The Watershed of Modern Politics

Law, Virtue, Kingship, and Consent (1300–1650)

Francis Oakley

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September 15, 2015
440 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300194432
Cloth

The concluding volume of Francis Oakley's authoritative trilogy moves on to engage the political thinkers of the later Middle Ages, Renaissance, Age of Reformation and religious wars, and the era that produced the Divine Right Theory of Kingship. Oakley's ground-breaking study probes the continuities and discontinuities between medieval and early modern modes of political thinking and dwells at length on the roots and nature of those contract theories that sought to legitimate political authority by grounding it in the consent of the governed.

Francis Oakley is the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, at Williams College. He is also President Emeritus of the College and of the American Council of Learned Societies.

“Three magisterial volumes and one thesis: “Royal Religion” was not at the heart of the Christian tradition but was its rival. Volume One put kingship and Christianity at the root of Western European political thinking. Volume Two opened the inevitable conflict between these unlikely suitors. Volume Three derives from both traditions a driving force, constitutionalism, or a politics of consent, of contractarianism, that owed much to the conciliarism prompted by the Great Schism and the right of resistance prompted quite unintentionally by the Reformation.”—Thomas F.X. Noble, University of Notre Dame

“Oakley’s achievement is daunting. . . . No one could be better qualified to take on this Herculean task.”—Cary J. Nederman, Review of Politics

Won the 2016 Haskins Medal from the Medieval Academy of America.
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Kingship and the Divine in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (to 1050)

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Reshaping the Ancient Political Inheritance (1050-1300)

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