Jurist whose main contribution was to international law. Born near Chemniz, Saxony, he studied law at Leipzig and Jena, and taught at Heidelberg and Lund. He was imprisoned by the Danes because of his contact with the Swedish ambassador, whose sons he tutored in Copenhagen. While in prison he wrote The Elements of Universal Jurisprudence (1660). His main work, written at Lund, was On Natural Law and the Law of Nations (1670). He also wrote On the Duty of Man and of the Citizen (1671), and On the Relation between Church and State (1686).
Pufendorf followed Grotius for the most part, but interpreted jus gentium more positivistically, thus breaking from the Aristotelian tradition. He introduced elements of Hobbes's conventional, contractual idea, without carrying self‐interest as far as Hobbes did. For him, as for Grotius, a firmer, more rational basis for a political society was necessary. In keeping with his positivistic approach, he came close to Rousseau's notion of the general will or the state as a moral individual whose will is the resultant when individual citizens' wills have cancelled each other out.
On Church–State relationships, while he conceded authority in religious matters to the State, he allowed authority in ecclesiastical matters (appointments, etc.) to the Church, with the proviso that the Church could make over this power to the State. He did not favour a hierarchical Church.