Parodic Ambitions: Preludes to Faustus and Macbeth

An Sonjae (Brother Anthony)

There has long been a debate about the linkage between the existence of things and the perception of them. Philosophers have spent centuries discussing whether the universe or anything in it (the tree in the back garden, for example) can in any sense be said to exist unless an eye and a mind exist to observe it? If we start with "nothing," even that, being a word as well as the ultimate paradox, implies an observing "something." Likewise with the word "absence", which can only have meaning if there is a presence experiencing the fact that something which might be there is not. Out of a sense of lack grows a wanting. The wanting, full-fledged, takes off in flight as what is generally known as desire. If it attains its goal it gains what initially was felt to be lacking and feels satisfaction; if it fails, the result is the disappointment today often known as frustration.

Thus desire engenders the striving to get, which is one aspect of the human will. Hope arises as the quest appears to be capable of achieving what was desired. Getting enables us to have; having, if it is good, means we enjoy possession of presence, and so come to be more fully alive. Only the more we have, the more we want, generally speaking. The happier we are, the happier we want to be, the more alive we are, the more alive we want to be. Possession prompts further desire, having reveals what still we lack. Desire is an endless restlessness, as Herbert's "Pulley" says, driving us on relentlessly in all kinds of directions.

The Renaissance is often said to have been interested in the "Chain of Being" but in actual practice, a better expression for one of its central concerns might prove to be "the Chain of Desire." Ambition is another word for desire, and the two words are frequently interchangeable with the sense of "aspiration up".

In Sidney's "Astrophel and Stella" we find a portrayal of the way desire takes control of a man's mind and will, driving him into social and psychological alienation. Desire leads Astrophel into suffering and despair, yet he never once regrets having followed its urgings. Many readers have sympathized strongly with his plight and felt that the author wished them to do so. Perhaps Sidney did not quite realize the forces at work in his own creative unconscious, for "Astrophel and Stella" cannot be read as a moralising tract telling people that they ought not to desire. You might as well tell starving people not to be hungry, as Astrophel himself suggests.

Sidney's refusal to condemn Astrophel or to offer a fictional release by inventing a moralistic "happy ending" is parallelled in the way Marlowe handles the story of Faustus and Shakspeare the story of Macbeth. Faustus's desire is intellectual, he wants to know more and more as his way to empowerment. Macbeth is Tamburlaine revisited, he wants to rule absolutely and unconditionally. As with Astrophel, we follow the careers of these figures with a sympathy approaching identification. If Faustus and Macbeth are seen as wicked misguided fools, their proper tragic complexity is surely betrayed. There may be a sense of release at the end of the plays, but it is hard to believe that anyone is wholeheartedly glad to see Faust torn apart or Macbeth killed. Faust and Macbeth are sublime suggestions of what each of us might well have been.

Behind these works is a sense that the course of an individual's life is shaped by that person's deepest desire, to the point that the will is the main expression of identity. For the Renaissance, desire to know, to rule, or to love, leads people down dramatic paths.

The Renaissance was fascinated by the complexities of desire and negociated with them in varying ways. In its Christian modes it acknowledged that all desire is fallen desire. Desire ever tends to be concupiscence, that "Band of all evils" out of which sin springs, a source of suffering since it can never be satisfied. The key objects of desire are love, knowledge, and power: all at the same time most wonderful and most terrible, blessing and curse, infinite and unsatisfying, leading to heaven and to hell.

The topic of desire underlies Petrarch's intuition, expressed in his De vita solitaria (1346), that the time had come "to reveal Man to himself once more." The supreme nobility of being human, Petrarch affirms, lies in the fulfillment of the human person's potential as one created in "the image of God." That divine origin is the source of the universal human desire to be more and more fully "like God."

Fundamental to Petrarch's work is St Anselm (1033-1109). He is a major source of Petrarch's vision of humanity. One of Anselm's key works, his Proslogion (1077-8), contains the expression Fides quaerens intellectum (Faith in search of understanding). Can the human mind conceptualize the Divine Being in any valid way? Anselm insists that God is a perfection of Being that is not open to proof or disproof by human reason (he says that the only valid definition of God is id quod nihil maius cogitari potest "that than which no greater can be conceived"). Yet after we come to knowledge of God's perfection by Faith, we desire to achieve likeness with the Perfect by following the path of human perfection. A vital part of human perfection is the use of the mind God has given, and the highest work the human mind can perform is to find "necessary reasons" for faith in God, a task by which the human mind becomes aware of itself desiring to know a truth that it cannot contain.

