Reason of State. 

The Italian Art of Political Prudence
by Gianfranco Borrelli

1. Reason of State and the Political Tradition of the Renaissance: Francesco Guicciardini and Giovanni Della Casa.
2. The Foundations Della ragion di Stato According to Giovanni Botero
3. Reactions to Botero's Provocation
4. Girolamo Frachetta and Scipione Ammirato: Reasons of State, Interest, War, and the Necessity of Derogation
5. Techniques of Dissimulation and of Simulation: Pietro Andrea Canonieri and Gabriele Zinano
6. From the Necessity of the Absolute Quiet of the State to the Possibility of Honest Dissimulation: Giovanni Palazzo, Fabio Frezza, Ottavio Sammarco and Torquato Accetto
7. Reason of State Seeks an Agreement with Civil Laws: Lodovico Zuccolo
8. The Sufferings of Political Prudence as Described by Virgilio Malvezzi
9. Reason of State as an Item of the Modern Political Dictionary

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The expression Reason of State belongs to the language and the political culture of the late Renaissance period. Still today this expression is commonly used to mean recourse to force or, at any rate, to exceptional instruments on the part of a subject of political power who acts out of the need to keep personal command and to guarantee law and order within society. Raison d'État, Ragion di Stato, Razon de Estado, Staatsrason: from the end of the sixteenth century onwards, the various European languages translate this expression, with the intention of applying the meanings which it contains to the particular regional situations.

Right from the beginning of this work, which deals with the reading of Italian political literature from the works of Giovanni Botero (1589) right up to the discourse of Scipione Chiaramonti (1635), one should point out that reason of state is a complex form of speech and a complex form of practice within the political world: indeed, as we will see, besides the explicit reference to the exertion of force, government by reason of state also proposes the conversion of the direct use of force into codes of special mechanisms aimed at the preservation of political power and the production of discipline and obedience on the part of all subjects 1.

The formation of this particular reason of prudence was doubtless made possible by the constitution, in the early modern era, of a cumulative knowledge of experiences, events and operative practices, concerning the government of men. This body of knowledge gradually enlarges, keeps a record of this enlargement, and is put down in writing with the task of transmitting behavioural rules for the prince and for his subjects. As regards these particular aspects - which are best and most thoroughly represented in the theoretical elaboration of the Italian political writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - the arguments of the literature dedicated to reason of state constitute an autonomous and alternative path with respect to the group of theories and practices which, in certain European regions during the sixteenth century, gave rise to the experimentation of the new political form consisting in absolute sovereignty.

1. Reason of State and the Political Tradition of the Renaissance: Francesco Guicciardini and Giovanni Della Casa.

Political writings and various different kinds of literary documents point to the widespread diffusion of the expression reason of state throughout the various Italian regions from the second half of the sixteenth century. In fact, already in the dialogue Del reggimento di Firenze, written by Francesco Guicciardini between 1521 and 1523, a slightly different expression is used, namely reason of states, meaning that not very Christian and not very human reason which governs in the field of political affairs. Indeed, one of the interlocutors of the dialogue, Bernardo, argues that when, in matters of government, an evil is difficult to remedy, one should apply strong medicine, cruelty: «Whoever wants to keep Dominions and States in the present time should use compassion and goodness where possible; and where there is no other choice, it is necessary to use cruelty and a scarce sense of morals... because it is impossible to rule governments and states, if one wants to keep them as they are kept today, according to the precepts of the Christian law»2. Thus, one ought to kill all the Pisan prisoners on account of their incurable enmity against the Florentines: «however, when I said to kill or to imprison the Pisans, I may not have spoken in a Christian manner, but I spoke according to the right and practice of the states. Furthermore, whoever, refusing this cruelty, recommends that every effort should be made to take Pisa, will not speak in a more Christian manner than I did»3. Bernardo, referring to an historical situation in which divine commandments and moral laws have little effect, is questioning here that clear-cut differentiation between political action and ethical norm which Niccolò Machiavelli had debated in his work. Guicciardini resumes this theme of Machiavelli's and would seem to confirm the effective reality of this separation: he expresses both his diffidence towards exalting the instrument of politics and his wish that the precepts of morals, be they natural or divine, should not be completely overruled by politics.

Half-way through the sixteenth century, we come across the expression reason of state in an important document which is both literary and political: namely the Orazione a Carlo V, almost certainly written in 1547 by Monsignor Giovanni Della Casa to the Spanish Emperor in support of the restitution of Piacenza to the Duke, Ottavio Farnese, son-in-law of the Emperor himself. Della Casa distinguishes the barbaric and fierce voice of reason of state from that of civil reason. Reaffirming the principles of Cicero which are at the basis of the political ideology of the Renaissance, Della Casa argues that it is not possible for two conflicting practices to exist side by side, usefulness as opposed to honesty, morals separated from politics: «Thus, those who succeed in supporting two reasons are striving in vain; the one, bad and false and dissolute, and prepared to steal, and to carry out harmful actions; and they have given this the name of reason of state; and to it is they entrust the government of kingdoms and of empires; the other, straightforward, and unswerving, and constant; this one is banished from the authorities and from the government of the Cities and of the kingdoms, and put out to beg, and to struggle among the litigants». They are two different reasons, irreconcilable, the first of which conceals «under the name of reason the works of fraud and violence»; Della Casa then exhorts Charles V not to allow his great and marvellous undertakings, inspired by honesty and justice, to be contaminated by that usefulness «which today is called Reason of State»4.

In subsequent works, in particular in the Orazioni per la Lega prepared by Della Casa to incite the Venetians to participate in the armed league against Charles V himself, the author assumes a different rhetoric exposition, distinguishing the person of the Emperor from the Imperial policy, and so separating the judgement on the unquestionable morality of the man from the consideration of the inevitably oppressive centralization policy of the Emperor: «I only say this, that the office, and the magistracy which he has, require that he presumes to be able to rightly command everyone, and that each one should declare himself in agreement with him and with his commandments»5.

In effect, Della Casa reaches the same point of awareness as Guicciardini: they both criticize the extremes reached by the wicked reason of politics during the deepest phase of the crisis of the Renaissance civilization, indeed that reason of state which in the Italian regions and in Europe imposes its dominion, acting in a manner which is in disagreement with the precepts of Christian morals; and yet, within this criticism, there is an implicit recognition of the separation that has now taken place between the field of moral rules, both natural and divine, and the political sphere of action.

From the works of Guicciardini and Della Casa, it can be clearly deduced that the main arguments which concern the practice of reason of state arise out of considerations which are contrary to politics considered as an autonomous sphere; this will later become a central theme in the Italian culture of the Counter-Reformation, when concern over the policies of the various Italian states - in particular that of the Church of Rome - with respect to the new concentrations of power in the various European regions, leads to the search for a positive reaction of defence for the preservation of the particular interests of the local powers. For this reason, the objections - which took on an explicit form in the literature of the Roman Curia, from Possevino to Bellarmino - which were raised against the new and dangerous phenomenon of national sovereignty in France and in England are joined, on the plane of the ideological clash, to the need of finding an effective antidote for all forms of Machi avellianism, i.e. for those political practices - diabolically inspired by the works of the Florentine secretary which intend to proceed with the presumption of being able to do without the support of Catholic morals.

The literature dedicated to reason of state from the end of the sixteenth century onwards in Italy and in the European countries devastated by the violence of religious conflicts - would contribute historically to the establishment of a particular type of political preservation in most of Europe, also constituting a project of government and of political leadership, different with respect to the path already embarked upon, consisting in the new form of authority produced by national sovereignties; in this connection, reason of state begins to occupy an important and autonomous position within the processes which constitute so-called political modernity.

2. The Foundations Della ragion di Stato According to Giovanni Botero

Our journey starts from the work of Giovanni Botero, Della ragion di Stato (1589), which can be considered the first complete theoretical elaboration of the conservative project of reason of state.

Botero begins by defining with extreme clarity the aim of the conservative model: «The state is a steadfast dominion over peoples; and Reason of State is the information regarding the means suited to founding, to preserving, and to enlarging such a Dominion. It is true, although, absolutely speaking, it [reason of State] covers all three areas mentioned, it seems, to concern conservation more closely, and of the other two, enlargement more than foundation» (RS, p. 1)6.

Reason of state concerns the fitting instruments for the preservation of things accomplished, namely the situations of political power already acquired: «keeping them under control, when they have expanded, supporting them in such a way, that they do not diminish, and they do not precipitate, is a job of singular worth, and almost superhuman» (RS, p. 5).

The work of Botero is primarily directed towards offering a particular description of the central nature of the task of political prudence. Political prudence is ars practica, in the completely Aristotelian sense of the particular capacity to utilize the awareness of various facts and knowledge for the purposes of practical political activity. The prince must, himself, experience the condition of political action and must be able to rely on the profound information regarding the things and practices of government: more specifically, knowledge through experience is the essential premise for indicating that the ever-useful information, in effect, the primary condition by means of which the prince tries to interpret and to establish in cognitive codes the individual timing of the human condition.

By means of an accumulation of information and, thus, through an increase in knowledge, behavioural codes are established; the political subject draws on this knowledge with respect to the various requirements as they emerge. Political prudence, therefore, concentrates on translating the accumulation of knowledge into practical techniques of intervention on human behaviour, which has become the object of continual observation and of possible discipline: its principle task is not that of suggesting or imposing virtue onto men, but rather that of rendering them obedient to the political and social order.

Reason of state carries out its conservative role in order to guarantee the dynamic adjustments necessary to whoever is governing, in the face of the changes which occur and the unsolved conflicts which emerge from the new generations of individuals and from the various social groups. Prudential rules, which summarize the chief problems of the prince's political action through the application of reason of state, specify, in an original manner, the functions and applicative possibilities of the time factor within political practice (see Antologia).

The aim of political procedures consists in foreseeing the future, considering it as if it were already in the past: Botero describes this main goal with the expression not doing anything new (RS, p. 61). As regards political preservation, reason of state follows the points of a serial code of experimented

procedures which are aimed at converting the future - i.e., the novel elements and conflicts with which the government is faced - into the past by means of the fragmentation of the present. This type of intervention should permit the political subject to reduce the difficult experience of decision, to make the exceptional circumstance of decision-making as easy as possible; moreover, if with this careful use of time - past, future and present - applied to politics, the sovereign succeeds in separating each instance of intervention from the perspective adopted in the general plan which follows both natural and divine laws - operating in such a way as to neutralize ethical norms - it will be possible to go ahead with government procedures in the usual way with derogations, infringements and transgressions. Moreover, the advantage of the time element - on which Botero insists - means being able, within the government, to make use of every kind of dissimilatory practic e, which has the effect of isolating the object to be dealt with from the other important contexts related to it; and the consequent possibility of applying the multicoloured spectrum of very different temporal forms - from immobility right up to extremely rapid acceleration - in order to reach that capacity of provision which faces the difficulties and conflicts one after the other as they emerge.

