Faith-based and secular approaches to politics and foreign policy have often been involved in a kind of uneasy and adversarial 'contest.' However, the world produced by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, in conjunctions with the (often radical) Enlightenment, the impact of the French Revolution and the advent during the 20th century of popular an secular mass ideologies, strongly suggested that a modern 'winner' had emerged; especially in the West, most faith-related tensions on various issues appeared to have been primarily resolved on the basis of non-religious considerations and choices.
There can be little doubt, though, that the 21st century is witnessing a global resurgence of religion that has manifested itself both peacefully and violently. This 'return of faith' has implications for International Relations theory and also poses significant challenges for statesmanship and the pursuit of the national interest. At a minimum, religious beliefs have to be treated with the utmost seriousness. Furthermore, significant questions are inevitably raised about the scope, issues and manner in which personal faith ought to influence domestic and foreign policy.
The last time that similar questions were posed with a comparable intensity in the West was during early modern European history. The era's often savage and religiously-inspired conflicts produced profound intellectual efforts aiming to guide statesmanship through these challenges. The result was the development of raison d'deat thinking and philosophy. By focusing on the relevant works of Niccolo Machiavelli, Francesco Guicciardini, Givovanni Botero and Justus Lipsius, this book presents the concept's roots, evolution and arguments.
The focus in this book is then turned to the career of Cardinal Richelieu, (perhaps the era's most successful statesman) and the key role that reason of state thinking played in his actions is analysed. This book tries to ascertain to what extent, and in what ways, issues of faith and religion formed part of Richelieu's attempts to define and pursue the national interest of seventeenth century France.