The Struggle with Leviathan

Social Responses to the Omnipotence of the State, 1815-1965

E. Lamberts (Author),

Series: KADOC-Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 18

Category: History, History 1800-present, Political Science

Language: English

ISBN: 9789462700703

Publication date: May 2, 2016

€49.50 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 344

Size: 238 x 170 x 25 mm

Stock item: 108615

Standard delivery time for print books:

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Series: KADOC-Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 18

Category: History, History 1800-present, Political Science

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461662460

ISBN: 9789461662460

Publication date: May 2, 2016

€37.00 (including 6% VAT)

Buy Now

Number of pages: 344

Stock item: 108615


A panoramic picture of international politics and the formation of the modern State
The opposition to the omnipotence of the State – as symbolised by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651) – had a significant impact on the political organisation of European society. A liberal strategy intended to provide a protective legal status for individual citizens, whereas a social strategy aimed to strengthen the social fabric to counterbalance the power of the State. Gradually both strategies became interwoven.

The Struggle with Leviathan pays special attention to the social strategy, developed by conservative and ecclesiastical circles against the omnipotence of the State, and is structured around the fascinating biography of the Austrian diplomat Gustav von Blome, a grandson of Metternich and an important opponent of Bismarck. He proved to be a transitional figure between aristocratic conservatism and Christian democracy, which had a great influence on European integration after 1945.

Besides Blome, several other dramatis personae – statesmen, prelates, political and social activists – are featured. As a result the book reads like a compelling narrative. At the same time, it offers a broadly sketched historical fresco of international politics and the gradual formation of the modern State.

The original Dutch edition of this book, Het gevecht met Leviathan, has been highly praised in the Dutch and Flemish press, and was awarded the biennial international Arenberg Prize for European History and Culture.


The Shadow of Metternich
‘A special friendship’
‘The perfect exemplar of French chivalry’
The feudal lords of Salzau
The apprentice statesman
The naked angel
The coachman of Europe
The last notes of the Concert
The white fairy
The long path to Rome
The resurgence of Italy

Bismarck’s Move
The struggle for Germany
The Schleswig-Holstein hotbed
The Convention of Gastein
‘The world is collapsing’
Leviathan redivivus
The Catholic Church as a counterpower

The Catholic Church in Battle Mode
The sweet fruits of freedom
The temptations of power
The Pope’s crusaders
The legitimists in the ranks
Flirting with capitalism
The canonization of the papacy

Catholic Defence
The Black International

The future of Europe
The Geneva Committee
The Black International
The nine muses
A failed restoration
In the Vatican’s grip
The innominato
The defence against Leviathan
‘The period of despair’
A new direction

Social Defence
The Fribourg Union

An Arcadian existence
The social aristocrats
An international network
The Fribourg Union
A society marked by solidarity
The first harvest
Rerum Novarum
The early stages of Christian Democracy
The hermit of Bellagio

Adenauer in Cadenabbia


E. Lamberts

Emiel Lamberts (1941), professor emeritus at KU Leuven, has done extensive research in the field of modern political and religious European history. His most important publications include Christian Democracy in the European Union (1945–1995), The Black International (1870–1878) and the co-edited History of the Low Countries.

Der Autor Emiel Lamberts, der das vorliegende Buch bereits 2011 in niederländischer Sprache herausgegeben hat, legt hier ein grossartiges Buch vor, das sich stellenweise wie ein Roman liest und grosse Sprachkraft besitzt. Der Leser wird förmlich in eine andere Welt hineingezogen. [...] Gerade darum ist dem Band eine weite Verbreitung zu wünschen, die sozialen Fragen sind aktueller denn je, und auch der religiöse Aspekt scheint darin wichtiger zu werden als auch schon mal.
David Neuhold, SZRKG, 110 (2016)

Pomimo kilku krytycznych uwag książkę Emiela Lambertsa czyta się znakomicie. To ważna publikacja, wyjaśniająca kulisy narodzenia się nowego ruchu w Kościele katolickim i równocześnie pokazująca nie tylko transformację tej instytucji, ale i zmianę, jaką przeszło życie polityczne w Europie, głównie w drugiej połowie XIX w. To też, a może przede wszystkim wydobycie z cienia postaci Gustava von Blomego, którego historia życia i różnorodne formy działalności politycznej stanowią doskonałą kanwę, by przyjrzeć się panoramie dziejów Europy w omawianym czasie. Tomasz Pudłocki, Kwartalnik Historyczny 125, 2018, no 4

The Struggle with Leviathan provides an intimate and learned history of ultramontanist Catholicism in the nineteenth century.
Giuliana Chamedes, Journal of Modern History, September 2020 vol. 92, no. 3

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