It was a century in which conflicts between Crown and Parliament and the overlapping conflicts between Protestants, Anglicans and Catholics swirled into civil war in the 1640s.
Locke’s association with Anthony Ashley Cooper (later the First Earl of Shaftesbury) led him to become successively a government official charged with collecting information about trade and colonies, economic writer, opposition political activist, and finally a revolutionary whose cause ultimately triumphed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Among Locke’s political works he is most famous for in which he argues that sovereignty resides in the people and explains the nature of legitimate government in terms of natural rights and the social contract.
He is also famous for calling for the separation of Church and State in his .
Much of Locke’s work is characterized by opposition to authoritarianism.
(1689) is one of the first great defenses of modern empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics.
It thus tells us in some detail what one can legitimately claim to know and what one cannot.
This is apparent both on the level of the individual person and on the level of institutions such as government and church.
For the individual, Locke wants each of us to use reason to search after truth rather than simply accept the opinion of authorities or be subject to superstition.
His father was a country lawyer who served in a cavalry company on the Puritan side in the early stages of the English Civil War.
His father’s commander, Alexander Popham, became the local MP, and it was his patronage which allowed the young John Locke to gain an excellent education.