Niccolò Machiavelli: Father of Modern Constitutionalism

Ratio Juris 28 (2):216-225 (2015)
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Niccolò Machiavelli is the father of modern constitutionalism. Constitutionalism began anew in the modern world with the study of the ancient republics and it was Machiavelli who inaugurated this revived science of politics. Five hundred years after the composition of Il Principe and the Discorsi we are still working out the implications of applying reason to the structures of law and government in pursuit of justice and the common good. Modern constitutionalism and ancient republicanism share three central beliefs: first, that government should serve justice and the common good; second, that government should do so through known and stable laws; third, that these will best be secured through the checks and balances of a well-designed constitution. Machiavelli took the theories and experiences of republican Rome and applied them to his own era. This application of reason to constitutional design transformed the politics of emergent modernity and reconfigured government throughout the world



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Mortimer Sellers
University of Baltimore

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