, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 99-118

Juridifications and religion in early modern Europe: The challenge of a contextual history of law

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To end Europe's great cycle of religious wars, some early modern states imposed a secular ‘rule of law’ in spheres of life previously governed by religion. The following essay compares two instances of this basic fact of seventeenth-century European political history, one German and the other English. In these different religious and political settings, different juridifications were undertaken that do not reduce to manifestations of a single underlying process of social change. Considered in a legal-historical light, early modern juridifications therefore invite a clear disciplinary alternative to the socio-theoretical and socio-critical perspective on juridification associated with Jürgen Habermas. The larger challenge on behalf of legal history is to end the subordination of historical method to critical social theory.

This revised version was published online in November 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.