Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Andrea Guidi
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SPS/02
  • Language: English
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Relations (cod. 9084)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will gain knowledge of the development of ideas on war and peace from the Renaissance to the beginning of the nineteenth century, familiarity with the main works of main authors, such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Alberico Gentili, Francesco Guicciardini, Thomas Hobbes, and others. They will also develop a critical understanding of the key aspects of history, politics, society and culture in Europe and beyond in the period examined. In order to master both intellectual and historiographic skills, students will learn how to manage sources and historical information and to develop a critical knowledge by way of understanding and organizing historical facts, and synthetizing concepts and opinions.

Course contents

This course is a survey of the history of the concepts and practice of war and peace from the Renaissance to the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is intended primarily to give students a deep understanding of the main ideas, events, aspects and trends related to the topics of the classes.

First, the students will learn about the period traditionally known as the Renaissance. The course will then focus on ideas on human nature, war and peace in early-modern Europe. It will be shown how the medieval cultural attitude towards war and peace was replaced during this period by a new concept, based around novel ideas on the nature of man shaped by social and political tensions caused by unprecedented challenges which threatened early-modern European societies. Finally, the classes will deeply address questions concerning modernity such as why European cultures increasingly relied on science and reason instead of religion.

Themes and topics will be accompanied by close readings of the main works of the period.


Required readings:

Bellamy, Alex J. Just Wars from Cicero to Iraq (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006), chs 3-4 (p. 49-87);

Guidi, Andrea, “Human Nature, Peace, and War”, in A Cultural History of Peace, eds. I. Lazzarini, “The Cultural Histories Series” (London: Bloomsbury publishing, 2020), 31-47;

Phillips, Andrew, War, Religion and Empire. The Transformation of International Orders (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010), chs 4-5 (p. 83-148);

Johnson, James Turner, The Quest for Peace: Three Moral Traditions in Western Cultural History (Princeton and Guilford: Princeton University Press, 1987), chs 3-4 (p. 133-199);

Nardin, Terry (ed. by), The Ethics of War and Peace: Religious and Secular Perspectives, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), chs. 1-2 (p. 15-53);

Classroom readings from:

Erasmus, Desiderius, The Complaint of Peace (Chicago: Open Court, 1917). Available online edition http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/87

Erasmus, Desiderius, The Education of a Christian Prince, with the Panegyric for Archduke Philip of Austria, ed. by Neil M. Cheshire and Michael J. Heath, and Lisa Jardine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Other available online editions: https://www.stoics.com/erasmus_s_education_of_a_chris.html

Gentili, Alberico, De iure belli libri tres, Trans. J. Rolfe (Oxford Clarendon Press 1933).

Grotius, Hugo, De jure belli ac pacis, Translated by Francis W. Kelsey (Buffalo - New York, 1925) / Grotius, Hugo. The Rights of War and Peace, ed. by R. Tuck (2005). Available online edition: https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/grotius-the-rights-of-war-and-peace-2005-ed-vol-1-book-i

Guicciardini, Francesco, The History of Italy, Trans. S. Alexander (New York: Macmillan, 1969). Google books preview https://books.google.it/books?id=HHfGHC85HKEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hobbes, Thomas, De Cive [On the Citizen], trans. and ed. by Richard Tuck and Michael Silverthorne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Google books preview https://books.google.it/books?id=O8M-OJJoiGgC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan: Revised student edition (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought), ed. by R. Tuck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996). Other available online editions https://archive.org/details/englishworkstho10hobbgoog/page/n6/mode/2up

Kant, Immanuel, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” in Political Writings, ed. H. Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1991)

Keynes, John Maynard, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (Harcourt, Brace, and Howe, 1920). Available online edition https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/keynes-the-economic-consequences-of-the-peace

Locke, John, Two Treatises of Government (London: Everyman's library 1924). Other available online editions: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwigx86Hos77AhVqS_EDHaTiAKcQFnoECBEQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.yorku.ca%2Fcomninel%2Fcourses%2F3025pdf%2FLocke.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2lb9rh7v8_54Af612Kb_0o

Luther, Martin, On War against the Turk, in Luther's Works: Vol. 46 (Philadelphia: ‎Fortress Press 1967). Available online edition https://archive.org/details/luthersworksv46p3unse/page/n11/mode/2up?q=turk

Luther, Martin, Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved, in Luther's Works: Vol. 46 (Philadelphia: ‎Fortress Press 1967). Available online edition: https://archive.org/details/luthersworksv46p3unse/page/n11/mode/2up?q=soldiers

Machiavelli Niccolò, Discourses on Livy, in The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, selected and trans. Peter Constantine, introduction by A. Ascoli (New York: The Modern Library, 2007) / Discourses on Livy, Translated by H. C. Mansfield and N. Tarcov (Chicago & London: Chicago University Press 1998). Other available online editions https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10827/pg10827-images.html / https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Discourses_on_Livy

