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Humanism and EmpireThe Imperial Ideal in Fourteenth-Century Italy$
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Alexander Lee

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675159

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199675159.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 September 2021

An Elective Empire

An Elective Empire

(p.301) 7 An Elective Empire
Humanism and Empire

Alexander Lee

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how the humanists’ dualism affected their understanding of the Empire’s constitutional disposition. Setting the humanists’ views in the context of contemporary struggles over the sources and nature of the emperor’s authority, it will demonstrate that—despite a flirtation with Roman popular sovereignty on at least two separate occasions, and a residual uncertainty about the significance of papal coronations—they were broadly willing to view the electoral college as the ultimate source of imperial authority. But though they followed—and sometimes even anticipated—their coevals’ political thought in some respects, it is striking that the humanists never sought to justify their understanding of the electoral college’s role in terms comparable to those used either in developing wider theories of political representation, or in defending communal government.

Keywords:   humanism, election, coronation, papacy, Rome, popular sovereignty, Roman law, communes

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