christian doctrine of salvation ultimately made the historical vision possible, for centuries it operated to deny that possibility. The Greek and Roman intellects saw little reason to expect anything very new to happen in the human future, and doctrines of cyclical recurrence or the supremacy of chance...
III. The Problem and Its Modes: C) The Vita Activa and the Vivere Civile
It can be argued that the ideal of the citizen implied a totally different conceptualization of the modes of political knowledge and action from that implicit in the scholastic-customary framework which we have so far studied. Within the limits of that framework, the individual employed reason, which disclosed to him the eternal hierarchies...
PART TWO. The Republic and its Fortune: Florentine Political Thought from 1494 to 1530
IV. From Bruni to Savonarola: Fortune, Venice and Apocalypse
The scheme of values and problems outlined in the last chapter was clearly not the sole ethos by which the Florentine citizen articulated his sense of civic patriotism. There were other languages, derived from Roman law and from the practical operation of Florentine institutions, in which this might be done and a set of active and participatory...
V. The Medicean Restoration: A) Guicciardini and the Lesser Ottimati, 1512-1516
It has been the argument of this study so far that late medieval thought was limited by an epistemologv of the particular event, decision, institution, or tradition, which defined the means which men at that time believed themselves to possess of rendering intelligible secular phenomena as they existed in time. So sharply limited were these means...
VI. The Medicean Restoration: B) Machiavelli’s II Principe
Machiavelli, beginning work on II Principe in 1512, does not in this treatise consider innovation from the aspect of its impact on citizenship; that topic is reserved for his work on republics. That is to say, he identifies himself neither with the ottimati, struggling to retain their character as a citizen elite, nor with those—Alamanni in 1516...
VII. Rome and Venice: A) Machiavelli’s Discorsi and Arte della Guerra
J. H. Whitfield has rightly warned students of Machiavelli against commencing their interpretation of his thought with II Principe and confining it to the Principe and the Discorsi.1 The present study, which is indeed confined as regards Machiavelli to the two works named, may seem to ignore Whitfield’s warning as it ignores...
VIII. Rome and Venice: B) Guicciardini’s Dialogo and the Problem of Optimate Prudence
Unlike the writings of Machiavelli, those of Guicciardini are always specifically related to the context of Florentine politics and lack the older man’s theoretical and speculative freedom. This is an index not merely to Guicciardini’s greater concern with the actual and the practicable, but also to his aristocratic conservatism. The specific...
IX. Giannotti and Contarini: Venice as Concept and as Myth
Donato Giannotti (1492-1573) is known, if at all, to readers of English as “ the most excellent describer of the commonwealth of Venice” (the phrase is Harrington’s 1656)1 and by less specific statements to the effect that he was the intellectual heir of Machiavelli and the last major thinker in the Florentine republican tradition...
PART THREE. Value and History in the Prerevolutionary Atlantic
X. The Problem of English Machiavellism: Modes of Civic Consciousness before the Civil War
In the preceding chapters we have been engaged upon an exploration of a mode of thought which may be termed “Machiavellism,” and consisted in the articulation of civic humanist concepts and values under the stresses of the Florentine predicament in the years 1494 to 1530. A conceptual world dominated by the paradigms of use...
XI. The Anglicization of the Republic: A) Mixed Constitution, Saint and Citizen
On 21 June 1642, with about two months to go before the formal beginnings of civil war, two of Charles I’s advisers— Viscount Falkland and Sir John Colepeper— drafted, and persuaded him to issue, a document in which the king, not parliament, took the step of declaring England a mixed government rather than a condescending monarchy...
XII. The Anglicization of the Republic: B) Court, Country and Standing Army
In the two preceding chapters we have examined the emergence and establishment of civic and Machiavellian modes of understanding politics in the language and thought of Stuart and Puritan England. The conceptual universe which obtained there was very different from that of Florence, and we had to go a long way about to understand...
XIII. Neo-Machiavellian Political Economy: The Augustan Debate over Land, Trade and Credit
The half-century following the Revolution of 1688 is a period till recently little studied, but nevertheless of great importance, in the history of English political thought— not least because, strictly speaking, it witnesses the latter’s transformation from “English” to “British” in the year 1707. Between the Englishman John Locke at the beginning...
XIV. The Eighteenth-Century Debate: Virtue, Passion and Commerce
The debate we have uncovered—that between virtue and passion, land and commerce, republic and empire, value and history—underlay a great part of the social thinking of the eighteenth century. In the two remaining chapters an attempt will be made to display its role in the American Revolution and the formation of American values...
XV. The Americanization of Virtue: Corruption, Constitution and Frontier
During the nineteen-sixties, a number of important works of scholarship appeared which have sharply altered our perception of the mind of the Revolutionary generation in America.1 They have shown, first, that the mental processes which led to revolution involved a drastic rearticulation of the language and outlook of English opposition...
Since this book, published in 1975, commands after nearly thirty years enough readers to justify a new edition, it clearly stood in no need of a new introduction. The text of 1975 may still speak for itself, and only confusion could have resulted from an attempt to shape it in the light of the perceptions of a new century. Now that the public of 2003 has had...
Page Count: 664
Publication Year: 2016
OCLC Number: 956554916
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