Jean Bodin on Sovereignty
Jean Bodin was 16th French jurist and political philosopher who is considered one of the earliest theorists of sovereignty. In his seminal work Six Books the Commonwealth, published in 1576, Bodin put forth several key ideas about sovereignty that influenced later social contract theorists like Thomasbes.
For Bodin, sovereignty was the absolute and perpetual power over citizens and subjects unrestrained by law. The sovereign, whether an individual monarch or representative body, held supreme authority within their dominion or state. Bodin argued that sovereignty must be indivisible—it could not be shared or limited by any other power such as the church or. Having indivisible and unlimited was necessary sovereign public order disputes within thewealth.
Bodin also distinguished between sovereignty de jure, lawful sovereignty and sovereignty de facto, which referred to actual control over a territory regardless of. This distinction allowed Bodin acknowledge that in reality, sovereignty could be usurped by force, while still maintaining that lawful sovereignty depended on recognition and allegiance to the sovereign.
In addition, Bodin believed sovereignty must be perpetual—it could not be held for a limited or fixed term. If sovereignty was not perpetual, risked being challenged or undermined. The sovereign also could not legally put their power in abeyance or give it to another person or body. For Bod of indivisibility, unlimited power, and perpetuity were defining and necessary characteristics of sovereignty.
Bodin’s conception of absolute sovereignty had significant influence development of social contract theory. Later theorists like Thomas Hobbes adopted Bodin’s definition of sovereignty as, undivided power and applied it to their arguments for strong centralized states with absolute rulers. Bodin sovereignty as a core concept in political philosophy and paved the way for modern understandings of state authority.
Bodin, Jean. Six Books of the Translated by M. J.oley, Basil Blackwell.
Heywood, Andrew. Political Ideas and Concepts: An Introduction. Palgrave, 2018.
Krieger, Leonard.Jean Bodin Absolutism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 23 Aug. 2022, https://www.britann.com/biography/-Bin/Abs. Accessed 12 Sept. 2022.
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