Realism vs utopianism | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 108, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244



1516 saw the publication of three important works. First of all, it is the year of Thomas More’s . But it is also the year in which Erasmus published his major political work . The third work even appeared with the same publisher as More’s , viz. Nicolaas Everaerts’s . All three works are remarkable in their own way. Erasmus represents a tradition that goes back to Petrarch and that saw the well-being of society as totally dependent on the virtuousness of its prince. For Thomas More this was far too risky and therefore he sketched a radical alternative that was based on a reorganisation of society as a whole. However appealing his imaginary island was, it is remarkable that within the domain of political theory it did not attract too much attention. Most authors focused on another work, that was conceived in the very same period, viz. Machiavelli’s . The present article will shed light on these developments by focusing on the work of two further early-modern intellectuals active in the Netherlands. Both Justus Lipsius and Leonardus Lessius, whose work bears a strong resemblance to that of Everaerts, looked for the ideal society. And this was not a society after the model of More, but a society modelled after a well-defined form of Machiavellism.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Lessius; Lipsius; Machiavellism; political science; realism; utopianism
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