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Changes of StateNature and the Limits of the City in Early Modern Natural Law$
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Annabel S. Brett

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141930

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141930.001.0001

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On the threshold of the state

On the threshold of the state

(p.1) Introduction On the threshold of the state
Changes of State

Annabel S. Brett

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides a background of the conflicted relationship between nature and the city—the fraught intersection of the political and the natural world—in the natural law discourse of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In the course of this extraordinary century, marked by the outward expansion of European states across the globe and simultaneously by their internal implosion into civil war, the boundaries of political space were fundamentally contested not only at a practical but at a theoretical level, and the dominant idiom of that contestation was the universalizing juridical language of natural law. What was forged in the process, culminating iconically in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and Thomas Hobbes' masterpiece Leviathan of 1651, is commonly taken to have been nothing other than the modern, territorial nation-state.

Keywords:   natural world, political space, city, natural law discourse, European states, civil war, Peace of Westphalia, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, nation-state

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