Since its publication, reviewers have not spared Virtue Politics compliments, and today, now some years later, it seems that all the appropriate expressions to congratulate James Hankins’s research have already been used. In joining this well-deserved chorus of praise, I will therefore limit myself to adding just one thing: Hankins’s volume is one of the rare books destined to mark a watershed, dividing scholarship on Renaissance political theory into a “before” and an “after.” From now on, and for a long time, any scholar in this field will inevitably dialogue first and foremost with Virtue Politics.

In the twentieth century, specialists have almost always portrayed early modern political thought as a clash between supporters of republics and principalities: on the one hand the lovers of freedom, on the other hand the preening propagandists of tyrannical despotism. This is essentially the thesis that underpins the two most widely read sketches...

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