Reason of state stresses this function of prudence as a practical art which disciplines conservative adjustment, as it constitutes that body of procedures directed towards the defence, on the part of the political subject, of his own interests and of those of the bodies which he represents. In effect, political authority recognizes a differentiated hierarchy of powers, made up of aristocratic groups and of certain stratas of the people which can contribute to the preservation of the existing situation of command. Thus, prudential reason of state refers specifically to the contribution and consensus coming from intermediate class groups and interests, which allow the prince to enjoy a stronger support. Indeed, bearing in mind that the intermediate classes are «normally the quieter, and the easier to govern», the prince will have to proceed against those classes who have considerable privileges to preserve and promote within the state, adopting suitable measur es in order to reduce the ambition and authority of the more powerful (RS, pp. 115-127). As far as the poor are concerned, they are dangerous to public peace as they have no interest at stake: «the King must therefore make sure of these classes, and this he will do in two ways, either turning them out of his state, or giving them an interest in its peaceful running: ... this interest will be given them by obliging them to do something specific, namely to attend either to agriculture, or to the arts; or to another activity, the remuneration of which will earn them a living» (RS, p. 129).

In short, «reason of state is not much more than reason of interest» (A, p. 34): a prudent government carries out an organization of city life which fully recognizes reasons of interest and the appropriate devices in favour of political discipline and civil obedience. Botero juxtaposes a different project from that of the questionable experience, full of violence, of absolute and impersonal sovereignty, as was becoming established in France. Reason of state consists in dynamic functions, arising out of prudent capabilities which aim at the maximum rationalization of the procedures of subjective command. Furthermore, political prudence encourages communication and mediation in favour of the private interests of various social classes, attempting then to transform them into political public interests which converge with the more general conservative aims of the existing political conditions. In a significant passage of the essay dedicated to Duke Carlo Emanuele, Botero expr esses himself as follows: «of all the actions of civil prudence, indeed none are more commendable, than that in which private interests are joined to public interests» (C, p. 228).

Lastly, it is worth mentioning the fact that, within the framework of the overall production of Giovanni Botero, particularly significant is the way he supports his reflections in the work Della ragion di Stato with a continual search for empirical material, in particular, the Relazioni universali, a work which contains an impressive amount of informative data on institutions, economy and culture, regarding all the regions known at the beginning of the seventeenth century. As regards the management of government, the author's intention is that of offering every means for the utilization of an experimental methodological system, which has made the text Della ragion di Stato a full proposal of a theoretically structured hypothesis of political preservation, that has been under discussion in Italy for approximately fifty years by various generations of political writers.

3. Reactions to Botero's Provocation

This work by Botero immediately gives rise to numerous comments, a sign of the attention paid to a work which finally contains a positive proposal and so succeeds in going beyond the criticism and diffidence of that part of Italian philosophers who are concerned over the new political experimentation of the national monarchies; moreover, the series of first reactions to Botero's proposal demonstrate that the various aspects of his message have been well understood.

First of all, we have the enthusiasm of Apolinnare de' Calderini; in his Discorsi sopra la Ragione di Stato di Giovanni Botero (1597), he writes: «I always admire and revere Monsignor Botero who, with his high intellect has formed a reason of state, the fairer, the more honest, the more worthy and deserving of praise than any other, and has demonstrated with brilliant and valid reasoning that this is the way in which the Prince must proceed in order to maintain justice and to preserve his state ... And with his great wisdom and profound study has shown that reason of state, if very well taught, does not destroy, nor is it the antithesis of Christian compassion, nor of those moral virtues that have been taught after much study by the great philosophers»7.

Calderini particularly appreciates the arguments of Botero on the interest which drive the souls of men; this principle of Machiavellian inspiration has now been theoretically defined in such a way as to demonstrate the possible compatibility with Christian virtues: «Botero writes excellently that it was his own interests alone which inspired the prince, and not relations, nor alliances, nor other matters, other than his own benefit and advantage» (D, p. 1).

According to the author, Botero succeeds in demonstrating the possible compatibility of honesty and justice with the «profit of Princes»; throughout the difficulties of government, the principle of interest will suggest to the governors the suitable defence mechanisms against the envy of the wretched and the malice of the powerful: «I will remember the words of Botero in his marvellous book, which he entitled Della Ragion di Stato and which deserves to be engraved in golden letters in the souls of those who negotiate with Princes, that the interest of Princes is the interest which always has the upper hand, as when their interest is at stake, they very often have no law, except that law dictated by their own interests» (D, p. 23). Furthermore, interest has become the main criterion followed by governors in the field of political relations with other states; «if alliances have to last over a considerable length of time and be of help to t heir associates, the interest at stake must be the same, and this is not easy either on account of the differences between states, or because of their unequal contribution, or out of need, or for other reasons arising out of the interests at stake: because all things connected with Princes must be measured against the truth, and the doctrine of this great man must be in conformity with their interests; and not on any other grounds, and whoever measures them in another manner is greatly mistaken» (D, p. 117).

The attitude of Fabio Albergati is a different one; a man who gave voice to that part of Catholic thought still doubtful with respect to Botero's proposal. Indeed, he dedicates an entire volume to the decidedly negative criticism contained in the work of Jean Bodin, theorist and supporter of the absolue et perpetuelle sovereignty which existed in France. According to Albergati, reason of state remains synonymous to Machiavellianism, a further effect of the wickedness of the Florentine writer who has separated morals from politics: indeed, reason of the devil, as Pope Pius V was said to have called it years before8.

In his work La republica regia (1627), the author prefers to reconfirm that, against reason and interest of state, the natural and moral reasons on which political government is based are still valid: «Knowing how to operate on the basis of absolute reason of state, namely to treat equally all states, and republics, is the work of the universal legislator, or let us say architect, or shall we say of the prudent citizen who, familiar with all forms of government, know how to operate in an equal manner for all. And operating according to the particular reason of this, or of that state is a matter for the particular legislator of this or that Republic. Thus, we can deduce that absolute reason of state is the rule, on the basis of which the absolute legislator operates in each state according to its particular form» (RR, pp. 83-84).

Consequently, if one wants to talk of reason of state as an instrument of government utilized by all sovereigns, it must be strictly combined with that civil prudence which guarantees a solid link - already definitively argued by the doctrine of Aristotle - of honesty to usefulness, of virtue to civil commitment. Certainly, the reference to the Catholic faith is explicit, nevertheless - sustains Albergati - it is natural reason which must guide the work of the governors and the governed; this is the main aim of his work: «the reasons of the modern politician, turned down not on the grounds of faith, but on the grounds of natural reason» (RR, 338). Furthermore, in the writing of Albergati, the difficulty of defining the point of equilibrium in the tension between morals and politics, can be found in those passages in which the author confirms the possibility of the prince's carrying out certain dissimilatory practices (RR, pp. 199 and 261).

Federico Bonaventura also intervenes in the debate on reason of state, with the work Della Ragion di Stato et della prudenza politica (1623), in a polemic form with respect to the theoretical definition offered by Giovanni Botero; nevertheless, his aim was that of rejecting the criticisms which were wrongly attributed to it and of firmly emphasizing its autonomous potential within the political government. In fact, according to the author, great confusion had been created over the meaning of the prudent action of reason of state and this has certainly damaged that very noble virtue9. Bonaventura's intention was that of demonstrating - referring to the most relevant of the Aristotelian and scholastic definitions - that reason of state belongs to the domain of moral virtue and of civil prudence; thus, it is tied to the two functions of prudence, the legislative and judiciary functions, but its particular contribution is a consultative one: «the practical approach of ponderi ng a decision, and to decide, according to rightful reason, the most important matters of the Republic, having no other obligation to other principles...; it is a good consultation on the major benefits to the political government» (RS, p. 519). In short, this consultative capacity of prudence is not passively binding to the observance of the law or to the impersonal administration of justice; in effect, in the particular cases which concern what is right, albeit unwritten, and all questionable matters, reason of state «changes, and continually alters, and modifies according to need» (RS, p. 579); «this very noble virtue does not go against the law, it does not restrict it, as some have falsely sustained; but at times it interprets it, where necessary and enlarges on it; thus one cannot say that it goes against the law, and ordinary reason, but that it is above it»10. On the one hand, therefore, Bonaventura criticizes Botero's ambiguity with regard to the decisive relationship of the confrontation between morals and politics; at the same time, he tries to offer a more complex and articulated meaning to the category of political prudence which he considers the only valid remedy to the ineffectiveness of the natural moral laws, which are now contravened in the normal course of events by the violence of civil and religious conflicts. Thus, reason of state is seen as a political discipline necessary to all men of government in order to achieve the health and preservation of the state; in this instance also, as in the case of Albergati, lawful scheming can be used against enemies and also lies can be told to the citizens with the aim of arousing a certain virtuous affection (RS, p. 638).

Lastly, it is worth mentioning - within the ambit of the reactions against Botero's proposal - another particular type of comment, that of Traiano Boccalini. In Ragguagli di Parnaso (1612), notes and comments on the life led on Parnaso, a metaphorical place covering the life span of the powerful, Boccalini submits the theories and practices of reason of state to a radical and scornful criticism. The author announces that the sovereign Apollo has recently been presented with a very remarkable work... on reason of state: this book was appreciated by the princes present in Parnaso but, after careful reflection on the part of Apollo and the wise men of his court, it was bitterly criticized inasmuch as Botero's reason of state was clearly understood «to be a useful law for the states, but in all things contrary to the law of God and of men»11. Thus, Apollo decided to rename the work with its real title which is Politica, since its aim is, indeed, that of s uggesting the use of trickery and deceit as a normal occurrence in every kind of government. Boccalini gives historical examples to prove this truth, showing his knowledge of the authors and the texts of that evil doctrine; more specifically, he considers the Romans, and, in particular, Tacitus, as originators of that reason of state: «Tacitus, the first author to have written in a manner worthy of princes, now so publicly goes in the hands of each and every man, that, even shop-keepers and porters, better informed on the reason of state than on any other science» (RP, cent. I, xxxvi, pp. 404-405).

The works of Boccalini give the clear impression of the widespread diffusion of the expression reason of state within the everyday language of socially different classes; in effect, by means of the shrewdness of a harsh and cutting literary game, he wants to report the heavily critical judgement of common sense over political dominion in whatever form it presents itself. From Tacitus to Machiavelli, from Della Casa to Botero, to all the serious supporters of the art of prudent government, Boccalini dedicates pages of irreverent and amused denouncement.

4. Girolamo Frachetta and Scipione Ammirato: Reasons of State, Interest, War, and the Necessity of Derogation

According to Girolamo Frachetta, reason of state consists of that group of government mechanisms by means of which the prince deals in the discipline of peoples: «reason of state is a body of knowledge or expertise, or discipline, whatever one likes to call it, drawn partially from the teaching of others, partially from common sense and partially from the experience of the things of the world, by means of which others govern one's needs or the needs of whoever, it may be according to the advantage of the person to whom these needs pertain». The sovereign must model himself according to those rules of civil or political prudence which require a firm basis of moral virtues; thus, the prince engages in a process of self-discipline, having to become accustomed to and exercise himself in the use of prudence; on his example his subjects also «normally set out to conform their customs to it» (I, pp. 39-39 b)12.

The political action of the prince should tend towards achieving a positive relationship of command and obedience; hence, the search for consensus from the people. In fact, all princes «need the consent of the people, either immediate, or expressed, or tacit» (S, VII, p. 30). In effect, the achievement of discipline on the part of the people is also tied to the fact that the subjects are, in any case, involved along with the prince if they are motivated by an interest in the preservation of the state and of their possessions (S, XIX, p. 128). In reality, it is also true that men are corrupted by malice, which «is acquired by going to foreign lands, meeting different types of peoples»; moreover, peoples are frequently wicked; «they are of a wicked disposition, and inclined towards fights, and towards rebellions, but being disobedient and not easy to discipline, they are of little use to the militia, and they often turn out to have little compassion» (S, XXIII, pp. 214 and 217).

