Johannes Althusius

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Althusius, Johannes


Born 1557 in Diedenshausen; died Aug. 12, 1638, in Emden. German jurist and theorist of law.

Althusius was an ardent Calvinist. In his main work, Politica . . . (1603), Althusius was an early representative of the bourgeois theory of natural law, which he based on the principles of Calvinist theology. Althusius developed the idea of popular sovereignty and argued that the people have the right to overthrow and execute tyrannical rulers (in this respect he was close to the monarchomachs). The work of Althusius was essentially a theoretical justification of the republican system in the northern Netherlands.


Politica methodice digesta et exemplis sacris et profanis illustrata. Cambridge, 1932.


Kovalevskii, M. Ot priamogo narodopravstva k predstavitel’nomu . . ., vol. 2. Moscow, 1906.
Gierke, O. Johannes Althusius .... 5th ed. Meisenheim am Glan, 1958.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Johannes Althusius (1557-1638) was probably the most important contributor to this debate.
Greenberg begins this seminal work by documenting the basis for Carl Friedrich's political and social philosophies, hearkening back to the Late-Renaissance Calvinist philosopher Johannes Althusius' writings to demonstrate that democracy is in fact a very German concept--at least in Friedrich's eyes.
(1.) A particularly noteworthy example of a sprawling apparatus in an early modern work is available in Johannes Althusius, Dicaeologicae (Herborn: Corvinum, 1617), available at:, located by way of the Post-Reformation Digital Library:
In this light, Brett ends not with Hobbes but with Johannes Althusius and Juan de Salas, who conceptualize politics in terms of "consociation" or respublica.
Paul's affirmation in Romans 1 that God's eternal power and divinity has been revealed in creation, and relying on history and a clear-headed examination of the writings of leading Protestant theologians including Francis Turretin, Johannes Althusius, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and John Calvin, Grabill challenges, among others, Karl Barth.
The last part of the book offers a synthetic narrative that summarizes the author's more detailed study of primary sources--by John Calvin, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Jerome Zanchi, Johannes Althusius, and Francis Turretin--presented in the preceding chapters.
Johannes Althusius is usually identified as the father of federalism, who was concerned with the division of powers within the sovereign state.
Third, the troublesome issue of sovereignty is better understood if traced back through the federal tradition to Johannes Althusius, the first person to formulate and publish a federal political philosophy, the first edition of which appeared in 1603.
Johannes Althusius (1557-1638) spent his life defending the prerogatives of small political entities against the encroachments of large political entities.