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Gábor Almási: Humanist learning, ethics and discipline - the case of the Habsburgs

This paper aims to deal with sixteenth-century humanist education less on the basis of ethical
manuals and pedagogical treatises (although not excluding them) as of sources that inform us on theactual practice of education. After an introduction to humanist educational ideas, it will provide a few examples of sixteenth-century humanist boarding schools, reflecting on the education and
disciplining these schools provided. It will then deal with the education of Habsburg archdukes, the sons and nephews of Emperor Ferdinand I, to whom Erasmus dedicated the second edition of the On the Education of a Christian Prince. We are fortunately well-informed on the education of Ferdinand I's and Maximilian II's sons, and we also have the original but little studied letters of Rudolf II and his brother Ernst written to their father Maximilian II from Spain, where their education took place. These letters are today kept in the Austrian State Archive, and are useful source for both the routine of disciplining and the subject matter and method of teaching. It will finally ask what kind of ethical norms and values princely education inculcated in the age of Renaissance humanism.

Malte Bischof: Shakespeare´s Transformation of Aristotle's Concept of Tragedy

In this essay, I investigate Shakespeare´s transformation of Aristotle's concept of tragedy. Aristotle
and Shakespeare agree that the purpose of a tragedy is the evocation of a catharsis. By evoking a catharsis, tragedy ultimately teaches us about ourselves, though not in an intellectual but rather in an affective sense. The spectator attains a deeper understanding of his emotions and the ways in which these emotions illuminate the world we live in. The ultimate purpose of a tragedy in ancient Greece and maybe also in Elizabethan England was educational. Though Shakespeare never wrote an explicit theory of tragedy, I argue that such a theory is implied in the general structure of his plays. The theory suggests that Shakespeare disagrees with Aristotle on the conditions that are necessary to invoke a catharsis. Aristotle, for example, thought that the hero of a tragedy must be a noble character. Shakespeare modifies Aristotle's ideas by means of his concept of tragedy as failed comedy. A tragedy understood as failed comedy begins as a comedy and turns into a tragedy. Initially, each tragedy displays comedic scenes, encouraging the audience to hope for a happy ending. While a happy ending may initially seem plausible, it becomes increasingly unlikely as the plot unfolds, until the protagonist's tragic failure makes any such happy ending unattainable, and the play rushes toward its inevitably catastrophe. Once the audience recognizes this inevitability, their hope for a happy ending vanishes. For Shakespeare, this disappointment is strong enough to evoke a catharsis. Shakespeare's concept of tragedy offers a powerful alternative to the one presented by Aristotle, as its emphasis on structure rather than persons allows for a broader array of plays and ultimately for a more effective way to invoke a catharsis.

Barnabás Guitman: Die Lateinschule in Bartfeld und ihre humanistischen Rektoren

Im späten Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit sind beinahe alle historischen Phänomene mit der Religion, mit dem Verhältnis der Menschen zum Glauben verbunden. Die verschiedenen institutionalisierten Formen und Räume von Bildung und Lernen wurden von Geistlichen überwacht und ihre Tätigkeit wurde auf den Prinzipien der Religion aufgebaut. Beim Erwerb von Wissen war das theologische Ziel oft wichtiger als andere praktische, säkulare Ziele.

Mit dem von den Idealen des Humanismus beeinflußten Wandel der Lehrstoffe und Lehrmethoden haben die Stadt- und Stiftsschulen in Ungarn noch vor der Reformation mit den westlichen Teilen Europas Schritt gehalten. Für die Städte in Oberungarn, auch für Bartfeld, sicherte die Universität von Krakau die vorrangigen Ausströmungspunkte des Humanismus.

In dieser Zeit knüpften sich die Stadtschulen in Oberungarn an Humanistenkreise der Krakauer Universität durch solche hervorragende Persönlichkeiten, die diese Richtung repräsentierten, wie der in Schlesien geborene Georg Wernher, der englische Leonhard Cox und der bayerische Valentin Eck. In der Vorlesung habe ich den Plan die Wirkung der Rektoren der humanistischen Grundschulen in Bartfeld, Valentin Eck und Leonhard Stöckel zu verdeutlichen. Ihr Einfluß war nicht nur in Bartfeld und in der unmittelbaren Nähe von der Stadt grundlegend wichtig, sondern beide waren anerkannte und aktive Mitglieder des mitteleuropäischen humanistischen Wissensnetzwerks ihrer Zeit.

