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An Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe

Samuel Pufendorf

Publication Year: 2013

Samuel Pufendorf was a pivotal figure in the early German Enlightenment and, along with Grotius, the great renewer of natural law theory. His version of voluntarist natural law theory had a major influence both on the European continent and in the English-speaking world, particularly Scotland and America. An Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe was first translated in 1695 but has been rare in English since the late eighteenth century.

Pufendorf’s histories exhibit the core notions of his natural law theory by recounting the development and current, reciprocal relations of individual states as collective social agents engaged in securing their own and, thus, their members’ interests, including self-preservation. Hence, his histories essentially functioned as vehicles for philosophical demonstration or justification. Moreover, by emphasizing empirical details and legitimating (in principle) the de facto politics of interest, these histories appealed strongly to the emerging nation-states of early modern Europe, which sought ratification of their external and internal actions, policies, and pedagogies. He based his account on the respective country’s own historians and took care to describe its position from its own current and historical perspectives. It was a novel and appealing approach to political history, judging from the long and diverse publishing record of the work.

Samuel Pufendorf (1632–1694) was one of the most important figures in early-modern political thought. An exact contemporary of Locke and Spinoza, he transformed the natural law theories of Grotius and Hobbes, developed striking ideas of toleration and of the relationship between church and state, and wrote extensive political histories and analyses of the constitution of the German empire.

Jodocus Crull (d. 1713/14) was a German émigré to England, a medical man, and a translator and writer.

Michael J. Seidler is Professor of Philosophy at Western Kentucky University.

Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.

Published by: Liberty Fund


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p. C-C

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Editor’s Introduction

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pp. ix-xl

In the early twentieth century when his main natural law works were reissued in the Carnegie Classics series,1 Samuel Pufendorf was known as a theorist of international law; toward the latter end of the century, when he became more familiar to the Anglo- American world, he was studied mainly as a moral and political theorist.2 However, in his own ...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xli-xlvi

The text of this Liberty Fund edition reproduces An Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe, by Samuel Puffendorf, Counsellor of State to the Present King of Sweden, Made English from the Original (London: Printed for M. Gilliflower at the Spread- Eagle in Westminster- Hall, and T. Newborough at the Golden Ball in St. ...

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pp. xlvii-2

For access to their collections and/or providing copies/ microforms of original works, I am grateful to the following libraries: British Library, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, Kungliga Biblioteket (National Library of Sweden), Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen- Anhalt (Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg), Staatsbibliothek...

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Dedicatory Epistle

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pp. 3-4

I Should scarce have had the boldness to prefi x your great Name to this Book: had I not been fully persuaded that the extraordinary worth of my Author would strongly plead for me to your Excellencies Generosity. For, since my intention was, that the ...

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Preface to the Reader

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pp. 5-10

That History is the most pleasant and usefull Study for Persons of Quality, and more particularly for those who design for Employments in the State, is well known to all Men of Learning.1 It is therefore requisite, that young Gentlemen should be exhorted early to apply themselves to this Study, not only because their Memory is vigorous, and more capable to retain what they ...

List of Chapters

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pp. 11-12

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Chapter I

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pp. 13-40

§1. No Man of Common Sense, imagines, that at the fi rst Propagation of Mankind, there were such Governments as are among us at this time. But in those Times each Father, without being Subject to any Superiour Power, governed his Wife, Children and Servants, as a Sovereign. Nay, it seems very probable to me, that even to the time of the Deluge, there ...

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Chapter II

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pp. 41-96

§1. Spain was in ancient Times divided into a great many States, independent of one another, which was at that time the condition of most other Countries of Europe. But, by reason of this Division, this otherwise War- like Nation was very instrumental to its being conquer’d by foreign Enemies. To this may be added, That the...

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Chapter III

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pp. 97-114

§1. Portugal, which comprehends the greatest part of that Province which the Romans called Lusitania, fell, with the rest of Spain, under the last Gothick King Roderick, into the Hands of the Moors, who were in possession of it for a long time; but ‘in’ [about] the Year 1093, Alfonsus VI. King of Castile and Leon, arming himself with all his Power to...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 115-190

§1. In Ancient Time, Britainy, which was then esteemed the biggest Island of the World, was not ruled by one Prince, but divided into a great many petty States [Republicquen],1 ‘each’ [most] of them govern’d by its own King; but this multitude of petty Princes, as it caused great Divisions among them, so it exposed them to the danger of being overcome...

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Chapter V

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pp. 191-272

§1. As far as we can search into the most ancient Histories, it is evident from thence, That Gaul, now call’d France, has been a very powerfull and populous Country. For the Gauls [die Gallische nation] in ancient times had conquer’d a great part of Italy, where they settled themselves; who also, when they had over run Greece and some other...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 273-312

§1. ‘That Country’ [Those regions] which is commonly call’d the Netherlands or the Lower Germany, was anciently comprehended, partly under Gaul, partly under Germany, according as they were situated either on this or the other side of the Rhine, which was the ancient Boundary of these two vast Countries. That part which was situated on this side of...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 313-322

§1. |[These Countries which are possess’d now by the Switzers]|1 belonged formerly to the German Empire; but that they were united in one Commonwealth [into a special republic] was occasioned thus; the three small Counties [Landschafften] of Ury, Switz, and Under-Walden, which commonly are call’d the three Forest Towns, enjoy’d very antient ...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 323-358

§1. Germany was not antiently one Commonwealth [Republic], but divided into a great many {moderately sized} States [Staaten], {sovereign to themselves} and independent of each other, most of them being Democracies: And tho some of them had their Kings, yet these had more Authority to Advise than to Command. These several States...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 359-376

§1. Denmark is one of the most antient Kingdoms in Europe, which was Established a great many years before the Birth of our Saviour, but for want of ‘good’ [accurate] Histories it cannot be precisely determin’d at what time it had its beginning, nor how long each of its antient Kings Reign’d, or what were their great Deeds. We will not therefore detain ...

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Chapter X

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pp. 377-406

§1. The Poles, who anciently were called Samartians, and afterwards Slavonians, derived their Name from the Nature of the Country [Land] which they possess; which lies most upon a Plain, for Pole signifies in their language a Plain; tho some are of opinion that the Word Polacki, is as much as to say, the Posterity of Lechus. This Nation...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 407-414

§1. The first origin of this Empire, and the atchievements of their antient Princes [Regenten] are very uncertain and obscure, since what is to be found of this nature among an ignorant people, is all very {meager and} confused: So much is certain, that this great Empire was formerly divided into a great many petty Lordships, which afterwards were...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 415-524

§1. The ‘Pope’ [papacy, Pabstthum] may be considered two diff erent ways: First, As far as the Articles which are taught by him and diff er from [those of ] other Christians, are agreeable or disagreeable with the Holy Scriptures, and consequently useful or prejudicial to Salvation, which Consideration we leave to Divines [Theologis]. Secondly, As far...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 525-602

§1. The Swedish Historians have out of their ancient Monuments shown the World, that the Kingdom of Sweden is the most antient Kingdom in Europe, and that this Country, was, after the Deluge, sooner stored with Inhabitants than the other parts of Europe. Nevertheless it is very uncertain who were the fi rst Inhabitants, and...

Appendix 1

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pp. 603-614

Appendix 2

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pp. 615-628

Appendix 3

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pp. 629-634

Appendix 4

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pp. 635-640


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pp. 641-660

The Table

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pp. 661-676


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pp. 677-719

Production Notes

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p. 720-720

E-ISBN-13: 9781614879091
E-ISBN-10: 1614879095
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865975132

Page Count: 768
Publication Year: 2013