Hobbes, Behemoth, Church-State Relations, and Political Obligation

  • Johann P. Sommerville
Keywords: Thomas Hobbes, Behemoth, Presbyterianism, Independency, divine right episcopacy, the indirect deposing power, royatism


Behemoth blames the British civil wars of the mid-seventeenth century on the seditious teachings of ambitious clerics, and especially of Presbyterians. Hobbes says much against Catholic and Presbyterian theories of church-state relations. Behemoth sides strongly with the royalist cause in the wars, condemning those who fought against the king as traitors. But it has been argued that in Leviathan Hobbes himself betrayed the royalist cause, and that he wrote the book to curry favor with the Rump Parliament and the Independents. It has also been contended that traces of Hobbes' earlier support for the Independents are still visible in Behemoth, as he there treats Independency and Oliver Cromwell with notable mildness. However, these positions cannot be sustained, for Hobbes displays little sympathy with the Independents or the Rump parliament either in Leviathan or in Behemoth, and in both books he maintains many distinctively royalist views on politics and church-state relations, though he breaks with most royalists by attacking divine right episcopacy.


Download data is not yet available.
How to Cite
Sommerville JP. Hobbes, Behemoth, Church-State Relations, and Political Obligation. FV [Internet]. 2016Jan.3 [cited 2020Sep.22];24(2). Available from: https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/filozofski-vestnik/article/view/3393