‘Good Government’ and the Tradition of Small States: The Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Reception of the Droit des gens
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During the eighteenth century, the states of the Italian peninsula still confronted the model in which restricted territorial size and virtue were coupled. This system, in which small states were slow to discard the legacy of the feudal world, transformed into a particularly lively political laboratory of reformist policies and gave rise to an influential political language of constitutionalism and democracy. It is within this process—the shift from a classical political model to self-aware modernity—that the influence of and interest in Vattel’s work in the 1770s and 1780s must be placed. It is from this perspective that a reconstruction of the events and activities through which the Droit des gens was received and used in the Italian small states system to aid constitutional and policy reforms assumes most of its relevance.