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Political Thought and Legal Theory in Suárez

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Chapter Summary

The political thought of Suárez and his legal theory are principally developed in two works, De legibus ac Deo legislatore (1612) and the Defensio Fidei Catholicae (1613), both of which were drawn up at the command of Philip III in response to the famous controversy that took place between Pope Paul V and James I over the conditions and legitimacy of a possible move toward the autonomy of the royal power in relation to spiritual power. From a doctrinal point of view, these two works prove decisive for understanding the establishment of some fundamental concepts of classical political theory in seventeenth-century thought: the state of nature; natural law and its distinction from the law of nations; the natural law and the application of these concepts to the problems of the era, et cetera.

Keywords: Church; legal theory; natural law; political thought; Suárez



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