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The Renaissance Conscience

The Renaissance Conscience

Harald E. Braun (Editor), Edward Vallance (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-444-39679-9

Apr 2011, Wiley-Blackwell

176 pages



This book presents one of the first studies of the Renaissance notion of conscience, through examining theological manuals, legal treatises, letters and other sources of the period.
  • Represents one of the few modern studies exploring developments in scholastic and Renaissance notions of conscience
  • Synthesizes literary, theological and historical approaches
  • Presents case studies from England and the Hispanic World that reveal shared traditions, strategies, and conclusions regarding moral uncertainty
  • Sheds new light on the crises of conscience of ordinary people, as well as prominent individuals such as Thomas More
  • Offers new research on the ways practical theologians in England, Spain, and France participated in political debate and interacted with secular counsellors and princes
Notes on contributors ix

Introduction (Harald E. Braun and Edward Vallance) 1

1 Jean Gerson, moral certainty and the Renaissance of ancient Scepticism (Rudolf Schüssler) 11

2 Conscience and the law in Thomas More (Brian Cummings) 29

3 'Guided By God' beyond the Chilean frontier: the travelling early modern European conscience (Andrew Redden) 52

4 Shakespeare's open consciences (Christopher Tilmouth) 67

5 Women's letters, literature and conscience in sixteenth-century England (James Daybell) 82

6 The dangers of prudence: salus populi suprema lex, Robert Sanderson, and the 'Case of the Liturgy' (Edward Vallance) 100

7 The Bible, reason of state, and the royal conscience: Juan Márquez’s El governador christiano (Harald E. Braun) 118

8 Spin doctor of conscience? The royal confessor and the Christian prince (Nicole Reinhardt) 134

Index 157

“Conscience is unquestionably a key word and concept during the period this book covers and it is illuminating to be reminded of the diversity of contexts in which it figured. At the same time, the editors’ expression of diffidence about one aspect of their project—they ‘‘hope’’ that the authors’ ‘‘reflections’’ will contribute to ‘‘our still modest knowledge’’ (10) — may be more broadly apt.”  (Renaissance Quarterly, 1 July 2012)