You are on page 1of 163

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Dat1, February 1 6 ,]Q 59

Bout on, Clark W ylie flp n t / 9 / ? <j>/


A u th o r B irth D ate

Jean Bodin: The O rigin and Development o f th e Theory o f S o v ereig h ty


T itle o f D issertation

P o l i t i c a l S c ie n c e Ph.D. March, 1959


D e p a rtm e n t o r School D egree C onvocation

P erm ission is h erew ith granted to the U n iv e r s ity o f C h ica g o to m a k e co p ies o f th e ab o v e title, at its
d iscretion , upon th e request o f individuals o r in stitu tion s and at their ex p en se.

D ate filmed N u m b e r o f pages S ig n atu re o f w rite r

Extensive Quotation or Further Reproduction o f This Material by Persons or


Agencies Other than the University o f Chicago May N o t Be Made without the Express
Permission o f the Writer.

Jean Bodin: O rigin o f Theory o f S o v e r e ig n ty


S hort T it l e : _____________________________________________________________________________

I rregular n u m b e r in g □ O v e r s iz e d sh eets Q

P a id 1 ^ cash. . D
( B y thesis d ep o sit □

D ate b il l e d ________________________________________
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

JEAN BODIN: THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT

OF THE THEORY OF SOVEREIGNTY

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE

FACULTY OF THE DIVISION OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

BY

CLARK WYLIE BOUTON

CHICAGO, IL LI N O IS

MARCH, 1 9 5 9
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................. . . . 1

C hapter
I. THE CONCEPT OF SOVEREIGNTY IN SIXTEENTH
CENTURY CONSTITUTIONALTHOUGHT ............................................ 4

II. THE CRITIQUE OF CLASSICAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY . 50-

III. THE USE OF H I S T O R Y ............................................................................ 80


IV. SOVEREIGNTY: IT S POWERS ANDLIMITATIONS . . . . 91

V. THE ORIGIN AND END OF THE S T A T E .......................................... 1 4 0

BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................ 15 8

ii
INTRODUCTION

The i n t e n t i o n o f t h e p r e s e n t study is t o p r e p a r e an

a n a l y s i s o f th e p o l i t i c a l th o u g h t o f Jean B odin, c e n t e r e d upon

a study of the concept of s o v e re ig n ty . The s t u d y w i l l a t t e m p t

to e x p l a i n why s o v e r e i g n t y f i r s t appeared in t h e works o f B o d in ,

as the c e n tr a l concept of p o l i t i c a l philosophy.

Numerous s c h o l a r s h a v e p o i n t e d o u t t h e im portance of

s o v e r e ig n ty in B o d in 's th o u g h t. They have n o t , how ever, related

th is concept to the o th e r a sp e c ts o f h is th o u g h t. Sovereignty

h a s been view ed a s a j u r i s t i c concept, h a v i n g no n e c e s s a r y c o n ­

n e c tio n w ith B o d in 's p a r t i c u l a r p h ilo so p h y o f p o l i t i c s . T his

h a s l e d t o an i n a d e q u a t e u n d e r s t a n d i n g b o t h o f t h e theory of

so v ereig n ty I t s e l f and t h e r e a s o n s f o r its developm ent.

The o r i g i n of th e th e o r y of s o v e r e ig n ty has been e x ­

p lain ed in term s of th e h i s t o r i c a l c i r c u m s t a n c e s and t h e de­

velopm ent o f c o n s t i t u t i o n a l law . W hile t h e s e e x p l a n a t i o n s h a v e

only a lim ite d v alue, it is t o them t h a t one f i r s t n atu rally

turns. They p ro v id e th e c o n te x t w i t h i n w hich t h e t h e o r y o f

s o v e r e i g n t y w as d e v e l o p e d a n d t h e m a t e r i a l o u t o f w h i c h i t was

co n stru cted . W hile th e Im portance o f th e developm ent o f F ren c h

co n stitu tio n al law in t h e s ix te e n th cen tu ry Is c om m on ly a c c e p t e d ,

th is developm ent h as re c e iv e d su rp risin g ly little c a re fu l study.

The in a d e q u a c y o f t h e s e stu d ies Is re s p o n s ib le f o r the conclu­

sion here of a d is p ro p o rtio n a te ly la rg e c h a p t e r on t h e co n sti-

1
2

tu tio n a l th eo ries o f B o d in 's p re d e c e s s o rs .

W hile th e developm ent o f c o n s t i t u t i o n a l law h e l p s t o

ex p lain th e o rig in of th e concept of so v ereig n ty , it does not

e x p l a i n wh y i t became t h e c en tral concept of p o l i t i c a l p h i­

lo so p h y ; nor does it re la te th e th eo ry o f so v ereig n ty to the

fundam ental changes in p o l i t i c a l p h ilo s o p h y o c c u r r in g a t the

tim e o f i t s o rig in . The f a u l t is l a r g e l y t h a t o f B odin h im s e lf ;

th e u n ity of h is id eas is sc a rc e ly ap p aren t.

One c a n m o r e r e a d i l y se e th e problem in reference to

Hobbes. Hobbes e s t a b l i s h e d so v ereig n ty in th e c e n tra l p o sitio n

in p o l i t i c a l thought th a t it has to some e x t e n t h e l d e v e r s i n c e .

At t h e same t i m e , H obbes was a l m o s t t h e first to found a t r u l y

m odern p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y . T his r a is e s th e q u estio n o f what

th ere is about th e c o n c e p t o f s o v e r e i g n t y t h a t makes i t s o im ­

p o rtan t f o r m odern p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y .

H o w e v e r, H o b b es was n e i t h e r t h e f i r s t to give cen tral

Im portance to the concept of so v ereig n ty nor th e first to develop

a s p e c i f i c a l l y m odern p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y . We a r e to ld th at

th e first m odern p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h e r was M a c h i a v e l l i . T h e new

id e a s w ere, th e re fo re, a l r e a d y kno w n t o B o d i n . They r e p r e s e n te d

more t h a n ju st a b reak w ith th e sch o lastic trad itio n ; they in ­

cluded a d issatisfactio n w ith c lassica l p o litic a l p h ilo so p h y

and t h e d esire to d e v e lo p a more u s e f u l , more p r a c t i c a b l e , scien ce

of p o litic s. We w i l l see th a t t h e s e new i d e a s had a g r e a t in flu ­

en ce on B o d i n 's t h o u g h t .

The c o n c e p t o f s o v e r e i g n t y first o rig in ated as th e

cen tral concept of p o litic a l p h ilo so p h y in th e six teen th cen tu ry .


5
It o rig in ated in a p e r i o d marked b y a c h an g e fro m s c h o l a s t i c

and c l a s s i c a l t o a s p e c i f i c a l l y modern p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y .

It o rig in ated i n t h e w o r k s o f a man c o n s i d e r a b l y I n f l u e n c e d b y

t h e new p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y . One i s th erefo re led to ask

w hether the o rig in of th e th eo ry of so v ereig n ty is not re la te d

to th e fu n d a m e n tal changes in p o l i t i c a l p h ilo s o p h y t h a t began

w ith M a c h i a v e l l i and c u lm in a te d w i t h Hobbes.


CHAPTER I

THE CONCEPT OF SOVEREIGNTY IN SIXTEENTH-

CENTURY CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

In a s tu d y o f J e a n B o d in , one m ust p l a c e h i s work w i t h i n

th e d e v e lo p m e n t o f two s e p a r a b l e b u t r e l a t e d field s; p o litic a l

p h ilo s o p h y and c o n s t i t u t i o n a l law . T his is n e c e s s a r y from th e

p o i n t o f view o f t h e form atio n o f h is th o u g h t, as w ell as th a t

of h is in flu en ce on h i s successors. I t may b e a r g u e d th a t the

tw o f i e l d s w e r e c o m p l e t e l y u n i t e d in B o d in 's th o u g h t: th a t h is

in terp retatio n of th e French c o n s titu tio n was b a s e d up o n h i s

th eo ries drawn from a s t u d y o f h i s t o r y and p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y ,

or, as Is o ften th o u g h t, th a t h is th eo retical c o n c lu s io n s w ere

larg ely d eterm ined by c o n s id e r a tio n s a r i s i n g out o f the p o l i t i c a l

needs of h is tim e. W hatever t h e case, the relatio n of h is th e­

o ries to h is in terp retatio n of the French c o n s titu tio n form s

p e rh a p s th e m ajor problem in u n d e rs ta n d in g B odin. T his Is

esp ecially tru e of the th eo ry of so v ereig n ty , f o r t h e w hole

sig n ifican ce o f t h e w o r d may c h a n g e w he n t h e g e n e r a l t h e o r y i s

ap p lied to a c tu a l p ra c tic e s . There a r e , ap p aren tly a t le ast,

fundam ental c o n tr a d ic t io n s betw een h i s statem en ts about govern­

ment in g e n e r a l and t h o s e a b o u t a c t u a l p r a c t i c e s . The s c h o l a r s

seem g e n e r a l l y t o h a v e e r r e d in tr y in g to d ecid e w hether th e

form er o r th e l a t t e r rep resen ted h is tru e opinion, w ith o u t f i r s t

a d e q u a te ly ex am in in g th e v e ry c o m p lic a te d r e l a t i o n s h i p betw een

th e tw o.
4
5
Though in t h e w r i t i n g s o f B o d in p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y and

co n stitu tio n al law fo rm a s i n g l e w h o l e , it is not tru e of the

w orks o f h i s predecessors. On t h e c o n t r a r y , B odin i s im po rtan t

in b e in g one o f th e first t o a tt e m p t an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e

French c o n s titu tio n in th e fram ew ork o f a u n i v e r s a l t h e o r y o f

governm ent. The i n c r e a s i n g s tu d y and i m p o r t a n c e o f Roman l a w ,

t h e hum anism o f t h e R e n a i s s a n c e w i t h i t s new i n t e r e s t in th e

c la s s ic a l au th o rs, th e d o ctrin arism a ris in g out of p o litic a l in -

stab lllty --th ese w ere a l l s i x t e e n t h - c e n t u r y developm ents te n d in g

to g ive t h e o r e t i c a l d o c t r i n e s more i m p o r t a n c e in F ren c h j u r i s ­

prudence. At t h e same t i m e , th ese d e v e lo p m e n ts were c o n te m p o ra ry

w i t h B odin and had n o t y e t r e a c h e d f u l f i l l m e n t . The o r i g i n s of

B o d in 's id e a s must t h e r e f o r e be so u g h t i n tw o d i f f e r e n t sources:

first, in th e c l a s s i c a l p h i l o s o p h e r s and t h e few m odern a u t h o r s

whom B o d i n t h o u g h t t o h a v e c o n t r i b u t e d som ething to p o l i t i c a l

th eo ry ; second, i n woriks p a r t i c u l a r l y concerned w ith F rench con­

stitu tio n a l law . In t h i s we f o l l o w t h e l e a d g iv e n by Bodin him ­

self. The p o l i t i c a l p h ilo s o p h e r s w i l l be c o n s id e re d In a l a t e r

ch ap ter. The p r e s e n t c h a p te r w i l l be devoted t o an e x a m i n a tio n

o f th e French c o n s titu tio n as u n d e rsto o d by B o d in 's p re d e c e s s o rs .

To p r e s e n t a h i s t o r y o f French c o n s titu tio n a l law up t o

t h e t i m e o f B o d in w ould be t o go f a r beyond t h e lim its o f the

present stu d y . At t h e same t i m e a b a c k g r o u n d is needed a g a in s t

w hich to view B o d i n 's w r i t i n g s . T his c h a p te r w ill th e r e f o r e a t ­

tem p t t o set f o r t h th e m ost im portant d o c trin e s of h is predecessors

and c o n te m p o r a r ie s . T h e se works need b e a n a ly z e d only to the ex­

ten t t o w hich th e y co n ce rn th e c e n tra l q u estio n of so v ereig n ty .


6

T his s t u d y w i l l go b a c k o n l y t o th e beginning o f th e six teen th

cen tu ry , for it is in t h i s c e n tu r y t h a t th e m ajo r changes in

French c o n s titu tio n a l law t a k e p l a c e .

Toward t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e cen tu ry , in 1519* t h e r e

a p p e a re d a book w hich p ro v e s a c o n v e n ie n t s t a r t i n g p o in t fo r

th is survey, La g r a n d e m o n a r c h i e d e F r a n c e . T h i s work i s doubly

im portant in th e h i s t o r y o f th e F rench c o n s t i t u t i o n , sin ce it

was c o n s i d e r e d by l a t e r a u t h o r s , as w e ll a s by p r e s e n t day

sch o lars, as a c la s s ic statem ent o f th e t r a d i t i o n a l u n d e rs ta n d ­

ing o f th e co n stitu tio n as held in th e b e g in n in g o f th e cen tu ry ,

and a t t h e same t i m e a l r e a d y shows s i g n s o f t h e id eas t h a t w ere

l a t e r t o become d o m in a n t i n t h e p e r i o d o f t h e R e n a i s s a n c e . The

book is not a form al t r e a t i s e on j u r i s p r u d e n c e , but sim ply a

m odest d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e F re n c h m onarchy t o g e t h e r w i t h c e r t a i n

c o u n s e l s on how i t can be p r e s e r v e d . It Is a "handbook" f o r a

p rin c e and was d e d i c a t e d to F ran y o is I, who h a d r e c e n t l y a s c e n d e d

th e thro ne of France. Its au th o r, C la u d e de S e y s s e l , was an a r c h ­

b ish o p , th o u g h th e p r a c t i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n , th e absence o f s c h o la s tic

argum ent, th e p a u city of th e o lo g ic a l c o n sid e ra tio n s , and th e n u ­

m erous r e f e r e n c e s to th e c l a s s i c a l a u t h o r s b e t r a y no t r a c e of h is

p ro fessio n .

