Responses to Religious Division, c. 1580-1620

Public and Private, Divine and Temporal


In this study Natasha Constantinidou considers the views articulated by the scholars Pierre Charron (1541-1603), Justus Lipsius (1547-1606), Paolo Sarpi (1552-1623) and King James VI and I (1566-1625), in response to the religious ruptures of their time. Though rarely juxtaposed, all four authors were deeply affected by the religious divisions. In their works, they denounced religious zeal, focusing on non-dogmatic piety. Drawing on classical tradition and church history, they set out to offer consolation to the people of a war-torn continent and to discuss means of reconciliation. Their responses sought to define the role of religion in public and private. They emphasised the need for lay control of religious affairs as the only way of ensuring peace, whilst circumscribing belief and its practice to the private realm.
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Biographical Note

Natasha Constantinidou, Ph.D. (Edinburgh) is Lecturer in European History at the University of Cyprus. She was previously Research and Teaching Fellow at the University of St Andrews. She has published on early modern intellectual and book history.

Table of contents

List of illustrations

1. The Republic of Letters: Authors, Contexts, Networks
Religious Wars, Reconciliation and Coexistence
Between Conflict and Learning: Charron and the French Religious Experience
Living the Dutch Revolt: Humanism in Times of Public Adversity
Interlude: Truce
The View from Venice: Sarpi’s Life
The International Stage: the Venetian Interdict (1606-07) and the Controversy over the Oath of Allegiance (1605-1607), Sarpi and James VI and I
The View from London and the Turn of the Century: James VI and I and the Anglo-Scottish Experience
Networks and Exchanges in the Republic of Letters at the Backdrop of Religious Wars
Observing the Wars

2. Human Wisdom and Moderation versus Indifference and Superstition: Charron’s Response to Religious Conflict
Les Trois Véritez: Founding God on Human Reason
Religious Wars, Indifference and Atheism
Religion and the State: A Necessary Bond
Christianity, One of Many (Religions)
Nature of Religion – Sagesse
From Polemics to the Search of Common Ground and Alternatives
Human Wisdom: De La Sagesse, Trois Livres
Human and Natural versus Divine Knowledge and Morality
Human Honesty: Nature or God?
Modifications, Reception, Interpretations and the Hardening of Confessional Lines

3. Prudence and Constancy: Justus Lipsius’s Advice for Times of Public Affliction
Constantia and Politica: Constancy and Prudence
Constantia and Politica: Constancy and Prudence
Prudence, Constancy and Morality
(Neo)Stoicism as a Way Out of the Impasse: Stoic Elements in the Constantia
Lipsius on Religion and Politics in the Context of Religious Upheaval
A Response to Religious Strife: Lipsius’s Views in the Context of a Religious Landscape in a Constant State of Flux

4. The Limits Between Lay and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction: Paolo Sarpi’s Reaction to a Century of Confessional Conflict
An Account of Religious Divisions: The Historia del Concilio Tridentino (1619)
The Historia del Concilio Tridentino and the Debate over Jurisdictions
Resolving Religious Divisions: From Dual Jurisdiction to Temporal Supremacy
Addressing Religious Divisions in the Temporal Sphere: Institutional over Doctrinal Reform
Intellectual Development and International Context, 1606--1619: Unresolved Questions
Doctrine, Politics, Christianity, and Acculturation: Sarpi on Religion
The Historia del Concilio Tridentino on the International Stage

5. Peaceful Coexistence through Lay Supremacy: James VI and I and the Struggle for a ‘Middle’ Way
‘Render Therefore unto Caesar the Things Which Are Caesar’s’: The Controversy Over the Oath of Allegiance and the International Milieu
The Oath, Texts and Reactions
Texts and Arguments
The Oath Exported
The Scottish Experience: Separating Jurisdictions or Keeping the Clergy at Bay
A ‘Moderate’ Approach: Princely Rule Against Religious Extremism
Having to Realign the Middle Way: The Revival of Religious Divisions



All interested in the religious wars of the long sixteenth century, and anyone concerned with history of political and moral thought, reconciliation, religious moderation, and impact of classical tradition.