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Voices of ConscienceRoyal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France$
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Nicole Reinhardt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703686.001.0001

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Counsel and Councillors: Debates

Counsel and Councillors: Debates

Chapter:
(p.36) 2 Counsel and Councillors: Debates
Source:
Voices of Conscience
Author(s):

Nicole Reinhardt

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703686.003.0003

This chapter explores the discourses on good counsel and the qualities of good counsellors. It argues that political writers addressed these questions with particular urgency to refute Machiavellianism and to address the normative uncertainty in the wake of the Reformation. It charts how the purposes of political counsel were addressed and how political writers engaged with problems of ‘reason of state’ and ‘absolute’ royal power. The debate in Spain was not only particularly precocious and varied; writers also appreciated controversy as a condition and defining feature of good counsel. The French debate emerged later, mainly under Richelieu and with a strongly apologetic drift. Although conscious of and fascinated by the Spanish model, French writers stressed the importance of unity in counsel and the king’s role in fostering it. Despite these differences, there was consensus that counsel was necessary, but not necessarily binding and that counsel heightened and supported royal authority.

Keywords:   Niccolò Machiavelli, Giovanni Botero, reason of state, Richelieu, Tacitism, absolutism, Jean Bodin

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