Seyssel professes d i s t r u s t o f the sp ecu latio n s of p h i­

l o s o p h e r s and t h e o l o g i a n s on t h e s u b je c t o f governm ent. T heir

a r g u m e n ts drawn fro m i d e a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s do n o t c o r r e s p o n d to

the i m p e r f e c t i o n s w h i c h e x i s t w i t h i n men a n d s ta te s .'* ' He t h e r e -

■^Claude d e S e y s s e l , La g r a n d e m o m a r c h i e d e F r a n c e (P aris:
Gal l o t d u P r £ , 15^+1 ) , P r o l o g u e .
7

fo re proposes to em ploy a n o t h e r m ethod: to stu d y the h i s t o r y

o f F r a n c e and t o draw fro m t h i s study c e r ta in maxims t o g u i d e

its fu tu re c o n d u ct.1

S eyssel thus sa w t h e g u i d e t o t h e conduct of th e state

not s o much i n g e n e r a l t h e o r i e s o f what i n s t i t u t i o n s are best

as in a know ledge o f t h e in stitu tio n s p e c u lia r to th e French

regim e. S ince it was t h e l a t t e r w hich gave t h e regim e its par­

tic u la r ch aracter, and by w h ich i t had a r r i v e d at its present

state, it is also th is w h ic h s h o u l d p r o v i d e t h e maxims f o r f u ­

tu re co nduct. It is in p r e s e r v i n g and r e f i n i n g its own i n s t i t u ­

tio n s, not in e s ta b lis h in g o th ers, e v e n w he n i n t h e m s e l v e s t h e y

are b e tte r, th at a state achieves success. S e y s s e l!s co nfidence

in a r e lia n c e on F r e n c h i n s t i t u t i o n s also d ep en d s, how ever, on

th e fact t h a t a s a w h o le h e r e g a r d s them a s s u p e r i o r : m onarchy

is th e b e st fo rm o f g o v e rn m e n t and F r a n c e h a s t h e b e s t form o f
2
m onarchy.
Sey ssel reco g n izes th ree form s o f governm ent: popular,

a risto cratic, and m o n a rc h ic . T h ese w ere t y p i f i e d resp ectiv ely

b y t h e Roman r e p u b l i c , V enice, and F r a n c e . These form s a r e not

however e n t i r e l y p u re in any o f th e e x am p les, and S e y s s e l a d ­

m its to som e e x t e n t t h e m i x e d c o n s t i t u t i o n , not as a fo u rth

form o f governm ent b u t a s e x i s t i n g t o more o r l e s s degree w ith in

th e o th er th re e . A co n stitu tio n tak es its na me f r o m t h e d o m i n a t ­

in g elem en t. T h u s Rome " p a r t i c i p a i t des tr o i s " alth o u g h i t was

a p o p u lar reg im e.^ V enice is an a r i s t o c r a c y , "si p articip e

1I b i d . 2I b i d . , Bk. I, pp. 4 ,6 .

^"Car b la v erity ic e llu i £ ta it reg l£ de s o r t e q u 'il


8

a u cu n em en t de la m o n a rc h ie p o u r r a i s o n du due e t p r in c e q u ' I l s

o n t e t ne t l e n s rlen s du p o p u l a i r e . F r a n c e In tu r n Is a

m onarchy tem pered in s u c h a way t h a t It also c o n tain s elem ents

o f a r i s t o c r a c y and p o p u la r g o v ern m en t. S e y s s e l 1s o p i n i o n t h a t

in a c t u a l g o v ern m e n ts one form o f governm ent r a r e l y ex isted pure

and unm ixed w i t h t h e o t h e r s was i n h e r i t e d from th e classical


3
au th o rs a n d w a s t h e m o s t common o p i n i o n o f B o d in 's p re d e c e s s o rs .

S e y s s e l's d escrip tio n o f t h e Roman r e p u b l i c , q uoted above, is ex­

a ctly th e in te rp re ta tio n w h ich B odin l a t e r r e j e c t s . In r e j e c t i n g

t h e g e n e r a l t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n , how ever, B odin s till

retain ed many e l e m e n t s from th e e arlier au th o rs. The o p p o s i t i o n

o f t h e t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n and th e th eo ry of so v er­

e ig n ty h as been g e n e r a lly ex ag g erated : F irst, because of a con­

f u s i o n b e t w e e n w h a t o n e may c a l l "m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n " and "m ixed

g o v ern m en t." (We w i l l d efin e th e form er as a s t a t e in w hich t h e r e

p a r t i c i p a i t des t r o i s p o u r a u ta n t que l e s c o n s u ls a v a ie n t la
s o u v e r a i n e a u t o r i t ^ , d u r a n t l e u r c o n s u l a t en p l u s i e u r s c h o s e s ,
memement q u a n d i l s e t a l e n t h o r s l a c i t £ . E t neam oins l e s e n a t
^ t a i t g a r n i de p e r s o n n a g e s que l ' o n e s t i m a i t l e s p l u s s a g e s e t
l e s p l u s p ru d 'h o m m es du p e u p l e s , t e n a i e n t l e g o u v e r n a l de l a n e f
t o u c h a n t l e s p r i n c i p a u x a f f a i r e s de s o r t e q u 'a p e i n e se p o u v a i t
p a s s e r aucune ch o se de g ran d e Im p o rta n c e , sa n s l ' a u t o r i t e d ' i c e l l u l .
E t s ' i l y a v a i t neam oins l e p e u p le sa p a r t b ie n g ra n d e au g o u v e rn e -
m e n t, t a n t a l ' ^ l e c t i o n d e s o f f i c i e r s q u '£ d e c e r n e r l a p a l x ou la
g u e r r e e t en p l u s i e u r s a u t r e s c h o s e s de g r a n d e I m p o r t a n c e . Et
o u t r e ce a v a i t s e s t r i b u n e s , san s l e s q u e l s l e s e n a t ne p o u v a it
fa Ire decret qui fu t v a lab le." I b i d . . p . 2.

' 1I b l d .

2I b i d . , p . 12; S e y s s e l , " E p i t r e d e d i c a t o i r e , " A ppian


A le x a n d r in . h i s t o r i e n g r e c . des g u e r r e s des R om ains. t r a n s . S e y s s e l
( P a r is , 1559). : ~ "

•^See my M a s t e r ' s t h e s i s , " T h e P o l i t i c a l T h e o r y o f , S i r


Thomas S m ith " ( D e p t, o f P o l i t i c a l S c i e n c e , U n i v e r s i t y o f C h i c a g o ,
195^).
9

is a d iv isio n of th e so vereign au th o rity and t h e la tte r as a

state in w hich t h e r e is no d i v i s i o n of th e sovereign a u th o r ity

but a d iv isio n o f governm ental o f f i c e s among t h e d i f f e r e n t classes

of c itiz e n s.) Second, by th e ten d en cy to see th e th eo ry of th e

m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n from th e p o i n t o f view o f t h e "sep aratio n of

p o w ers." The t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n m u st b e made c l e a r

b e f o r e one can u n d e rs ta n d B o d in 's th e o r y o f s o v e r e ig n ty , w hich

was i n e s s e n c e a r e j e c t i o n o f th e e a r lie r theory .

M onarchy i s su p e rio r to th e o t h e r form s o f governm ent b e ­

cause it is n e c e ssa ry to have "un s e u l c h e f " in a l l affa irs. The

sin g le a u th o rity , how ever, creates th e danger th a t a king w i l l

become a t y r a n t , and th u s h i s pow er m ust be l i m i t e d to guard

ag ain st th is p o ssib ility . The F r e n c h m o n a rch y i s th e b e st govern­

ment b e c a u s e i t effectiv ely lim its th e m onarch w ith o u t d e s t r o y i n g

h is a u th o rity . The k ey t o th e good m onarchy l i e s in a s ta b le and

flex ib le b a la n c e betw een t h e s e tw o t e n d e n c i e s . In such a system

flex ib ility is ind eed essen tial; in a b a la n c e o f r a t h e r vague

rig h ts and a u t h o r i t i e s , Seyssel sees th e stre n g th of th e regim e

in th is: though i t cannot p re v e n t a l l w rongs, it does d isco u rag e

th e g re a te r v io len ce, and t h e w ronged g e n e r a l l y r e c e i v e Ju stice

as in th e c o u rse o f tim e th e regim e te n d s to retu rn to its m ore

Just foundat io n s . 1

The F r e n c h m onarch i s th e sin g le and s o v e r e ig n au th o rity

in th e state, but at th e same t i m e h e d o e s n o t h a v e "au to rit£

a b so lu e ." Though h i s a u t h o r i t y rem ains 11e n s o n e n t l ^ r e , " it

*1
S ey ssel, G rande m o n a r c h ie , Bk. 1, p. 8.
10

is at the s am e t i m e " r e g i m e e t r e f r e n e e p a r b o n n e s l o i s ,

ordonnances e t coutum es. When S e y s s e l s p e a k s o f t h e s e r e ­

stra in ts he g e n e r a lly m en tio ns a l l th ree t o g e t h e r and m akes no

d i s t i n c t i o n s b etw een them . Though t h e i r o rig in s are somewhat


2
d ifferen t, t h e i r power a l l deriv es from t h e same s o u r c e , custom .

The i n v i o l a b i l i t y of th e law s th e m s e lv e s v i s a v i s t h e m onarch

d eriv es from th e f a c t t h a t t h e y " o n t 6 t6 g a r d ^ e s p a r t e l et si

l o n g t e m p s q u e l e s p r i n c e s n 1e n t r e p r e n n e n t p o i n t d ' y d e r o g e r . " ^

"Et pour p a r l e r des d i t s frein s par lesq u els la puissance

absolue est regim e, l'e n tro u v e t r o i s p rin cip au x ; le prem ier e s t


..4
la relig io n , le second la Ju stice, et le tie rs la p o lice.

S e y s s e l view s r e l i g i o n as th e most im p o rtan t, and s e e s its re­

stra in t in v e ry p r a c t i c a l te rm s . A k ing r a is e d as a C h ristian

w ill come t h r o u g h e d u c a t i o n a n d h a b i t t o v i e w God a s t h e w i t n e s s

of h is acts, and, being su b je c t to th e reprim and o f any p r i e s t ,

he i s restrain ed by th e church. H ow ever, th e r e a l r e s t r a i n t ,

S e y s s e l makes c l e a r , is n ot th e n e c e s s ity of being r e lig io u s b ut

o f a p p e a rin g to be r e l i g i o u s : "Dont e n t e n d a n t s e t co n n aissan ts

les ro ls de F ra n c e etre n e c e s s a i r e u s u r e en e s t i m e e t r e p u t a ­

tio n de b o n s C h r e t i e n s p o u r a v o i r 1 ’am our e t o b e l s s a n c e e n t l e r e

du p e u p le e n c o re s q u ’ i l s ne fu s s e n t d ' e u x memes a s s e z e n c l l n s

e t d edi^s a la devotion et crain te de d i e u , se g a rd a n t neam oins

de f a i r e c h o s e s £norm es e t r e p r e h e n s i b l e s sinon to u jo u r s e t en

tous a f f a ir e s , a to u t l e m oins l e p l u s so u v en t, qui e st comme

11I b i d . 2Ib id . , pp. 8, 10, 11.

5I b id ., p. 11. ^ I b id ., p. 8.
11

nous avons d it le prem ier f r e in et reten all des R o is e t m onarques

d e F r a n c e . " ' 1' Thus r e l i g i o n , lik e the o th er r e s tr a in ts , has a

power t o keep th e k in g 's a c tio n s w ith in certain w ide l i m i t s , to

prevent acts o f extrem e in ju stic e.


The second c h e c k on t h e k i n g ' s power i s " j u s t i c e , 1' b y

w hich i s m eant e s s e n t i a l l y the court system . T his r e s t r a i n t is

esp ecially stro n g because th e h ig h e st co u rts, th e p arliam en ts,

"ont 4 t4 i n s t i t u t e p r i n c i p a l e m e n t p o u r c e t t e c a u s e e t a c e t t e
fin de r e f r e n e r la p u issan ce a b s o lu te , dont vou d raien t u s e r le s

ro is." 2 The p a r l i a m e n t h a s no power o r a u t h o r i t y w h ic h i t has

not receiv ed from th e k in g h im s e lf; it is m erely a c o u r t, but a

c o u r t w hich h e a r s c a s e s betw een k in g and s u b j e c t a s w e l l a s betw een

su b jects. The f o r c e of its au th o rity lies in th e te n u re of its

o fficers, who a r e ap p o in ted by th e k in g , b u t hold t h e i r o ffices

for life and c a n n o t be removed " sa n s g ra n d e c o n n a is s a n c e de c a u s e .

