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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Early modern political thought was conducted in several different idioms of politics, which can nevertheless be seen to be in dialogue over a range of key political issues that engaged all of Europe. A central theme was the nature of the political community itself and of power within it, leading to the development of a new language of sovereignty and the state alongside the older vocabulary of respublica or ‘commonwealth’. Debate raged over the legitimacy of different forms of government and especially of monarchy, and its place in relation to commonwealth. The language of natural law and natural rights formed another central idiom of politics, leading to seventeenth-century accounts of the formation of the civil state from the state of nature through a covenant or contract. Finally, political thought also stretched outside the question of the state and its legitimacy, to conceptualize the international order, war and imperial formations.

Keywords: State, sovereignty, commonwealth, absolutism, constitutionalism, republicanism, natural rights, empire, law of nations

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