De tyranno

The title of De tyranno, which was completed in late August 1400, takes up one of the most common topics of medieval political and juridical literature, chiefly echoing 14th-century civil-law doctrine. Of all Salutati’s works, this one has probably garnered the most attention in recent historiography on a historical and doctrinal level, due to its dual and seemingly contradictory nature. On the one hand it is presented as a ‘manifesto’ of the quintessentially humanistic motif of the defence of republican libertas against any form of personal or absolute power.

On the other, however, it is a ‘defence’—with Dante—of the principle of the universal monarchy of the Roman emperor, exemplarily identified as Caesar. Nonetheless, De tyranno stands out as an organic interpretation of the general principles of political rule, reflecting the mental workings of a man with a solid legal background for whom republican and monarchical ideas are by no means contradictory, but coexist and complement each other.