The p a r lia m e n t n o t o n ly h e a r s a c t i o n s ag ain st th e k in g , but in the

case o f an- a c t i o n betw een p a r t i c u l a r s any " l e t t r e s et rescrip ts"

o f th e king a re su b ject to th e judgm ent o f p a r l i a m e n t if th ey

are thought to p re ju d ic e th e r ig h t of an o th er. T his Insures for

th e co u rts a freedom from r o y a l In flu en ce. It is however c u rio u s

t h a t S e y s s e l m entions o n ly th e r i g h t of parliam en t to judge such

p a rtic u la r orders and s a y s n o th in g o f i t s rig h t to p rom ulgate


4
th e law s n o r o f its rig h t o f rem o nstan ce. T his c o n tro l o v er

1I b i d ., p. 9. 2I b id . , p. 10. ^I b l d . . p. 16.
4
C f . , A n d re L e m a i r e , L e s l o i s f o n d a m e n t a l e s de l a mon­
a r c h i c F r a n c a i s e d ' a p r e s l e s t h e o r i c l e n s de l ' a n c i e n re g im e
( P a r i s : A. F o u t e m o i n g , 1 9 0 7 )* p . 7 4 .
12

'th e l a w s S e y s s e l d o e s h a v e I n m i n d when h e m e n t i o n s l a w s w h i c h

"ont gard^es par t e l et si longtem ps: que l e s p r i n c e s

n 1e n t r e p r e n n e n t p o i n t d ' y d e r o g u e r , e t quand l e v o u d raien t faire,

l'o n n 1o b o i s t p o i n t h l e u r s c o m m a n d e m e n t s . 1,1 T his r e s is ta n c e

w ould a r i s e in th e f i r s t in stan ce out of p a rlia m e n t's r e f u s a l

to p r o m u l g a t e t h e new l a w s .

W hile i t is tru e th a t p arliam en t is e s s e n tia lly a co u rt,

and t h a t S e y s s e l is esp ecially re tic e n t to speak of i t s pow ers

in regard to le g islatio n , th is p o in t should n o t be e x a g g e ra te d .

It has been c a r e f u l l y p o in te d o u t by M cllw ain In th e case of th e

E n g l is h p a r lia m e n t and C hurch in th e c a s e o f th e F re n c h t h a t th e


2
parliam ent s h o u ld n o t b e r e g a r d e d a s a modern l e g i s l a t u r e . But

n e ith er should I t be p ic tu re d a s a modern c o u r t . The p a r lia m e n t

was o r i g i n a l l y e s t a b l i s h e d to d eal w ith a f f a i r s of state, and n o t

as a c o u rt but as a co u n sel. S ey ssel recognized t h i s and r e c o g ­

n ized t h a t w hatever l a t e r c h a n g e s w e r e m a de i n its c h a r a c t e r and

ju risd ictio n th is o rig in al fu n ctio n rem ained th e most Im p o r ta n t.

In t h i s it d iffered from a l l o th er co u rts. One may i n d e e d w o n d e r

w h e t h e r M c l l w a i n ' s e m p h a s i s on t h e ju d icial ch aracter of p a rlia -


3
ment h a s n o t o b s c u r e d more t h a n it has c l a r i f i e d . I t w ould c e r ­

t a i n l y be d i f f i c u l t to show t h a t the p arliam en t judged o n ly th e

l e g a l i t y and n o t th e a d v i s a b i l i t y of royal a c ts. If it has be-

^ S e y s s e l, G rande m o n a r c h ie . Bk. k, p . 11.


p
C h a r l e s H. M c l l w a i n , T h e H i g h C o u r t o f P a r l i a m e n t a n d
I t s S u p r e m a c y (New H a v e n : 193*1}; W i l l i a m F a r r C h u r c h , C o n s t i t u ­
t i o n a l T ho u g h t in S i x t e e n t h C e n tu ry F r a n c e (C am bridge: H a rv ard
U n iv e rs ity P re s s, 19^1).
3
•^See my M a s t e r ' s t h e s i s , c h a p . i v .
13

co me d i f f i c u l t to argue th a t o u r Supreme C o u rt h a s a j u d i c i a l

and n o t a p o l i t i c a l f u n c t i o n , s o much m ore s o i s it in th e case

of th e p a rlia m e n t.
The t h i r d c h e c k on t h e pow er o f t h e p r i n c e is 11l a p o lice;

c 'e s t a s a y o i r de p l u s i e u r s o rd o n n a n c e s q u i o n t 6te f a i t e s par

les r o i s memes, et apres confirm ees e t a p p r o u v e e s d e te m p s en

tem ps, lesq u elles te n d en t a la co n serv atio n du ro y a u m e en u n i v e r s a l

e t p a rtic u lie rZ '1 The m ost i m p o r t a n t exam ple o f su ch fu n d a m e n ta l

law s i s th e S alic law g o v e r n i n g t h e r o y a l su ccessio n . Of t h e s e

law s, how ever, S e y s s e l h e r e m e n tio n s o n l y tw o e x a m p le s : F irst,

th e king is un ab le to a lie n a te t h e r o y a l dom ain e x c e p t in cases

of n ecessity , and any a l i e n a t i o n must be ap p ro v ed by p a r lia m e n t

and t h e "eham bres des c o m p te s." Second, th e "cham bre d e s com ptes"

ex am in es and r e s t r a i n s th e ro y al ex p en d itu res. The c o n t r o l o v e r

ex p en d itu res is esp ecially im p o rtan t, because by e x tra v a g a n t use

o f th e ro y a l revenue th e p r i n c e m ight f i n d it necessary to lev y

tax es on t h e p e o p l e ; Seyssel is however s i l e n t as t o what power

th e king has in re g a rd to tax atio n .

In a d d i t i o n to the co u rts, o f w hich p a r lia m e n t is view ed

sim ply as th e h ig h e s t, the p rin c e is restrain ed by h i s co u n sels:

" C ' e s t q u e l e ruonarque n e f a s s e aucune chose p a r v o lo n te des-

ordonn^e n i so u d ain e, aln s en t o u t e s s e s a c t i o n s memement c o n -

cernant l'^ ta t u se de c o n s e i l ." These c o u n se ls a re of d iffe r­

ent c o m p o sitio n and size, bu t th ey are a l l lim ited to a p u rely

■^Seyssel, G ran d e m o n a r c h i e . Bk. I, p. 11.

2I b i d . . Bk. II, p. 4.
14
1
adv iso ry fu n ctio n . A ll a u th o r ity r e s t s w ith t h e m onarch. The

" E ta ts generaux" i s m e n tio n e d s im p ly a s one o f t h e s e counsels

and i s g iv e n no g r e a t e r im portance th a n th e o t h e r s . The g r e a t

im portance som etim es g iv e n t o the " E ta ts generaux” does not a p ­

pear in S e y s se l* s d e s c r i p t i o n , and he now here a s c r i b e s t o it a

power t o co n tro l ta x a tio n .

The pow er o f t h e m a g i s t r a t e s d e r i v e s fro m t h a t o f the

p ric e but n ev erth eless form s a v e ry r e a l r e s t r a i n t on h i s activ ­

itie s. He i s o b lig ed to listen to th e advice o f th e counsels

even th o u g h he need n o t fo llo w it. He i s surrounded by "la

m u ltitu d e e t a u to r ite grande des o f f i e i e r s , qui sont ta n t auprfes

de sa p e rso n n e q u 'e n d iv ers lieu x d e s o n R oya um e q u ' a peine

p o u r r a i t un R o i f a i r e chose qui f u t tro p v io le n te , n ’a t r o p


ii "5
grand p r e ju d ic e de s e s su b jects. ^ The p r i n c e a c t s n e c e s s a r i l y

only th ro u g h th e c omm an ds h e g i v e s to his o ffice rs, and y e t if

th ese o ffic e rs commit an i n j u s t i c e even u n d er th e command o f t h e

p rin ce, th e y can s t i l l be h e ld liab le before th e law . Thus i f

1I b i d . , pp. 7, 8 .
" E t e n c o r e s s e l o n 1 *i m p o r t a n c e d e s a f f a i r e s y d o i t l ' o n
a p p e lle des p re s id e n ts des cours so u v erain es e t p rin c ip a u x con-
s e il le u r s d 'i c e l l e s , des p r e la ts absens, e t a u tre s n o ta b le s p e r-
sonna.ge s que l ' o m s a l t e t r e s a g e s e t e x p e r i m e n t 's . M ais c e l a
de convoquer t e l s p erso n n ag e s ab se n s ne se f a i t n i d o i t f a i r e
g u eres souvent pour e v i t e r confusion e t d^pense. A in si ta n t
seulem ent i l o ccu re q u elq u e chose q u i n 'a d v ie n t pas souvent e t
e s t d e g r a n d e c o n s e q u e n c e a t o u t l e r o y a u m e , eomme d *e n t r e p r e n d r e
une g u e rre e t conquete n o u v e lle . De f a i r e l o i s e t o r d o n n a n c e s
g e n e r a l e s c o n c e r n a n t la j u s t i c e ou la p o l i c e u n i v e r s e l l e du
royaum e e t a u t r e s c a s s e m b l a b le , a u x q u e ls c a s , i l e s t q u e l q u i f o i s
e x p e d i e n t d ' a p p e l l e r q u e l q u e p e t i t nombre de g e n s d e s c i t £ s e t
v i l l e s c a p i t a l e s du royaum e. E t c e c i n ’e s t pas a p p e lle c o n s e il
o r d i n a i r e , a in s e s t seulem ent assem blee c a s u e l l e . I b i d . , p . 5.
■5
S e y s s e l , A ppian A l e x a n d r l n , E p i t r e d ^ d icato ire.
15
the c o u r t s a r e seldom p o w e rfu l enough t o p u n is h a p r i n c e , still

t h e y can d is s u a d e h i s o f f i c e r s from f o l l o w i n g h i s u n j u s t o r d e r s ,

t h r o u g h t h e f e a r o f t h e i r own s u b s e q u e n t p u n i s h m e n t .

The f o r c e o f t h e m a g i s t r a t u r e as a re stra in t lie s ini t s

p a r t i c u l a r form ation. It is composed of o fficers drawnfrom e a c h

o f th e th re e states, w hich S e y s s e l d e f i n e s a s t h e n o b i l i t y , the

b o u rg eo isie, and t h e " p e u p le m enu." (The c h u r c h makes up a p a r t

o f each of th e th re e e sta te s.) "Et p a r a i n s i 4 t a n t s les biens

et le s honneurs, les charges, et ad m in istratio n de l a chose p u b liq u e

d iv is^s e t d ^ p a rtis e n tre to u s les £ ta ts proportionablem ent selon

leu rs co n d itio n s, e n uri c h a c u n d ' i c e u l x g a r d e e n s a p r e e m m l n e n c e

et q u ality , s 'e n s u i t une harm onle e t confiance qui e s t c a u s e de

la c o n se rv a tio n e t au gm entation d ' i c e l l e m o n arch ie."^ T his d i v i ­

sion of th e a d m in is tra tiv e o fficers is the cause o f the stab ility

o f th e F ren ch regim e, for "un chacun d e s d i t s E t a t s a ses d ro its

e t preem inences selo n sa q u a l i t y , e t a peine peut l'u n opprim er


p
1 ' a u tre n i to u s t r o i s ensem ble c o n s p i r e r c o n tr e le c h e f e t m onarque."

Seyssel ascrib es such im portance t o t h i s p artic ip a tio n of the th ree

estates in th e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of th e state t h a t he s e e s t h e r e i n a

so rt of m ix tu re o f th e t h r e e form s o f governm ent.

Though t h e h o n o rs and c h a rg e s of t h e governm enta r e

* divided among m e m b e r s o f a l l th ree estates, th e F ren c h regim e

is n o n e th eless m onarchical. S trictly speaking, there i s no

1I b i d .
2
S e y s s e l , G rande m o n a r c h i e , Bk. I , p . 13; c f . , i b i d . , p . 1 9 .
*2
^ " C a r b b i e n p r e n d r e l e t o t a l de c e t e m p ire F r a n c a i s e ,
I I p a r t i c i p e de t o u t e s l e s t r o i s v o i e s du g o u v e rn e m e n t p o l i t i q u e . "
S e y s s e l , A pplan A l e x a n d r i n . E p i t r e d e d i c a t o i r e .
16

e v i d e n c e o f a m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n in S e y s s e l's d e s c r ip tio n : th is

can be seen by com paring i t w ith h is d escrip tio n o f t h e Roman

rep u b lic, w hich does show t h e c h aracteristics o f a m ixed c o n -

s t i t u t i o n . " 1" Though t h e r e is in th e F ren ch s t a t e a d iv i s i o n of

a d m in istrativ e o ffices, th ere is no d i v i s i o n o f so vereign a u th o r­

ity . In t h e w ords o f J e a n B o d in , " i l y a bien d ifferen ce de

m e le r ou p l u t o t confondre le s tro is etats de R ^ p u b l i q u e en un

(c h o s e du t o u t im possible) et faire que la M onarchie s o i t

gouv ern ^e p o p u la ire m e n t e t a r i s t o c r a t i q u e m e n t ." I t w ould be

an e r r o r t o a t t r i b u t e B o d in 's c a r e f u l t h e o r e t i c a l c lassifica­

tio n s to S e y s s e l's d escrip tio n . C e r t a i n l y S e y s s e l d i d n o t make

such a d i s t i n c t i o n betw een a d i v i s i o n of ad m in istrativ e o ffices

and a d i v i s i o n of the h ig h e st a u th o rity of th e state. He s p o k e

in th e s am e t e r m s o f t h e in terp re ta tio n o f t h e Roman c o n s t i t u ­

t i o n w hich he borrow ed from t h e c l a s s i c a l a u t h o r s , an i n t e r ­

p retatio n w hich Bodin r e j e c t e d , and o f h i s descrip tio n of the

F re n c h m onarchy, in w hich t h e r e seems t o be n o t h i n g t o w h ich

B odin c o u ld o b j e c t .

