Giovanni Botero 101: Explore the Renaissance Thinker
Zatrun Published at March 10, 2023

Giovanni Botero was an Italian thinker, priest, poet, diplomat, and the author of “Della ragion di Stato” (The Reason of State). He emphasised that the wealth of cities is derived from the value added by raw materials and is one of the origins of both mercantilism and cameralism. If you want to find more about him, you can check this article on

Who is Giovanni Botero?

Giovanni Botero was born in Bene Vagienna in the Piedmont principality of Northern Italy around 1544. At the age of 15, he was sent to a Jesuit college in Palermo and a year later moved to the Rome College. There, he was introduced to the teachings of some of the most influential Catholic thinkers of the sixteenth century, including those who advocated for the overthrow of tyrannical rulers, such as Juan de Mariana.

In 1565, Giovanni Botero was sent to teach philosophy and rhetoric in Jesuit colleges in France. He first taught in Billom and then in Paris, experiencing a period of intense violence during the French Wars of Religion in the second half of the sixteenth century. While in Paris, Botero became caught up in a Spanish anti-protest demonstration and was subsequently recalled to Italy.

During the 1570s, Botero worked in Jesuit colleges in Milan, Padua, and Genoa and was once again drawn back to Milan. After a sermon in which he questioned the earthly power of the Pope, he was expelled from the Jesuit order in 1580.

Botero and His Works

In his work “Delle cause della grandezza delle città” (The Causes of the Greatness of Cities), Giovanni Botero explores the reasons behind the size of cities. He argues that factors such as human reproduction rates and the ability of cities and rural areas to sustain their populations influence the size of cities. He also highlights that when the nurturing virtues of cities outweigh those of the producers, cities grow, but when these virtues are reversed, the city dies.

Botero’s most famous work, “Della ragion di Stato” (The Reason of State), argues that princes must win the love of the people and that their power must be based on the consent of their subjects. Unlike Machiavelli’s philosophy, Botero emphasizes that appearing to be a just prince is not enough and that the true nature of a prince will always be revealed. Therefore, a prince must actually be just. His works continue to be read and hold significant relevance to the topics they explore.

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