Geez, what a bossy moderator.
Hobbes: a brief historical context as cobbled together from a few different sources. I had some of this already written, but I wouldn't be surprised if I introduced a few errors.
Briefly, Elizabeth I
was queen of England for 40 years until her death in 1603. Her reign is known as the Elizabethan era, famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights Shakespeare and Marlowe. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth never married and her lack of an heir was a point of concern for the English people. Her successor was James I
, an experienced monarch when he ascended the English throne, having been King of Scotland since his infancy. Both Elizabeth and James had balanced approaches to governing and both were patrons of the arts. Shakespeare's company of actors was known as "Lord Chamberlain's Men" during the reign of Elizabeth, and it became "The King's Men" in 1603 when King James ascended the throne and became the company's patron.
James I believed in the divine right of kings, that a king is subject to no earthly authority and derives his right to rule directly from God. James wrote two works, The True Law of Free Monarchies
and Basilikon Doron
, in which he argues a theological basis for monarchy. In the True Law
, he sets out the divine right of kings, explaining that for Biblical reasons kings are higher beings than other men.
The divine right of kings is predicated on the Great Chain of Beings, an idea that can be traced to antiquity. See other thread here.part-1-of-man-1-16-t11998.html
Shakespeare addressed themes of order and disorder in many of his plays. It was believed that everybody has a place or station in life and that it was everyone's obligation to remain in one's station. Indeed, Shakespeare's Macbeth
(dedicated to James) is a portrayal of the inversion of the natural order of things. In other words, what happens when Macbeth murders the natural king, Duncan, and all hell breaks loose. Disorder in one realm affected other realms. When Macbeth usurps the king's rightful place, there is bad weather and animals behave strangely.
In King Lear
, the "simultaneous disorder in family relationships and in the state (child ruling parent, subject ruling king) is reflected in the disorder of Lear's mind (the loss of reason) as well as in the disorder of nature (the raging storm). Lear even equates his loss of reason to "a tempest in my mind."http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/engli ... 6/ren.html
Continuing, the second son of James was Charles I
who succeeded his father as king and reigned from 1625 until his execution in 1649.
Religious conflicts played heavily into Charles' reign. Charles also engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England as he attempted to obtain royal revenue which he believed was his right as the divinely-ordained king. Many of his England's subjects opposed his actions, in particular his interference in the English and Scottish Churches and the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent which grew to be seen as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch.
The English Civil War
(1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political perturbations between Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and Royalists (Cavaliers). In a nutshell, Parliamentarians sought a constitutional monarchy, in place of the absolutist monarchy as attempted by Charles (and his father before him).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Civil_War
Here's where Hobbes comes into the picture. He wrote Leviathan
between 1648 and 1651, so he had probably started it before Charles was executed in 1649. Hobbes was an absolutist, but he didn't believe in the divine right of kings. As an absolutist, he believed the people ought to submit to the authority of an absolute—undivided and unlimited—sovereign power. He didn't necessarily believe a monarch necessarily had to be that sovereign power, but I think that was his preference.http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hobbes-moral/#Abs
So, a question: who did Hobbes have in mind as monarch while he was writing Leviathan
? Was he promoting James II's ascendancy?