There Are No Bad Kings Chapter uri icon


  • This chapter provides a discussion of the conceptual impossibility of the bad king in the medieval Latin Westa conundrum that caused evil lords to be defined exclusively as tyrants. Nonetheless, political theorists from Isidore of Seville to John of Salisbury, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante display a remarkable ambivalence toward the tyrants role in civic life. While condemned in normative political theory, tyranny was often viewed as acceptable when a populace was deemed incapable of benefiting from good government, or when it was legitimized as an instrument of divine punishment. This chapter demonstrates furthermore that even overtly tyrannical behavior could be countenanced by attributing it not to the prince himself but to his evil counselors, who were subjected to much scrutiny in high and late medieval mirrors for princes.

author list (cited authors)

  • Nederman, C. J.

Book Title

  • Evil Lords: Theories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance

publication date

  • January 2018