Durch seine Verbindungen mit den politischen Eliten der beiden Königshöfe - des Ungarischen und des Tschechischen - von Ferdinand I. wurde Eck von dem Schulrektorat zu einer doppelten, politischen Karriere geführt. Er sollte beinahe gleichzeitig die Interessen seines Königs und seiner Stadt vertreten. Im Fall Stöckels sind die während seinen Studien in Breslau und in Wittenberg entwickelten Beziehungen entscheidend geworden. Stöckel, der eine herzliche Freundschaft mit Melanchthon schloss, blieb bis zum Ende seines Lebens auf dem Lehrpfad.

In der ersten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts wurde die Schulung in Bartfeld aufgrund der beiden erwähnten Rektoren durch zwei Reformwellen erneuert. Erstens waren die, vor allem aus der Krakauer Universität ausströmenden humanistischen Ideen und die Bewunderung für Erasmus bestimmend, zweitens war es die Wittenberger Reformation. Die Ziele der Bildung wurden durch die von Melanchthon formulierten Kriterien und inhaltlichen Rahmen definiert.

Die harmonische, bewusste Knüpfung dieser Doppelwirkung hat dazu geführt, dass die Stadtschule von Bartfeld für einige Generationen eine der anspruchsvollsten Bildungsinstitutionen der weiteren Region geworden ist.

Oana-Corina Filip: John of Salisbury's Policraticus - Anticipating the Age of Rationality

John of Salisbury's Policraticus was one of the most influential political writings during the
years following its publication and up to the early modernity. Its lengthy success can be
attributed to the novelty of John's approach towards mirrors of the princes, which led to his
inclusion in the so-called "Twelfth Century Renaissance".
In what the classification of the Policraticus as a mirror of princes is concerned, there are
several elements leading to it. Firstly, its dedicatee is Thomas Becket, at that time chancellor
of England and King Henry II's close friend. Through him, John hoped to get the Policraticus
into the young king's hands, to serve him as a guide in his reign. Secondly, the structure of the
treatise is a dual one, the first part serving as a criticism of the frivolities of the courtiers,
which the king should avoid, while the second part depicts the layout of the ideal state.
Although written in the twelfth century, the Policraticus is constructed around a rather
modern conception of the state. One of the main points argued within the treatise is the
supremacy of law. For John, lay law originates in divine law and represents the boundary
between right and wrong, the criterion distinguishing between prince and tyrant, between the
frivolous and the wise. Despite being the legislative instance, the prince cannot modify
legislation according to his own will, he must respect the spirit of the divine law, otherwise he
becomes a tyrant. Moreover, the law is, in John's view, a rational principle. It emerges from
divine law, which, in turn, proceeds from God, and, as mentioned in the second book of the
Policraticus, He is "indisputably a God of knowledge" (Salisbury, 1972: 120). Rationality is
the defining trait for humanity, uniting it to its creator and distinguishing it from the rest of
creation. It is the principle separating appropriate from inappropriate activities, both in terms
of the active life (negotium) and in terms of past time (otium). From John of Salisbury's
perspective, society is essentially rational and should cultivate its rationality in order to thrive.
It results that the prince, as the head and administrator of the commonwealth, needs to be
surrounded by philosophers, through whose aid he can enhance his rationality. In addition, the
study of the liberal arts constitutes a must both for the prince and the virtuous citizens, as it
creates the basis for philosophy.
The impact of John's rational model of the commonwealth can be easily observed in his
influence upon writers like Shakespeare. A derivative from John's corporeal metaphor of the
state can be found it the third act of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, as the so-called De membris
conspirantibus. The image of the fool, as a voice of rationality also originates in the
All in all, John of Salisbury's Policraticus represents a milestone in princely literature,
constructed around principles anticipating modernity, such as the supremacy of law and
rationality as a defining mark for humanity.

