The earthly structures of divine ideas : influences on the political economy of Giovanni Botero
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Giovanni Botero’s (1544-1617) treatise The Reason of State (1589) seemed somewhat uncharacteristic of sixteenth-century political thought, considering the pride of place given to economics in his text. The Age of Reformation constituted not only a period of new ideas on faith but also one of new political thinking, and as the research into the influences on Botero’s economic thought progressed, I began to consider the period as one where economic thinking was becoming more common among theologians of the reforming churches and bureaucrats of the developing states. Having been trained in the schools of the Jesuits, Botero was exposed to one of the most potent and intellectually uniform of all the reforming movements of the period, and I argue it was here that he first considered economics as an aspect of moral philosophy. While it cannot be proven positively that Botero studied or even considered economics during his association with the Jesuits (roughly from 1559-1580), the fact that a number of those who shaped the Jesuit Order in its first few generations discussed economics in their own treatises leads one to a strong circumstantial conclusion that this is where the economic impulse first rose up in his thinking. Indeed, it was this background that readied Botero to consider economics as an important part of statecraft with his reading of Jean Bodin’s (1530-1596) The Six Books of the Republic (1576), in which economics is featured quite prominently. Bodin’s own economic theory was informed primarily by his experience as a bureaucrat in the Parlement of Paris, where questions on the value of the currency and on the king’s ability to tax his subjects were in constant debate among the advocates. I argue further that, upon his reading of Bodin’s Republic, Botero saw how economics could be fused with politics, and he then set out to compose his own treatise on political economy (although he certainly would not have called it such). In The Reason of State, Botero brought his Jesuit conception of economic morality together with Bodin’s writings on political economy to create a work, neither wholly Jesuit nor wholly Bodinian, which in the end outlined an overall political and economic structure of society quite distinct from the sum of its parts.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorDeutscher, Thomas B.
CommitteeMacLeod, Allan; Hayden, Michael; DesBrisay, Gordon; Bietenholz, Peter G.
Copyright DateApril 2003
School of Salamanca
16th century political philosophers
balance of trade
political economy - 16th century
reason of state
Thomism - 16th century
Jesuit political theorists
divine right of kings
Spanish theology - post-conquest
reformation Europe - political theory
Six Books of the Republic
education - 16th century
right of revolt
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