For Anselm, curiosity draws the human mind beyond all apparent limits to the contemplation of God. He is aware of the existence of ultimate limits, since only God can know God as God, but invites his readers to explore boldly and sustains the paradox involved in thinking the unthinkable to the end.

In the 13th century universities, Aristotle came to enjoy enormous prestige, it seemed that his ideas were identical with Christian faith. Now Aristotle, reacting against Plato's speculative approach, was convinced that all direct knowledge of the divine lay beyond human capacities, since knowledge is only available to us through the data given by our senses. The Scholastics agreed. "We can know that God is, but not what he is," says Aquinas. Scholasticism denied the validity of the desire to know God directly that had been so strongly affirmed by Anselm. The faith revealed to and taught by the Church constituted the only means by which humanity could know and speak of God.

This denial was to have enormous consequences. Science flourished while God became virtually an absentee landlord, leaving people to a fate that nothing could change, salvation or damnation having been ordained from all eternity. If there could be no direct communication with God, and no avoiding his predestined judgement, how were people to live? Salvation was not the result of good works, since nothing people might do could merit salvation, yet clearly there must be a connection between how a person lived and how God would deal with them. The answer, provided in England by such philosophers as Ockham and Holcot, stressed the duo Reason and Will, rather than Grace. The human reason becomes the main guide to wanting what is good and rejecting what is wrong; here too, then, the human mind is seen as being the central guide in choices that can lead infinitely upwards, and ultimately to God.

Yet other thinkers still followed the way of direct knowledge prompted by an insatiable desire. Raimon Lull (1232- 1316) was born in the Mediterranean island of Majorca, which was Christian but also Arab-Islamic, while many educated Jews also lived there. Because of this, perhaps, he longed to find a way of communicating the Christian Gospel to Moslems and Jews, people having quite different philosophical backgrounds, in terms accessible to them.

Lull hoped to lay the foundations of a general science of knowledge which would be capable of including every particular science. At the centre of his work is the human mind desiring to think God in a superlative act, beyond sense-knowledge (which is good) and reason-knowledge (that is better). Lull was later said to have died after being stoned by a Moslem mob while preaching in North Africa in his eighty-fourth year, his quest seemed to have failed. But in the early 15th century Lull's ideas reached the university of Padua, part of the region governed by Venice.

Venice was open to the East, familiar with cultures quite unlike its own. Petrarch lived there for a time, and after 1400 Venice and Padua were centres for the study of Greek science and poetry. Scholasticism had a pessimistic view of humanity and all human desires; in Padua scholars returned to a more optimistic view of human potentiality. In this milieu, Lull's ideas spread.

In 1417 Nicolas Krebs (1401-1464), known in Latin as Cusanus (of Cusa), one of the greatest thinkers of his age, came to study in Padua. He stayed there until 1423. One of his central works is De docta ignorancia (about learned ignorance) (1440): "the better a man knows his own ignorance, the greater his learning will be" (quoted in Schmitt / Skinner 673). Here he explores the great paradox: all human thinking about God is indirect: symbolic and metaphorical; yet God is infinite and therefore infinitely beyond any metaphor. "There is no end to symbolisms, since no symbolism is so close that there cannot always be a closer one" (quoted in Kerrigan / Braden 97). The infinite is always beyond our mind's grasp, only suggested in the paradoxical enigmas that he calls coincidentia oppositorum (coincidence of contraries). All we say about God can only be a parody of the truth.

So why not give up, say that there can be no knowledge? Because of a desire, a thirst inherent in the human mind that he calls "wonder" (admiratio) that gives rise to "wanting-to-know." In other words, the human mind can never stop seeking more knowledge, always straining at its limits in order to become more truly itself. God has created us thirsty to know God, and God wants to be known; the result is that at our most truly human we cannot stop desiring knowledge of God, the ultimate reality, striving for the infinite.

In the next generation, Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) translated the works of Plato into Latin, almost all for the first time, publishing them in 1484. At the same time he translated the Corpus Hermeticum, occult works believed to have been written by an Egyptian sage, Hermes Trismegistus. For Ficino, Plato was the inheritor of the "ancient theology" found in these works, in Pythagoras and Zoroaster. This occultism is also the source of Faust's interest in magic and supernatural marvels.

