Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan 1651 – Modern Constitutionalism
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
What makes a book revolutionary is often the context from which that content emerges, rather than the substance itself. This was the circumstance when Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan was published in 1651. At the time, England was on the verge of ending a nine-year civil war.
Unrest had become the social and political norm, and the law had devolved into a jumble of notions with little structure. Despite the disarray, one overriding framework stood out, according to political analyst Gary McDowell: “the tremendous and pervasive influence of Christianity.”Leviathan caused a stir by challenging traditional Christian concepts of man, law, and government, signaling a dramatic shift in legal thought and setting a crucial foundation for the next century’s development of law.