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8 The Interest of the State

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Chapter Summary

Although Sarpi justified secular rulers' authority with divine right theory and references to the Bible, thus advocating a form of statecraft which had its roots deep in Christianity, he nevertheless numbered amongst those early seventeenth-century thinkers whose political insight was secular and unmistakably affected by Machiavellism and reason of state theory. Sarpi's view that political affairs were exclusively secular in character was in line with and issued from his religious ideas. The concept of ragion di stato first appeared in the works of Francesco Guicciardini and Giovanni Della Casa. The term really took off with the publication of Giovanni Botero's book entitled Ragion di stato. Over the course of sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the concept appeared on numerous treatises on the art of statecraft. From the outset, reason of state was understood by political writers as a ruler's right to resort to extraordinary measures in order to preserve the state.

Keywords: Bible; Christianity; divine right theory; Francesco Guicciardini; Giovanni Della Casa; Machiavellism; ragion di stato; Sarpi; state theory

10.1163/9789004266742_009
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