Degree Year


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Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Marcia Colish


16th century, France, Jean Bodin, Francois Hotman, Politics, England


The sixteenth century was a tumultuous age for Europe. The Habsburg dynasty established its hegemony in Europe. The exploration of the New World provided a new source of wonder and wealth. Dynasties changed in France. England had women rulers. The Reformation exploded, transforming the religion of millions. With the Reformation and Counter-Reformation came political and religious disputes that resulted in warfare for more than thirty years.

Political theory flourished during this century. The printing presses became important weapons in these wars, as writers attempted to analyze political authority in, light of religious disunity. As the single Christian Commonwealth disappeared, questions about the obligations of the faithful to obey civil authorities became important. Luther and Calvin attempted to answer these questions, as did many of their followers. But while Luther was able to demand complete submission to civil authority, the later Protestants, faced with the prospect of persecution by heretical civil authorities, developed theories of resistance. Calvin himself spelled out conditions under which, resistance was justifiable and necessary. The eight Lutheran ministers of Magdeburg who authored the "Bekenntnis Unterricht und Vermanung der Pfarrherrn und Prediger der Christlichen Kirchen zu Magdeburg" in 1550 claimed it was a religious duty to resist a ruler who sought to destroy the true religion. In Scotland, John Knox and George Buchanan presented the case for rebellion and limited monarchy. In England, during the reign of Queen: Mary; Christopher Goodman and John Ponet called for resistance. In France, the Huguenots produced an abundant literature in support of rebellion.

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