Law and the Protestant Reformation

in Heikki Pihlajamäki, Markus Dubber & Mark Godfrey, eds., Oxford Handbook of European Legal History (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 583-610, 2018

26 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018 Last revised: 19 Jul 2019

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation revolutionized not only theology and the church, but also law and the state. This northern European reform movement, though divided into Lutheran, Anabaptist, Anglican, and Calvinist branches, collectively broke the international rule of the medieval Catholic Church and its canon law, and permanently splintered Western Christendom into competing nations and regions. The Reformation also triggered a massive shift of power, property, and prerogative from the church to the state. Protestant states now assumed jurisdiction over numerous subjects and persons previously governed by the medieval church, and they gave new legal form to Protestant teachings. But these new Protestant laws also drew heavily on the medieval ius commune as well as on earlier biblical and Roman jurisprudence. This chapter analyses the new legal syntheses that emerged in Protestant lands, with attention to the new laws of church-state relations, religious and civil freedom, marriage and family law, education law, social welfare law, and accompanying changes in legal and political philosophy.

Keywords: Protestantism; Reformation; Lutheranism; Anabaptism; Anglicanism; Martin Luther; John Calvin; Menno Simons; Philip Melanchthon; Henry VIII; Thomas Cranmer; Richard Hooker; Calvinism; Church-State Relations; Crime and Punishment; Marriage and Family; Education; Social Welfare; Christianity and Law; P

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Law and the Protestant Reformation (2018). in Heikki Pihlajamäki, Markus Dubber & Mark Godfrey, eds., Oxford Handbook of European Legal History (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 583-610, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3286074

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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