PUFENDORF, SAMUEL, BARON: The first German professor of natural and international law; b. at Dorf-Chemnitz in the margravate of Meissen (either Dorf-Chemnitz bei Zwonitz, 15 m. s.s.w. of Chemnitz, or Dorf-Chemnitz bei Sayda, 30 m. s.w. of Dresden) Jan. 8, 1632; d. in Berlin Oct. 26, 1694. He studied in Leipsic and Jena, was professor in Heidelberg from 1661, in Lund from 1668, historiographer and secretary of state in Stockholm from 1677, and privy councilor to the elector of Brandenburg in Berlin from 1687. In his chief book, the De jure naturce et gentium (Lund, 1672; Frankfort, 1684; and often; Eng. transl., Of the


Law of Nature and Nations
, Oxford, 1710, 5th ed., London, 1749), he elaborated and systematized the conception of law to which Hugo Grotius (q.v.) had first given expression a half-century earlier, making all knowledge of it flow from three sources -the reason, the civil statutes, and the divine revelation, to which correspond the three disciplines of natural law, civil law, and moral theology. The principle of natural law is the instinct of society, and natural law is a purely rational science, independent of revelation, and taking account of men only as they actually are. This was contrary to the medieval conception, which considered the essential righteousness of God as the archetype, the attributes of God as the norm, and the decalogue as the code of natural law. Religion in Pufendorf's system is a means for the realization of law and God is its originator. He would study theology as a mathematical science and establish its principle by the method of geometrical demonstration. All this was inacceptable to the orthodoxy of the day. Pufendorf was bitterly attacked in Lund, then by theologians of Leipsie and Jena, and a long and unseemly controversy followed. In a work De habitu religionis Christianæ vitam civilem (Bremen, 1687; Eng. transl., Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, London, 1698) he advocated supervision of the Church by the State and guaranty of freedom of conscience, which can be limited only by natural religion inherent in the State; as God does not judge by dogmas, so the State has not the verdict of heresy. Buddeus and Christian Wolff first accorded to Pufendorf proper recognition. Other translations of his works into English were: Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe (London, 1699, new ed., 1764); The History of Popedom (London, 1691); and A View of the Lutheran Churches (London 1714).

(G. FRANKt.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. F. W. Hinrichs, Geschichte des Rechts und Staatsprinzipien seit der Reformation, vol. ii., 3 vols., Leipsic, 1848-52; J. C. Bluntschli and K. Brater, Deutsches Staatswörterbuch, viii. 424-439, 11 vols., Leipsic, 1856-70; G. Frank, Geschichte der protestandischen Theologie, ii. 62-67, 3 vols., ib. 1862-75; J. G. Droysen, in Abhandlungen der neuern Geschichte, ib. 1876; H. von Treitschke, Historische and politische Aufsätze, iv. 202-304, Leipsic, 1897; ADB, xxvi. 701-708. His Briefs to Christian Thomasius are edited by E. Gigas, Munich, 1897.


CCEL home page
This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
Calvin College. Last modified on 06/03/04. Contact the CCEL.
Calvin seal: My heart I offer you O Lord, promptly and sincerely