My research project examines conceptions of interpersonal relations in Early modernity by focusing on the notion of social and political trust (fides). Some of the key questions of my research are: How did early modern authors address the topic of trust? How was trust defined? Which concepts and ideas were most often associated with it?
I argue that different ways of approaching the topic of trust lead to the definition of different patterns of conflict management and social inclusion. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, with its unique form of government and political discourse, provides a vantage point from which to examine how trust-related issues were addressed and developed in early modern Europe.
The documentary basis of my analysis is the surviving manuscripts of the Academy of Zamość. This original university was founded by Chancellor Jan Zamoyski with the aim of providing political education to the young members of the Polish-Lithuanian nobility. The surviving documents relating to the teaching activities carried out at the Academy – mostly notes reporting on the contents of the courses – show how social concepts, such as trust, were presented to the students. My research focuses on the period between the foundation of the Academy (1594) and the invasion of the Commonwealth by the Swedish Army (1655), that is, the time of the greatest prosperity for both the Academy and the Commonwealth. The Academy documents, which are now the object of increasing scholarly attention, prove to be relevant to the history of social concepts and thus shed light on Polish-Lithuanian as well as European political culture.