Conscience and Catholic Discipline of War: Sins and Crimes

in Journal of Early Modern History
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The article investigates the relations between Neo-Stoicism and the model of the Christian soldier developed in the military catechisms which were invented after the Council of Trent. After bringing out how the concept of the just war had been Christianized over the centuries, it shows that in the sixteenth century the discussion concerning the legitimacy of conflicts, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, became a matter of conscience in which theologians had a major voice and a political role. Increasingly, however, thinking about how to behave during a war became more and more important, at the expense of the traditional questions concerning the ius ad bellum. This was also possible thanks to the development of fixed military chaplaincies, like those that set up by the Society of Jesus in Flanders. Finally, a number of texts appeared in the seventeenth century in which theological-moral casuistry, catechism, and military penal law converged to discipline the conscience of soldiers.

Journal of Early Modern History

Contacts, Comparisons, Contrasts. Early Modernity Viewed from a World-Historical Perspective




See Nicolette Mout, “Faked Conversions? The Case of Justus Lipsius (1547–1606),” in Les modes de la conversion confessionelle à l’époque moderne. Autobiographie, alterité et construction des identités religieuses, ed. Maria-Cristina Pitassi and Daniela Solfaroli Camillocci (Florence, 2010), 87–109; Jan Machielsen, “Friendship and Religion in the Republic of Letters: the Return of Justus Lipsius to Catholicism (1591),” Renaissance Studies 27 (2011): 161–182.


See Jacques Kluyskens, “Les années passées par Juste Lipse chez les Jésuites à Cologne,” Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu 42 (1973): 312–321; Id., “Justus Lipsius (1547–1600) and the Jesuits, with Four Unpublished Letters,” Humanistica Lovaniensia 23 (1974): 244–270.


Lipsius, Politicorum, 251–253, 274.


See Martin van Gelderen, “The Machiavellian Moment and the Dutch Revolt: The Rise of Neostoicism and Dutch Republicanism,” in Machiavelli and Republicanism, ed. Gisela Bock et al. (Cambridge, 1990), 205–223; Id., “Holland und das Preußentum: Justus Lipsius zwischen Niederländischem Aufstand und brandenburg-preußischem Absolutismus,” Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 23 (1996): 29–56; Jan Papy, “Justus Lipsius über Frieden und Krieg: Humanismus und Neustoizismus zwischen Gelehrtheit und Engagement,” in Suche nach Frieden: politische Ethik in der frühen Neuzeit iii, ed. Norbert Brieskorn and Markus Riedenauer (Stuttgart, 2003), 155–173; Jan Waszink, “Introduction,” in Justus Lipsius, Politica: Six Books of Politics or Political Instruction (Assen, 2004), 3–203, in particular 9–14, 81–82, 101; Christopher Brooke, Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau (Princeton, 2012), 12–36. For the ideological implications of Oestreich’s thesis, see Peter N. Miller, “Nazis and Neo-Stoics: Otto Brunner and Gehrard Oestreich before and after the Second World War,” Past & Present 176 (2002): 144–186.


For Britain, see Edward Vallance, “Preaching to the Converted: Religious Justifications for the English Civil War,” Huntington Library Quarterly 65 (2002): 395–419; Barbara Donagan, War in England, 1642–1649 (Oxford, 2008); Glenn Burgess and Charles W.A. Prior, eds., England’s Wars of Religion Revisited (Farnham, 2011). For Europe, see Olivier Chaline, La bataille de la Montagne Blanche (8 novembre 1620): un mystique chez les guerriers (Paris, 1999); Anton Schindling and Matthias Asche, eds., Das Strafgericht Gottes. Kriegserfahrungen und Religion im Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation im Zeitalter des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (Münster, 2001).


For Tommaso De Vio, see Carla Forti, “La ‘guerra giusta’ nel Nuovo Mondo: ricezione italiana del dibattito spagnolo,” in Il nuovo mondo nella coscienza italiana e tedesca del Cinquecento, ed. Adriano Prosperi and Wolfgang Reinhard (Bologna, 1992), 257–285.


Id., Il soldato christiano con l’instruttione dei capi dello essercito, 50, 55.


See Stefano Tabacchi, “L’impossibile neutralità. Il papato, Roma e lo Stato della Chiesa durante la Guerra di Successione Spagnola,” in Famiglie, nazioni e monarchia. Il sistema europeo durante la Guerra di Successione Spagnola, ed. Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño (Rome, 2003), 223–243. On the conflict, see Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño et al., ed., La pérdida de Europa. La Guerra de Sucesión por la Monarquía de España (Madrid, 2007); Joáquim Albareda Salvadó, La Guerra de Sucesión de España (1700–1714) (Barcelona, 2010).


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