Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight is now done. It needed work in two main areas – expanding and developing the treatment of Luther; and dramatically cutting down the discussion of King Lear. The Lear material might make a journal article in its expanded form.

The chapter begins with the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, and runs through some broader contexts for fifteenth to sixteenth century European theory – discoveries of the new world, Ptolemy’s Geography, the use of the astrolabe, practical uses of geometry (Leonard Digges, John Dee), Renaissance cartography, and so on.

The first major thinker I discuss here is Niccolò Machiavelli, through The Prince, the Discourses and various other writings. I tackle Foucault’s reading of Machiavelli head-on, and indeed more mainstream readings, through a reading of the Italian texts, and try to show how his object of rule was rarely geographical. The next section is on the politics of religious reform, discussing Erasmus, More, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin and a few others. There’s a brief reading of Hans Holbein’s Ambassadors in here too – I’m most interested in the objects between the two figures, rather than the ambassadors themselves or the skull at the bottom. (Clicking on the the image will take you to a larger version).

I then try to work through the complications of Jean Bodin’s Six Books on the Republic in their French and Latin versions, as well as a near contemporaneous English translation which is revealing in terms of English vocabulary, rather than as a guide to Bodin. I then turn to Giovanni Botero’s famous work on ‘reason of state’, and try to situate it in relation to his lesser-known works on cities and the world. The latter is a synthesis of what was known of the world at the time. I found Romain Descendre’s recent book L’état du monde: Giovanni Botero entre raison d’état et géopolitique, helpful here. The chapter ends with the reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear, with a focus on the politics of land that runs through the play. 

This chapter didn’t need that much work, but then most of it was written earlier this year while I was in London. The main texts read tend to exist in modern editions – with minor exceptions of those by Guillaume de la Perrière, Thomas Elyot, some of François Hotman, Justus Lipsius, and Charles de Grassaille.  I don’t remember many problems of actually finding the texts; though there were lots of problems in the texts. The Lear section was expanded from some brief comments I made in the my inaugural lecture and the Companion to Human Geography piece. The bulk of that section was written in New York in April, while staying at Neil Brenner’s apartment, and making use of the wonderful collection at Columbia University library, and then completed while stuck in Vienna, Virginia after the AAG because of the Iceland volcano.

This entry was posted in Giovanni Botero, Jean Bodin, Martin Luther, Michel Foucault, Neil Brenner, Niccolò Machiavelli, Philipp Melanchthon, The Birth of Territory. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Chapter Eight

  1. Pingback: The Birth of Territory – Chapter Updates | Progressive Geographies

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