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The art of ruling in Aquinas’ De Regimine Principum

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The juxtaposition between scholasticism and humanism is a commonplace in the scholarship of medieval political thought. Several scholars have argued that scholastic political theory is concerned with the institutional arrangements necessary for the well being of the city, while humanist political theory focuses on the role of the ruler in bringing about this well being. This paper argues that by looking at a much neglected text of the major scholastic figure St Thomas Aquinas, the De Regimine Principum, it can be shown that he, like the humanists of his era, affords the ruler a central place in his political theory. Aquinas' adaptation of Aristotelian teleology, however, differentiates his theory from humanist political theory, allowing him to create the concept of a ‘scholastic ruler'. Specifically, Aquinas portrays the ruler as an artist, assigning him the roles of making the city, and making virtuous subjects.
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Keywords: Aquinas; kingship; self-rule

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Newnham College, Cambridge, CB3 9DF. Email:[email protected]

Publication date: 1999-04-01

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