University of Tartu, Estonia, 2–4 September 2021
The aim of the conference is to take a comparative look at the teaching and use of natural law around the Baltic Sea in the early modern period. The region was at that time dominated by two Protestant monarchies, Sweden and Denmark-Norway, which also exercised control over a number of territories on the eastern and southern coasts of the Sea. With its strong links to German and Dutch academic culture, the region stood at the forefront of the formation of natural law as an academic discipline: in Uppsala, natural law was taught on the basis of Grotius as early as in 1655, and Samuel Pufendorf published his most influential works as a professor at the University of Lund in the 1670s. In the Danish Knights’ Academy in Sorø Grotius and Selden were taught between the 1630s and 50s, Pufendorf, Thomasius et al. at the similar academy in Copenhagen and at the University from 1690 onwards. Ius naturae et gentium was also taught at the University of Kiel (Schleswig-Holstein, in union with Denmark) from its foundation in 1665, and it also proliferated in the Swedish provincial universities of Dorpat (Livonia), Åbo (Finland) and Greifswald (Pomerania). As in other European countries, the use of natural law in the region was not restricted to academic teaching and theoretical discussion but became also an intellectual resource for conceptualizing and legitimating political developments, and informing legal, political and social reforms.