The Prince of Utopia, Thomas More’s Utopia and the Low Countries

Maarten Vermeir

Resumo


Thomas More wrote the basic lines of the first book and the main parts of the second book of Utopia with the description of Utopian society, during his embassy in the Low Countries and staged the conversation on the state of Utopia between a Raphael Hythlodaeus as the narrator of the Utopian story, a Pieter Gillis and a Thomas Morus in the city of Antwerp, the main port and economic heart of the Low Countries and of Europe at that time. However, a comparison between aspects of Utopia and aspects of political, cultural, religious, and socioeconomic life in the Burgundian Low Countries at the beginning of the sixteenth century was missing from the scholarship. In this paper I will present such a comprehensive study of Utopia, unlocking the crucial meanings and purposes of the most enigmatic book in the Northern Renaissance, and by doing so making way for a renewed and more prosperous study of civic humanism, now in context of the political cultures in the Low Countries and of the Christian humanism of Thomas More and Erasmus. This paper offers the extensively elaborated written text of my research presentation at the RSA conference in New York, March 2014, where I met professor Lisa Jardine to whom I dedicate this publication, as well as to my beloved parents and grandparents.

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