The political government of the prince can, however, influence the behaviour and natural inclinations of his subjects; first of all, the soul of the plebs can be won over by generously distributing those material benefits which are necessary for the elevation of the people (S, CIX); alongside the job of instilling discipline, the positive function of the laws is still necessary, inasmuch as these can condition the actions of the subjects thanks to the concrete mechanisms of reward or punishment (5, XLII); lastly, in order to achieve the objective of rendering the people obedient, the authority can rely on the traditional instrument of religion, which is of valid support to the exercise of political prudence: «Religion is (without a doubt) the main quality which belongs to a Prince; because it is an acknowledgement that his greatness, and the Empire which he holds over and above other men, derives from God; ... the most prudent of princes were the most religious» (S , IX, p. 51).

To produce discipline, to create order in the state: alongside the traditional instruments of the class ethics of honour and the Aristotelian principles of good management of the house, Frachetta concerns himself with placing the prince's political prerogatives in a better-defined position. These prerogatives must permit whoever is exercising them to carry on the general aim of political preservation by means of elastic and opportune forms of intervention, even in the presence of the new conditions imposed by the substantial modifications which have taken place in the social classes. In an extremely interesting manner, the author proposes a definition of reason of state within the context of a significant relationship which links the reasons of government with those of interest, and also with the inevitable emergencies created by war: «It is important to point out that there are three expressions which are very much in use among political writers and political speakers: The firs t expression is Reason of State, the second is Interest of State, the third is Reason of War. Reason of state, in its most common interpretation, constitutes a straightforward rule by which all things are governed, according to the advantage of the men to whom they appertain. Interest of state means the convenience of an individual as regards the preservation of the possessions owned by that person and the enlargement of them. Reason of war constitutes a straightforward rule for the good government of military matters» (I, pp. 37-38).

Reason of State is that group of technical procedures that are aimed at pursuing a political doctrine which, in the main, is imposed from above onto groups of men which can perhaps be disciplined, but are certainly corrupt and wicked. The technical mechanisms are, in fact, clearly differentiated from the single decisive instrument of force which is aimed at subordinating the subjects; with or without a precise reference to moral norms, the rules of political action can expect to condition the sphere of man's private existence, attempting to directly influence the behaviour of individuals.

Interest of State: the political authority of the prince should tend to represent common interests, which ought to be similar to what is meant by common good. By means of a careful policy of interests, the prince can avoid revolts caused by the aristocratic classes when these find themselves deprived of their wealth. This special effort not to compromise the relations with his more important subjects can contribute towards building a hierarchy of powers which strengthens the sovereign, even against the dangers which come from the people and from the outside enemy: «important and powerful men, loving their Prince, help him, both against the seditious multitude, and against foreign enemies » (S, XII, p. 82).

Lastly, we have reason of war which employs extreme measures for the preservation of political power. Through prudence one tries to achieve measures «which puts things aright for the future, providing for prevention, in order that ills do not arise, and remedies for those which do» (5, XII, p. 81): if there is no possible solution to the difficulties and conflicts, then these will have to be settled through engaging in war; in effect, reason of war is that military prudence which forms the discipline of the soldiers through the imposition of sacrifice, but also through pleasantness and reward (S, LX, p. 366).

The general sense of Scipione Ammirato's position on the subject of reason of state is normally summarized in the well-known expression by which «reason of state is nothing more than the infringement of ordinary principles on account of the public good, or rather on account of a greater and more universal law»13. It must be lawful for the sovereign, in matters of civil law, «to alter, to take away, and to put back according to events» (P, p. 498); moreover, the prince's function of putting in order is fully expressed in the form of the state: «if a state is nothing more than dominion, or rule, or reign, or empire, or any other name one might like to give it; reason of state will be nothing more than, reason of dominion, of rule, of empire, of reign, or of anything else. Tacitus calls this phenomenon mystery of Imperium, or mystery of ruling, namely, certain profound, and intimate, and secret laws or privileges adopted for the safety of that Imperium or ruling; as he wanted to uncover the bad reason of state, when he said cuncta eius dominationis flagitia (lib. 14 car. 99. b) » (D, XII, p. 240).

Ammirato refers to reason of state as a particular form of political jus, which obviously nullifies any type of juridical autonomy for the forms of jus publicum14. Thus, preservation is the keeping of the dominion through exalting the form of political power; with the government mechanisms of the ratio status, public authority finds the necessary condition for the constitution of both order and the hierarchy of powers. Thanks to its intervention one can, in all situations, avoid using the explicit violence of armed force, or even avoid keeping the people in that precarious situation of repression and continual fear (D, XVII). In a particularly careful manner, the political prudence of the prince will have to devote much energy to those social strata which refuse all types of discipline, not being tied to any interest and not having a job; they will have to be obliged to work directly by the state (D, XVII, p. 399).

According to Ammirato as well, the failure of the mechanisms of civil and political prudence inevitably leads to war; in fact, much of his reflection is dedicated to the art of war. According to the author, the prince should purposely see that the rules and mechanisms of military discipline are made to interact on the plane of necessary civil discipline; especially in peace-time, therefore, he should support and exhibit those instruments and norms which regulate obedience in time of war: «it follows that, as the art of war is a discipline, those who are subject to the rule of obedience will never attempt to rebel» (D, XVIII, p. 436 and XX, p. 539).

In conclusion, the sovereign should be able to rely on a normal infringement of the ordinary laws in order to achieve the goals of peace and civil order: this is what Ammirato means when he talks of intervening with suitable government measures in order to achieve a type of preservation which is certainly dynamic, flexible and elastic and which, even by means of slight and imperceptible movements, leads to a functional modification of the hierarchy of powers with respect to the changes which occur in the language and behaviour of individuals and regarding novel elements in the configuration of the various groups of interests pertaining to the particular classes. If this does not prove possible, the discipline of the inept people will be guaranteed by means of the use of force.

5. Techniques of Dissimulation and of Simulation: Pietro Andrea Canonieri and Gabriele Zinano

We have seen that political prudence works as a temporal calculation for the pursuit of a benefit by means of the procedures of dissimulated action: the man of government must train himself to intervene with the appropriate procedures, applying the necessary techniques of dissimulation and of simulation in order to achieve success in the majority of cases. The communicatory code of prudence is based primarily on secrecy: the cognitive instrument of notizia, thanks to the stratagems of prudence, ought to become a means for the serial production of languages and writings which should permit the transmission of the secret knowledge of the political classes, organized for the safeguarding and continuity of the political subjectivity of command. Reason of state bases its action on rendering prudentia politica completely autonomous; this then operates by means of the codification of these techniques of dissimulation, permitting the political subject to carry out those conservat ive adjustments aimed at achieving the control of transformation dynamics in situations of power.

Pietro Andrea Canonieri15 has carried out an explicitly methodical attempt at codifying the technical mechanisms of prudence, with continual and direct references to the numerous writers who have already dealt with the matter of good behaviour; of all of this writer's output, particularly interesting is the description of the modifications that have taken place in the behaviour of the subjects and courtiers on which he particularly concentrates in the volume entitled Il perfetto corteggiano16.

The volume begins by outlining first the figure of the bad courtier, an interesting portrait of the corruption and distortions which exist in the everyday life of the court; the author then continues with a description of the good courtier's behaviour, proposing a detailed list of the general grounds and particular mechanisms for the use of dissimulation. The technical codification is based on the assumption of the differences and contradictions which now exist in the corrupt forms of communication between men, and in particular between the governors and the governed: in other words, there is no longer a valid correspondence or symmetry between the levels of thinking and of communicating - and thus of speaking and of writing itself - and the level of action. First, the author describes in great detail the contexts and the aims of the dissimilatory techniques which adopt silence and not answering; then he goes on to illustrate the rhetoric expedients, useful in the dialogue and in reply ing, which should have the result of not denying the truth, not saying what one shouldn't, leaving whoever is asking at his point of departure; lastly, there is a description of the dissimilatory procedures to be used in one's external appearance, by means of gesture and behaviour (PC, pp. 112-116; see Antologia).

Canonieri's code confirms the defensive nature of retreat in dissimilatory action; thus, the best way to dissimulate is said to be that which avoids an explicit lie just as it does the affirming of the blatant truth. In order to survive in a world of hypocrisy and deceit, one should know how to neutralize every kind of interrogation, in such a way as to avoid saying what should not be said. The main aim of the dissimilatory techniques employed by princes and by courtiers is, indeed, that of cancelling out every kind of positive answer, with the aid of rhetorical instruments and of behaviour targeted at neutralizing the traps contained in the questions asked by the interrogator.

Lastly, in applying the suggested mechanisms, Canonieri places particular importance on the choice of the timing best suited to the particular requirements in each individual instance; appropriate inflection and rhythm should be used when putting into practice the languages and operative codes (PC, p. 199). Thus, the perfect courtier is the one who has clearly understood that he must carefully choose his timing, he must be able to adopt decisions and behaviour, in the secret timing of his thinking and of his acting, in his awareness that this dissimilatory individual timing will be the crucial factor in all decisions, even in the public dimension of everyday life.

The particular contribution of Gabriele Zinano is, instead, that of carrying out a careful codification of those strictly simulative stratagems that can explicitly become a part of the prerogatives of the prince's political command17. According to this author, reason of state, in its particular structure, is an art, operis ratio, similar to the model of the other arts, such as painting, architecture or military art. Zinano offers completely autonomous foundations for the political art of prudence; he also reconfirms the conservative aims of reason of state: «the art of ruling states in order to preserve them for their common happiness» (DRS, p. 3); the practical side of this objective can only be achieved with the use of special technical mechanisms. As emerges from the subtitle of the Ragione de gli Stati (1626), this consists in the force of the stratagem devices aimed at political preservation: the subjects of the government should therefore be con sidered strictly political craftsmen: «the man of state is none other than an craftsman; he uses various instruments to lend stability to his great works, as do all other craftsmen in order to complete their smaller works; ... this art of ruling states, in its practical operating, is characterized by the use of various and peculiar devices in the same way as all other arts» (DRS, pp. 6-7).

Even the exertion of force is, in effect, of no use without the adoption of stratagem devices: against the outside enemy one must overthrow a stronger power, utilizing every kind of evil devices, carried out with malicious cunning (DRS, pp. 7-8); while, within the state, the techniques which support the implementation of the various reasons of government action are based on virtue and try to influence the customs and affections of men, rather than resorting immediately to the direct use of violence: «in order to gain the best advantage, the stratagem devices used, with great care, are applied at times to customs, and at times to affections, and at times almost as generous warriors confident of their own worth, scorning all other forms of company, other than that of prudence, from which they never separate. When stratagem devices are applied to affections, craftsmen always try to appeal to that affection which brings him the most advantage» (DRS, pp. 8-9).

This art of appealing to the affections is aimed at influencing the behaviour of the subjects: it relies not only on dissimulatory techniques, but makes explicit use of mechanisms of simulation, on the condition, however, that the men of government are careful to pursue lawful aims and means: it is, therefore, necessary to distinguish between the stratagems of prudence and the imprudent use of deceit. Thus, referring to Seneca, Zinano first alerts the political subjects of the need for great caution and of the importance of secrecy (DRS, p. 99); in fact, the craftsmen «should act in secret, so much so that the enemy is aware of nothing.... These stratagem devices are used in an excellent manner when he who uses them manages to give the impression that he is far from using them at all. Other than the secrecy to be used by the careful conceiver of stratagem devices, he must be careful in two other ways. Firstly, he must respect his enemy and always doubt that he knows more than him. Secondly, he must always make sure that the stratagem devices are proportionate... equally distributed to things, to people, and to events» (DRS, pp. 10-12)18.

