The Influence of Carlo Sigonio’s ‘De Republica Hebraeorum on Hugo Grotius’ ‘De Republica Emendanda’

Guido Bartolucci

Abstract: Carlo Sigonio’s De republica Hebraeorum (Bologna, 1582) was an important treatise examining the institutions of the ancient Israelite state. In studying this work, we come to realize that it should not be considered merely as an erudite treatise. It raises and addresses significant political issues. It adds to the array of political models available in the sixteenth century by placing the Hebrew state on the same footing as other ancient polities considered exemplary models for developing political thought, such as Athens, the Roman republic, and Venice. Evidence of the pivotal role of Sigonio’s work can be found in its influence on Hugo Grotius’ De republica emendanda, a work in which the Dutch lawyer directly draws on Sigonio’s model of the Israelite state and applies it to the Dutch republic. This paper will contribute a perspective on when, why, and how interest in the political institutions of the Hebrews became a central concern in the emergence of modern European political thought.

Biography: Guido Bartolucci received his doctorate in 2004 from the University of Bologna in religious studies, social sciences, and historical studies of the religions. He was a visiting fellow in 2002-2003 at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies and at the Seminar für Judischen Studien at Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg. His published articles include "La teocrazia ebraica di Carlo Sigonio" in Annali di Storia dell'esegesi and “Venezia nel pensiero politico ebraico rinascimentale: Un testo ritrovato di David de Pomis, in Rinascimento. He is the author of La repubblica ebraica di Carlo Sigonio. Modelli politici dell’età moderna (Florence: Olschki, 2007).

Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2007) pp. 193-210