The favorite direction in all these works is upward, ascent is the main image for the human soul's desire for God in Platonic mysticism. Ascent towards the One ends in union with the One. Does the individual still exist as an individual at that moment? Is there an immortal human identity? For Ficino, there must be, for he considers the individual person to be a projection of self (ego) and ego, he says, knows no limits in its desiring.

In his youth, Ficino's pupil and friend, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-94), set himself the same goal of reconciling all doctrines. When he was only twenty-three, in 1486, Pico proposed to defend nine-hundred ideas or theses in Rome during public hearings. The Pope forbade it, but the text Pico had prepared as his introductory lecture survived, the often-quoted Oratio de dignitate hominis (Oration on the Dignity of Man).

Pico retells the story of Genesis in order to justify his vision of human desire; God, he says, finished making the universe without Man in it, each thing in its proper place with an unvarying nature. Trees are content to be trees and do not desire to be anything else, likewise stones, clouds, and angels. Then, looking at it all, God "longed for there to be someone to think about the reason for such a vast work, to love its beauty, to wonder at its greatness." The creation was complete in itself, with no empty position in the Chain of Being for another creature. So God made Man "of indeterminate form." Man alone has no pre-determined nature fixing his actions, thoughts, and desires; Pico's God tells Adam, "You are the moulder and maker of yourself; you may sculpt yourself into whatever shape you prefer" (quotations adapted from Kerrigan / Braden 119). In Pico's thought, infinitely unsatisfied desire is at the core of the human person.

Pico's Man, like Ficino's, can aspire to be like God because he is like God in his radical freedom. Minds created to admire the Creator's work can never be satisfied with less than full possession of it: "let us compete with the angels in dignity and glory... until we come to rest in the bosom of the Father, who is at the top of the ladder." By Pico, the Renaissance learned that the human individual could naturally and rightly desire unbounded empire: religious, political, intellectual, poetic, or erotic. Marlowe's Tamburlaine senses that his own human goal must be "That perfect bliss and sole felicity, The sweet fruition of an earthly crown." Tamburlaine gave birth to Faustus and Macbeth, and Milton had them all in mind while he was giving form to Satan.

Yet soon after this Pico turned back, joined the Scholastics with Aristotle, and denied the dynamics of desire. In his De ente et uno (on being and the One) (1492) he affirmed that the being of God is not knowable to us. He rejected the possibility of endless growth of knowledge, the active epistemology that had marked Ficino's Platonism.

The desire to know was justified for Platonic humanism because all things were made by God and for God. Therefore any intellectual quest could lead to God, just as all loves could lead to the divine Love, according to Dante and Petrarch. There was an essential agreement between microcosm and macrocosm. In this perspective, Faustus is not wrong to search for knowledge, and his inclusion of magic in his programme is not in itself shocking, since even Ficino cultivated the occult as one form of knowing.

Faust's desire leads him into frustration as Astrophel's does. Yet he refuses to follow Pico and surrender the freedom of his mind. It is because the aspiration he embodies is so strong, his thirst so human, that Faust's path is tragic, not moralistic.

Faustus is a thinker, his pranks are typical of a cynic outsider content to observe and mock the follies of the mighty. The aspirations embodied in Tamburlaine and Macbeth direct our thoughts to Renaissance concepts of power and kingship. Absolute monarchy is sometimes presented as the generally accepted medieval model of government, it was not. Certainly, the medieval European kings from Charlemagne onwards claimed that their powers were sacral, that they were the anointed of God, but they never attempted absolute rule; they were bound by the rules of conseil. The opening pages of Burkhardt's The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860) evoke the brutality of the dictatorial tyrannies that first arose and seized power in 13- 14th century Italy. They inspired Renaissance political theories. Renaissance Italy is the birthplace of the idea of absolute kingship.

Behind all Renaissance discussions of kingly rule stands the figure of the Roman Emperor, defined by reference to Augustus who was the first and the greatest. Only he represented an immense contradition. Thanks to Augustus, Rome became great; yet he was a tyrant, an autocrat and the denial of the whole noble tradition of Roman Republicanism. There was a lively debate in the Renaissance about the murder of Julius Caesar, Brutus being sometimes seen as a democratic hero who rid the state of a tyrant.