There is a particularly important condition which connects the use of these stratagem devices to the individual timing to be used in their application. Apart from the real time, one must distinguish an artificial dimension of time, which is the time produced by men in carrying out the work of political government (DRS, p. 14); the dynamic nature of reason of state is applied to that rational and practical capacity of the man of government, who manages in the present time to organize and direct men and things with the aim of building a future which is free from dangers and doubts. Nevertheless, in the face of unforeseen events, which produce disorder and disturbances, the author confirms the need for armed force. Zinano confirms that the sovereign's action must be continually adjusted to the lawful goals of the government, even when the adoption of force is inevitable; moreover, the real function of the craftsman still remains that of averting or delaying the use of force as long as is possible: to this end, the prince should acquire that political solertia or political subtilitas, which is the only technical capacity suited to using the devices (DRS, p. 38).

This capacity of political fictio on the part of a person who is governing is inevitably converted into all types of deception and simulation; the prince can adopt every kind of offensive deception on condition that it is a virtuous device; a malicious device, instead, is that proposed by Machiavelli, who feigns virtue and religion (DRS, p. 49). After pointing out this difference, Zinano goes on to give a very interesting description of an articulated series of simulative techniques to which the sovereign may resort, being lawful mechanisms for guaranteeing political preservation (see Antologia).

In short, Zinano proposes an experimental utilization of these simulative techniques; the practical grounds on which the conservative goal is based can only be found in its fulfilment, in the positive or negative results of the action carried out in favour of the public good. Indeed, Zinano concentrates entirely on the classification of the various practical grounds necessary for the preservation of the state: he is not envisaging a reason of state, but as many reasons of prudence as there are technical mechanisms selected for each circumstance. In this connection, Zinano's description is one of the most interesting, if for no other reason than the assertion of the normality of the Ratio status project which develops in two specific directions: towards the outside, in the headlong clash between irreconcilable interests, nothing can replace the role of force: indeed, against the outside enemy, one must overthrow the stronger force by employing every kind of malicious device (D RS, pp. 7-83; towards the inside, the task of the governor is not so much that of eliminating the force, but rather of adjusting and measuring its use by means of every device - even the most wicked - with the aim of submitting his subjects to the discipline of the conservative plan.

6. From the Necessity of the Absolute Quiet of the State to the Possibility of Honest Dissimulation: Giovanni Palazzo, Fabio Frezza, Ottavio Sammarco and Torquato Accetto

The conservative approach of Giovanni Antonio Palazzo in his Ragion vera di Stato (1604) begins with a description of the attributes of the state: «The state is an identity and a temporal peace of things; i.e. being always of the same essence and constant in the foundations that are at the basis of its functioning; the state represents both the dominion and the power of Princes, called state because of the intention of those princes to render it always stable and firm» (RVS, pp. 12-13 and 14)19.

In sustaining the need for quiet as the form of perfection which God originally gave to nature, Palazzo intends to demonstrate the possible compatibility between morals and politics, between normative regulation and sovereign laws. In reality, men's actions and behaviour normally upset the desired harmonious consonance of religion, both moral and political: we are referring to that condition of «perpetual war, being all things subject to a continual wind of passion which renders men unstable and weak in all the actions of their life». Man's universal weaknesses are described by the author as follows: «the blindness of the mind, the deliberately wicked disposition, the physical passions and needs with the rebellion against common sense»; human frailty is permanent and inextinguishable, «being human nature inclined towards evil, as if it were surrounded by stubborn enemies, by internal and external passions and having in this life nothing but war ». A greed for wealth and a lust for power exalt wicked passions, decidedly contributing towards the corruption of behaviour and the neglect of those moral norms which inspire temperance and justice: hence, the ruin of the cities, which suffer the damage caused by the excessive and uncontrolled pursuit of those things which consist merely in pleasure (RVS, 367, 103, 33-34, 16 and 59, 348-349).

In this context, the function of reason of state begins to take shape: it puts into effect the principles of prudentia politica, offering the sovereign the possibility of finding a remedy and putting obstacles in the way of those movements which disturb the quiet and perfection of the state. Thus, reason of state points to those elements which permit the sovereign to resist against movements of distortion; it attempts to re-establish in its original form that which has been upset by men, who have rendered infamous the political institution: «to return to the same order and rule, to the original peace and former quiet» (RVS, pp. 102, 98 and 34).

Palazzo's particular aim consisted in that of defining the right and good reason of state to the wrong and bad one; inspired by theological Aristotelianism, the author exalts the necessary positive correspondence between divine law and civil law, placed by God in the very nature of political government: it cannot be denied that «reason of state has been taught us by God and by nature, impressing it on human minds, revealed by the Scriptures, and clarified by civil laws» (RVS, pp. 19-20). It follows that bad reason of state consists in adopting a «reason of governing which is separate from the order of the laws», as it is carried out «against the design and against the intentions of divine and human laws» (RVS, pp. 22-23). Prudentia politica implies that the sovereign should possess theological virtues: he must guarantee justice, thus the perfect harmony between moral law and civil law; in this respect, reason of state also means assuming the task of guiding and controlling human behaviour, and this he does by means of positively combining the incidence of religion based on interior beliefs with the mechanisms for instilling political discipline in the external behaviour of his subjects. Thus, reason of state must constitute a very strong positive restraint to natural passions and must produce constancy, i.e. permanence and regularity in the behaviour and in the language of the subjects (RVS, pp. 50, 102, 11 and 365).

Although the practices of dissimulation and of simulation is to be considered normal and very widespread among men, nonetheless, they must undoubtedly undergo certain modifications. Indeed, Palazzo denounces the corruption deriving from the thirst for gold and silver and from the shameful power of money (RVS, pp. 3, 246-247, 270, 273 and 348-350); in this connection, the author emphasizes that the necessity of limiting the negative consequences of wealth arises from the urgent need to control the harm caused by the passions. Far from the well-thought out relationship sustained by Botero between reason of state and reason of interest, Palazzo does not consider the stimulus to private enrichment to be an element which can render more effective the government of things and of men. Indeed, he strongly underlines the contradiction between wisdom and the pursuit of those interests aimed at the well-being of the individual and of social groups. In this sense, wisdom does not mean the d ynamic inclination towards preservation on the part of those individuals who want to safeguard or increase their individual interest but, rather, it is seen as a necessary condition of truth and of goodness which must be affirmed or re-established within human behaviour thanks to the positive action of the prince's prudential government.

Reason of state, therefore, is that group of mechanisms which are employed in order to influence the behaviour of the incapable and inept people: its main objective is that of achieving a specifically political discipline of command based on force. Particular goals are, therefore, assigned to the role of political prudence pertaining to the prince: firstly, restrain the excesses of pleasure and pain, limit the harm induced by wealth and poverty, achieve the unification of language and behaviour and organize a common way of life for his subjects (RVS, pp. 191 and 364). In this way, reason of state operates towards levelling the differences in the habits, the customs, the language and the interests of the subjects with the aim of building a pacified and safe state: moreover, neither social groups nor individuals, possibly motivated by their own interests, can be a party to this undertaking; lastly, with respect to those who have no means of subsistence, the sovereign shall engage them in the service of public good, employing them in the militia with the aim of defending the safety of the state (RVS, pp 359-363).

Thus, Ratio status intervenes with the instruments of a vertical discipline: imitating the order of nature and of art, the political reason of sovereigns shall make use of that constituent order with which God himself governs the entire universe; with a decidedly deductive approach, one must intervene at the base and at the foundation of human wickedness rather than take action against results, namely the branches of that tree by which Palazzo represents political society (RVS, pp. 250-251). In effect, it is extremely difficult to imagine how the contrast - created by the arguments of Palazzo - between the need for the peace of political order and perpetual war between men could be solved in any other way except that of imposing an absolute political discipline on the subjects, tendentially absolved from any moral obligation. On account of this, at the very end of the passage, the arguments developed are no longer consistent, when the author explicitly supports a principl e of derogation for the prince: «The Prince can, for reason of state, contravene human laws, not being subject to these, in the same way as he can annul those human laws which with time have been found to be unreasonable, being human actions in the majority of cases imperfect» (RVS, p. 378).

In conclusion, with respect to the project of indissolubly integrating morals and politics, the only difficulties which remain are those encountered in the application of political prudence; this gave rise to the ideological arguments of the peace and perfection of the state, in an attempt to make up for the lack of consensus over the absolute powers of the Spanish sovereign and, at the same time, to suggest grounds for government mechanisms which are always prepared to exert the direct use of force.

With explicit reference to the teachings of Girolamo Frachetta, Fabio Frezza writes a commentary of Massime to Tacitus (1614) and a series of Discorsi politici e militari (1617) in which he investigates those nodal aspects which allow for the preservation and continuity of the political dominion with respect to the plebs who are considered ignorant, insolent, despicable, inconstant, changeable, eager tor novelties (D, pp. 130-131)20. Particular attention is dedicated to the role of fear in the exercise of political power, and, thus, to the indispensable function of religion and to the analysis of dissimilatory techniques (D, pp. 34-44, 73 and 157-158). Also of significance is the way in which the theme of conspiracy is dealt with: «conspiracies are the secret plotting of a few, whose aim is either the killing of the Prince alone, or of him and of all those belonging to his House, or of those who govern, and the overthrowing of the state» (D, p. 161); faction can be distinguished from conspiracy inasmuch as it is directed towards the elimination of the prince in order to achieve a project of ambition or power on the part of a single person or of a party. Thus, it constitutes an immediate means for the challenging of power: the works of Tacitus describe the instances and the means, using the examples passed down by the authors of Imperial Rome (for example the attempt made by Seiano against Tiberius), while, according to the writers on reason of state, conspiracy can also be a lawful instrument aimed at political preservation against the baseness of the prince who has placed the state in difficulty (D, p. 162).

According to Frezza, the causes of true conspiracies lie in the cruelty and greed of the prince, which produce the rejection of the principle of common good on the part of political authority and the realization of an enormous power and unjustified accumulation of wealth on the part of the king; this gives rise to disobedience on the part of the subjects and creates social disorder, which the action of a few conspirators, with the intention of eliminating the prince, can attempt to avoid or to limit in order to attain the positive result of the preservation of the existing condition of power (D, pp. 163-164). Furthermore, all conspiracies against good princes, arising out of «vanity of intellect and wickedness of spirit» are to be considered unlawful (D, p. 166): indeed, such conspiracies render the positive situation of preservation unstable, causing inevitable harm to the people.

Thus, Frezza considers conspiracy as a normal instrument and necessary part of the policy of preservation; it can be looked upon with favour on condition that the elimination of the subject of command does not upset the conservative essence of the dominion. The practice of conspiracy can be seen as the other side of the careful intervention of the prince who - in accordance with the principles of a prudential reason of state - resorts to the use of armed violence when his dominion is threatened and when the conversion of armed force into political practices of conservative prudence is no longer sufficient.

