Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Government, Renaissance Forms of

  • Marco TosteEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_607-1


The Aristotelian sixfold classification of forms of government became the mainstream classification right after the translation of the Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics into Latin in the thirteenth century, and it largely remained so until the end of the sixteenth century. It was used in a variety of contexts (even with regard to the government of the Church) as well as for propagandistic and descriptive purposes alike. However, upon the Latin translation of both Plato’s Laws and Book VI of Polybius’ Histories, and importantly Machiavelli’s use of the latter, authors dealt almost exclusively with the topics of monarchy and republican regime. For the most part, authors conceived these two regimes as a mixture of different forms (monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy) in which one prevails over the others, and hence probed deeply into what came to be known as the “mixed regime.” In the sixteenth century, the Aristotelian distinction between good and corrupt forms of government started to fade away, and – after Bodin – what classifies a regime as either good or corrupt is the way in which power is exercised. Irrespective of what form they considered the best, all authors conceded that the establishment of a given form is dependent on the prevailing circumstances and therefore every form, other than tyranny, might be legitimate.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PhilosophieGoethe-Universität Frankfurt am MainFrankfurt am MainGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • David A. Lines
    • 1
  1. 1.Italian Studies, School of Modern Languages and CulturesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK