International Conference «Monarchy, Aristocracy, Democracy | The mixed constitution and modern political culture»

26th and 27th of September

Colégio Almada Negreiros (CAN) | NOVA School of Law

The mixed constitution is a genuine, relevant legacy of ancient philosophy to the Western political tradition. Classical thinkers understood that political forms were doomed to corrupt and be replaced by others, in a recurring and inevitable cycle presided over by violence. However, in an attempt to ensure the longest possible duration and stability of order, they distilled an ideal constitution composed of the positive features of the three main political forms —monarchy, aristocracy and democracy.

Recovered in the Renaissance, the mixed constitution went through the Early Modern period as a model that could counter the threats of degradation towards the three possible flawed forms of government: tyranny, oligarchy or anarchy.

In the wake of Montesquieu’s work in the 18th century, liberal constitutions were shaped trying to avoid the preponderance of one such element or dimension over the others.

Recently recovered attention, this metalanguage of politics still awaits much interdisciplinary research and reflection for thinking about order and disorder, unity, inequality, representation and participation in modern societies; and especially for understanding the historical meaning of democracy before the establishment of universal suffrage.

The celebration of the 200th anniversary of the first Portuguese Constitution offers an opportunity to reflect on these issues from a comparative European, Iberian and American perspective.


Monday 26th September

Colégio Almada Negreiros (CAN), Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Campus de Campolide, Room 217

Morning session (in English)

10h00 | Opening

  • Organizers, representative from Centro de Humanidades

10h30 |«Power against power: the mixed constitution in The Spirit of the Laws»

  • Céline Spector, Sorbonne Université, Paris

11h30 | «Political extremes in the tradition of constitutionalism»

  • Uwe Backes, Hannah Arendt Institute — Technische Universität Dresden

Afternoon session (in English)

14h30 | «Aristocracy vs. oligarchy, demagogy vs. democracy: concepts and counterconcepts in the dynamics of Liberalism»

  • Pablo Sánchez León, Centro de Humanidades CHAM— Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

Tuesday 27th September

NOVA School of Law, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Campus de Campolide, Room 007

Morning session (Spanish and Portuguese)


10h00 | Opening

  • Organizers and Director of Nova School of Law

10h30 |«Constitución mixta y regimen polisinodial en la España moderna»

  • Antonio Rivera García, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

11h30 | «Gobierno mixto, monarquía y república (Francia y Argentina)»

  • Darío Roldán, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires

Afternoon session (Portuguese and Spanish)

14h30 | Round table: «1822: perspetivas sobre o primeiro constitucionalismo português»

  • Keynotespeaker: Cristina Queiroz, NOVA School of Law, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
  • Fernando Dores Costa, Instituto de História Contemporânea, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
  • Luís Cabral de Oliveira, CEDIS-NOVA School of Law/Instituto Politécnico de Leiria
  • Cristina Nogueira da Silva, NOVA School of Law
  • Pablo Sánchez León, Centro de Humanidades CHAM


The conference is presential but will also be available in streaming and recorded.

For inscriptions and access to streaming, send an email to:

Inscription are free of charge. Inscribed participants attending the conference will get a certificate after the event.