A further aspect of the problem, that of the techniques essential for government stability and for the fate of the Spanish presence in Naples - is the main theme of the work by Ottavio Sammarco, Delle mutationi de' regni (1628)21, regarding the problem of the changes which inevitably take place in all states. The causes of these changes are numerous: a desire for novelty, inconstancy, thoughtlessness, the impatience of the existing government and a decision on the part of the more powerful to implement change (MR, pp. 111-112); a negative judgement of the people and of the people's government is explicit in this instance as well: «going from one extreme to another, the people soon precipitate headlong into licentiousness, instead of acquiring freedom: they break out into a thousand unjust and violent acts, persecuting the rich, expelling the nobility, bringing down the worthier men, making the crowd the master of the laws, and reducing everyone to a miserable and u nhappy equality» (MR, p. 128). However, the mad desire to change the existing situation of power is even more widespread because it also includes the offended aristocratic bodies and the impoverished nobles: «Thus, every wise Prince ensured and ensures, that the more powerful part is fond of him and obeys him; in order to be safe with regard to change, as he has nothing to fear from that part of his subjects who are weak and lazy; thus on the contrary he cannot rule long, if the more powerful part is already resolved in favour of change. Thus, seeing that the more powerful part is already well-disposed towards change he quietens them, by conceding those things, or at least promising to, whose lack has caused turmoil» (MR, p. 115).

It is clear, therefore, that the prudential reason of the prince must operate in the sense of eliminating every movement, even the very slightest, which could upset his political command; he must proceed with justice and firmness with respect to the major feudal lords, as «the greater the importance of his ambitious subjects, the greater are the worries of the Prince, and the advancing of those who rise over and above the others must be observed with great care. Thus, he must be continually on the alert in order to prevent any audacious and disinclined subject from reaching an excess of clients, of followers and of strength. And, thus, if a suspicious subject reaches such a point, either he proceeds to raise others, in order to counteract his power, or little by little he must remove the foundation of his ambition, sending him away from the state in the form of an honour» (MR, pp. 113-114). This use of the prince's prudential capacities, as emerges clearly, adopts particular measures of time; indeed, the sovereign must be familiar with and exercise the art of governing through the use of different temporal moments: «very prudent advice is to proceed slowly, indeed, not to rush headlong; because very often one can receive great benefit from the passing of time, either because the subject's inclination towards the more powerful vanishes; or because the more powerful part already resolved in favour of change calms down or becomes less keen; or because the impatience of the present government is mitigated or controlled; or because the dissatisfaction of the King's government diminishes or disappears: or because the custom which is offensive to the state of a single man is eliminated or weakened» (MR, p. 118-119).

In effect, political prudence contributes towards guaranteeing the continuity of one's dominion, avoiding unexpected novel elements and proceeding with calculated slowness; furthermore, the prince has the advantage that he alone is in a position to know and intervene in the complex elements of the government: «Change, in the Reign, is extremely dangerous for the people, extremely injurious to whoever attempts it; but very much more difficult to carry out; indeed, it is impossible to accomplish; because it calls for numerous essential requisites, almost impossible to put together: and it is true that if even one is missing, the change cannot take place in a proper manner» (MR, pp. 133-134).

Confronting this praise of the Spanish conservative policy in the Neapolitan region, Torquato Accetto proposes a work in which he sustains the necessity of dissimilatory action as an instrument of defence on the part of the subjects with respect to the pervasiveness of the government of political prudence.

At the beginning of the brief work Della dissimulazione onesta (1641), the author states that dissimulation, besides being a natural condition for human life, is a technique which is acquired through the experience and the reflection on every day life and which constantly leads to a mask, to the duplication of each individual: «dissimulation is a profession, which cannot be used as a profession other than within the school of one's own thinking. If one were to wear the mask every day, one would stand out over all others on account of the curiosity of everyone» (DO, p. 152)22.

Dissimulation is a profession inasmuch as it constantly puts to the test that particular capacity of knowing how to intervene with appropriate timing in each instance: it is none other than «a veil made up of honest shadows and great caution, which does not give rise to falsehood, but somewhat slackens the truth, to demonstrate it later on...; although in all other instances continual use is of help, in dissimulation the contrary is true, as it seems to me that to adopt a practice of continual dissimulation never produced good results» (DO, p. 151).

Thus, there is no homogeneous and univocal timing in dissimilatory action, as the content and procedure of dissimulation involve differing fractions of time which regulate the intervention of different subjects: and it is this characteristic which undoubtedly contributes towards rendering communication between individuals more complicated, constituting, in effect, a permanent state of tension and risk in intersubjective relations. Moreover, the author underlines that, in contrast with simulative art - harmful as it leads to deceit through blatant pretence - honest dissimulation comes within an equivocal and ambiguous category, although certainly lawful and fruitful in the behaviour of men; it is, therefore, a prevalently defensive technique: «it is permitted to change one's appearance in order to conform to the season of good fortune, not with the intention of doing harm, but with that of not receiving it, and only in this case can one tolerate a person who wants to make use of dissimulation which, however, is not fraud» (ibidem).

The author explicitly affirms that dissimilatory techniques are not a sufficient solution on their own, they do not represent valid action: they do not allow for carrying out civil action and finding common ground for the particular interests of the subjects and political authority. Dissimulation applies only in the case of the individual's interest in self-preservation within a separate sphere of society, in the limited areas of the so-called household economy (domus, vici); if the ingiusta potenzia of political authority, resulting only in repression, does not guarantee either physical life or individual possessions and, perhaps, not even natural laws (DO, p. 116): in this case, the only interest to be followed on the part of the subject is dissimulation, which at least is of help to him in not experiencing excessive or irreparable harm.

Furthermore, the practice of dissimulation limits and diminishes the single sensitive and impulsive experience: in order to achieve the aim of concealment, the eyes of the mind are, in effect, obliged to be given first place and to guide the senses. And yet dissimulation does not mean complete renunciation: indeed, it «is an aspect of great intelligence to give the impression of not seeing while one is actually seeing more, as the game is such that one's eyes appear closed and yet are open within oneself» (DO, pp. 158-159).

In short, dissimulation means keeping one's eyes only a little closed: honest dissimulation means adjusting one's behaviour to a world of dissimulators; moreover, this situation does not exclude the dynamics of competition and of prevarication, which require particular care and intelligence to face and resolve: «he who knows best how to appear stupid will have the most success, because, pretending to believe in a person who wants to deceive us, may result in his believing what we believe» (DO, p. 158).

The real difficulty of this entire situation is represented by the possible effects of concealing oneself from oneself; thus, one must be very careful not to lose sight of one's dissimilatory action (DO, p. 159); this is the reason why dissimulation must be made up of well thought out techniques of concealment and of self-concealment. According to Accetto as well, dissimulation is a matter of good manners and self-discipline; ability to govern oneself and the timing of our actions: «a knowledge of others gives rise to that control which man has over himself when he keeps silent at the right time, and reserves, again for the right time, those considerations which tomorrow, by chance, could prove good and today are bad» (DO, p. 151).

Only if he learns to control his interior timing will man, in his dissimulation, achieve the effect of concealment with respect to the person who is governing, and so succeed in carrying out that art «not only of the concealment of external possessions, but those of the spirit» (DO, p. 166). Pointing out the distance and the conflict which separate the moral spirituality of man from the outward condition of conformity, Accetto suggests putting into effect those instruments which are best-suited to the preservation of one's individual autonomy: safeguarding the private sphere of life through carrying out a series of external adjustments with respect to the hierarchy of roles defined by political power.

Ambiguity, equivocation, silences, changes, repetition, retreats, deviations: dissimilatory action basically only offers the means for a temporal and spatial defence. The author strongly emphasizes how the use of these mechanisms involves the continual risk of a loss of identity on the part of the individual; it is, in effect, difficult to rely on common ground which guarantees unity to the single individual masks: indeed, it is not easy to identify a reference point such as this in a type of political authority which remains decidedly separate from the conditions of the individuals and of the social groups. Thus, dissimulation consists in a circular interaction of infinite dissimilatory acts: these are used to avoid a direct confrontation with whoever is in power; in the face of an oppressive political authority, the public exercise of speech can only be carried out in the direct form of a clash, to be settled by means of the negative and extreme instrument of violence. Moreover, the violence is a means which is inevitably destined to failure when it is used by the oppressed, inasmuch as the chance of building the unity and the strength necessary to find an identity which is intersubjective and collective, is exposed to communication difficulties and to the reciprocal incomprehension between individuals conditioned by language and by dissimilatory behaviour. Revolts, insurrections and sudden deflagrations are, in effect, the only possible outlets for a person who remains trapped in the everyday practices of concealment and of disguise: a territory which is governed by a stubborn political preservation is mostly marked by inconclusiveness and by the vacuum which is cyclically produced by extreme breakdowns and which is then unfailingly filled again by the continuity of whoever is in command. Indeed, for those in command, situations of revolt and of rebellion are further opportunities for exhibiting and for showing off images and signs of force, publicly justifying o ne's existence. These explosions of violence and of aggressiveness come from subjects who have not done enough towards positively building a reasoned self-discipline, aimed at wisely preserving and promoting their individual and social condition. In such situations, which repropose exactly the constraint of an insurmountable state of nature characterized more by adjustments than by conflicts, the condition of the private positive relationship of social exchange between individuals and between social groups is not possible: just as it is difficult to achieve a positive relation of recognition between subjects and public authority.

In conclusion, conscious self-discipline-the complete authority which man has over himself on the part of the individual who tends towards being prudent, is based on the fact that, within the historical and political situation in which he lives, he is not placed in the position of taking advantage of the possibility of meeting with the government authority in order to pursue that path which, elsewhere, is stimulating differentiation and autonomy between politics and society, both public and private.

With respect to those governments which operate purely in the sense of controlling and restraining the possible diversifications and accelerations in individual timing - as indeed occurs in the territories of the Neapolitan viceroyalty under Spanish dominion - the subjects can only take note that a productive outward representation of individual needs and potentiality is impractical; this gives rise to that particular kind of defensive self-control, which avoids any constructive relationship with government authority and which merely succeeds in preserving and promoting fragments of cultural and regional identity: it is, therefore, impossible, in terms of public confrontation, to arrive at the creation of a profitable cultural and social exchange. In areas such as these - where there is virtually no chance of producing wisdom, except for particular groups of interests and social classes which are separated one from the other23 - the behaviour of the more careful individuals is limited merely to the exercise of personal prudence, to honest dissimulation.

7. Reason of State Seeks an Agreement with Civil Laws: Lodovico Zuccolo

In a different type of work, prudential reason of state is more interested in the problem of achieving consensus on the part of the subjects with respect to the political authority. In his support of reason of state, Lodovico Zuccolo, in Considerazioni politiche e morali (1621), sustains that the practices of reason of state only constitute a part of the government function; politics pursues the general goal of providing for the happiness of those who obey and those who command and must guarantee the participation of the people in support of political authority; it is for this reason that Zuccolo considers the republic to be the best institutional form of government. The author points out that, in effect, Aristotle himself only considered the monarchy the best form of government because it referred to an impossible perfect state, «while in practice, he gives more importance to popular government, than to any other. As according to Aristotle, people are very much mo re capable of prudence than of goodness» (C, 335-336)24.

The people can certainly contribute to the success of government procedures and the author makes a series of decidedly positive considerations in this regard; politics is distinguished from that group of procedures which comes within the sphere of reason of state, inasmuch as political action should concern the complex network of reciprocal communication between the citizens and between the citizens and the king; the prudential techniques of Ratio status, instead, are aimed at carrying out a series of conservative adjustments in the form of provisional agreements in the continual confrontation between the behaviour of the citizens and the requirements of government; these dynamic adjustment processes should be able to rely on good techniques of discipline on the part of reason of state and also on the individual's capacity of self-government and of education (C, 72).