Machiavelli Niccolò, The Prince, Trans. and with an introduction by H.C. Mansfield, second edition (Chicago, Chicago University Press 1998. Other available online editions https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Prince / https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10827/pg10827-images.html

More, Thomas, Utopia, trans. and ed. by Clarence Miller (New Haven: Yale University Press, CT, 2001). Other available online editions: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Utopia_(More)

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, A Lasting Peace through the Federation of Europe and The State of War, by Jean Jacques Rousseau, trans. by C. E. Vaughan. (London: Constable and Co., 1917). Available online edition: https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/rousseau-a-lasting-peace-through-the-federation-of-europe-and-the-state-of-war

Vitoria, Francisco de, Political Writings, ed. A. Pagden and J. Lawrance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)


Further readings:

Backman, Clifford R., Cultures of the West. A History, 2 vols. (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition 2015): vol. 1, ch. 14, subchs “From the Peace of Augsburg to the Edict of Nantes: French Wars of Religion,” “The Thirty Years’ War;” vol. 2, ch. 13, subch. “New Continents and Profits,” ch. 15, subchs “The Argument for Tyranny”, “The Social Contract” & “Absolute Politics”.

Cesa, Marco, Machiavelli on International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2014), ch. “On Human Nature”

Chen, Frederick Tse-shyang, “The Confucian View of World Order”, Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, Vol. 1, N. 1 (1991): 45-69;

Coates, Anthony Joseph, “Culture, the Enemy and the Moral Restraint of War,” in Rodin, David - Sorabji, Richard (ed. by), The Ethics of War. Shared problems in Different Traditions (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 208-221;

Gilbert, Felix, Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Florence (Princeton, 1965), ch. 4 (p. 153-200), ch. 7 (p. 271-301).

Hale, John Rigby, “Sixteenth-century Explanations of War and Violence”, Past and Present, 51 (1971), 3–26;

Hale, John Rigby, “War and Opinion: War and Public Opinion in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries Author(s)”, Past & Present, 22 (1962), 18-35;

Israel, I. Jonathan, Radical Enlightenment. Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 (Oxford: University Press, 2001), vol. 1: Introduction only https://books.google.de/books?id=vMvlEweVPTsC&printsec=frontcover&hl=it#v=onepage&q&f=false

Koskenniemi, Martti, “International Law and raison d’état. Rethinking the Prehistory of International Law,” in Kingsbury, Benedict & Straumann, Benjamin (ed. by), The Roman Foundation of the Law of the Nations: Alberico Gentili and the Justice of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 298-339;

Lo, Ping-cheung, “Warfare Ethics in Sunzi’s Art of War? Historical Controversies and Contemporary Perspectives,” Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2012: 114-135 - ISSN 1502-7570 print/1502-7589 online/12/020114-22

Mallett, Michael E. - Shaw, Christine, The Italian Wars, 1494–1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe. Modern Wars in Perspective. (New York, 2012), ch. 6 “The Transformation of War”, 177-196;

Panizza, Diego, “Alberico Gentili’s De armis Romanis: The Roman Model of the Just Empire, in Kingsbury, Benedict & Straumann, Benjamin (ed. by), The Roman foundation of the law of the nations: Alberico Gentili and the justice of empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 53-84;

Webel, Charles, The Politics of Rationality: Reason Through Occidental History (New York and London, Routledge, 2014).

Teaching methods

The emphasis in the course will be on classroom lectures and critical discussion, but the course will consist also of a reading of selected pages of the main written sources of the period (provided in English translation, if in foreign languages), with the objective of developing the students’ critical skills. A study of the main visual sources of the time taken into consideration is a constituent component of the course. Excerpts from movies on historical topics will accompany some of the classes. Attending students will be required to present their midterm examination papers during the classes – please see below section Evaluation/ Assessment methods for more details.

Reading responses will be assigned: based on 1-2 articles or book chapters that the students will have to comment and discuss

Assessment methods

Attending students

There will be a midterm and a final examination.

The midterm examination will consist of an independent research paper of 1,500 to 2,000 words on a topic of choice (pertaining to the course themes), the content of which is to be presented and discussed in one of the course sessions. (A timetable for presentations will be organized about halfway through the course, in accordance to the number of attending students). For suggestions as to the topic of the research paper and potential sources to be consulted, see the attached list of “Further Readings”. Active participation to class work by those attending will be a constituent part of the final marks. The final evaluation, therefore, will be especially related to research papers, and, possibly, presentations and discussion during the course.

The final examination will consist of an in-class Q&A test.

Non-attending students

Oral exam with two to four open questions.

Office hours

See the website of Andrea Guidi


Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.