Samuel Pufendorf and the emergence of history of state in the Early Enlightenment

This project gives notice to Pufendorf’s chapter in the Enlightenment empiricisation and historicisation, with special regard to his contribution to the emergence of history of state (Staatsgeschichte). In this sense, Pufendorf is an ideal choice to examine, as his texts stand at the crossroads of political thought and historical profession. The project approaches from the angle of intellectual history, history of science and history of knowledge. Instead of seeking the middle ground between the various portrayals and interpretations of Pufendorf, it is rather interested in his historical practice and profession, which although remained an understudied field in scholarship, provided a considerable reputation to the author and his works in the first half of the eighteenth century. In this respect, by exploring Pufendorf’s key texts on German imperial constitution (Severinus de Monzambano Veronensis, De statu Imperii Germanici ad laelium Fratrem Dominum Trezolani, 1667) and European state order (Einleitung zu der Historie der vornehmsten Reiche und Staaten, 1683), the project aims to take into account of both implications: Pufendorf’s own innovation in establishing a secular format of political history and the fermentation and reception of his rich ideas in related political and historical (sub)genres (such as universal history, imperial history, statistical state description) to find answer to the following questions:

  • How the debates on imperial consitution (Reichspublizistik) did initiate imperial history and history of state as twin disciplines?
  • What was Pufendorf’s contribution to the historicisation of reason of state and history of state discourses?
  • What role Pufendorf’s works did play in the education of Early Enlightenment German university culture?
  • How the official curricula did influence Pufendorf’s reception throughout the eighteenth century?