Introduction

The two volumes of A History of Political Thought treat those political theorists who are most frequently discussed in university courses dealing with the history of Western political thought from the ancient Greeks to the sixteenth-century Renaissance. They aim to give students — beginners and the more advanced - a historical and a philosophical way of reading the set texts that are normally prescribed: Plato's Apology and Republic, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, Cicero's On Duties and the De re publica, Augustine's City of God, selections from Aquinas's Summa Theologiae and other writings where he deals specifically with ethics and politics, and Machiavelli's The Prince and Discourses on Livy. Because there is usually a leap from the medieval Thomas Aquinas to the Renaissance Machiavelli, I have also included a range of political theorists (John of Paris, Marsilius of Padua and William of Ockham) who wrote during the fourteenth century and whose writings have been translated into English, and I have said something about fourteenth- and fifteenth-century conciliarism in order to give students some idea of the legacy of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

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