Reason of state fully confirms the autonomy of the task of political prudence, which intervenes in the creation of the positive relations of command and obedience, with the particular aim of skilfully training the people to obey one individual: the unity and strength of political authority should represent the natural reference point of all the dynamics which derive from the social parties (C, 73).

Furthermore, prudential mechanisms try to «keep the people occupied in activities, or in games, or in festivities, and always be certain of knowing what they are saying, and show that they are wellinformed» (C, 312); again, political prudence provides that the indolent and the lazy are kept busy with work, «whoever does not work of his own free will, must be forced to work» (C, 113). Zuccolo considers this disciplinary function of Ratio status a particular attribute of the monarchy, of the reign, which tends to authoritatively impose behaviour on the part of the subjects in conformance with civil laws.

Apart from a fondness for the republic, Zuccolo ends by supporting the form of government of the reign: in reality, this means accepting and exalting the techniques of prudentia politica, which can always rely on the instrument of the example and strength of the king as decisive elements for the imposition of command; furthermore, Zuccolo's political project is that of describing the operative effectiveness of good reason of state and, thus, following the convinced Aristotelian indication of fighting against tyranny at all times: «tyrannus enim, suam, rex subditorum utilitatem spectat» (C, 68).

In the consistent context of the theory and practice of reason of state, the only guarantee which Zuccolo requires from the political authority of the king is that of insuring that the plan of natural and moral laws is in agreement with that of the civil laws handed down through custom; we also come across the dubious argument of an extensive power of derogation which remains in the hands of the prince: «Those laws, which by their very nature are unjust, but are appropriate to the place, the time, and the manner of the government, the Prince can himself observe them or not observe them, as he can make and annul them: but it is better, that inviolably, he observes the one and the other, when he desires that the subjects obey them willingly» (C, 337).

Zuccolo's literary production is the direct expression of the tensions which characterize the late Renaissance period of political Aristotelianism. Thus, the happiness of those who obey and those who command remains the expression which epitomizes one of the main requirements and, at the same time, a major difficulty of the conservative project of reason of state; a disciplined and convinced adhesion of people to the work of the government requires the recognition - on the part of the authority in power - of the autonomy of the different languages and behaviour, arising from the different social contexts and from the new generations. If these forms of communicatory and practical exchange between different groups of people are not achieved, imbalance and dissatisfaction can result, which evil governments believe can only be faced by means of those machines of wickedness, already described by Aristotle and considered favourably by Machiavelli (C, 70).

8. The Sufferings of Political Prudence as Described by Virgilio Malvezzi

During the period under consideration - the end of the sixteenth century to the forties of the next century - there are many more political works which testify to the importance of the theme of reason of prudence in government procedure; however, only some of these works propose new arguments with respect to those dealt with by the authors examined so far. In effect, the last important texts of this political literature propose a two-fold level of intervention: on the one hand, an even more detailed discussion of the themes already dealt with by the preceding literature points to the sterile repetition of the elements of conservative planning; other authors, instead, concentrate on the all-important difficulties and limits of the theory and practice of prudential reason of state, offering useful critical comments from the inside of the logical development of reason of state.

The particular contribution of Scipione Chiaramonti in his work Della ragion di Stato (1635) consists in his having emphasized the existence of a multiplicity of reasons of state, which - certainly with differing arguments - all can claim to have autonomous applicative procedures25. The author offers a description of reason of state by connecting the two fields of justice and prudence: «good reasons of state, essentially, can be reduced to two: one is universal justice, the other is political prudence, the first of which concerns the law, the second the advantage of the state» (RS, p. 437). The interesting aspect of this research is tied to the fact that an analysis of the possible different definitions of reason of state - derived from what can be considered just and useful with reference to the three specific variables of ordinary, extraordinary and apparent - is carried out with an explicitly systematic approach; in this work, the aut hor utilizes the instrument of Aristotelian logic, consciously assumed in a specific interpretative line of thinking chosen out of those produced by the best debate on the methodus which took place at the end of the sixteenth century26. A reconstruction of the expository order given by Chiaramonti to the development of his treatise allows one to comprehend the full maturity of the arguments and of the methodological foundation which the writers on reason of state give to their subject; in effect, the logical development adopted by Chiaramonti can be considered a typical model of many works on Ratio status, both as regards the political literature produced in the Catholic areas and the majority of the literature of the reformed regions27.

The contribution of Lodovico Settala is of a different kind; his volume Della ragion di Stato (1627)28, is structured on the fifth book of Aristotle's Politica, assuming the three forms of straight government and the other three indirect as explanatory criteria of the means of implementing reason of state; from his arguments it is clear that he maintains that all known forms of state have the right to exist because, in practice, they do exist, and that all things are predisposed according to the advantage of the person who is governing. Under certain conditions, reason of state risks becoming a machine; indeed, it has a two-fold development: on the one hand, acting under a purely political guise, it pursues the moral aim of the extreme good, inasmuch as the prince subordinates his own interests to those of the state; on the other, one cannot ignore the autonomous development of that machine, whose effectiveness can be directed towards ethically unlawful goal s. Settala confines himself to describing various procedures which are, in themselves, capable of neutralizing every kind of moral rule: the transmission of secret and simulatory procedures, which are then gradually incorporated into the memory of the written codes, would seem to allow for the production of automatic functions in reply to the demand for particular conservative adjustments.

A considerable part of Settala's arguments are derived from Zuccolo; however, he does not develop those decidedly problematic elements contained in Zuccolo's works, regarding the ways of creating an efficient two-fold relationship of command-obedience and obedience-happiness: indeed, he applies an argumentation mechanism based on the rule of absorbing and conforming aimed at the neutralization of the problematic points contained in Zuccolo. In effect, the only element which Settala considers important for the spiritual conviction of individuals remains the religious creed: «religion fills the peoples with reverence; it protects them from violent government; and is always on guard at that door, through which the difficulties which are most dangerous to empires and most harmful to princes, are always attempting to come in; ... to allow religion to be changed or to be modified within the states, is not only harmful to princes who are legitimately governing, but it can likewise mean the collapse even of the tyrants» (DRS, pp. 45 and 49).

In reality, in works such as those of Settala's we have the phase of transition from a dynamic situation of research and of problematic self-interrogation to a position of sterile procedures of selfapproval of the reasons of political prudence through reference to authors and theoretical positions which are already well-known. Furthermore, the continual arguments dealing with obvious automatisms in the decisional processes of political government, that apply to situations in which new elements or difficulties are not envisaged, give the impression of constituting rigid elements within the proposal of political and social preservation; hence, the tendency to exalt the vertical aspects of political discipline carried out through the forced imposition of prudential mechanisms. Thus, it would seem that reason of prudence mechanically applies, as if by heart, the technical devices it possesses to the novel elements and to the requests for change coming from within the social bodies; in effect, the exalting of the autonomy of the conservative political intervention tends to give a sense of conforming homologation and of mechanical application of widely recognized codes.

The work of Virgilio Malvezzi stands out from the specific context of the debate on Ratio status, while, on the other hand, it is inevitably involved in the rediscussion of its categories and methods of intervention29. From his particular condition of politician, the author outlines a number of themes which aim at emphasizing elements of difficulty which emerge from the applicative procedures and from the mechanisms of reason of state. Malvezzi points to concrete difficulties in the functioning of reason of state and this constitutes the particular importance of his contribution which takes the form of an explicit denunciation of the ineffectiveness of these political practices.

At the beginning of his political writing, Malvezzi's concept of political prudence is still a positive one; indeed, in Discorsi sopra Cornelio Tacito (1622), the arguments which comment the work of Tacitus are based on a theoretical context which fully supports the hypotheses on which political preservation is founded30.

After a few years, in Il Romulo (1629), Malvezzi carries out a critical and radical revision of the codes of political prudence: his considerations now lead him to accuse the general form of contemporary politics: «the facts pertaining to Princes are presented in all ways with the exception of the true way», while the principal support of politics comes from the use of force (R, pp. 7 and 11). This different approach to the problem allows Malvezzi to highlight important arguments concerning the concrete effectiveness of prudential mechanisms: primarily, he warns that the uncontrolled and excessive renewal of political dissimilatory procedures, in the long run, end up becoming a negative element of government. Again, in the work Tarquinio il Superbo (1632), the author writes «States, which are maintained by art, can indeed last if managed by very wise craftsmen, but only for a short period of time; art needs to operate undercover, and cannot con ceal itself, if it is frequently used.... When one wants something to appear differently from what it is, if one wants a good result, one must use it only occasionally» (TS, pp. 111-112; also R, p. 82). Moreover, Malvezzi is in favour of a downright refusal of the use of force on account of the uselessness of violence in the things of government: «that cruelty, which is of no use to domination, is enraged, not discerning. Whoever applies it, is a wild beast, not a cruel man... Let armour be far from the hands of the Prince.... If a state is managed on anything, other than on its form, it is violent; if it is violent, it will not last» (TS, pp. 9, 11 and 14).

Malvezzi no longer considers that the timing of intervention in political prudence is fully capable of leading to a dynamic kind of preservation: it is as though there were a block in the production of political order. Thus, one can strictly speaking refer to an incapacity to comprehend and to intervene on the part of the politicians, who state that they refer to the laws without, however, being able to interpret them and apply them: in fact, they themselves seem completely incapable of understanding those changes which gradually take place in the behaviour of the subjects. In Davide perseguitato (1634), Malvezzi first underlines the power and inevitableness of the recourse to the political instrument of reason of state; in its operating it completely disposes of the life of men: «To punish what has been done belongs to the law, what one would like to do, is reserved to God, what one could do, belongs to the tyrant. When it is not justice but reason of state, that wants t he death of a subject, he has no remedy» (DP, p. 75). In short, the machine of reason of state is preferred by political subjects, inasmuch as it links together strength and interest; it neutralizes the passions of the subjects and favours the interest of those who enforce their command. In Davide perseguitato, a clear and wellarticulated denunciation emerges of the various levels on which interest operates: the differences between individual interests, the political interest of the prince, the exasperation of interest of state on the part of the tyrant. Interest is the ethics of the world: firstly, interest acts as a natural instinct and produces conflicts which are not easy to control; moreover, the benefits offered by the prince succeed in obliging only the reasonable and generous subjects: the wicked ones intervene in order to damage political authority (DP, p. 65); in conclusion, natural affection, encouraged by the in dividual pursuit of interests, can never be completely counterbalanced and disciplined.

Starting from these premises, one must, therefore, recognize the existence of a political reason which is capable of governing the stubborn partiality of individual interests and of favourably directing that collective force made up of the dynamics created by individual passions: «the passions of the People are too intemperate, always taken to extremes, and this is not a characteristic of the People, because it is a People, but rather because it is a multitude, within which each one has its own particular passion, and then participates also in those of the others, and with this participation his own passion is increased» (DP, pp. 140-141).

The critical description of the machine of reason of state contributes towards consolidating Malvezzi's conviction that this strong model for the exercise of political command, of which a large part is now rigid, does not permit the achievement of an active and lasting discipline on the part of the subjects. However, the only reference to the past - even though very carefully rewritten in codes of the forms and times for the application of technical mechanisms of political intervention - is not sufficient to achieve bonds of strict obedience on the part of the subjects. The obvious results attained from the procedures of reason of state - even in their more dynamic and careful forms - are those of the strength and the physical elimination of whoever acts against the political subject in power: the incapacity to capture individuals and social bodies within the system of control and discipline is solved, in a future moment in time, which is also unpredictable but inevitable, by th e exercise of violence. The fate of political prudence seems clear to Malvezzi: for a long time, it has rendered the intervention of the prince ineffective and has produced suffering for his subjects, as they have become uncertain and anxious over the future.

