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6. Barockrhetorik – Gelehrte als Träger politischer Kommunikation in der frühen Neuzeit

Hannes Lemke and Simon Unger

Abstract

This chapter aims to outline current research questions and discussions on political rhetoric in the early modern period. What has been labelled simplistically as the ‘Baroque’ must be understood as a phase of development towards critical thought and early Enlightenment. However, this process needs to be analysed with great caution: in particular, debates regarding divine and natural law show how reluctantly and inconsistently intellectuals deviated from orthodox principles of the God-given and absolute state. Intellectuals of the Baroque era should be understood as political communicators in a highly complex relation to state power. Their identities, ideas and language seem ambivalent, even contradictory in retrospect - especially if a comparison to later phases of the Enlightenment is drawn. Yet, political rhetoric of the 17th century reflects a general trend towards secularization. On the one hand, we observe the decline of classical rhetoric inspired by ancient ideals as well as the proliferation of vernacular texts. On the other hand, political rhetoric also gained new spheres of societal influence such as ‘ceremonial sciences’, drama, and satire.

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