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The Development of the Lutheran Theory of Resistance: 1523-1530

By Cynthia Grant Bowman


It is frequently assumed, especially by political theorists, that the development of the modern theory of resistance to governmental authority was the accomplishment primarily of Huguenot writers of the late sixteenth century and that it was they who laid the foundations for the more famous seven- teenth-century English theories of a right of revolution. The corollary is that Lutheran writers made little contribution to the development of this theory, if not, indeed, a negative one. Contrary to this fairly common assumption, however, the justification of resistance was a major concern of German Protestants in the early sixteenth century, and I would contend that they played an indispensable role in developing and transmitting the inchoate theories of the Middle Ages to the Calvinists of the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who made of them a doctrine which could properly be termed a theory of the right of revolution

Topics: Lutheran Church, Political resistance, Legal History
Publisher: Scholarship@Cornell Law: A Digital Repository
Year: 1977
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