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Justus Lipsius And The Challenge Of Historical Exemplarity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to elucidate the uses of historical narrative in Justus Lipsius's Monita et exempla politica (Antwerp, Plantin: 1605). The Politica recommends itself as the starting point for an examination of the changing dynamics of Justus Lipsiuss political writing. Prudence, Lipsius says, is the product of usus (personal experience) and historia (recorded collective experience), which in turn produce doctrinasuch as the precepts and principles so carefully selected and arranged in the Politica. Prudence in the Monita is effectively synonymous with the individuals awareness and continual rational engagement with usus and historia. There is no juridical conceptualisation of sovereignty, no explicit analysis of the constitutional and theological issues and principles driving contemporary debate about the nature and limits of monarchical power.

Keywords: Justus Lipsius; Monita et exempla politica; prudence



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