In t h e F r e n c h m onarchy th e p r i n c e h a s " t o u t e p u i s s a n c e

et a u to rlt^ de commander e t f a i r e ce q u ' i l v e u t."^ Seyssel ad­

v is e s th e p rin c e to be v ery c a r e f u l l e s t th is power be l o s t or

usurped: "Et s u r to u t s e d o l t l e p r i n c e g a r d e r de d o n n e r t e l

cred it et a u to rit^ a personnage q u el q u 'i l so it: q u ' i l ne s o i t

■^See a b o v e , p . 7 .
2
J e a n B o d in , Les s i x l l v r e s de la R ^ p u b lia u e (P aris:
J a c q u e s du P u y s , I 58O ), Bk. V I, c h a p . v i i , p . 707.

^S ey ssel, A pplan A l e x a n d r i n , E p i t r e d ed ieato lre.


lo isib le aux a u t r e s san c r a i n t e n l d an g er c o n t r e d i r e ’ a s e s o p in ­

io n s e t a rg u e r ses fa i t s envers ic e l u i p r in c e ." 1

Though s o v e r e i g n , t h e a u t h o r i t y o f th e F r e n c h m onarch

is "regim e e t r e f r e n ^ e p a r bonnes l o i s , ordonnances, e t coutum e,"

w h ich he i s o b l i g e d t o p r e s e r v e , " a t t e n d u memement q u ' i l e s t

a b s tra ln c t par le serm ent q u ' i l f a i t a son c o u ro n n e m e n t de ce

fa ire ." Yet S e y s s e l d o e s r e c o g n i z e t h e pow er o f t h e p r i n c e t o

change th e law s, "ca r ayant l'o b ^ is s a n c e e n tie r e des s u b je c ts;

i l , peut sans d i f f i c u l t ^ faire o b serv er e t g a rd e r le s bonnes l o i s ,

o rd o n n an ces e t coutum es, c o r r i g e r e t a n u l l e r c e l l e s q u i ne so n t

u tiles ou a s s e z a c c o m p lie s , e t en f a i r e des n o u v e lle s s 'il est

expedient."-^ T h e o n l y l i m i t a t i o n m e n t i o n e d b y S e y s s e l on t h e

ab ility o f t h e k i n g t o make a n d c h a n g e l a w i s the b lu n t state­

ment in r e l a t i o n t c th e fundam ental law s, "que l e s p r i n c e s

n ' e n t r e p r e n n e n t p o i n t d ' y d e ro g u e r e t quand l e v o u d r a i e n t f a i r e ,

l'o n n 'o b e is t po in t a le u rs commandements. That is to say,

th e king has f u l l a u t h o r i t y to change la w s, b u t o n ly w ith in th e

lim its s e t by t h e fu n d a m e n ta l law s o f th e re a lm . T hese la w s , w hich

form t h e b a s i s of his own a u t h o r i t y , a r e n ot o n ly beyond h i s a u ­

th o rity t o a b r o g a t e b u t w ould b e p r o t e c t e d by t h e r e s i s t a n c e o f

h is su b jects, in th e f i r s t i n s t a n c e by t h a t o f p a r lia m e n t and

th e various m a g istra te s.

1S e y s s e l , G r a n d e m o n a r c h l e , B k . II, p. 8.

S e y s s e l , Appian A l e x a n d r i n . E p i t r e d ^ d i c a t o i r e .

•^ S ey sse l, Grande m o n a r c h i e , Bk. II, p. 2.


2i
I b i d . , Bk. I , p . 11.
18

T h e s e la w s and p r o c e d u r e s w h ic h r e s t r a i n th e king "ont

ete faites par les r o i s memes. " 1 T h is idea t h a t th e kings a re

b o u n d b y l a w s t h a t t h e y t h e m s e l v e s h a v e ma de i s new w i t h S e y s s e l

a n d w as t o h a v e c a u s e d mu ch d i f f i c u l t y later in th e century.

S e y s s e l makes t h e statem e n t tw ice w ith o u t o f f e r in g any e x p la n a ­

tio n s. However, it seems a s if it is the a d d itio n a l fa c t th a t

th e law s w ere " c o n f i r m e e s e t a p p r o u v ^ e s de tem ps en tem ps" and

" o n t e t e g a r d e n s p a r t e l e t s i lo n g te m p s " w h ic h makes them l n -


p
v io lab le. Thus t h e i r a u t h o r i t y f o r S e y s s e l , a s w e l l a s f o r

e a rlie r w riters, was b a s e d p r i m a r i l y upon c u s to m .

Seyssel is also silen t on a n o t h e r q u e s t i o n w h i c h w a s

much d i s c u s s e d in th e s ix te e n th century: th e o rig in of the ro y a l

sov ereig n ty . S e y s s e l does su g g est t h a t the p rin ce "est elu et

d^putd p a r la d iv in e p rovidence a c e t t e d ig n ite s i grande e t si

h o n o r a b l e s . "^ However, the a s c rip tio n of a d iv in e c h a ra c te r to

the o f f i c e w as l e v e l e d a g a i n s t t h e c la im s of t h e Papacy and i s

u s u a l l y m entioned in r e l a t i o n to t h e d u t i e s and o b l i g a t i o n s of

the p rin ce. T h e r e i s no m e n t i o n o f a n y p e r s o n a l r i g h t in v o lv ed ,

and t h e s e rem ark s s e e m s t o g i v e no e v i d e n c e o f a n y t h i n g a p p r o a c h ­

ing a " d iv in e r i g h t " theory. S e y s s e l's s i l e n c e on t h e s e m a t t e r s

d eriv es from h i s fundam ental c o n se rv a tism : th e F re n c h m onarchy .

became a g r e a t and s t a b l e em pire, the ju stific a tio n for its in ­

stitu tio n s lies in the fact th at th e y have le d to t h i s resu lt,

1I b i d .; c f . , A pplan A l e x a n d r i n , E p i t r e d ^ d i c a t o i r e .
O
S e y s s e l , G rande m o n a r c h i e . Bk. I , p . 11.

5I b i d . , Bk. II, p. 15.


19

and t h e s u r e s t means b y w h ic h t o continue th e in crease its

success is in p re s e r v in g th e s e same i n s t i t u t i o n s . ^

The m a jo r d o c t r i n e s o f six teen th cen tu ry c o n s titu tio n a l

law a p p e a r a l r e a d y in t h e work o f S e y s s e l . A ll o f th e la te r

au th o rs in h erit so m eth in g from him , b u t i t l a t e r became im p o s­

sib le t o a c c e p t h i s work a s a w h o le . H is s u c c e s s o r s e ac h c h o se

certain i d e a s and em p h a siz ed them t o th e e x te n t th a t th ey n eces­

sarily excluded o t h e r s . There is in S e y s se l* s w r iti n g s a m ix tu re

o f d o c t r i n e s w hich w ere l a t e r f e l t t o be c l e a r l y co n trad icto ry :

he v ie w e d t h e F r e n c h m o n a rc h y a s a m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n and y e t

ascrib ed o n ly v e ry m inor pow ers to p a r l i a m e n t and t h e "E tats

g e n e r a u x ; " t h e m onarch h as c o m p le te and s o v e r e i g n a u t h o r i t y b u t

is also lim ited and r e s t r a i n e d ; t h e fu n d a m e n ta l law s o r i g i n a t e

w ith th e p rin c e , b u t t h e y a r e b i n d i n g ii po n h i m ; h i s power d e r i v e s

from t h e r i g h t of h e re d ita ry su ccessio n , b ut the o rig in of th is

rig h t is n e v e r exam ined; the p rin c e is chosen by d iv in e prov id en ce,

but th is g i v e s him no t i t l e t o a b s o l u t e pow er. U n derlying a l l of

th ese is th e fundam ental idea o f a m o n a r c h who h a s c o m p l e t e

s o v e r e i g n t y and i s n ev erth eless re stra in e d w ith in certain fairly

p recise lim its. T his i d e a ,■ p r e s e n te d q u ite sim ply by S e y s s e l,

was t o form an i n s o l u b l e p a ra d o x f o r h i s successors. The id e a

did n o t d ie q u ic k ly , for it con tain ed g re a t v alue fo r a s ta b le

*1
" J e f a i s u n e maxime q u e t o u t e s c h o s e s n a t u r e l l e s , s e
c o n s e r v e n t p a r l e s memes c a u s e s e t m o y e n s , q u ' e l l e s o n t e t e
fa ite s et in tro d u ites. P a rq u o i a b ie n c o n s id e r e r ce que j ' a i
d i t a u commencement de ce t r a i t e , p a r l a n t d e s f o r m e s e t m o y e n s,
p a r l e s q u e l s c e t t e m onarch! a e te i n t r o d u i t e s , c o n s e rv e e , e t
augm entee p a r l e p a s s e , a i s e e chose s e r a i t la c o n s e rv e r e t
a c c r o l t r e d e p l u s e n p l u s , t e n a n t l e s : memes m o y e n s . " Ib id . ,
p. 10; c f ., i b id ., p. 16.
20
and m o d e ra te g o v e rn m e n t. N e v e rth e le ss, a cen tu ry l a t e r most

a u t h o r s had r e j e c t e d one p a r t o f t h e t h e s i s o r t h e o t h e r , and

th is resu lted In th e an tag o n istic d o c t r i n e s o f a b s o l u t i s m and

c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarchy. The t r o u b l e came w he n t h e o r i s t s sought

to clarify and re d u c e t o a l o g i c a l s y s te m S e y s s e l ’ s vag u e and y e t

so lid ly em p irical in te r p r e ta tio n of th e French c o n s titu tio n . At

the same t i m e , S e y s s e l's ju st d escrip tio n of th e French govern­

ment a t t h e b e g in n in g o f t h e c e n t u r y no l o n g e r f i t t e d the a c tu a l

fu n ctio n in g o f the sy ste m a f t e r t h e c h an g es w hich w ere r a p i d l y

tak in g p lace.
In th e t r a d i t i o n a l d o c tr in e th e king is not so v ereign,

not in any l a t e r a c c e p tan c e of th e term . The l a w s a r e sovereign;

the k i n g ha § o n l y t h e com plete a u t h o r i t y to e n fo rc e th e s e law s.

The law s d e f i n e t h e f u n c t i o n o f t h e m onarch j u s t as they define

th at o f a n y o t h e r member i n t h e com m unity. The r i g h t s of the king

as w ell as those of th e least of h is s u b j e c t s r e s t upon cu sto m .

Modern s c h o l a r s h a v e f o r t h e m o st p a r t v ie w e d t h i s conception of

the state a s r a t h e r n a iv e and have a p p l i e d to it the p e rjo r a tiv e

term , " s t a t i c . ” But th e se e a rly th e o r is ts did re c o g n iz e the ex­

isten ce o f change and a l s o the n ecessity fo r i t , w ith in given

lim its. They were n o t o b l i v i o u s t o change b u t were a f r a i d of

it. They p r e f e r r e d p ro v e n and a c c e p t e d p r a c t i c e to in n o v atio n s.

In t h i s th e y sh ared a fundam ental c o n se rv a tism , a conservatism

th at did not o r ig i n a te In th e dark ages nor d isa p p e a r w ith the

R enaissance. I n a n a g e when l e g i s l a t i o n , even c o n c e rn in g funda­

m en tal law s, is accepted a s a common a n d e v e r y - d a y o c c u r r e n c e ,

the o l d e r t h e o r y may i n d e e d seem s t a t i c . But in an a g e w h e re


21
lib e ra l "dynam ic" th eo rists have l e t slip the su g g estio n of

" s o c ia l ex p erim en tatio n " t h r o u g h l e g i s l a t i o n , o n e may i n d e e d

w o n d e r who i s n a i v e . C o n se rv a tism has alw ays been coupled w ith

a pessim ism tow ard th e a b i l i t y o f man t o b e t t e r t h e co n d itio n s

u n d e r w hich he f i n d s h im s e lf .

S e y s s e l's t r a d i t i o n a l i s m was a c c e p t e d b y h i s successors,

but th e exact co n ten t o f th e t r a d i t i o n was c h a l l e n g e d . S everal

developm ents ap peared in th e follow ing h a lf c e n t u r y w h i c h m a de

h is c a r e f u l l y b alanced in terp retatio n of the c o n stitu tio n d iffi­

cu lt to m ain tain . H isto rian s sought to discover th e tru e o rig in s

of th e French c o n s titu tio n and t h u s c h a l l e n g e d th e claim o f e x ­

istin g p ractices to th e a u t h o r i t y o f custom . T h e ne w I m p o r t a n c e

of th e s t u d y o f Roman l a w r e s u l t e d in th e in terp retatio n of th e

French c o n s titu tio n in term s c o m p le te ly f o r e ig n to it. R elated

to th is d e v e lo p m e n t was t h e in flu en ce o f t h e h u m a n i s t s , who i n

th e ir reverence for a n tiq u ity also s o u g h t t o make o v e r t h e F r e n c h

m onarchy in its im age. F in ally , th e e v e n ts o f the tim e ten d ed

to in ten sify the q u e stio n in g o f th e t r a d i t i o n a l d o ctrin es, u n til

at la st a ll i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s were s u b j e c t e d to the passions and

p o l e m i c s o f t h e Wars o f R e l i g i o n .

