Seminar in Pre-1700 European History

Spring 2013

HIEU 4501 (1)

Seminar in Pre-1700 European History

"Machiavelli and the Renaissance: Humanism and Public life in Renaissance Europe"

Duane J. Osheim

During the Renaissance Europeans fiercely discussed and analyzed the nature of public life and the individual’s responsibility to the community. Niccolò Machiavelli became a touchstone for these debates when he offered a “New Science of Politics” that promised to show discuss how things really were. Using Machiavelli as an entry point we will investigate debates and discussions of civic values, the nature of politics, morality in public life. The object is to come to understand the language of political debate as it was understood in the Renaissance as well as to understand what contributions Renaissance thinkers made to debates over the nature of liberty and participation in public life. In the course of our discussions students will identify a topic and research and write a thirty-page paper on an issue related to our discussions of Public Life. Topics can include literature (Machiavelli wrote several comic plays), public art, travel literature (how Europeans came to understand public life in the rest of the world) and, of course literature on war and diplomacy.

We will read among other books and articles


  • John Najemy, The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli
  • The Viking Portable Machiavelli, trans. Peter Bondanella & Mark Musa

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
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