In the 12-13th centuries, the new universities were studying the Codex of Roman laws brought together by Justinian, in which the Emperor was described as "lord of the whole world." Yet in the same years, most of Italy's major cities were establishing themselves as independent communes, electing one man to control the administration of the town for a limited time, for a fixed salary. These cities were truly republican. The kings of northern Europe liked to see themselves in the imperial mould: "a kind of image on earth of the divine Majesty" (John of Salisbury, 1159). Yet even there thinkers referred to St Augustine and said that hereditary princes were needed to "repress the wicked, to reward the good," and to uphold God's laws. Kingship was seen more as a punishment for sin than as an ideal form of human government.

In 1260, Aristotle's Politics was first translated into Latin and Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on it, using a quite new tone: "to live a social and political life together is altogether natural to mankind... living in a city is living in a perfect community, one that is capable of supplying all the necessities of life." Aquinas pinpoints "peace" as the most important value of social life; when there is peace, each citizen can live well, in a truly human way.

Aquinas, as an Italian, knew and respected the structure of the autonomous city-state. He concluded that a virtuous monarchy was the best system of government only because he saw that people enjoyed greater peace and prosperity in cities ruled by such kings. The "kings" Aquinas had in mind were actually elected rulers, not hereditary monarchs, who ruled surrounded by checks and balances, a system "in which all the citizens are involved in public affairs, not merely as electors of their rulers but as potential members of the government themselves."

Out of this evolved the vital democratic idea that the law- maker and holder of sovereignty in a state is not the monarch (who in that case stands above the law) but the people taken as a whole (universitas) who retain the power to remove the ruler at any time. In 1324 Marsilius of Padua's Defensor Pacis developed all of these themes, rejecting at the same time the absolute powers claimed by the Pope. The Church, he says, must be under the control of its citizens, like any city.

Alas, by the later 13th century Italy had begun to find that civic peace could only be kept by having in each city a dominant family that provided a hereditary tyranical ruler. Otherwise the powerful clans were in endless conflict. Almost all the Italian cities were under the power of such signori before 1300, the only great exceptions being Venice and Florence. Dante described Italy as being "full of tyrants."

There was a withdrawal from democratic ideals; indeed, the influence of Petrarch, together with some ideas of St Augustine, led to a view that with strong princes, scholar-citizens could enjoy otium (leisure) and engage in writing, thinking, and praying away from society. The humanists read the literature of imperial Rome: poems of Horace and Virgil, histories of Livy and Sallust, moral works of Juvenal, Seneca and Cicero (their favorite). The civic ideals they found in Rome were honour, glory and fame, the human and worldly pride that the Church had always denounced. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "The desire for human glory destroys any magnanimity of character," but the humanists pressed rulers to desire power and glory. The humanists failed completely to see the need for a proper constitutional balance of power between Prince and people.

Almost all the cities of Italy were by now totally under the rule of absolutist hereditary signori. Many humanists, despairing of a return to democracy, began to write manuals designed to give civilizing advice to their unelected dictators on how to rule well. Such books also offer advice to the "courtiers" who had replaced democratic councils in the decision-making processes. The prince should cultivate the fides Cicero demanded, they say, he must keep his word and be perfectly honest, even when dealing with enemies. The people's love will ensure peace; force and fear are excluded as means of governing.

In Florence, when Cosimo de'Medici died in 1464 the citizens hoped for a return to more republican ways after years of autocracy, but in 1469 Lorenzo de'Medici gained control of the city and in 1480 set up a Council composed entirely of his own men. Faced with this, thinkers began to give up republican ideals altogether and write in praise of the principle of monarchy. For the idealistic platonicians, Plato's image of the philosopher- king of the Republic could be applied to Lorenzo, the man who took all the burdens of active life on himself. With such a perspective, the prince could even be set above all laws, the last step towards absolutism.

Lorenzo de'Medici died in 1492, the French invaded Italy, the Medici family was exiled, Savonarola led the restoration of republican Florence until he was burned as a heretic in 1498. In 1512 the Medicis regained partial control over Florence. By the end of 1513 Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) had finished his Il principe (The Prince).