Ferenc Hörcher: Can you learn how to be prudent? On conservative political education in civic humanism

There is an apparent contradiction in the main message of the civic educational ideal of Florentine humanists (from Salutati to Guicciardini). After all, they seem to hold the following two claims in the same time: 1. that a citizen needs to deepen his classical knowledge if he (or even she?) is to become a good citizen of his/her city. 2. That prudence is the key concept of politics, and it means a sort of knowledge which is opposed to learning, including classical learning. Now it seems that these two points contradict each other. You cannot value prudence so high and still study simply in order to gain theoretical (and historical) knowledge.
In this paper I would like to argue that if we accept that the humanists held both of these claims, the way to resolve the tension between the two points is to argue that humanism is not simply a certain philosophical approach, intellectual position, body of doctrines or system of knowledge, not even simply a style of thinking. Relying on those examples of humanistic endeavour, we had better to look at it as a certain way of life, in the sense Pierre Hadot argued philosophy was a way of life for the ancient Greeks. Humanist education (just like philosophical education in Athens) was not simply about the appropriation of factual knowledge, neither was it even the use of reason and logic.

If we accept this proposal, education will be not simply a lonely activity, but a rather practical one: learning by example. If you want to appropriate your humanistic heritage, what you need to do is to imitate good practice, and by doing it (through a trial and error procedure) to acquire that excellence. Like other virtues, prudence can be acquired by actually performing actions which follow good examples. And these examples include the practical engagement with classical culture, in the sense of imitating their way (and view) of life.

In the humanist paradigm learning classical culture means joining a tradition of exercising it. As Bruni followed the example of Salutati, who imitated Petrarch, who himself imitated some ancient Roman examples, etc. And importantly, if humanism is a way of life, what we have to take into account when reconstructing the achievements of the humanists, is their whole way of life, their written output together with their real life activities, their political success and failure, their contributions to the well-being of the political community, etc. All of them together add up to that sort of flourishing which is the real aim of human life in this tradition.

To conclude: it will be argued that if education in this paradigm means following examples, and to have the knowledge means to live a certain way of life, the humanist educational ideal is not far away of how modern political conservatism (for example Michael Oakeshott) thinks about liberal education, as exemplified in his work published posthumously under this very title, and in his own way of life.

Eszter Kovács: An appropriate reading of The Spirit of the Laws: Diderot "educating" Catherine the Great via Montesquieu

Although the volume Diderot's Political Writings (Cambridge, 1992) does not contain his
Mélanges pour CatherineII, which are in fact ulterior transcriptions of the philosopher's
conversations tête-à-tête with the Empress during his stay in St.Petersburg in 1773-1774, we
find in the volume in English translation the Observations on the Instruction of the Empress
of Russia to the Deputies for the Making of the Laws (Observations sur le Nakaz), written one
year later. This latter is more provoking than the Mélanges and, without constructing a
scenario between a benevolent philosopher and an "enlightened" monarch, claims that Russia
is despotically ruled by CatherineII. Diderot often ironically but clearly shows the distortions
that Catherine had made in Montesquieu's theses and ideas, aiming by doing so at presenting
for Western Europe her Instruction written for the Legislative Commission (the Nakaz) as a
real constitution, which it definitely was not in Diderot's eyes. Contrary to the Mélanges, no
roles, such as a child who stammers (un enfant qui balbutie), a dreamer (un rêveur), a court
jester (un fou), are accepted in the Observations. Diderot obviously criticizes Catherine's
reign, with very little compromise. Nevertheless, I will argue, the Observations on the
Instruction are the continuation of the princely "education" Diderot proposed to the Empress
during his stay.
Can we read Diderot's Observations as a radical lesson for an absolute ruler, warning her of
the abuse of power and of her deliberate misreading of Montesquieu's thought? Can we
interpret it as a criticism of the raison d'État masked in the Instruction as enlightened rule?
We do know that Diderot was intensely interested in antique and humanist works on the
arcana imperii during the same period (on his return to the Hague) and noted some of its most
interesting aspects in a curious and unfinished compilation, entitled Principes de politique des
souverains (around 1775). All the same, he denounces all kinds of arcana or falsification of
constitutional political principles in the Observations, thus refusing the charge of being a
Machiavellian advisor of the Empress.

