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Faith In Empire: Religious Sources Of Legitimacy For Expansionist Early-Modern States

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Chapter Summary

In the finale of the Leviathan Thomas Hobbes likens the spiritual power of the papacy to imaginary fairies, for both spring from fearful popular ignorance. Although the papal state may hold "Civill Dominion", its spiritual jurisdiction draws nourishment from superstition in Europe and from missions around the world. Modern scholars have outlined an evolution of papal authority that is more precise, and less hostile, but ultimately not dissimilar to Hobbes's. Earlier scholarship traces a shift from a universal to a secular papacy. This chapter looks to how early-modern states used the ideal of a universal mission to claim spiritual powers beyond the bound of civil authority, and sometimes then used that claim of extramural spiritual powers to bolster assertions of temporal dominion. Its conclusion evaluates the world historians' suggestions that appeals to universal mission were characteristic of early-modern empires throughout Eurasia.

Keywords: civil authority; early-modern states; Eurasia; Europe; papacy; spiritual power; Thomas Hobbes



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