Chapter

The Charisma of Italy

Howard Erskine-Hill

in Poetry and the Realm of Politics

Published in print June 1996 | ISBN: 9780198117315
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670916 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117315.003.0005
The Charisma of Italy

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On 23 July I553 Mr John Lock, on his voyage to Jerusalem, glimpsed ‘the white walles’ of the fortified city of Ragusa, on the coast of Dalmatia or, by its ancient name, Illyria. Ragusa was, however, more than a fortified city. It was an ancient sovereign republic, with a system of government that differed from, though it somewhat resembled, that of Genoa, and which was maintaining itself as an important maritime and trading city on the fringe of the Ottoman Empire. When finally destroyed by the armies of Napoleon, it would have subsisted for a thousand years. Nothing might seem more remote from English political awareness than the longevity and constitution of the little republic of Ragusa, and at the time of Lock's voyage that was perhaps the case. Yet such were the historical changes to take place in England that, just over a century later, in I659, a tract entitled Government Described…, setting forth the constitution of Ragusa, was one of several in the debate conducted by James Harrington, Matthew Wren, and others, concerning the merits and resilience of the republican form of government.

Keywords: John Lock; Ragusa; republican form of government; James Harrington; Matthew Wren

Chapter.  7373 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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