The f i r s t change in c o n stitu tio n al in terp retatio n s led

to w a rd a more a b s o l u t i s t c o n c e p tio n o f th e m onarchy. The i n f l u ­

e n c e o f Roman l a w w a s v e r y im p o rtan t. Its advocates re ta in e d the

idea o f the in v io lab ility of th e f u n d a m e n ta l law s and a c c e p t e d

th e ju d icial re stra in ts on t h e r o y a l p o w e r s . H owever, they

g reatly em phasized th e a b s o l u t e power o f t h e k in g and in v ested

him w i t h t h e a u t h o r i t y o f a Roman e m p e r o r . Though th e y f e l t , as


22

S e y s s e l h a d , t h a t t h e b e s t p o l i c y was t o follow custom ary p r a c ­

tic e s, in th e f i n a l a n a ly s is th e y denied t h a t the k in g could be

bound by custom o r law . O nly t h e f u n d a m e n t a l l a w s , upon w h ich

h i s power i t s e l f w as b a s e d , w e r e b e y o n d h i s p o w e r t o change. A ll

o fficers, f e u d a l and r o y a l , w ere o n l y a g e n t s o f t h e k i n g .

Y et more i m p o r t a n t t h a n t h e c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e p r e c i s e

c o n t e n t s o f t h e r o y a l p o w e r w as t h e e x a l t a t i o n of h is m ajesty.

The b r i l l i a n t court of F r a n c i s I tended in i t s e l f to e x a lt the

o ffice. In a d d itio n , th e hum anist s c h o l a r s , often connected w ith

th e cou rt of the kin g , co n trib u ted to th is developm ent. One o f

t h e most im p o r ta n t o f t h e s e a u t h o r s , a n d o n e who p r e s e n t e d p e r ­

h ap s th e most ex trem e d o c t r i n e o f t h e r o y a l p o w e r, was G u i l l a u m e

Bude, s e c r e t a r y and l i b r a r i a n to F rancois I.

Bude s t a t e s q u ite c a te g o ric a lly th a t p rin ces "n i sont

s u b je c ts aux l o i s , n i aux ordonnances, comme l e s a u t r e s , s i bon

n e l e u r s e m b l e . " ' 1' B ut t h e r e a s o n Bude g i v e s f o r t h i s is still

more s u r p r i s i n g : "Car i l e s t a presum er q u ' i l s sont s i p a rfa lts

en p r u d e n c e , s i e m in e n t en n o b l e s s e , si im bus de j u s t i c e , et

d 'e q u ite q u ' i l ne l e u r f a i t p o i n t de r e g i e , n i de fo rm e e c r i t e

pour le s a stra in d re par c ra ln te de p e i n e s , ou de m u l c t e s , ou

par arre ts de l e u r s b i e n s , ou p e r s o n n e s , ou a u t r e co rrectio n s,

ou n £ c e s s it£ d ' o b e is s a n c e , comme i l fa u t aux a u tre s su b jec ts."

C o n t r a r y t o S e y s s e l a n d B o d i n , who s e e t h e n e c e s s i t y f o r m o n a r c h y

in m a n 's l a c k o f v i r t u e and t h e c o n s e q u e n t n eed f o r a s i n g l e

^G uillaum e Bude, L ' i n s t i t u t i o n du P r i n c e (P aris: Foucher,


15^7), c h a p . i i i , p . lOv,

2I b id .
23

a u t h o r i t y t o m a i n t a i n p e a c e , Bude p r e t e n d s t o b a s e it upon th e

presum ption o f p re-em in en t v i r t u e in th e r u l e r . C u rio u sly , he

su p p o rts th is fash io n of reaso n in g w ith A r is to tle , who " a m o n t r b

p lu s clairem en t, e t m ieux que n u l a u t r e , que c ' e s p r o p r e m e n t que

Ju stice, e t d 'o u v ie n t, e t e s t d e r l v e e l 1a u t o r i t e e t m ajesty

ro y alle, c 'e s t a sav o ir par le p re c e lle n te v e r tu d 'a u c u n s r o i s

auxquels le s peuples se so n t jad is volu n tairem en t soum is, pour

etre p a r eux r e g i s selon j u s t i c e . " ' 1' Bude d o e s n o t a t t e m p t t o ex­

p lain how t h e electio n of th e f i r s t p rin ce because of h is excep­

tio n a l v irtu e lead s to th e accep tan ce of h e r e d ita r y succession

and t h e p resu m p tio n of such v i r t u e in th e d escen d en ts. He d o e s ,

how ever, have an id e a o f an o r i g i n a l co n tract: "la fo n d atio n , et

in stitu tio n p rim itiv e de m o n a rc h ie , q u i ne se p e u t faire sans

consentem ent des s u b je c ts ; ou a u tre m e n t ne s e r a i t p as fo n d e e

de le g itim e em pire, m ais l e u s u r p a t i o n to rtio n n aire . O r, s 'il

y a en c e t t e m a t i e r e consentem ent des deux p a r t i e s , il est de

n ecessity q u 'il av aien t et re tie n n e n t n atu re, et s u b s t a n c e de


p
co n trat de bonne f o i . "

S u c h a t h e o r y o f an o r i g i n a l co n tract is in terestin g in

so f a r a s i t attem p ts to base l e g i t i m a c y on s o m e t h i n g o t h e r t h a n

custom and th u s is a l r e a d y a s t e p away fro m t h e tr a d itio n a l doc­

trin e. But s t i l l more r a d i c a l is th e sort o f c o n t r a c t he e n ­

v isag ed , for it comes i n t o being "quand la m u l t i t u d e d e s hommes,

et des c it^ s e n s e m b l e p a r common a c c o r d s ' e s t prem ierem erit d e m ise,

1I b i d ., p. H r; c f., chap. v, p. l 8v.


p
I b i d . , chap. xxx, p . 84v.
24

et d ^ssaisie de sa l i b e r t y e t a cede ses d r o i t s c o m in un s , e t

actio n s p o p u laires, pour le s m ettre en l a m a i n , e t p u i s s a n c e d ’ un


II 1
homme comme p e r e f u t u r e d 'u n e fa m ille populeuse, et inn u m erab le.

The p e o p l e h a v i n g c ed e d a l l r i g h t s and l i b e r t i e s , in e f f e c t th e

sovereign is in no way b o u n d b y c o n t r a c t , o th e r th a n by th e m oral

o b lig atio n t o r u l e b y e q u i t y and r e a s o n . T his idea is not rad ical

in so f a r as th e first k in g s, f o llo w in g from t h e o p in io n o f A r i s ­

to tle , w ere g e n e r a l l y th o u g h t t o have r u le d w ithout law ; but it

is in b e in g a c c e p te d a s t h e model f o r a l l m onarchies. What i s

even more r a d i c a l is th e use of th is o rig in al '’ c o n t r a c t " to ju stify

th e ab solutism of e x is tin g p rin ces. T his c o n tr a c t tak es th e p la ce

o f an even d e s t r o y s the au th o rity of ex istin g custom s; in d eed , the

co n tract is the o l d e s t and t h e r e f o r e au th o ritativ e custom . The

custom ary p r a c t i c e s o f t h e F r e n c h m onarchy a r e no l o n g e r b i n d i n g ,

for in so f a r a s t h e y l i m i t th e power o f th e k in g they a re corrup-


p
tio n s o f o ld e r custom s. Upon t h e b a s i s of th is c o n tract, Bude

is n o t only a b le to ju stify ab so lu tism , but to condemn a n y d i v i ­

sion of au th o rity , on t h e p r i n c i p l e t h a t th e a lie n a tio n of sov­

e r e ig n pow ers i s a v i o l a t i o n o f th e o rig in a l co n tract.

S t i l l more a b s o l u t e th a n t h e pow ers th e m onarch r e c e i v e s

as "p ^ re d 'u n e f a m i l l e , " a r e th o s e deduced from t h e r e l i g i o u s

^I b i d . , chap. v, p. l 8v.
p
" S i p a r l e j o u r d ' h u l n o u s v o y o n s l e monde r e g i p a r a u t r e
m a n i e r e , q u e c e l l e q u i f u t i n s t i t u t e a n c i e n n e m e n t ,• c ' e s t p a r a b u s ,
q u i re g n e e t a v ig e u r en t r o i s e t a t s p l u s que r a i s o n , e t d r o i t
d ' e q u i t d , q u e j a m a i s n e s e c o n s e n t i r e n t a I 1e x c e p t i o n d e s s u s d i t s
i m p e t r e e s , ou p r e s c r i p t e s p a r n e g l i g e n c e , ou dem em brem ent, e t
e c c lis s e m e n t des p a r t i e s p r i n c l p a l e s de m o n a rc h ie , s o i t te m p o ra l
s o i t s p i r i t u e l , d e s q u e l l e s e l l e n i p e u t a b d i q u e r n i p r l v e r en
r e te n a n t le g itim e e t p u r em p ire." Ib id .

^ Ib id ., chap. x x i, pp. 59v - 60r .


c h a r a c te r of the o f f ic e . Bude c l a i m s t h a t "les p rin ces e t p relats

d essu sd its, s i bien nous e n ten d o n s l e u r f a i t , sont le s grands

m aitres, e t p rem iers a r g e n tie r s de D ie u , p o u r o r d o n n e r e t a d ­

v i s e r de l ' ^ t a t g e n e r a l du d i t seig n eu r, a a p p o in ter e t desap-

p o i n t e r en chacun s e lo n raiso n , e t e q u ity ." Thus f a r Bud^’ s

d o ctrin e does n o t d i f f e r g r e a t l y from S e y s s e l ' s , w hich a l s o de­

clared the electio n of p r in c e s to be governed in som e v a g u e w ay

by d iv in e p ro v id en ce. B u t Bud£ d ra w s e n t i r e l y new c o n c l u s i o n s

from t h i s id ea, a s c r ib in g not only th e electio n and o f f i c e but

also th e actio n s of th e kin g to the d irectio n of d iv in e p ro v id en ce

"le c o e u r du Roi t i e n son mouvement p a r i n s t i n c t et i m p u l s i o n de

d ieu , q u i le pousse e t le d irig e selo n son p l a i s i r e t providence

ab so lu e, a faire en trep rises lo u ab les, hon n etes, u tile s, et co m­

mo d e a s o n p e u p l e e t salu taires a lu i: ou a u tr e m e n t s e lo n que l u i

ou ses su b jects ont m erits, 11 s ’ i n c l i n e sin istrem en t e t o b liq u e-

m ent, en m al a d r e s s a n t ses a ffe c tio n s par les sen tiers p erilleu x ,

m enants l e s v iateu rs et p assan ts a p e rd itio n ou c a l a m i t y ." Bud£

here croses the lin e sep aratin g the e a r l i e r t h e o r i s t s from th e

la te r d o c t r i n e s o f d i v i n e - r i g h t m onarchy. The r u l e r , chosen and

d irected Im m ed ia te ly by th e " i m p u l s i o n de D i e u ," is p la c e d beyond

criticism . T his idea o f d iv in e d irectio n also rein fo rces the ef­

fect o f th e presum ption of th e p re -e x c e lle n t v irtu e of th e p rin ce;

th e ir resu lt is to reduce th e im portant r e s t r a i n t w hich e x i s t e d in

h is need f o r c o u n s e l.

•^I b i d . , c h a p . lii, p. l? r.
2 /-
I b id ., chap. x x i, p. o O v.
26
Though t o som e e x t e n t B u d e r e c o g n i z e d t h e p r i n c i p l e s of

a b s o l u t e m o n a rc h y , h e d id n o t d e v e l o p them i n t o a com prehensive

th e o ry . In r e g a r d to a c tu a l p ra c tic e , he rem ained a s t r a d i -

tio n a listic as S ey ssel.^ Though Bud6 was c e r t a i n th at th e king

was n o t bound by c u sto m and p o s i t i v e l a w , h e was a t least eq u ally

certain t h a t he should w i l l i n g l y subm it t o them . It is a "p aro le

d ig n e du p r i n c e , que de s o i d i r e et m ain ten ir e tre s u b je c t a la

lo i." It is also the s u r e s t way i n w h i c h h e c a n s t r e n g t h e n and


O
m aintain h is au th o rity . In e f f e c t , In ch an g in g w ith o u t s u f f i ­

c ie n t reason the law s he h i m s e l f h a s made, he r u n s t h e r i s k of

in c u rrin g th e h a tre d of h is people; In a c u r i o u s p h r a s e , Bude

says th a t in t h e i r o p i n i o n h e may b e c h a r g e d w i t h t h e crim e o f

" le s e m ajesty ro y a le ." ^

From t h e f r a g m e n t a r y s t a t e m e n t s o f Bude, it is d ifficu lt

to form a judgm ent a b o u t h i s p o l i t i c a l d o c tr in e and h i s In flu ­

e n c e on l a t e r w r i t e r s . I f Bud£ ha d w r i t t e n In th e b e g in n in g o f

the se v e n te e n th r a t h e r than th e b eg inning of th e six teen th cen tu ry ,

one m ight have c o n f id e n tly a s c r ib e d t o him a d o c t r i n e of ab so lu te,

d i v i n e - r i g h t m onarchy. H ow ever, th ese s ta te m e n ts did not n ecessarily

^I b i d . . chap. ix , p. 27v .
p
I b i d . , chap. ill, p. H r; chap. x x x x v i, p. Il4 v .

