Machiavelli in the British Isles : Two Early Modern Translations of The Prince book cover
1st Edition

Machiavelli in the British Isles
Two Early Modern Translations of The Prince

ISBN 9780367882501
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
310 Pages

USD $48.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Machiavelli in the British Isles reassesses the impact of Machiavelli's The Prince in sixteenth-century England and Scotland through the analysis of early English translations produced before 1640, surviving in manuscript form. This study concentrates on two of the four extant sixteenth-century versions: William Fowler's Scottish translation and the Queen's College (Oxford) English translation, which has been hitherto overlooked by scholars. Alessandra Petrina begins with an overview of the circulation and readership of Machiavelli in early modern Britain before focusing on the eight surviving manuscripts. She reconstructs each manuscript's history and the afterlife of the translations before moving to a detailed examination of two of the translations. Petrina's investigation of William Fowler's translation takes into account his biography, in order to understand the Machiavellian influence on early modern political thought. Her study of the Queen's College translation analyses the manuscript's provenance as well as technical details including writing and paper quality. Importantly, this book includes annotated editions of both translations, which compare the texts with the original Italian versions as well as French and Latin versions. With this volume Petrina has compiled an important reference source, offering easy access to little-known translations and shedding light on a community of readers and scholars who were fascinated by Machiavelli, despite political or religious opinion.

Table of Contents

Machiavelli's Principe and its early appearance in the British Isles.  English manuscript translations.  The burgess humanist: a life of William Fowler.  The Fowler translation: the state of the manuscripts.  The Queen's College translation: the state of the manuscript.  A critical reading and commentary on the translations.

View More



Alessandra Petrina is Professor of English Literature at the Università di Padova, Italy. She has published The Kingis Quair of James I of Scotland (1997) and Cultural Politics in Fifteenth-century England. The Case of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (2004).


'Petrina's study of Machiavelli's early reception and translation in Renaissance England and Scotland represents a major advance in our understanding of the role played by Italian culture in the British Isles.' William J. Connell, Seton Hall University, USA ’[Petrina has] meticulously reconstruct[ed] the history of the circulation of The Prince, tracking down all known editions and manuscripts as well as all references to lost manuscripts, partial drafts, and mysterious allusions. Leaving no stone unturned, she has examined editions, fragments, dedications, title pages, and marginalia [...] producing, as a result, an example of intellectual history and philological scholarship at its best.’ Renaissance Quarterly '... gathers together so much finely researched information on the wide circle of acquaintances and subjects that William Fowler was involved with... this book deserves, and will surely gain, a wide readership in early modern studies and amongst students of the northern Renaissance in particular.' Journal of Northern Renaissance 'This book is an excellent scholarly analysis of the impact of Machiavelli's The Prince in England and Scotland in the sixteenth century... [Petrina] throws light on Machiavelli's moral neutrality showing in the process how this was often misinterpreted as immorality. The text is well-annotated throughout and the book contains an exhaustive bibliography. It is a fine contribution to the new Ashgate Renaissance Studies Series.' Journal of Anglo-Italian Studies 'The editorial work could scarcely have been better accomplished; and Petrina moreover provides a substantial introduction surveying Machiavelli's early reception in England and Scotland, the surviving English manuscript translations of Il principe, and what is known of William Fowler's diplomatic and literary career. There is a careful discussion of the state of the relevant manuscripts in Edinburgh and Queen's College Oxford, followed by an illuminating critical readin