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Title: The separation of the temporal and the divine spheres : the moral and political implications of 'secularisation', c.1580-c.1620
Author: Constantinidou, Anna-Anastasia
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis addresses the problem of the challenges posed to the role and status of the revealed Christian religion and theology in people’s lives and world-views in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and expressed by thinkers of the period in western Europe. Although these challenges have been long regarded by historians within the general notion of ‘secularisation’, this was not the case for the period in question. That religion was inescapable for the period in question is indisputable; therefore, what did, in fact, characterise the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries was a growing uneasiness, a questioning of the role of religion, a fluidity of the boundaries between sacred and profane and a continuous redefinition of fundamental concepts. In view of that, in place of terms ‘secularism’ and ‘secularisation’ this thesis prefers to talk about the distancing between the temporal and the divine spheres. The focus of this dissertation is on some aspects of this vast question. This thesis examines four case studies from four different areas of what now constitutes western Europe. It looks at the writings of four very influential thinkers of the period c.1580 - c.1620: Pierre Charron, a French theologian (1541-1603); the work of Justus Lipsius, a Flemish scholar (1547-1606); the work of Paolo Sarpi, a Venetian friar and advisor to the Venetian Republic (1552-1623); and lastly, the work of King James VI of Scotland and I of England (1566-1625). All four authors grappled in their works with the question of the status of religion as a defining factor in the way people conceived of the Church, the state, politics in general, truth and ethics, sacred and profane - ideas about divine and temporal morality and their relation; the distinction between public and private; separation of ecclesiastical and secular jurisdiction; the distinction between an internalised notion of religion and an external; theory and practice; and finally the relation and compatibility (or not) of religion with politics; religion and philosophy; and politics and morality. What makes these contemplatives additionally interesting is that they were regarded as ambivalent in their religious convictions. In this respect, this thesis is essentially an exploration in the world of ideas and shared assumptions (mentalities), addressing questions regarding the ‘limits of the thinkable’ and the ways in which people of the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century understood the world around them and its structures. Alongside this main issue, the dissertation is also interested in questions pertaining to the implantation and circulation of ideas, and appropriations of intellectual themes, while also addressing some aspect of the complex relationship between theory and practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available