^ " C a r e t s t a t u t s e t t o u t e s o r d o n n a n c e s de p r i n c e , p o s e
q u ‘ i l s p o r t e n t c l a u s e de l e u r v o u l o i r , e t p l a i s i r d e r o g a t i f p o u r
u n e f o i s , n e a n m o in s s i s e t i r e n t i l en c o n s e q u e n c e a u c u n e m e n t
d e s d i t s g e n e r a u x , e t p a r on o u d e u x commandements' f a i t s a p l a i s i r ,
p a s s e s p a r la c h a n c e l l e r i e de p l e i n p u is s a n c e , e t a u t o r i t e a b -
s o l u e , l e p r i n c e en d e r o g a n t s a n s c a u s e de g r a n d e i m p o r t a n c e a
s e s p r o p r e s o rd o n n a n c e s , ou a e q u i t y , e t r a i s o n e c r l t e ^ n i p e u t
f a i r e , n i o b v ie r q u ' i l ne se c h arg e aucunem ent, quand a l ' e s t i m e
d e s hommes, de c r i m e , o u de c o u l p e de l e s e m a j e s t ^ R o y a l e . "
I b i d ., chap. xxx, p . 86v .
27
m ean i n B u d e ' s t i m e w h a t t h e y came t o m ean l a t e r . Bude d i d n o t

him self a rriv e at t h e c o n c l u s i o n s drawn fro m s u c h i d e a s a s h i s

own b y l a t e r a u t h o r s . He d i d n o t d e v e l o p a c o m p l e t e a n d c o n ­

sisten t th eo ry o f ro y a l ab so lu tism . Such a t h e o r y d id n o t a p ­

pear in P ran c e b e fo re B odin. N ev erth eless, Bude d i d go f u r t h e r

in th e d irectio n o f a b s o lu tis m than any o th e r a u th o r o f h i s tim e.

The work o f B ude, to g e th e r w ith th a t o f the w r ite r s on

Roman l a w a n d o t h e r h u m a n i s t s , shows t h a t t h e r e ex isted a stro n g

tre n d to w a r d a b s o l u t i s m b e f o r e t h e Wars o f R e l i g i o n . These

au th o rs, w hile n o t r e j e c t i n g o u trig h t the tr a d itio n a l concept

o f th e m onarchy, d id underm ine it b y a c o n t i n u a l e m p h a s i s on

t h e pow ers o f t h e p r i n c e , th e e x a lta tio n of h is m ajesty , and

th e vagueness of th e r e s t r a i n t s on h i s au th o rity . The more p r e ­

cise l i m i t a t i o n s b a se d upon custom were b e in g r e p l a c e d b y th e

vague r u le s o f e q u i t y and n a t u r a l law . The k i n g , Bud4 a r g u e d ,

is bound by no la w , "sans la lo l d iv in e seulem ent, qui a a u to rite

de d ie u l e g i s l a t e u r so u v erain , e t non p a s d e s hommes. " 1 Though

su ch re m a rk s were im m e d ia te ly q u a l i f i e d b y more t r a d i t i o n a l state ­

m ents, th e y w ere d e s t r u c t i v e o f the o ld e r d o c trin e s.

The t r a d i t i o n a l in terp retatio n o f t h e m o n a rc h y was so

d e l i c a t e l y b a l a n c e d b e tw ee n r o y a l pow er and l e g a l r e s t r a i n t s

t h a t m e r e l y an o v e r - e m p h a s i s o ne s i d e o r t h e o t h e r was en o u g h

to r a d ic a lly a lte r its m eaning. S ey ssel, em phasizing th e la tte r

had gone so f a r a s t o s e e a k in d o f m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n in F rance.

O ther a u th o r s , a c c e p tin g e s s e n t i a l l y the same d e s c r i p t i o n of the

F ren c h governm ent, th ro u g h em phasizing th e a s p e c t o f r o y a l a u th o r -

~*~I b i d . , c h a p . lii, p. H r.
28

ity alm ost c o m p le te ly denied th e leg al r e s tra in ts . One o f t h e s e

l a t e r a u t h o r s * La P e r r i e r e * ex p licitly rejected th e in te rp re ta ­

tio n given by S e y s s e l.^ S till* a c a r e f u l com parison o f th e tw o ■

" A u c u n s o n t v o u l u d i r e * q u e l e R o y au m e d e F r a n c e n ' e s t
p as seu lem en t gouverne p a r m onarchie d 'u n s e u l R oi, a in s e s t
a u s s i g o u v e r n ^ p a r 1 1a r i s t o c r a t i e d e P a r l e m e n t * l e s q u e l s * i l s
co m p aren t aux E p h o res des L acedem onians: m ais c e t t e co m p araiso n
e s t mal p r o p o r t i o n ^ . Et p o u r m ieux l e d o n n e r a c o n n a i t r e * f a u t
p r e s u p p o s e r q u e l e s E p h o r e s d t a i e n t en S p a r t e ou Lacedemone*
m a g i s t r a t s de suprem e a u t o r i t ^ , v o i r e t e l l e q u ' i l s r e f r e n a i e n t
e t b r i d a l e n t l e u r s R o is, quand i l s v o u la ie n t e x c e d e r l e s b o rn e s
d e r a i s o n * comme on p e u t l i r e e n A r i s t o t e * a u s e p t i e m e d u s e c o n d
l i v r e d e s P o l i t i q u e s * e t en P l u t a r q u e en l a v i e d ' A r i s t i d e s .
Q u a n t a l a s u p r e m e a u t o r i t e d e s E p h o r e s * d e s q u e l s on n e p o u v a i t
a p p e l l e r * l a c o m p a ra is o n d e s P a r le m e n ts de F r a n c e e s t bonne*
d 'a u t a n t que l e s p r e s id e s e t c o n s e i l l e u r s d 'ic e u x * so n t le s
s u p r e m e s m a g i s t r a t s d u Royaume; e t i c e u x q u i s o n t e s t i m ^ s l e s p l u s
g ra v e s* d o c te s e t o c u le s de to u s a u tre s * j o i n t que de l e u r s a r r e t s
n ' y a au cu n r e f u g e d ' a p p e l , non p l u s que j a d i s d e s E p h o r e s . M ais
q u a n t a ce que l e s d i t s E p h o re s b r i d a l e n t l e u r s R ois* l a c o m p a r a i­
son d 'e u x a n os P a r le m e n ts c lo c h e de ce p le d * e t n ' e s t p a s bonne;
c a r . l e s p a r l e m e n t s n e b r i d e n t p a s n o s R o is * a i n s Nos R o i s l e s
b r i d e n t * r e f o r m e n t * e t en c a s de c o u l p e , p u n i s s e n t * c a s s e n t e t
a n n u l l e n t l e u r s a r r e t s quand bon l e u r sem ble* e t p a r l e u r s e d i t s
e t ordonnances le s r e g l e n t . Ce q u e j ' e n ^ c r i s , n ' e s t p a s p o u r
m e p r is d 'i c e u x * a u x q u e ls de t o u t tem ps j e d o i s l e t r i b u t
d ' h o n n e u r e t d e r e v e r e n c e * m a i s c ' e s t p o u r p r o u v e r q u e l a com­
p a ra iso n s u s d itn 'e s t pas bonne. R e to u rn a n t au propos pretendu*
M a c h a i v e l l i * s e c r e t a i r e de la R e p u b l iq u e d e F lo r e n c e * en son
prem ier d is c o u rs, d it: Que l e s p r e m i e r s R o i s d e F r a n c e * f o n d a n t s
s i b e l l e m o n a r c h i e * e u r e n t un g r a n d e t bon a v i s * c ' e s t q u ' i l s
n e s e r e s e r v e r e n t en l e u r R e p u b liq u e * que l a p u i s s a n c e d e s g u e r r e s
e t de l e u r s d e n i e r s (que nous a p p e lo n s f i n a n c e s ) e t q u ' i l s r e m ir e n t
1 'a d m i n is tr a ti o n dela j u s t i c e aux P a rle m e n ts. Ce q u i d e n o t e *
q u 'e n n o t r e R ep u b liq u e* a y a n t e g a r d a nos R ois* vous v iv o n s sous
1 'esp fece de m o n a r c h i e : ^ e t a y a n t £ g a rd a u f a i t de l a j u s t i c e ,
n o u s v iv o n s so u s l ' e s p e c e d ' a r i s t o c r a t i e . M ais (q u an d j ' a i b i e n
l e to u t c a l c u l i ) c o n s id e ra n t que l e s P arlem ents* v o ir e to u s s e ig e s
d e j u d i c a t u r e d e F r a n c e * s o n t comme r u i s s e a u x p r o c e d a n t s d e l a
f o n t a i n e de R o y a u td , e t l e R oi e s t c h e f u n i q u e s u r t o u s * e t que
d e l u i s e u l p r o c e d e t o u t e l e u r a u t o r i t d , comme t o u t e s a r t e r e s d u
co eu r* to u te s . v e i n e s du f o i e , e t t o u s n e r f s du c e r v e a u : j e c o n -
c l u s * que n o u s v i v o n s so u s u n e s e u l e e s p e c e de R e p u b liq u e * c ' e s t
s o u s l a m o n a r c h i e d ' u n t r e s c h r e t i e n e t t r e s p u i s s a n t Roi* a u q u e l
D ie u p a r sa g r a c e d o i e n t p r o s p e r e r de b i e n en m ie u x . Je n 'lg n o re
p a s que l e t r a d u c t e u r de l ' h i s t o i r e d 'A p p ia n A l e x a n d r i n en
F r a n c a i s [ S e y s s e l ] , en so n e p i s t r e l i m i n a i r e d i r i g ^ e a u R o is
L o u is douziem e* n ' a i t f a i t d e s e f f o r t s de p ro u v e r que l a R ep ub -
au th o rs shows t h a t t h e r e was a l m o s t no d i s a g r e e m e n t b e t w e e n th e m

reg ard in g basic law s and i n s t i t u t i o n s . In sp ite o f t h e movement

tow ard a b s o lu tis m d u rin g th e r e ig n of F r a n c is I , t h e work o f

S e y s s e l rem ained th e most g e n e r a l l y a c c e p te d in terp retatio n of

th e French c o n s titu tio n . The e x a c t n a t u r e of the ro y a l a u th o r­

ity and i t s l i m i t s w ere f r e q u e n t l y d e b a t e d , b u t t h e dual p rin ­

cip le of S e y s s e l's in terp retatio n --th e king is ab so lu te but lim ited

by th e law s--w as a c c e p te d by alm ost a l l . The m o st i m p o r t a n t a t ­

ta c k a g a in st the tr a d itio n a l d o c t r i n e was n o t t h e attem p t to ex­

ten d , but to ra d ic a lly l i m i t t h e r o y a l pow er: the attem p t to

raise th e re p re s e n ta tiv e assem b lies to a p o s itio n of equal a u th o r­

i t y w ith th a t of th e p rin c e . B ut b e f o r e e x a m in in g t h i s m ovem ent,

th ere is a g ro u p o f more m o d e r a te a u t h o r s w o r th y o f a t t e n t i o n .

T h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t w o r k s on c o n s t i t u t i o n a l law a f t e r t h e

m iddle o f th e cen tu ry took th e form o f h i s t o r i e s . S in c e the

c o n t e n t and a u t h o r i t y o f t h e la w s w e re b a s e d l a r g e l y on c u s to m ,

argum ents ov er p re s e n t p r a c t i c e s o ften led to d isp u te s about

th e n atu re of an cien t in stitu tio n s. The o r i g i n s and d e v e l o p ­

ment o f th e s e in stitu tio n s became t h e su b ject of in te n siv e

stu d y . A l t h o u g h t h e Roman l a w h a d a c h i e v e d c o n s i d e r a b l e 1m-

l i q u e c r a t i q u e : e t en p a r t i e D e m o c r a ti q u e : m a is l e s r a i s o n s
d e s q u e l l e s i l se s e r t , ne s o n t c e r t a i n e s n i b ie n f o n d e e s , v o i r e
s o n t s i f r o i d e s > q u ' e l l e s ne p e u v e n t e c h a u f f e r son o p in io n :
c a r a t o u t homme q u i a s u c c e d e b o n l a i t , e s t a p p a r e n t q u e n o u s
v iv o n s so u s Em pire M o n arch iq u e: e t ne f a i t r i e n de d i r e , que
le s V e n itie n s sont c o n d u its sous l e s d i t e s t r o i s e sp e c es e t so n t
p l u s f l o r l s s a n t s q u e ' j a m a i s : c a r l ' a u t o r i t e d e l e u r Due e s t
b r i d e e , m ais c e l l e de n o s R o is ne l ' e s t p a s : s i ce n ' e s t l e u r
n a t u r e l l e b e n i g n i t y q u i l e s re n d e n c l i n s a t o u t e x e r c i c e de
v e rtu ." G u i l l a u m e d e La P e r r i e r e , Le m i r o l r p o l i t i q u e ( P a r i s ,
1555 [ f i r s t p u b l i s h e d 15551)> PP. 7 r - 8 r .
50

p o rtan ce, t h e a n c i e n t custom s o f P ra n c e rem ained th e p r i n c i p a l

guide to i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f th e law s; t h e r e w as, indeed, con­

sid erab le h o s tility on t h e p a r t o f some t o the influence ex er­

c i s e d b y Roman law.'*'

Two o f t h e m o st I m p o r t a n t h i s t o r i a n s o f t h e p e r i o d w e r e
E t i e n n e P a s q u i e r a n d Du H a i l l a n .
P a s q u ie r 's conception of the
2
F r e n c h governm ent i s e s s e n t i a l l y t h a t o f Claude de S e y s s e l .
I f h e was m o r e c a u t i o u s t h a n S e y s s e l i n j u d g i n g t h e im portance

of the in stitu tio n s restrain in g t h e r o y a l p o w e r , h i s more d e ­

tailed descrip tio n attrib u ted t o th em f u n c t i o n s more e x t e n s i v e

th a n th o s e m entioned by S e y s s e l.

