- The power of necessity
- Reason of state in the Spanish monarchy, ca. 1590-1650
- Award date
- 4 July 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
This dissertation studies late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century reason of state in the Spanish monarchy, that is a pragmatic way of thinking and writing about preserving a ruler’s personal power and his ability to protect his dominion from internal and external threats. The core dilemma that reason of state revolves around is the conflict between traditional political principles of moral and religious conscious, and the practical needs of the moment. By the end of the sixteenth century, nowhere was the need for theory and justifications of state management greater than in the Spanish empire, extended over three continents and constantly experiencing the strains of war and rebellion. Yet nowhere was its implementation more problematic than in this Catholic monarchy, steeped in ideals of justice, divine justifications of power and kingship, and messianic rhetoric that tied its fate closely to the cause of the Faith. In reason-of-state discourse, this tension between moral and religious principles and political pragmatism was constantly present – in the writings on political theory, but also as it entered the political arena. Uniting published sources with a broad range of archival material, this dissertation explores reason of state in a number of theoretical and practical contexts in the Spanish monarchy of the first half of the seventeenth century. It asks how individuals negotiated the tension between principle and pragmatism in both theory and practice, and how in this process they made use of history.
Thesis (complete) (Embargo up to and including 4 July 2020)
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