Virtually unknown apart from specialist scholars, Friedrich Julius Stahl was a leading German philosopher, professor of constitutional law, and statesman in 19th century Germany. His Christian political philosophy both impacted practical politics in a time of upheaval in Germany (around and after 1848), and influenced anti-revolutionary thinkers of subsequent generations. His work is a monument to a Germany that was overwhelmed and subsumed by the Bismarck revolution, which substituted Realpolitik for Christian tradition. His biography in English is long overdue.
This biography is intended to introduce Stahl’s translated work.
From “Books in Little,” The University Bookman, Volume 47, No. 1 (Winter 2010):
Alvarado’s two volumes make available for the first time in English the life and writings of Bavarian born legal scholar Friedrich Julius Stahl (1802–1861). Stahl, a convert from Judaism to Lutheranism, “stood as one of the last in a long line of confessing Christian statesmen drawing upon the fast-disappearing common-law tradition of the vanished Holy Roman Empire.” Following Burke and von Savigny, Stahl articulated for the Historical School of Jurisprudence a conservative legal philosophy in which “authority, not majority . . . established the framework of the social order.” Stahl located the source of authority in Christianity, which provides the commands and principles through which institutions, the cornerstone of the law for Stahl, provide order and allow for authentic liberty.
Alvarado frames Stahl’s life between two cataclysmic events: The French Revolution and German unification. Whereas the former’s attack on Christianity and authority gave Stahl his life’s task, the latter’s rejection of Christianity and tradition in favor of blood and iron brought Stahl’s work to an unrealized end. After sketching Stahl’s early life and the factors that contributed to his legal philosophy, including his German patriotism, orthodox Lutheranism, and von Savigny’s Historical School, Alvarado describes how he applied his philosophy in two political arenas: first, he helped steer Prussia and King Friedrich Wilhelm IV through the turbulent years following the revolutions of 1848 by contributing both to Prussia’s new constitution and to the formation of its first conservative party; and second, he served on a consistory to oversee ecclesiastical affairs, through which he sought to preserve sound doctrine against staunch opposition.
Alvarado’s biography and edition of Stahl’s Principles of Law have done a great service for readers seeking serious articulations of the law’s proper foundations, and the relationship between religion and the law in an age of secular jurisprudence and judicial activism.
About the Iron Cross on the cover of the book: The Iron Cross was instituted in Prussia during the war for liberation against Napoleon, and was a symbol of Christian nationhood before Otto von Bismarck converted it into a symbol of German nationalism. The rendition presented here was the device of the Neue Preussische Zeitung, the “New Prussian Daily”, which was a conservative newspaper to which Stahl regularly contributed. The inscription reads “Forward with God for King and Fatherland!” For more on the Neue Preussische Zeitung, follow this link.
ISBN/SKU: 9076660042 ISBN Complete: 978-90-76660-04-2 Book Type: 6 x 9 in. or 229 x 152 mm Perfect Bound CREME Page Count: 148 includes bibliography and index; illustrated $12.99/£10.99/€11.99 list price