S ey ssel, w h i l e r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t t h e P a r l i a m e n t w as I n ­

stitu ted in o rd e r to lim it th e r o y a l pow er, n e v e r t h e l e s s p a sse d

o v e r In s i l e n c e t h e most im p o r ta n t a s p e c t s o f t h i s restrain t.

In P a s q u i e r 's a cc o u n t th e d e s c r i p t i o n of P arliam en t— i t s o rig in ,

d ev elo p m en t, and a u t h o r i t y - - i s com plete. It is o nly through

its e a r l y developm ent t h a t th e fu n c tio n o f P arliam ent in th e

s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y can be u n d e r s t o o d . From i t s org an izatio n

and f u n c t io n a s sim p ly a c o u rt in th e six te e n th cen tu ry , one

could n o t u n d e rsta n d its pow ers in r e g a r d t o state p o licies.

The e a r l y P a r l i a m e n t was a c o u n s e l made u p o f t h e n o b l e s

■^Cf. E t i e n n e P a s q u i e r , Les r e c h e r c h e s de l a F r a n c e (P aris,


1617), chap. i i , pp. 16, 173.
p
"Tous ceux q u i o n t v o u lu f o n d e r l a l i b e r t e d 'u n e Repub­
l i q u e b ie n o rd o n n te , o n t e s t i m t que c ' t t a i t l o r s que 1 ' o p in io n
du s o u v e r a i n M a g i s t r a t t t a i t a t t r e m p t e p a r l e s r e m o n s t r a n c e s de
p l u s l e r s p e r s o n n e s d ' h o n n e u r , e t a n t s c o n s t i t u t e s en e t a t p o u r
cet effect: e t quand en c o n t r e s c h a n g e , c e s p l u s i e u r s e t a l e n t
c o n t r o o l t s p a r l a p r e s a n c e , c om ma nd em en t e t M a j e s t e d e l e u r
P rin ce." I b i d . , pp. 2, 57.
31

who a d v i s e d t h e k i n g on m a t t e r s o f s t a t e and ju d g e d d i s p u t e s .

The l a t t e r a c t i v i t y d e v e lo p e d t o t h e e x t e n t t h a t judging of

cases Involving p r iv a te p erso n s, arisin g from t h e a b u se s in th e

low er c o u r t s , left no t i m e f o r t h e c o u n s e l t o h a n d l e a f f a i r s of

state. For th is reason, P h ilip e le Bel e s ta b lis h e d a P arliam ent

In P a r is to handle th e ju d ic ia l m atters, and t h e "grand c o n s e i l ,"

attach ed t o t h e c o u r t o f t h e k i n g , was fo rm ed t o f u l f i l l t h e

o r ig in a l adv iso ry fu n ctio n of P arliam ent. S till later, when

th e co n tin u al in crease in t h e number o f c a s e s n e c e s s i t a t e d the

in stitu tio n of a p e rp e tu al sessio n of P arliam en t, the "seigneurs

s u i v a n t s l e s arm es" left it e n t i r e l y to the " g e n s de ro b b e l o n g u e . "

W ith t h i s f i n a l change, and t h e c o n se q u e n t developm ent o f a d i s ­

tin ctiv e p ro fe s sio n o f law yers, t h e F r e n c h P a r l i a m e n t t o o k on t h e

d istin c tiv e ch aracter of a court.

The r e l a t i o n s h i p b etw een t h e c o m p o s i tio n and t h e a u t h o r ­

ity o f th e s ix te e n th cen tu ry P arliam ent is indeed c u rio u s . It

w as made u p o f p r o f e s s i o n a l l a w y e r s a p p o i n t e d b y t h e k i n g a n d

serving as h is m a g is tra te s . U nlike th e E n g lis h P a rlia m e n t, it

could l a y no c l a i m t o i n d e p e n d e n t a u t h o r i t y , nor does i t in any

w ay r e p r e s e n t t h e n a t i o n . The s t a t e m e n t o f G a s t o n Z e l l e r is

however m is le a d in g : " E n t r e l e s P a r l e m e n t s de F r a n c e e t l e

Parlem ent d ' A n g le te r r e , rien d e commun q u e l e nom. Le r o l e du

P a r l e m e n t A n g l a i s - - C h a m b r e d e L o r d s e t C h a m b r e s d e s Communes—

e s t te n u chez nous, o ccasio n ellem en t, par le s E ta ts g^neraux." 1

"O ccasio n ally is sca rc ely a th o u g h tless ad d itio n : the E s ta te s

G a s t o n Z e l l e r , L e s i n s t i t u t i o n s d e l a F r a n c e a u XVI
slecle ( P a r i s : P r e s s e s U n i v e r s i t a i r e s , 1 9 4 8 ), p . 147.
32
met in 1483, 1560, 1576, and 1593- A lthough t h e c o m p o sitio n o f

t h e t w o P a r l i a m e n t s was d i f f e r e n t , t h e i r f u n c t i o n s were v e r y

sim ilar. The E n g l i s h P a r l i a m e n t , a s M c llw a in p o i n t e d o u t , was

also a co u rt. Its o th e r pow ers, v e r i f i c a t i o n of leg islatio n

and c o n t r o l o f f i n a n c e s , w ere a l s o h a n d le d by th e F re n c h P a r l i a ­

m ent; the "Chambre d e s c o m p t e s , " t h o u g h s e p a r a t e d from th e

P a r l i a m e n t , was o r i g i n a l l y a p a r t o f i t a n d w as a l w a y s c l o s e l y

linked to it. P arliam ent, th o u g h e s s e n t i a l l y a c o u r t in the

s ix te e n th century, retain ed certain fun ctio n s i t had e x e r c i s e d

from th e tim e o f i t s o rig in as a counsel.


When t h e P a r l i a m e n t w as f i x e d in P a r i s , the "grand co n seil"

d id not ta k e over a l l th e old fu n c tio n s of P a rlia m e n t. It con­

tin u ed to e x is t, as P asq uier s t a t e s , as a s o r t o f "Senat" a nd

re ta in ed p a rt of i t s old ju risd ictio n . The m o st i m p o r t a n t o f

its f u n c t i o n s — one w hich S e y s s e l p a s s e d o v e r in s i l e n c e - - w a s

the v e r if ic a tio n of ed icts: "Car a i n s i que sous C harlem agne

e t ses su ccesseu rs ne s ' e n tre p re n a it c h o se de c o n s e q u e n c e ou

Royaume q u e l ' o n n e f i t a s s e m b le e e t de P r e l a t s e t de B a r o n s ,

pour av o ir l 'o e i l sur c ette a ffa ire : a i n s i le Parlem ent e ta n t

arrete, f u t t r o u v e bon que l e s v o l o n t ^ s g e n e r a l e s de n o s R o is

n ' o b tin is s e n t poin t lie u d 'E d ic ts , sinon q u 'e l l e s eussent ete

v erifi^ es e t e m o l o g u e e s e n c e l i e u . " ’5'

The k i n g c o u ld f i n a l l y f o r c e P a r l i a m e n t t o r e g i s t e r h i s

ordonnances a g a in s t t h e i r w i l l , but h esitated t o do s o b e c a u s e

o f the i n f l u e n c e o f P a r l i a m e n t on t h e o p i n i o n o f t h e n a t i o n .

■^Pasquier, Bk. II, chap. iv , p. 8l.


33
It is from t h i s sin g le source th a t P a r li a m e n t draws i t s au th o r­

ity., from th e f a c t t h a t , "Les nou v eaux E d i c t s de t o u t tem ps e t

a n c i e n n e t e ne p r e n n e n t vogue p arm i l e p e u p l e , q u ' i l s n 'a y e n t ete

prem ierem ent v e r i f i £ s . " ^ W hether t h e power o f r e g i s t r a t i o n came

from t h e o r i g i n a l powers o f P a r lia m e n t a s P a s q u ie r s a y s , o r sim ply

d e v e lo p e d o u t o f a " s im p le f o r m a l l t e de c h a n c e l l e r i e , " t h i s power


2
w a s n e v e r t h e l e s s t h e m a j o r r e s t r a i n t on t h e k i n g . A lthough th e

P a rlia m e n t could n o t c la im to r e p r e s e n t th e n a t i o n , it at least

seemed t o r e p r e s e n t t h e l a w s , and t h u s s e r v e d a s a s o r t o f m e d ia ­

t o r b e t w e e n k i n g a nd su b jects: "Et e n co res chose p le in e de

m erv eille, que des l o r s que q u elq u e ordonnance a e t e p u b lie e e t

v erifid e au P a rle m e n t, soudain le peuple F r a n c a is y adhere sans

murmure: comme s i t e l l e com pagnie f u t lelie u qui nouast l'o b e is -


"5
sance des s u b je c ts avec le s c o m m a nd m en ts d e l e u r P r i n c e . " ^

W hile a c c e p t i n g th e p r e t e n t i o n s o f P a r l i a m e n t , P asquier

b lu n tly refuses t o r e c o g n i z e an y s i m i l a r power in t h e E t a t s

g ^ n e r a u x :" "E ncores que q u e lq u e s -x in s . . . t i r e n t l'a s s e m b le e des

E tats d 'u n e longue a n c i e n n e t e , v o ire sur e lle e ta b lis s e n t to u te

la lib erte du p e u p l e , to u tefo is n i l'u n n i l 'a u t r e n 'e s t v e rita b le ."^

T h o s e who s e e t h e p r e c u r s o r o f t h e " E t a t s g e n ^ r a u x " in th e assem b lies

c a l l e d by th e a n c ie n t k in g s a re g u i l t y o f a b l a t a n t e r r o r . What

d istin g u ish es the " E ta ts gen^raux" is t h e p r e s e n c e o f " l e menu

p e u p l e , . . .d u q u e l l 'o n n e f a i s a i t no n p l u s d ' e t a t , que d ' u n 0 en

1 I b l d . , Bk. V, c h a p . xxx iii, p. 68l .

2Z e l l e r , p. 155.

• ^ P a s q u i e r , B k. I I , chap. iv , p. 83.

Ib id ., chap. v ii, p. 108.


34
c h iffre ." Th e f i r s t a s s e m b l y o f t h e t h r e e e s t a t e s was c a l l e d
by P h i l i p e l e B e l , and i t s p u r p o s e was t o l e v y new t a x e s on t h e
people. T he p e o p l e w e r e c a l l e d t o d i s c u s s t h e n e e d s f o r new
revenue sim ply " d 'y a p p o r te r quelque beau r e s p e c t . " "En c e l i e u
q u e lq u e s bonnes ordonnances que l 'o n face pour la refo rm atio n
g en ^rale, ce s o n t b e l l e s t a p i s s e r i e s , q u i s e r v e n t s e u le m e n t de
p a ra d e a une p o s t e r i t e . " 1 These r e fo r m s g e n e r a l l y r e s t e d a dead
le tte r; t h e p e o p l e , on t h e o t h e r h a n d , r e m a i n e d b ound b y t h e i r
a c c e p t a n c e o f new t a x e s . S u c h was t h e o r i g i n o f t h e " E t a t s
g e n e r a u x " and s u c h t h e y h ave r e m a in e d ; P a s q u ie r re c o g n iz e d in
t h e m no a u t h o r i t y c o n c e r n i n g t h e l a w s , and i n f a c t t h e y w e r e
n e v e r a b l e t o r e q u i r e t h a t t a x a t i o n be p e r m i s s i b l e o n ly w ith t h e i r
p
consent. Furtherm ore, P a s q u i e r s eem s t o b e h o s t i l e t o t h e i n s t i ­
t u t i o n b e c a u s e i t was d e v e l o p e d t o f a c i l i t a t e t a x a t i o n , w h i c h was
in i t s e l f a v i o l a t i o n o f t h e o l d e r custom w hereby t h e k i n g , e x ­
c e p t f o r e x t r a o r d i n a r y s i t u a t i o n s , was e x p e c t e d t o l i v e o f f t h e
r e v e n u e o f t h e r o y a l dom ain.
Du H a i l l a n d i f f e r s r a d i c a l l y f r o m P a s q u i e r on t h e s u b j e c t
o f th e " E t a t s g £ n £ rau x ." He a c c e p t s P a s q u i e r s d e s c r i p t i o n o f
P a rlia m e n ta ry powers, but n e v e r th e le s s re g a rd s th e " E ta ts gen-

^raux" as th e r e a l e q u iv a le n t of th e o r ig i n a l p a rlia m e n t. A fter


P a r l i a m e n t was e s t a b l i s h e d in P a r is , " i l n 'a v a i t c o n n a is sa n c e des

c a u s e s c i v i l e s e t c r i m i n e l l e s en d e r n i e r s r e s s o r t s a n s a p p e l ,
l e s d i t e s do l^an ces, p la i n t e s e t rem onstrances p u b liq u es f u re n t

1I b i d . , p . 110.
2 "Au c o n t r a i r e , J a m a i s on n e f i t A s s e m b l e e g e n e r a l e d e s
t r o l s E t a t s en c e t t e F r a n c e , s a n s a c c r o i t r e l e s f i n a n c e s d e n o s
R o is h l a d i m i n u t i o n de c e l l e s du p e u p l e . " Ib id .
35
re m ise s a une assem blee qui fut lo rs erig ee, b ap tisee d 'u n nouveau

no m , e t a p p e l l e e les tro is E ta ts." '* ' I n t h e o p i n i o n o f Du H a i l l a n ,

the " E t a t s g ^ n ^ rau x " w ere n o t a sse m b le d s im p ly t o r a i s e revenue.