Stefan Leicht: Hugo Grotius Observata in aphorismos Campanellae politicos and the regime of wisdom

Grotius comments on Campanella's Aforismi politici is one of the least considered work in the
research concerning Grotius. Although Luigi Firpo has included the observations by Grotius in
his 1941 edition of Campanella, the text received not much attention.
In Grotius observations on the Aforismi by Tommaso Campanella can be found a lot of
interesting topics, including the discussion of Machiavelli, natural hierachy and the question of
the good prince, especially the last one is one of the most relevant ocurring often in the text.
My intention is firstly to show how Grotius transformed or affirmed the aphorisms made by
Campanella through his observations. Furthermore I want to stress the relation between philosophers - Socrates and Cato are mentioned by Campanella as "kings of wisdom" - and princes or rulers in general. Finally I will focus on the theological grounding of the princes and the role of religion for their governance. Therefore I will also point to some insights which Grotius has discovered in his work De imperio summarum potestatum circa sacra. A work which should establish Johan van Oldenbarnevelt as a prince and pacify the religious wars.

Katharina Rilling: Narrating Princely Virtues: Adam Contzen's Novel Methodus Doctrinae Civilis (1628)

Most neo-Latin novels engage with contemporary politics in one way or another. At least since
John Barclay's highly influential roman à clef Argenis (1621), the political dimension is a
common feature of neo-Latin prose fiction. The pleasant form of the novel was used for
conveying political ideas, discussing political issues or satirising contemporary politics.
Considering this feature of the neo-Latin novel, it doesn't come as a surprise that the German
Jesuit and anti-Machiavellian political thinker Adam Contzen chose the genre for his second
book on the topic of statecraft. After having written the encyclopaedic treatise Politicorum libri
decem (1621), he published the Methodus Doctrinae Civilis Seu Abissini Regis Historia in
1628. In a biographical manner, the novel centres around the fictive Ethiopian king Abissinus.
However, Contzen's novel differs from many neo-Latin novels by its overt didactic scope,
already indicated by the title. According to its dedicational letter, the novel is an introductory
book published to educate the future governmental elite in fundamental political subject
matters. By focussing on the figure of the ruler, the novel implicitly conveys political doctrine
concerning e.g. a ruler's virtues, his choice of advisors or the moral education of his people.
Both, the didactic intention as well as the focus on the royal protagonist, suggest an
understanding of the Methodus Doctrinae Civilis as a mirror for princes in the shape of a novel.
Biesterfeld (2004: Der Fürstenspiegel als Roman) differentiates between a non-fictional,
expository and a fictional, narrative mirror for princes. Following this categorization, my paper
argues that the Methodus Doctrinae Civilis can be read as an early modern example of a
fictional, narrative mirror for princes. Narrative motives of the Methodus Doctrinae Civilis will be analysed and links between the novel and the traditional, expository mirror for princes will be discussed. It will be shown that conventional categories and metaphors (e.g. education of the future ruler, the ruler as captain of the state ship) of the expository type are transformed into narrative episodes. At the same time, it will be argued that this implicit instruction by means of the narration is complemented by passages of explicit instruction (e.g. narrative comment, the
king's testament). However, it seems that, as a consequence of the narrative transformation, the
conventional relation between doctrina and illustrating exempla has been reversed in the
Methodus. The fictive story of Abissinus comes to dominate over short inserted passages of
explicit instruction. Finally, Contzen's motives for his choice of genre will be evaluated. The
intended readers as well as the popularity of the novel seem to have influenced his choice.

Hanna Szabelska: Reges bene morati: The Political Equilibrium of res and verba in Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski

