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Hobbes on Politics and Religion$
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Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803409.001.0001

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All the Wars of Christendom

All the Wars of Christendom

Hobbes’s Theory of Religious Conflict

(p.219) 13 All the Wars of Christendom
Hobbes on Politics and Religion

Jeffrey Collins

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Thomas Hobbes’s account of religious warfare, and his position within modern historical memory of the European ‘wars of religion’ as an era. From an interdisciplinary perspective, it critically interrogates the concept of religious war as a modern observer’s category. It then measures Hobbes’s specific account of European religious conflict against both rival contemporary accounts and this modern theoretical construct. Hobbes’s account, it is argued, emerged from a specific and sectarian perspective. In another register, however, Leviathan offered a psychologized account of religious violence, which anticipated generic modern theories that often obscure that specificity. This tension in Hobbes’s account suggests features of the political project that the concept of religious war has sought to advance.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, religious war, confessionalism, Reformation, civil war, clericalism, sectarianism, conscience

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