Political Effects of the Renaissance
History has shown us how civilizations evolve over time. Broadly
interpreted, the age of Diocletian marked a decisive stage in the
transition from the classical, the Greco-Roman, civilization of the
ancient Roman Empire to the Christian-Germanic civilization of the
early Middle Ages. Similarly interpreted, "the age of the Renaissance
marked the transition from the civilization of the Middle Ages to the
modern world"(Ferguson 1). Therefore, the Renaissance is the beginning
of the modern world and modern government.
In law the tendency was to challenge the abstract dialectical
method of the medieval jurists with a philological and historical
interpretation of the sources of Roman Law. As for political thought,
the medieval proposition that the preservation of liberty, law, and
justice constitutes the central aim of political life was challenged
but not overthrown by Renaissance theorists. They contended that the
central task of government was to maintain security and peace.
Machiavelli maintained that the creative force (virtj) of the ruler
was the key to the preservation of both his own position and the
well-being of his subjects, an idea consonant with contemporary
Italian city-states were transformed during the Renaissance from
communes to territorial states, each of which sought to expand at the
expense of the others. Territorial unification also took place in
Spain, France, and England. The process was aided by modern diplomacy,
which took its place beside the new warfare when the Italian
city-states established resident embassies at foreign courts. By the
16th century, the institution of permanent embassies spread northward
to France, England, and the Holy Roman Empire.
Renaissance churchmen, particularly in the higher echelons,
patterned their behavior after the mores and ethics of lay society.
The activities of popes, cardinals, and bishops were scarcely
distinguishable from those of secular merchants and political...