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Introduction: Citizenship and identity in an early modern Commonwealth

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Chapter Summary

A commonwealth of many faiths, cultures and identities also involves the citizens' self-interest. Almost all the articles in this chapter address this fundamental dilemma of the Commonwealth by attaching at least as much historical significance to political practice as to theory. Few citizens of the Commonwealth would have openly agreed to Machiavelli's admonition that "unless the generality of evil men can be given selfish reasons for behaving virtuously, it is unlikely that any of them will perform any virtuous actions of all". The ideal of active citizenship was institutionalised and founded on law and the constitution, hence the Aristotelian-Ciceronian ideal of limited and mixed government prevailed. Andrzej Kamiński provides an awareness for the language and the Realpolitik of active citizenship by which the Commonwealth was defending its position against the power of the modern self-interest of the State.

Keywords: active citizenship; Andrzej Kamiński; Aristotelian-Ciceronian ideal; early modern commonwealth; Machiavelli's admonition



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