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Filiation and Context: The Medieval Afterlife of the Policraticus

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Chapter Summary

Historians of political thought have long shown an interest in the reception of the Policraticus in the later Middle Ages. Walter Ullmann, Amnon Linder, Max Kerner and Thomas Elsmann have traced how knowledge of this great text was disseminated; they have also established a list of manuscripts, and mapped their geographical diffusion. Sometimes, John of Salisbury's text appeared under the title "De nugis philosophorum". This chapter focuses on the enlargement of the readership of the Policraticus in the later Middle Ages, also with a special emphasis on its French component. The use of the metaphor of the body politic by John of Wales is also revealing of the mutation undergone by the text of John of Salisbury. In particular, Helinand seems to have been the principal mediator between John of Salisbury and the work undertaken by the Dominican Vincent of Beauvais.

Keywords: Amnon Linder; Helinand; John of Salisbury; John of Wales; Max Kerner; Policraticus; Thomas Elsmann; Walter Ullmann



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