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In: Trust and Happiness in the History of European Political Thought


The paper offers an overview, based on hitherto underexplored print and manuscript sources, of the institutionalisation of natural law as an academic discipline at all three academic gymnasia in the Polish province of Royal Prussia, i.e. Toruń, Elbląg, and Gdańsk. In this first synoptic account of the teaching of moral or political philosophy and jurisprudence based on natural law in these institutions, the author shows that the inspiration that Ernst König, rector at Toruń and later Elbląg, drew from Samuel Pufendorf’s works, De officio hominis et civis in particular, exerted a lasting impact, directly or indirectly, on the curricula of all three gymnasia. In contradistinction to Western academic institutions, the introduction of natural law as part of modern philosophy proved to be a reversible process in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. From the mid-eighteenth century, the gymnasia in Toruń and Elbląg returned to the humanist curriculum.

In: Early Modern Natural Law in East-Central Europe
Which works and tenets of early modern natural law reached East-Central Europe, and how? How was it received, what influence did it have? And how did theorists and users of natural law in East- Central Europe enrich the pan-European discourse? This volume is pioneering in two ways; it draws the east of the Empire and its borderlands into the study of natural law, and it adds natural law to the practical discourse of this region.

Drawing on a large amount of previously neglected printed or handwritten sources, the authors highlight the impact that Grotius, Pufendorf, Heineccius and others exerted on the teaching of politics and moral philosophy as well as on policies regarding public law, codification praxis, or religious toleration.

Contributors are: Péter Balázs, Ivo Cerman, Karin Friedrich, Gábor Gángó, Anna Grześkowiak-Krwawicz, Knud Haakonssen, Steffen Huber, Borbála Lovas, Martin P. Schennach, and József Simon.


The study offers a comprehensive overview of the reception of natural law in the academic classes of Protestant gymnasia and colleges in the Kingdom of Hungary and the Principality of Transylvania. It encompasses the Calvinist Colleges in Sárospatak and Debrecen as well as the Calvinist and Unitarian gymnasia in Cluj. On the basis of available archives and library sources, the fullest possible chronological description of teachers and courses is provided, with excursions to library acquisitions as well. The general picture outlines a rich variety of tenets of modern natural law from Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf to Johann Gottlieb Heineccius and Christian Wolff, at some places also including post-Kantian German natural law, adapted to Hungarian and Transylvanian social, political and religious contexts from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century.

In: Early Modern Natural Law in East-Central Europe