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Title: Philipp Melanchthon's political philosophy 1518-1547
Author: Jensen, M. L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5351 8444
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis gives a historical account of the political philosophy of the Wittenberg reformer Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) from his arrival in Wittenberg in 1518 to the end of the Schmalkaldic War in 1547. Whilst scholars have discussed partial aspects of Melanchthon's political thought, this has primarily been with a focus on Melanchthon's theological writings. In contrast, it is a central argument of this thesis that Melanchthon delineated politics as a philosophical discipline distinct from theology. Accordingly, this thesis discusses Melanchthon's specifically political writings in their own right, and in their intellectual and political contexts, to give a fuller account of the development of his political thought. Chapter one analyses Melanchthon's earliest humanist political thought. In the 1525 Oratio de legibus in particular Melanchthon formulated a political position by drawing on Cicero, distinct from contemporary scholastics, renaissance humanists, and from Luther. Chapter two argues that Melanchthon's 1530 commentary on Aristotle's Politics should be understood as a criticism of late medieval Ockhamist political thought. Motivated by the uprisings of 1525, Melanchthon developed an account of political authority on the basis of natural law to undermine Ockhamist arguments that could legitimise rebellion. Chapter three discusses Melanchthon's 1538 Philosophiae moralis epitome. There, Melanchthon developed his account of political authority on the basis of natural law further, drawing on both scholastic and humanist elements, to address contemporary political problems. Chapter four discusses Melanchthon's intervention in the polemics of the Schmalkaldic War. Melanchthon's 1547 Von der Notwehr Unterricht drew on his moral and political philosophy to formulate an alternative theory of resistance to the theological and apocalyptic arguments forwarded by his fellow Lutherans. In conclusion, the thesis shows how Melanchthon's political thought addresses some of the larger questions discussed in the scholarship on sixteenth century political thought, indicating how Melanchthon influenced later political thinkers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available