Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Contract theory
(915 words)

1. Fundamentals

The early modern idea that the state, constitution, and socio-economic order had to be based on a legal agreement according to the mutual benefit of the parties involved arose in the 17th century and became widespread in the latter half of the 18th century. It built upon a complex process of the fusion, differentiation, and transformation of earlier Christian notions of unions and alliances, Roman legal principles, and humanistic religious approaches.

At the heart of the Christian tradit…

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Weber, Wolfgang E.J., “Contract theory”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 30 January 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_029707>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20170206

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