The Modes and Orders of Religion: An Exploration of the Political Use of Religion in Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy Open Access

Bedi, Aman (Spring 2023)

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In his Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli shows his dissatisfaction with Italy’s current situation and holds Roman Catholicism as at least partly responsible. This thesis attempts to distill how Machiavelli thinks religion could be used for political purposes by analyzing Machiavelli’s portrayal of Roman paganism, Roman Catholicism, and religion in general. Furthermore, the thesis concludes that for a religion to be used well, it must be good. This thesis contributes to the ongoing debate over Machiavelli’s ideal religion by suggesting that Machiavelli is proposing to imitate the model of German Christianity right before the Protestant Reformation. Structurally, the first three chapters describe how Machiavelli thinks religion can be used politically as a maintainer, reformer, and moral protector. The final chapter focuses on how German Christianity contains the best attributes of Roman Catholicism and Roman paganism and thus is an example of a good religion.

Table of Contents

Introduction: pg.1

Chapter Ⅰ: Religion the Maintainer: pg.6

Chapter Ⅱ: Religion the Reformer: pg.23

Chapter Ⅲ: Religion the Protector: pg.29

Chapter Ⅳ: What makes a religion Good: pg.33

Conclusion: pg.44

Bibliography: pg.46 

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