Instead, the author proposes a compromise between the dynamics of wisdom which come from the more reasonable citizens and the interventions of prudence on the part of the prince. In Davide perseguitato, Malvezzi supports a government project which can rely on the advantage of future obligation, well-received by the citizens themselves: «the very false assertion, that to operate under obligation, diminishes merit, is as dangerous to the Prince, as it is harmful to his subjects. Indeed it strengthens merit because the subject should be rewarded, not only for his present actions, which he has carried out, but also for his future actions which have been obliged» (DP, p. 88).

Thus, the prerogatives of whoever exercises power are argued according to a project which refuses the unconditional ties of a tyrannical power and favours, instead, the positive figure of a balanced governor: princes should not have to rely on an extraordinary power, as do tyrants who tend to give priority to the interests of state (DP, p. 74); moreover, governors should not consider themselves completely absolved with respect to civil laws, as they must remain liable under the moral laws of natural reasons: «I would like to take this occasion to say to Princes, that they should seldom behave contrary to rules, and to laws, if I did not have to tell them that it benefits them never to depart from them. It is not right to state that they possess an extraordinary power to act, and it is a false creed, that they can at times exercise free will in their judgement. It is right that Princes are absolved from those rules, and from those laws, which they have enacted, but not from that rationality on which they are based. Their free will, when it is not regulated by written law, comes under natural law» (DP, p. 19).

In this connection, Malvezzi, in Ritratto del privato politico cristiano (1638), initially maintains that the application of procedures and timing on the part of reason of princes should not be reduced to an empirical practice of adjusting political action to the models deriving from ancient times. The polemic target of this position is certainly a high one: indeed, none other than Machiavelli; he is not accused of evil - according to the current standard accusation of a considerable part of the writers on Ratio status -, but rather, instead, of approximation and of error in the methods used for the evaluation of the factor of experience in the task of political construction: «Nicolò Machiavelli was also wrong in believing that it was to the benefit of history to take advantage of experience, and from this error, as from a root-cause, derive all those [errors] which, in Politics he has made. Just as in medicine the empiricists are condemned so in politics mu st be those who support example» (RPP, pp. 155-156).

Thus, empiricist philosophers are in error when they claim that they can define the rules of political action by means of the accumulation of examples derived from ancient times; in spite of what Machiavelli maintains, man's behaviour and customs are always changing. According to Malvezzi, it is significant that the prince bases his political decision on the experience he has gained through a careful and continual observation of the changes in men's actions. The art of governing, therefore, should not imitate ancient models; it must succeed in discerning behavioural change and new elements in language, in order to then autonomously proceed to the definition of the rule: «We should not only not avail ourselves of the examples of the Ancients, but not even of those of Modern Man; they derive from events which are too big, to be considered comparable, they look for too many of them, to constitute a rule; they are very dangerous, because they are not always sons of prudence, but qui te often of fortune, and fortune cannot be at the basis of a decision nor is it to be hoped that it could» (RPP, p. 156).

In effect, the conclusions of Malvezzi's work contain a series of very critical elements: the process of acting autonomously, which is at the basis of the principle of political prudence, is faced with a major difficulty, namely that reason of state tends, in practice, to become a machine, i.e. it applies those means which are suitable for the conservative project of political command in a mechanical fashion, according to a scheme, codified in an increasingly rigid manner, which the princes apply by heart with respect to their subjects. Virgilio Malvezzi accuses those empirical and mechanical philosophers who have rendered politics a sterile art, and have now become incapable of interpreting transformations and novel elements in language and behaviour. He proposes a different method: one must influence men's actions, convincing the subjects, however, of the need for an active attitude of obedience towards authority; thus, the prince must be familiar with the foundations which make up h uman conduct in order to intervene effectively on the interior aspects of behaviour. However, Malvezzi's proposal is weak on the constructive side: it, anyway, points to the need of going beyond the limits of this form of production of political obedience and of social discipline - that of political prudence - which proves to be increasingly inadequate with respect to the requests coming from various generations and from heterogeneous groups of people.

9. Reason of State as an Item of the Modern Political Dictionary

The variegated book of reason of state - made up of the contributions of the various Italian authors analyzed - restores the overall and articulated meaning to the notion of political prudence. The various works would seem to suggest that the more impersonal form acquired by the political institutions in the European history of the end of the sixteenth century cannot overlook the direct action of a strong subjectivity, which is holder of command, and which operates in the direction of rationalizing, in the best manner possible, the prerogatives and the techniques exercised by the prince in the formation of decisions, in the creation of a bond of obedience for the subjects and in the use of force.

Starting from Botero's decisive proposal, this specific political literature contributes towards increasing an exchange in communication and a tendentially public debate in which the very form and dimension of the printed serial production of these texts appear as a crucial factor. In fact, it is, indeed, the communicative procedure through printed matter which has allowed for the continual cognitive accumulation of the various experiences and the consequent possibility, on the part of the theorists of political matters, of carrying out a careful verification of the initial assumptions made. The continual series of confrontations between the categories of prudence and the experiences of men of government certainly facilitate, on the one hand, the more complete formalization of the theory and, on the other, favour the enlargement and integration of the codes of intervention which are applied in the concrete policy of princes. The continuity and repetitivity of this literary production o n reason of state - significantly different from the sixteenth century literature dedicated to illustrating the virtues, the specula of the princes - is made up of texts which propose numerous differences, small but meaningful changes, almost imperceptible to a naive reader. This gives rise to the production of a codification which exalts the use of techniques in the implementation of political government, according to a methodological experimentalism which points to the timing and procedures for the use of the various mechanisms of dissimulation and of simulation, of concealment and of deceit, employed by the subject exercising command: from this point onwards, political action is in a position to carry out a rational prediction of the future, a prognosis, that can rely on operative regularity and be transformed into multiple possibilities of intervention.

A further aspect which emerges clearly from this book is the diversity in the ways of interpreting and of carrying out political prudence: first, the well thought out arguments of Botero maintained the necessity of rendering compatible, within the domain of political government, the interests of the social bodies and the prerogatives of the prince; next, the proposal of the vertical imposition of the political order (Frachetta, Ammirato, Palazzo, Sammarco, Settala), up to Zuccolo's proposal of clearly defining the limits of the intervention of reason of prudence with respect to the civil laws, rendered possible by the consensus of the subjects and the sovereign. In order to better attain political preservation, whoever is exercising command must be in a position to employ each of these different means of intervention depending on the situation at hand, taking into consideration the time, the place and the conflicts which are present in each specific case. Each of the so-called m eans of prudence is virtually connected to all the others; certainly, an intermediate position of the conservative mechanisms - the one so splendidly described by Botero - constitutes the reference point to be preferred: however, with respect to this position, forward or backward movements are to be carried out - in employing the techniques in the times suggested by the codes - according to the requirements deriving from the particular conditions of intervention. This is the only way to effectively carry out dynamic adjustments - consisting of deceleration, suspension, unexpected acceleration, sudden stops - which permit the uninterrupted preservation of the existing situation of power.

Furthermore, conservative reason of state assumes the separation between the normative plane and political procedure as an established fact, based on the unresolvable tension between the lawful ideal envisaged for government institutions and the techniques for rationalization of political activity. The goal of preservation is, therefore, pursued by the prince through practical government procedures which keep the institutions and the action of the political form well away from the other spheres of individual and social activity; in this way, the prince will control the timing of political decision separately and, alongside this, he will control the particular timing which regulates the discipline of his subjects' behaviour. A task of the subject in command is, indeed, that of governing the separation between the various timings, given by the differentiation processes of the various cultural moments and of the novel elements which emerge in the field of language and behaviour, including those which pertain to the new generations of men and women. Furthermore, the practical techniques of political prudence will try to guarantee the preservation of the conditions of the existing dominion, disregarding the particular form of the present government.

More specifically, political prudence must attempt to keep a check on the conflicts and contradictions caused by individual and collective identity, which give rise to instances of change in the institutional organization of powers. In the face of these instances, conservative prudence makes particular use of the dynamics of timing; these interventions are limited by the mechanical nature of repetition in the use of the prudential techniques: however expert in segmenting and separating the different timings to be used in applying the conservative techniques, the political subject in command cannot rely on a timing of infinite adjustments and of endless repetition. However, there will be an unresolvable temporal intersection which will lead to a point that signals the impossibility of completely integrating novel elements and change on the part of the mechanisms of reason of state; this brings one to the inevitable emergency of the conflicts between the political and public function of prudence and individual and collective differentiations caused by new forms of single or associated life.

Thus, it is impossible not to foresee that, in the face of the obstacles and conflicts which prevent the conservative project from ensuring the permanence and regularity of its mechanisms, the answer of reason of state is that of employing the last instrument designed for the protection of exclusive powers and particular prerogatives: the use of force. In the modern political era, armed violence and war normally and cyclically interrupt the positive forms of informative exchange and of non-violent behavioural practice accumulated by successive generations of men and women, who ask for the transformation of the institutional conditions of the established command, for a change in the equilibriums reached between the various powers. Aside from the mechanisms of political prudence, reason of state has no other answer: thus, armed violence becomes an instrument for the repression of novel elements; in the same way, violence becomes the expression of the direct form of challenge and refusal of conservative constriction on the part of the subordinated subjects, who want to escape from that political dominion which produces material suffering and anguish: the experiences of revolt and of rebellion, disruptive and extreme in their very inconclusiveness, point to the impossibility of being able to achieve elements of transformation from within the conservative framework.

With these complex instruments, prudential reason of state participates in the processes of the so-called modern political rationalization; on the characteristics of this presence, which reaches down to the present time, there is a hidden history waiting to be discovered.


1 The historical and critical bibliography on the specific theme of reason of state - including the most important works from 1860 to 1993 - can be found in «Bollettino dell'Archivio della Ragion di Stato», Napoli, I (1993), pp. 15-92, published and updated in this catalogue.

2 Francesco Guicciardini, Del reggimento di Firenze, in Opere, a cura di Roberto Palmarocchi, Milano, Rizzoli, 1941-1942, vol. II, p. 666.

3 Ibidem, p. 667.

4 L'Orazione a Carlo V can be found in Rime et prose, Vinegia, edited by Niccolò Bevilacqua, 1558; the quotations are taken from pp. 69 and 62. For a reconstruction and interpretation of this document, see Rodolfo De Mattei, Il problema della «Ragion di Stato» nell'età della Controriforma, Ricciardi, Milano-Napoli, 1979, pp. 10-12.

5 In Due orazioni di Mons. Giovanni Della Casa per muovere i Veneziani a collegarsi col Papa, col Re di Francia e con gli Svizzeri contro l'Imperador Carlo V, Lione, edited by Bartolommeo Martin, undated, p. 13.

6 The quotations of Botero's works have been taken from the following editions (indicating the abbreviations adopted): Della ragion di Stato, Venezia, Gioliti, 1598 (RS); Aggiunte alla Ragion di Stato, Venetia, edited by Gio. Battista Ciotti, 1598 (A); I Capitani, Torino, Tarino, 1607 (C). A good bibliographic introduction to the life of Botero is that by Luigi Firpo, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, XIII (1971), pp. 352-362; an important critical bibliography on the work of Botero edited by Enzo Baldini can be found in Botero e la ragion di Stato, Atti del convegno in memoria di Luigi Firpo (Torino, 8-10 marzo 1990), Firenze, Olschki, 1992.