This book begins by saying its author wants to help the prince mantenere lo stato (maintain the state) by establishing "such a form of government as will bring honour to himself and benefit to the body of his subjects." Machiavelli dedicated it to the Medicis, yet he had for a long time been an active republican, and while he was writing The Prince he was composing his Discourses on the Roman historian Livy, in which he expresses strong republican opinions. The Prince is not designed to justify the absolutist regime in Florence but to introduce a more realistic concept of the State and mitigate the possible abuses of an absolute power that his patron did not yet possess.

In the 17th chapter, where he discusses whether it is better for a prince to be loved or feared, Machiavelli's main argument is democratic and republican; a prince, he says, must do all he can to avoid being hated. He must always be conscious of how fragile his hold on power is, and how dependant he is on his subjects. He may earn, or compel, their consent, but he can never despise it or rule without it.

Machiavelli was deeply pessimistic about human nature; the best summary of his view of man comes in the Discourses: "all men are evil, and will always act out the wickedness in their hearts whenever they are given free scope." It is a cruel irony that Machiavelli was quickly identified with the evil that he intended to prevent, that his name is given to attitudes he did not and could not have approved.

When Tamburlaine and Macbeth set out to gain their kingdoms, royal power has mythical fascination for them, but when they get the title and the power they find themselves at a loss as to how to serve the common good. Both plays show how sterile absolute monarchy is, obsessed with the individual's self-centred desire to get and keep power, unable to tolerate any challenge. This was equally the great weakness in Queen Elizabeth's way of ruling. In her reign Shakespeare wrote Richard II that shows the fall of a ruler who despises his people. James I was more aloof and arrogant even than Elizabeth, his absolutism has surely left its mark on the character of Macbeth.

The desires that Faustus, Macbeth, and even Milton's Satan follow can be considered parodies of the high platonic visions of the humanists. They are ever striving after more. Yet Faustus is equally a paradigm of humanity, because he knows that he as yet knows nothing at all although he desires to know everything. The intensity of Faustus's thirst for knowledge, his radical rejection of those who would impose on him already-formulated doctrines in place of individual experience, is what makes him so appealing. He is the rebel who will not bow the head before authority and fideism but stands boldly affirming the dignity of his own right to question and desire.

That gives him his tragic status, his essential dignity. The power of the play comes from the irony of Faustus's mis-knowing. In his desire for truth and life, he turns to the one set of beings in whom there is nothing of either truth or life. The closure of the play is not a moralistic "look how wrong Faustus was to ask questions" but the spectacle of Faustus become the body of his own desires. Faustus's final dismembering is a sign of the way the ambiguities of desire tear us apart. Yet he dares to desire, uncompromisingly, to the end, a truly tragic hero.

With Macbeth we enter the political dimension; behind him stands Marlowe's Tamburlaine. Behind both stand the absolutist theories of monarchy. Macbeth, like Tamburlaine, thinks of the Crown / Throne as a personal possession, of the royal robes as vesting him with absolute rights. To be king is to hold all powers of life and death over people, he thinks, and we never see Macbeth aware that the monarch is a servant of the state, a guardian of peace.

Macbeth desires power; he kills to get it. Once he has it, his only concern is to preserve and reinforce it. He kills again and again. In this he is like Faustus; both find themselves unable to attain what they desire, their ambition proves in the end to be sterile. Frustrated, they experience in the domains of knowledge and power what Astrophel experiences in the domain of love, Marvell's "deserts of vast eternity". It all leads nowhere.

It is partly in this sense that the title speaks of "parodic ambitions." Astrophel, Faustus, and Macbeth follow desire downwards to destruction, where the idealists of the Renaissance kept pointing upwards. Their goals are love, knowledge, power, but each of them ends in misery where the theories suggested an uninterrupted progress towards bliss. The ambitions, the desires are not denied, but each work illustrates the way in which human actions are for ever led astray, eyes blinded with what Anselm called "the smoke of wrongdoing." The frustrations of unsatisfied desire are inevitable, it seems. The Fall is the pattern each of these works reproduces.

Milton's Satan is the absolute example of absolute desire. He is the antithesis of the Renaissance idealist in that he does not at all desire knowledge as a way of ascending towards God, does not see power as a way of serving the common good. Satan's ultimate desire is unconditioned being; he will know, love, and serve none other than himself, he is the centre of his being. He therefore will not and cannot know God as God because for angels, knowing and being are one and the same. All that remains is the aspiration up; terrible indeed, because if God is denied the self becomes the only goal. The self-sufficient self, closed to every otherness, becomes its own end and therefore, since it is neither truth nor life, it becomes a self-contained hell.