One of Polish humanists who studied in Wittenberg was Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), secretary to Sigismund I of Poland and Catholic sympathetic to the Reformation. There, he lived with Philipp Melanchthon, whose influence proved lasting in many areas of Modrzewski's thought, inter alia, in dialectic and moral philosophy. This can be illustrated by the ideal of an elective monarch as described in Modrzewski's major work, On the Reform of the Republic (De Republica Emendanda). A wide and thorough education is indispensable for a king to become a model for his subjects, and since kings and philosophers are intimately connected as the bonds of a state from God's will, one of the most important fields of royal expertise is, in the Platonic fashion, philosophy. In particular, in order not to be ensnared by flattery and wiles, a king should pay attention to the equilibrium of things and words, just as Melanchthon did according to
Luther (Tischreden, no. 3619). This rhetorical dyad: res et verba (res et sermo) is underpinned by
dialectical precision. Modrzewski expands on it in Sylva prima, a theological treatise about Trinity, dedicated to King Sigismund August (Sylvae quatuor). Modrzewski claims with rhetorical modesty that his proficiency in dialectic is insufficient, and therefore it is not his professional vanity that induces him to make a digression about dialectic, but the importance of this discipline. Arguments dismantling fallacies, for example, these about the Trinity's unity of essence, are taken from dialecticians and not from theologians, but dialectic armed with its syllogisms is an essential instrument of the search for theological truths, because it lays out the logical structure of discourse ("Cognoscenda est, veritatem indaganti, propositio, quae rei​, de qua sermo​ est, summam contineat"). The quest for impartiality as royal duty, considered desirable in subjects as well, comes close to the sceptical method of reasoning in utramque partem, on both sides of a question and is the key to political stability. As Pierre Bayle remarks, neither Catholics nor Protestants liked the sceptical mode employed by Modrzewski in Sylvae but this was the only way for him as mediator of the agreement to execute the king's order. However, perfect impartiality was out of reach in religious controversies (Bayle) and Modrzewski too was well aware of it. In
Quaestionum duarum, alterius de peccato originali, alterius de libero hominis arbitrio explicatio, he admits that, due to the complexity of the matter, he was tempted to suspend his judgement, but felt the necessity of the certain foundations of faith. Despite this anti-sceptical declaration, Modrzewski's moderate attitude was not enough for the zealots, like Stanisław Orzechowski, a Catholic convert, whose attacks evidently undermine the fragile balance of res et verba and distort the meaning of dialectical terms (for example, while questioning Modrzewski's orthodoxy, he criticises Averroes's Arabic terminology without knowledge of Arabic). However, the wind of history was blowing Orzechowski's way and not that of Modrzewski, i.e., as Erika Rummel puts it, in the direction of radical confessionalization of humanism.

Adam Smrcz: The Consolations of (Political) Philosophy

The Politica sive Civilis Doctrina by Justus Lipsius has long been regarded as a mirror for
princes mainly advocating machiavellian principles (Brooke 2012, 12-37). Lipsius'
endorsement of the idea of reason of state, and his genuine concept of prudentia mixta
(allowing the prince to act according to the principle of utilitas instead of honestum) were at
least partly motivated by the troubled times in the northern Netherlands caused by the
Habsburg reconquista and also by the provinces' failure to oppose it (Waszink 2013).
However, such traces of Machiavellianism have embarrassed interpreters eversince, mainly
due to their incompatibility not only with other Lipsian principles, but with Stoicism in
general (Oestreich 1982).
In my presentation, I will argue that Lipsius' Machiavellianism has been highly over-
emphasized by interpreters, and the real aim of the Politica is not to alter the course of
political events, but to console princes for their often dishonorale deeds. As it is well-known,
Lipsius identified two guiding principles of civil life in the Politica: (1) prudence and (2)
virtue. The latter was further subdivided by him into (2.a) piety (pietas) and (2.b) probity
(probitas). The core of my argument concerns the concept of (2.a) piety, which was defined
by him as "the right concept of God, and the right way to worship him". Piety is, hence, a
purely speculative end in Lipsian ethics (as opposed to probity, which concerns the right
conduct of men). Furthermore, from the "right concept of God", one will necessarily derive -
according to Lipsius - two other concepts: those of fate (fatum) and conscience (conscientia).
Fate is defined by him as "divine governance" and "decree" concerning events to come, while
conscience is "the flame of right reason which has been preserved in men [rectae rationis
reliqua scintilla]" according to him. According to my claim, the above mentioned definition
of fate is identical with Lipsius' earlier definition of the term (to be found in his De
Constantia, a "purely" Stoical work). All this entails, that Lipsius maintaied his earlier
position concerning that each and every wordly event was governed by some "divine decree",
and no event was carried out freely.
Political decisions included! Hence, the question I would like to explore is, how such
determinism can be made compatible with the usefullness of princely education. What I offer
is a semi-compatibilist reading of Lipsius: although political counsel can not alter the course
of events (which is necessarily determined by divine providence), it can still console the
prince's conscience. And since different laws apply to average citizens (pursuing only their
private lives), and to magistrates or princes (participating in political affairs), such political
counsel is essential for the members of the latter group in order to achive what Lipsius had
earlier defined as constance, the main virtue in Stoicism.