7 Apollinare de' Calderini, Discorsi sopra la Ragione di Stato di Giovanni Botero, Milano, P. M. Locarno, 1597 (abbr. D), p. 61.

8 This criticism of Machiavelli is expressed in La republica regia, Bologna, Vittorio Benacci, 1627 (henceforth RR) II, xix, p. 57-61. De Mattei (Il problema della «Ragion di Stato », cit., pp. 28-29, nota 35) reports the passages of the various authors - Frachetta, Brancalasso, Giurba, Fabri, Hyppolitus and Collibus - each of whom testify to the use of this expression on the part of the Pope, invested in 1566.

9 Della Ragion di Stato et della prudenza politica libri quattro, Urbino, Alessandro Corvini, 1623 (abbr. RS), p. 31; this is a posthumous work, written by Bonaventura more than twenty years before its printing.

10 According to Bonaventura, the concept of prudence is directly tied to that notion of equity, epieikeia, initially introduced by Aristotle and later elaborated by Suarez; on Suarez's approach to this category, see my work Ragion di Stato e Leviatano. Conservazione e scambio alle origini della modernità politica, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993, pp. 43-50.

11 Ragguagli di Parnaso. Centuria prima, Venezia, Pietro Farri, 1612 (abbr. RP); the quotation is in Centuria seconda, Venezia, Barezzo Barezzi, 1613, Ixxvii, p. 401.

12 The references to the work of Frachetta can be found in the following editions: L'idea del libro dei governi di Stato et di guerra, Venezia, edited by Dam. Zenaro, 1592 (abbr. I), and Seminario de' governi di Stato e di guerra, Venezia, edited by Evangelista Deuchino, 1617 (abbr. S); another interesting work is Il Prencipe, Roma, for Bernard. Beccari, 1597. On the life and work of Frachetta, the volumes by Enzo Baldini are significant, Per la biografia di Girolamo Frachetta. La famiglia e gli anni di Rovigo e di Padova (1558-1581), in «Atti e memorie dell'Accademia patavina di scienze, lettere ed arti », XCII, iii, pp. 40-44; Puntigli spagnoleschi e intrichi politici nella Roma di Clemente VIII. Girolamo Frachetta e la/sua relazione del 1603 sui cardinali, Milano, Angeli, 1981.

13 Discorsi sopra Cornelio Tacito, Fiorenza, F. Giunti, 1594 (abbr. D); the quotation can be found in XVII, p. 231. For a very detailed introduction to the life and works of Scipione Ammirato, see Rodolfo De Mattei, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, III (1961), pp. 1-4. Very interesting essays can be found in Opuscoli, Fiorenza, Massi e Landi, 1637, 3 voll., edited by Scipione Ammirato il Giovane; among these it is worth mentioning the Principe (t. III, pp. 459-498; P), the brief work Della secretezza (t. I, pp. 315-353), also Discorsi varii (t. II).

14 This aspect of Ammirato's philosophy is dealt with by De Mattei, Il pensiero politico italiano della Contronforma, vol. I, Milano-Napoli, Ricciardi, 1982, pp. 259-260.

15 This work by Canonieri, in line with the works of Tacitus, is Quaestiones ac discursus in duos primos libros Annalium C. Cornelii Taciti, Romae, ap. Barthol. Zanettum, 1609, and the work dedicated to the problems of reason of state: Dell'introduzione alla Politica, alla Ragion di Stato e alla pratica del buon governo, Anversa, edited by Iochino Trognesio, 1614. For a brief critical and biographical introduction to this author refer to the Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, XVIII (1975), pp. 175-177, edited by V. Castronuovo.

16 The full title of this work is Il perfetto corteggiano, et dell'Uffizio del Prencipe verso il Cortegiano, Romae, edited by Bartol. Zanetti, 1609 (abbr. PC)' in the premise Alli lettori, the author refers to the enormous literary production on behaviour which he continually quotes throughout the text, furthermore, this premise contains a long list of authors: «Giovanni Sarosboriense, Guevara, Stefano Guazzo, Giovanni Vallense, Gabriel Pascoli, Pellegro Grimaldo, Della Casa, Bonifazio Vannozzi, Gilberto Cognato, Muzio, Matteo Buonamico, Ipolito à Collibus, Tommaso Garzone, Tacito, Enea Silvio, Baldassarre Castiglione, Luziano, Duro de Pasculo, Lorenzo Ducci, Annibal Scotto, Cesare Evitascandalo, Sigismondo Sigismondi, Cicerone, Lipsio, Celio Calcagnino».

17 The works by Zinano which are used and referred to in the text are as follows: Della Ragione de gli Stati libri XII, dove si tratta di tutte le spezie e forze de gli artifici, intorno a tutti gli affari de gli Stati. E dei modi di acquistarli e stabilirli. E perché si sogliono corrompere e mutare, si dicono le cagioni e l'arte di conservarli, Venezia, edited by Gio. Guerigli, 1626 (abbr. DRS); Il Segretario, dove si dimostra l'arte di maneggiare tutti i negotii 51 di Stato, come di tutti gli altri affari, Venezia, edited by Gio. Guerigli, 1625 (abbr. S); and also Il Consigliere, ove si mostra con qual'arte e accortezza debba procedere in tutt'i consigli per ben pubblico d'ogni Stato, Venezia, edited by Gio. Guerigli, 1625. For an initial introduction to the figure of Zinano, see De Mattei, Il problema della «Ragion di Stato», cit., pp. 177-179; for a particularly detailed biographical study see the research carried out by F. Manzotti, Gabriele Zinano, scrittore politico del 1600, in «Nova Historia», XV (1952j, genn.-febbr.; a useful reference is also the work by U. Onorati, Gabriele Zinano, Signore di Bellay. Un trattatista della ragion di Stato e intellettuale della Controriforma reggiano, taken from «Contributi» (1985, n. 18), Reggio Emilia, 1986.

18 See Il segretario, p. 5: one must use that kind of device «which consists in appearing to want one thing, in order to obtain another».

19 The work by Giovanni Antonio Palazzo Del governo e della ragion vera di Stato first appeared in Naples, edited by G.B. Sottile, 1604; a subsequent edition - to which the quotations refer (abbr. RVS) - is entitled Discorsi del governo e della ragion vera di Stato, published in Venice by Gio. Antonio e Giacomo de' Franceschi in 1606. Exhaustive information on the life and works of the author is contained in the essay by Enrico Nuzzo, I percorsi della «quiete». Aspetti della trattatistica politica meridionale del primo Seicento nella crisi dell'«Aristotelismo politico », in « Bollettino del Centro di Studi vichiani », XVI (1986), pp. 25-29, in the footnotes 17-19, containing references to the most significant critical literature.

20 Discorsi politici et morali, Napoli, T. Luongo, 1617 (abbr. D).

21 Delle mutationi de' regni, Napoli, L. Scoriggio, 1628 (abbr. MR).

22 Torquato Accetto, Della dissimulazione onesta, Napoli, published by Egidio Longo, 1641 (abbr. DO); the edition referred to here is contained in Benedetto Croce-Santino Caramella, Politici e moralisti del Seicento, Bari, Laterza, 1930; this anthology contains an introduction dedicated to the figure of Accetto (op. cit., pp. 290-297); a good edition is the one by S. S. Nigro, Genova, Costa & Nolan, 1983.

23 Of great interest is the analogy proposed by Rosario Villari between the behaviour of individuals and of groups involved in prudent dissimulation on the one hand and the Masonic approach on the other (in Villari, 1987, p. 42). These practices are not directly targeted towards assuming political responsibility, but are rather based on the «sealing off» of group interests on the part of the professional classes with the intention of guaranteeing their particular position of privilege within society: these privileges are to be safeguarded by means of tacitly supporting the political authority in power, with the clear aim of preserving the existing political condition.

24 Lodovico Zuccolo, Considerationi Politiche e Morali sopra cento oracoli di Illustri Personaggi antichi, Venezia, M. Ginami, 1621 (abbr. C).

25 The work of Scipioni Chiaramonti subsequently referred to is Della Ragione di Stato, Fiorenza, published by Pietro Nesti, 1635 (abbr. RS). A good introduction to the thinking of this author can be found in Gino Benzoni, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, XXIV (1980), pp. 541-549; Rodolfo De Mattei dedicates an entire essay to Chiaramonti, Scipione Chiaramonti e la varietà della «Ragion di Stato», in Il problema della «Ragion di Stato», cit., pp. 129-141.

26 In Chiaramonti De Methodo ad doctrinam spectante. Libri quattuor, Caesenae, published by Carolus Nerius, 1639, the author argues from the inside the logical development concerning the problems of the contemporary debate which hinges on the opposition between the different interpretations given to the theories of Zabarella and Piccolomini.

27 It is worth recalling the complete correspondence, in the logical and methodological aspects and problems, which exists between the two regions - that of the Counter-Reformation and the Protestant region - with respect to the expository requirements of Ratio status; more specifically, with regard to the Germanic area, very significant is the logical work by Bartholomeus Keckermann, Systema systematum, Hanoviae, apud Haeredes Guilelmi Antonii, 1613.

28 Lodovico Settala, Della Ragion di Stato libri sette, Milano, G.B. Bidelli, 1627 (abbr. DRS).

29 For an introduction to the historical figure of Malvezzi and to his works, one should first of all refer to the well-known volume by Rodolfo Brändli, Virgilio Malvezzi, politico e moralista, Basilea, U.S.C., 1964, with its rich bibliography and its discussion on the critical fortune of the author; essential information can be found in Luigi Rossi, Scrittori politici bolognesi, Bologna, Compositori 1888, pp. 163-173, there are numerous interventions by Benedetto Croce: Virgilio Malvezzi e i suoi pensieri politici e morali, in «Atti della R. Acc. di Scienze Morali e Politiche di Napoli», vol. VII, parte prima, Napoli, 1928; Stona dell'età barocca, Bari, Laterza, 1929, pp. 29, 139, 143-149, 152-155, 436-438; Nuovi saggi sulla letteratura italiana del Seicento, Bari, Laterza, 1949/3 pp. 94-109. There is an interesting discussion on Malvezzi's aphoristic style in the work by Ezio Raimondi, Letteratura barocca. Studi sul Seic ento italiano, Firenze, Olschki, 1961, pp. 196-246; the detailed documentary research and the philological aspects are of significance in the contribution by F. Calef, Alcune fonti manoscritte per la biografia di Virgilio Malvezzi, in «Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana», LXXXIV (1964), pp. 71-98 and 340-367.

30 The texts reported here are taken from the following editions: Discorsi sopra Cornelio Tacito, edited by Marco Ginanni, Venetia, 1622 (abbr. D); Il Romulo, edited by Clemente Ferroni, Bologna, 1629 (abbr. R ); Il Tarquinio Superbo, edited by Clemente Ferroni, Bologna, 1632 (abbr. TS); Davide Perseguitato, edited by Giacomo Monti, Bologna, 1634 (abbr. DP); Il ritratto del privato politico christiano, edited by Filippo Ghisolfi, Milano, 1635 (abbr. RPP); L'Alcibiade e Il Coriolano, both edited by Dozza, Bologna, 1648 (abbr. A and C); for the more important editions and translations of Malvezzi's works, see the above-quoted essay by Brandli, pp. 109-114.

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