Samuel Pufendorf’s Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion (published in Latin in 1687) is a major work on the separation of politics and religion. Written in response to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the French king Louis XIV, Pufendorf contests the right of the sovereign to control the religion of his subjects, because state and religion pursue wholly different ends. He concludes that, when rulers transgress their bounds, subjects have a right to defend their religion, even by the force of arms.
Pufendorf’s ideas on natural law and toleration were highly influential in both Europe and the British Isles.
Samuel Pufendorf (1632–1694) taught natural law and was court historian in both Germany and Sweden.
Simone Zurbuchen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
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