The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made

Overview


The Prince, a political treatise by the Florentine public servant and political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli is widely regarded as the single most influential book on politics—and in particular on the the politics of power—ever written.

In this groundbreaking book, Philip Bobbitt explores this often misunderstood work in the context of the time. He describes The Prince as one half of a masterpiece that, along with Machiavelli’s often neglected...

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The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made

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Overview


The Prince, a political treatise by the Florentine public servant and political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli is widely regarded as the single most influential book on politics—and in particular on the the politics of power—ever written.

In this groundbreaking book, Philip Bobbitt explores this often misunderstood work in the context of the time. He describes The Prince as one half of a masterpiece that, along with Machiavelli’s often neglected Discourses prophesies the end of the feudal era and describes the birth of the neoclassical
Renaissance State. Using both Renaissance examples and cases drawn from our current era, Bobbitt situates Machiavelli’s work as a turning point in our understanding of the relation between war and law as these create and maintain the State. This is a fascinating history and commentary by the man Henry Kissinger called "the outstanding political philosopher of our time."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Five hundred years after its publication, Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince still holds the power to inspire and provoke. To these longstanding controversies, Dr. Philip Bobbitt brings credentials of diverse expertise: He has not only taught at Harvard and Columbia; he is the Director of the Center for National Security and served in important post under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In The Garments of Court and Palace, he argues that what has often been called the most influential book on politics is also the most misunderstood. Drawing on texts and cases from the Renaissance to the present day, he explains why The Prince is one half of a masterpiece we can't afford to ignore. A major work by the man Henry Kissinger called "the outstanding political philosopher of our time."

Publishers Weekly
In this work of historical, philosophical, and political examination, Bobbitt (Terror and Consent) plugs Niccolo Machiavelli's controversial masterpiece, The Prince, into its proper context, one that Bobbitt asserts has gone overlooked by most scholars: constitutionalism. He spices up even his layout of the most popular misconceptions regarding Machiavelli with the impartible thrill of tumbling these dusty—not to mention contradictory—assumptions. An historical overview not only contextualizes major events in Machiavelli's life within Florence's shifting feudal environment but also highlights how influential a political leader he remained until his fall. Correcting misapprehensions, Bobbitt establishes Machiavelli as a political oracle of sorts who perceived the soft boil of a new governmental order at a time when most couldn't see beyond the boundaries of feudalism. In debunking larger myths, he upsets smaller inaccuracies as well, unraveling misunderstandings regarding both the true translation of Machiavelli's "virtù" and the political forecaster's role as "apostle of modernity". While Bobbitt frequently segues from the feudal to the modern era to properly illuminate a concepts, latter sections of his book see him focus intensely on the present, and on how Machiavellian means of viewing an agitated state order may prove especially helpful now. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“With his profound knowledge of history, philosophy, politics and law, Professor Bobbitt has made a major contribution to penetrating the thought of Machiavelli and illuminating its context. This extraordinary intellectual endeavor may well become a new standard interpretation.”—Henry A. Kissinger

“An astute reexamination of one of history’s most widely read documents of political instruction. . . . Despite its rigor, the book is anything but a bore, and Bobbitt employs apposite historical asides from Italy and elsewhere to make his points, including some popes behaving badly whom fans of Showtime’s The Borgias will recognize. This book should be required reading for any young ruler trying to organize his principality without blunder, or, failing that, anyone interested in the history of statecraft”—The Daily Beast

“Riddles for centuries, the beginning and ending of Machiavelli’s The Prince have finally found a plausible explanation. . . . Provocative.”—Booklist

“The value of Bobbitt’s book is that it puts on the front burner the thinking of a man referred to by Marlowe and Shakespeare and found on the must-read lists of Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler. . . . And Bobbitt is not without moments of wry humor.”—Sante Fe New Mexican

“Bobbitt … presents a pithy, eloquent argument for The Prince as a ‘constitutional tract’ and Machiavelli as the ‘spiritual forefather’ of the US Constitution. . . . [The Garments of Court and Palace is] well worth reading.” —The Spectator (UK)

Library Journal
All right, Borgias fans; here's a serious study of a work by one of the series' top characters. Director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University, Bobbitt aims to explain The Prince within the context of Niccolo Machiavelli's time and place, burgeoning Renaissance Italy. Often regarded as a story of cynical statesmanship, The Prince in fact captures a moment when the State effectively consolidated under the rule of law. For your upscale readers.
Kirkus Reviews
A convoluted return to the misunderstood work of the wily Florentine bureaucrat and philosopher. Bobbitt (Law, Center for National Security/Columbia Univ.; Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century, 2008, etc.) aims to strip some of the disfiguring tarnish from Machiavelli's work by redefining his authorial aim as one providing a map for the new constitutional order that was emerging from republican Florence in the early 16th century. The author rejects the "five particular ideas" about The Prince that developed soon after its posthumous publication in 1532: that it is a "mirror book" composed for the edification of a ruling prince at court on how to behave in the tradition of Cicero or Erasmus; that the book is incompatible with his previous writing on republican government; that Machiavelli was unable to reconcile his essential notions of destiny and fate; that The Prince was a kind of "employment application" for work in the new republic; and that it separates ethics from politics, thus allowing it to become bedside reading for Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler. Bobbitt finds in Machiavelli a prophetic poet of the new age, whose cleareyed exhortations on realpolitik ("princes who have actually accomplished great things are those who cared little for keeping faith and knew how to manipulate men with cunning") reversed expectations of the Renaissance humanist. The author looks carefully at problematic passages that seem to question Machiavelli's moral values, yet sees in him "an intense moralist" whose allegiances were to the good of the state rather than the good of the prince. Machiavelli's ideas of consequentialism, "good laws and good arms" and virtù e fortuna were all rather shocking at the time and heralded a new world order. Bobbitt examines these and more, but the narrative is oddly structured and likely to appeal only to other academics. Dense, repetitive commentary that may lead some readers back to The Prince.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802120748
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 401,133
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Philip Bobbitt has taught constitutional law and international security and strategy at the University of Texas, Harvard, and Columbia, where he has a permanent chair and is Director of the Center for National Security. He was Legal Counsel to the Senate's Iran-Contra Committee, Counselor for International Law at the State Department under George H. W. Bush, director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, senior director for Critical Infrastructure, and senior director for Strategic Planning under Bill Clinton. The author of The Shield of Achilles, and Terror and Consent, he lives in New York, London, and Austin.
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