Jan Waszink: The Political and Religious Crises of the 16th Century

The political and religious crises of the 16th century, especially (or so it seems) their provisional
culmination in the St Bartholomew Massacre of 1572, led to a re-assessment and re-orientation
of political ethics which entailed the gradual acceptance and admission of reason of state into
mainstream political discourse and thought. Although obviously in reality reason of state has
always been a feature of human politics, its admission to explicit political discourse has never
been obvious or easy. In fact this admission became only really possible when it was perceived
how reason of state might itself create a new 'transcending' kind of political ethics, i.e. that of the
effective preservation of the safety and well-being of all. In this transformed thinking about
political practice, politics no longer appeared as an inherently and essentially moral activity, but
as one directed towards desired effects -- not unlike medical practice in some ways, where the
effectiveness of the cure is also independent of the doctor's personal moral virtue. This (often
partial) separation of politics from the fields of ethics, religion and even law helped open the way
for the modernisation of political practice, international relations and the organisation of states
themselves that took place in the centuries to come.
Obviously however loosening the ties between ethics and politics is a controversial and
unwelcome proposition, and resistance to the process just mentioned has been widespread,
tenacious and often successful. Therefore the above process has been slow, meandering and
unpredictable, and the history of that process is at least as important an aspect of the history of
modern political thought as the history of the ideas themselves. For example, the history of
Tacitism (the political reception of the writings of the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus) from the
late 16th to the early 18th century illustrates the difficult and non-linear process of absorption of
the core notions of reason of state-thought into mainstream political thought and teaching.
Whereas Tacitist authors and works could almost count on a problematic reception at the end of
the 16th century (witness many examples from the age), the literature was blending into normality
by the early 18th.
In this paper I shall discuss examples of texts aimed at the instruction of princes, politicians,
magistrates or citizens from three stages in this process; from the late 16th century; mid-17th
century and ca. 1700.

Márton Zászkaliczky: An "apolitical" adaptation of Melanchthon's political theology: Péter Bornemisza' sermons on principality

Péter Bornemisza, a leading Lutheran theologian in Western Hungary, before becoming a minister,
obtained a humanist education in Vienna and Padua while he also studied in Wittenberg. After serving as a court clerk, he became a preacher who served under the patronage of numerous noblemen. In Wittenberg, he was Melanchthon's student and followed him in his theology. From very early on, Bornemisza had concerns about public issues. At the University of Vienna, encouraged by his tutor, the Greek professor Georg Tanner (a former Melanchthon student himself), Bornemisza wrote a contemporary adaptation of Sophocles' tragedy Elektra, discussing the morality of loyalty and resistance to tyrants. His piece, written in Hungarian so addressing his contemporary Hungarian readers, summarized his Protestant morality instead of antic views, even if in some aspects different from Melanchthon's approach. He also published a book about 'devilish temptations' describing public offences and private vices of his contemporaries including nobles and his royal majesty, which caused a widespread outrage. Many times he escaped or helped others escape from captivity he faced because of both his brave Protestantism, and his disobedience and impertinence, and the scandals he brought about. In his sermon collections he wrote detailed analysis about "principality", i.e. the nature, limit and purpose of political power, providing his audience and the theologian readers of his volumes with an informed and systematic knowledge about politics and morality. Most of his political theology was an adaptation from Melanchthon coupled with his educational and rhetorical methods, but he did not entirely adopt Melanchthon's examples of antic history and Aristotelian terminology. Even if he regularly preached to the nobility at the diet, he did not incorporate - as opposed to his European contemporaries - ideas from contemporary political debates, either. After all, his political thought, mainly based on Biblical principles and natural law arguments, could be seen as a creative but apolitical adaptation of Melanchthon's political theology.

Institute of Philosophy - Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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