"[I]n public affairs, there is no government so ill, provided it be ancient and has been constant, that is not better than change and alteration. Our manners are infinitely corrupt, and wonderfully incline to the worse; of our laws and customs there are many that are barbarous and monstrous; nevertheless, by reason of the difficulty of reformation, and the danger...
Reformation and Renaissance Political Thought
Numerous intellectual and practical developments in politics, law, and government occurred during the Middle Ages. However, the pace of change increased dramatically and often violently with the beginnings of the Renaissance and the Reformation. These intellectual influences resulted in new thinking about politics from many sources and perspectives. New justifications and organizing principles for the state were proposed. New rules for the interactions between states were needed in the wake of the violence of the Thirty Year's War. The theologians on both sides of the Reformation/Counter-Reformation described their concepts of government, and thinkers such as Hugo Grotius and Niccolò Machiavelli proposed new principles.
Simultaneously, another revolutionary event changed Western civilization: the European encounter with and colonization of the Americas. As European explorers and conquerors encountered civilizations unlike anything they had seen before, Spanish intellectuals debated how they should deal with these indigenous cultures. The leading figure among these efforts was Francisco de Vitoria, who is considered by some as the father of international law. These encounters required new thinking on the relationships between nations. They led to dramatic advances in the ideas of human rights, private property, and forms of government.
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