In the Jewish and Christian traditions that Milton inherited and transformed, Satan is in a different situation from Faustus or Macbeth, because of the assumed nature of angels; they, like us, were created for God, who is their absolute Good. Angels, though, have no time, no history, no chance to repent or change their minds. In the moment of its coming into being each angel is confronted with the ultimate choice. The response of each created being to God must be free since God is love. Love knows no constraints, the condition of love is free acceptance.

God, the story goes, created Satan thirsting to know God in a most special way, for a very particular exchange of love. In the eternal moment of Satan's creation, when his God-given name was Lucifer, God said, "Here we are, come, know me and let me love you." Lucifer looked into the mirror of his eternal desire for God, where his essential being lay, took the form of the thirst he found there for an aspect of his own being, and chose himself above the Other, saying: "No. I do not need you. I will know myself as my own end, I am enough in myself. Go away, you do not exist." There is nothing in human language to express the image of a heart-broken God that underlies this story, no way of knowing how this breach can be healed.

Yet the texts say that Satan was created for God, and God cannot stop loving him, offering everything to him. God experiences an absolute desire to give. Behind the story of the Fall of Satan, we sense God in the throes of unrequited love, of frustrated ambition. Now God does not make mistakes in choice of means or goal. God also cannot die, or despair, or give up. God can only wait, eternally. Milton's Paradise Lost has no end as Grace knows no closure.

If God exists, and if God is Love, then God is fettered by the freedom of others, very much as we are. The image of a God helplessly in love with someone who refuses the offered love may seem to be a parody of human situations; for the Renaissance, it was the confirmation of the ultimate validity of desire. Human desires to know, to possess, to love, are mere parodies of the divine, since they are obviously not absolute in the way God's presumably are. They are only shadows, and blurred by the Fall, but for the Renaissance they were substantial shadows of the divine in the human, worth pursuing to one's dying breath.

The dramatic course of Macbeth and Faustus is a tragic Descent into Hell seeming to mirror the Fall of Satan. The imagery of both plays explicitly invokes the theme. Yet the immense popularity of Dr. Faustus in the 17th century and the superstitious dread traditionally attached to The Scottish Play (the play's very title is thought to bring bad luck) suggest more complex responses. Both protagonists attain heroic status by their determination to pursue what they have undertaken to the bitter end.

The spectacle offered in Doctor Faustus and in Macbeth of a human "Descent into Hell" can be read as a "worst-case scenario" of the possibilities contained in the vision of Human Dignity expressed by Pico. The potential best and the potential worst are offered to each individual together inseparably, although Calvinism, forcing Augustine's thought to a perverse conclusion, insisted that Utter Depravity ensured that no one could ever choose the best. Robert N. Watson has written (Braunmuller / Hattaway 337) that "Doctor Faustus is a parable (...) about the fatal corruption awaiting all Renaissance aspirations" but this seems unduly pessimistic. Neither Marlowe nor Shakespeare seem ready to suggest that their protagonists are representative of most people.

Rather, what these two plays suggest is that the best course left to fallen humanity, when virtue and all else fails, may be to join with Macbeth and Faustus, following the proverbial advice of Augustine, and "Sin boldly." Then, Hope says, we shall discover in the end what Paul in Romans meant when he wrote that "where sin abounds, grace abounds the more". It is important to remember that the Christian Church, despite what certain people like to preach, has always taught that there is no information available to us about the population density of Hell but that it may well be zero. Since God has set Love above Truth and Mercy above Justice, no one has the right to assert that any particular creature has ever been or will ever be eternally damned unless they really want to be; not even Faustus, or Macbeth, or Satan.

Books Consulted

The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama, edited by A.R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, edited by Charles B. Schmitt and Quentin Skinner, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Doctor Illuminatus: A Ramon Llull Reader, edited and translated by Anthony Bonner, Princeton University Press, 1993.

John Guy, Tudor England, Oxford University Press, 1988.

William Kerrigan and Gordon Braden, The Idea of the Renaissance, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance Thought, Harper, 1961.

Paul Oskar Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance, Stanford University Press, 1964.

Anthony Low, The Reinvention of Love, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

R. W. Southern, Saint Anselm, a portrait in a landscape, Cambridge University Press, 1990.