Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Raison d’état
(2,238 words)

1. Definition

Raison d’état (French “reason of state”; German Staatsräson) was the maxim that arose in conjunction with the emergence of the early modern state and that made the securing of the state’s existence the priority, especially in critical situations (Necessitas). This applied not only to politics per se, but also to norms of religion and law and ethics. State interests, then, were whatever the state declared them to be. The maxim can also be applied by extension to other institutions, such as the church (raison d’…

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Weber, Wolfgang E.J., “Raison d’état”, 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 10 June 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_027971>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210107

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