November, 2013

Legal Centralization and the Birth of the Secular State

  • Mark Koyama

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Noel D. Johnson

    Senior Research Fellow
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This article investigates the relationship between the historical process of legal centralization and increased religious toleration by the state. We develop a model based on the mathematics of mixture distributions which delineates the conditions under which legal centralization raises the costs faced by states of setting a narrow standard of orthodox belief. We compare the results of the model with historical evidence drawn from two important cases in which religious diversity and state centralization collided in France: the Albigensian crusades of the thirteenth century and the rise of Protestant belief in the sixteenth century.

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