On t h e co n trary , th e kings "ne f a i s a i e n t aucune g ran d e e n t r e -

p rise sans le s a p p e ll e r ." 2 Du H a i l l a n d o e s n o t e x p l a i n how t h e

th ird estate came t o share th is rig h t of counsel, and h e seems

t o have i n t e n t i o n a l l y avoided th e q u e s ti o n , i n s o f a r a s he s t a t e s

th a t th e "Grand c o n s e i l , " w hich d id n o t in c lu d e th e common p e o p l e ,


■3
also corresponded to the a n c ie n t P arliam e n t. W hereas P a s q u i e r

saw l i t t l e value in t h e " E t a t s generaux" a nd seemed t o fear its

d e m o c r a t i c e l e m e n t , Du H a i l l a n w as t o l a t e r use it as the b a sis

f o r an e n t i r e l y d ifferen t c o n c e p tio n o f th e F re n c h m onarchy.

The e f f e c t o f the c ritic a l e x a m in a tio n o f F r e n c h custom

was t o e n f o r c e its au th o rity , ra th e r than to b rin g it in to ques­

tio n . The h i s t o r i a n s did d e s tr o y some t r a d i t i o n a l o p i n i o n s

about the o rig in s of certain law s: f o r exam ple, th e S a lic law ,

w hich S e y s s e l th o u g h t dated from most a n c i e n t tim e s , was fo u n d

t o have been f i r s t prom ulgated in th e fo u rte e n th century, a l­

t h o u g h b a s e d on a n c i e n t c u s t o m . W h i l e Du H a i l l a n m a k e s t h e r e ­

m ark t h a t its au th o rity , and t h a t o f o th e r law s, "ne so n t fonddes

que s u r la fo rce ," he s t i l l feels im p elled to s t a t e th at it is

an " a s s e z a n ^ ie n n e l o i " and f i n a l l y " q u o l q u ' i l en s o i t , c 'e s t

une b e lle lo i, tre s u tile , honorable, et n ^n essaire a ce ro y a u m e ."^

B e r n a r d d u H a i l l a n , De l ' E s t a t et succez des a f f a i r e s de


France (P a r is , 1570), pp. 8 8 v -8 9 r.

2I b i d ., p. 89r . ^Ib id . , p. 9.0 r .

11Ibid. , pp. I01r-I05v.


56

The f i n a l c rite ria are c u sto m and p ro v e n w o r t h . A lthough t h e i r

manner o f th o u g h t in r e g a r d t o custom has som etim es been found

to d iffer c o n s i d e r a b l y from t h e t r a d i t i o n a l , , it is only because

the static ch aracter of tr a d itio n a l p ra c tice and p o l i t i c a l theory

h as been g r e a t l y exaggerated.

Du H a i n a n ' s g e n e r a l c o n c e p tio n o f th e F r e n c h m onarchy

a s a tem pered regim e i s t h e sam e a s t h a t o f S e y s s e l . It is

n o t t h a t Du H a i l l a n is o b l i v i o u s t o t h e c h an g e s w hich had t a k e n

p la c e betw een S e y s s e l 's tim e and h i s own. He i s p a i n f u l l y a w a r e

o f them . N ev erth eless, he c h o o s e s t o d e s c r i b e t h e re g im e i n w ords

borrow ed d i r e c t l y from S e y s s e l . S e y s s e l 1s d e s c r i p t i o n no l o n g e r

fits th e p ra c tic e s of the la te r p erio d , but th ese p ra c tic e s are

them selves condemned: " Q u i s o n t l e s memes m o t s q u e C l a u d e d e

S e y s s e l en son l i v r e de l a M onarchie de F r a n c e , lesq u els (biens

q u 'ils sen ten t l'a n tiq u ite ) nous n 'a v o n s voulu changer: to u tefo is

on v o i t b i e n q u e c e b e l o r d r e in stitu e en n o t r e M o n a r c h i e , est

corrom pu, e t que n o u s ne r e t e n o n s q u e 1 ' ombre de c e s b e l l e s

prem ieres c o n s titu tio n s ." 2 P a s q u i e r a n d Du H a i l l a n recognized

t h e grow ing a b s o lu t is m o f th e F re n c h m onarchy. The r e c o g n i t i o n

of th e process of co rru p tio n of the in stitu tio n s appears th rough­

o u t t h e i r w orks. T heir s o lu tio n t o t h i s p r o b l e m was t h e t r a d i ­

t i o n a l one: n o t a d e m a n d f o r new l a w s , b u t a r e t u r n t o the

p u rity of the o ld e r i n s ti t u t i o n s . P asq u ier lam ents, "T outefois,

*i
"C ar b ie n que ce s o i t une M o n arch ie, s i e s t - c e que p a r
1 1i n s t i t u t i o n d ' u n e i n f i n i t e d e b e l l e s c h o s e p o l i t l q u e s , q u i l a
r e n d e n t f l o r i s a n t e , i l sem b le q u ' e l l e s o i t composee d e s t r o i s
f a c o n s de g o u v e r n e m e n t." I b i d . , p. 78v.

2I b i d ., p. 82r .
37

j e n e s a l s comment c e s c o u t u m e s s e s o n t p a r t r a i t t e de t e m p s
s l n o n du t o u t a n n i h i l l ^ e s , p o u r l e m o l n s no n s i e t r o i t e m e n t
observes comme n o s a n c i e n s a v a i e n t f a i t . 1' 1 Du H a i l l a n g o e s
even f u r t h e r , to see a s o rt o f u n iv e r s a l r u le : th e law s o f F r a n c e ,
"comme t o u t e s c h o s e s b i e n e t a b l i e s e t i n s t i t u t e s , sont co r-
r o m p u e s p a r l a m a l i c e du t e m p t s . "
Du H a i l l a n p u b l i s h e d L ' E t a t d e F r a n c e i n 1570] ju st six

years la te r, in th e same y e a r B o d i n p u b l i s h e d h i s R e p u b l i c , he

p ublished the H ls to ire de F r a n c e . The d o c t r i n e o f t h e two w o rk s

d iffers rad ically . The l a t t e r rejects the very p r in c ip le s of

the tr a d itio n a l c o n c e p tio n o f th e F re n c h m onarchy, by w hich th e

k in g holds h is o f f ic e by h e r e d i t a r y r i g h t and h a s p o s s e s s i o n of

th e su p rem e and c o m p l e t e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e state. In re c o u n tin g

th e o rig in of the f i r s t k i n g s am ong t h e a n c i e n t F r a n l s , Du H a i l l a n

f i n d s a n o c c a s i o n t o p r e s e n t a g r a n d d e b a t e on t h e b e s t f o r m o f

governm ent. The a r g u m e n t f o r m o n a rc h y h e p u t s in to t h e m outh o f

Pharam ond, later elected as th e f i r s t king o f th e F ra n k s. The

s y ste m p r e s e n t e d by Pharam ond, and s u p p o s e d ly a d o p t e d , is th at

o f a m onarch g o v e rn in g a c c o r d in g t o law and e l e c t e d by t h e people.

The p e o p l e , in choosing th e k in g , e n ter in to a so rt of co n tract

w i t h him , p l e d g i n g a l l e g i a n c e t o him f o r so l o n g a s he f u l f i l l s

h is p a rt of the co n tract. If, how ever, th e king does n o t govern

as he sh o u ld , t h e p e o p l e rem ove him fro m p o w e r .^ The pow er t o

1P a s q u i e r , Bk. II, chap. ill, p. 8l .

%)u H a i l l a n , p. 91v.

^ nS 1i l s e l i c e n c i e r t a n t q u ' i l n e v o u l u t t e n i r l e s con­
d itio n s a u x q u e lle s nous le c o n s tItu e ro n s su r nous, i l sera en
38

r e m o v e t h e k i n g was a c t u a l l y e x e r c i s e d , a c c o r d i n g t o Du H a i l l a n ,

i n t h e c a s e o f C h i l d e r i c , who w a s f o u n d u n a b l e t o f u l f i l l h i s

fu n ctio n s.

Du H a i l l a n c l a i m s t h a t a l l t h e k in g s o f F r a n c e up t o

t h e t i m e o f Hugue C a p e t w e r e e l e c t e d to th e o f f ic e . T h i s seems

s c a r c e l y a v e ry co n v in cin g argum ent, e v e n i n r e a d i n g Du H a i n a n ' s

own h i s t o r y . It seems c u r i o u s t h a t a f o u r - y e a r - o l d c h i l d would

be e l e c t e d king, o r a s i m p l e - m i n d e d m a n. He c o u l d n o t d e n y t h a t

the c r o w n was r e g u l a r l y h a n d e d down f r o m f a t h e r t o so n , b u t he

explained it in th e f o l l o w i n g manner: "Et b ie n que l e s e n f a n ts

ayent succed^s q u e lq u efo is a le u rs p e re s, et les fre re s a leu r

freres, ce n ' a 6t e p a r d r o i t h e r e d i t a i r e , a i n s p a r l 1E l e c t i o n e t
consentem ent des F r a n c a is , qui se tro u v a n ts bien d 'u n R oi, ont

v o u lu e n -re c o m p e n s e d es b i e n s rdfjus de l u i , £ lire e t recev o ir

p o u r R oi son f i l s ou son f r e r e . " 1 N ev erth eless, the French people

retain ed fo r them selves " c e tte p u issa n c e d ' e l i r e e t b an n ir e t

c h a sse r le u rs R o is."

T h e a s s e m b l y w h i c h e l e c t e d a n d d i s c h a r g e d k i n g s was t h e

" tr o is - E ta ts . "2 I n t h e e a r l y w o r k , Du H a i l l a n h a d s a i d t h a t t h e

" tr o is E tats" came i n t o b e i n g o n l y muc h l a t e r . Now h e c l a i m s

t h a t t h e a n c i e n t P a r l i a m e n t w as " u n e a s s e m b l e g e n ^ r a l e d e s

E tats de so n Royaume, t a n t d e s g e n s d ' E g l i s e , que des N o b le s,

n o t r e p u i s s a n c e de l a d e b o u t e r de son s i e g e : c a r p u i s q u e nous
l u i d o n n e r o n s l a R o y a u t £ , n o u s a u r o n s b i e n p a r c o n s e q u e n t moyen
d e l a l u i o t e r , s ' i l n e s e c o m p o r t e e t g o u v e r n e comme i l d o i t .
L e s p e u p l e s j 3on.t d e v a n t l e s R o i s e t l e s o n t f a i t s e t j a d l s i l s
pouvaient le s d e s f a ir e ." B e r n a r d Du H a i l l a n , L ' H l s t o l r e d e F r a n c e
( P a r i s , 1576), p. 5.

1I b i d . , p. 19. 2 I b i d . . pp. 1 2 8 - 2 9 .
39

e t du p e u p l e . " 1 The a u t h o r i t y a n d d i g n i t y o f t h e " E ta ts g^neraux"

i s not o n ly enhanced; the p a r tic ip a tio n of the "tiers <£tat" i s

also raised t o a l e v e l o f e q u a l i t y w i t h t h e n o b i l i t y and t h e

church.

A f t e r Hug ue C a p e t , th e kings r e je c te d the custom of

electio n and c l a i m e d t o r e c e i v e t h e crown by r i g h t o f h e r e d i t a r y

successio n . Du H a i l l a n d o e s n o t r e j e c t t h i s claim , but claim s

in tu rn t h a t t h e r e was a c o n t i n u a t i o n o f t h e o l d e r c u s t o m o f

electio n : " e s t d e m e u r ^ e u n e f o r m e d 1E l e c t i o n q u i s e f a i t a

le u r sacre e t couronnem ent a Reim s, a u q u e l l e s P a i r s de F r a n c e ,

a u nom d ' E g l i s e , de la N o b le s s e , e t du p e u p l e , £ lisen t l e Roi la

p resen t. M ais c e t t e forme d ' e l e c t i o n n ' e s t q u ' u n ombre de

1 1a n c i e n n e . 1,2

It is d i f f i c u l t to s e e e x a c t l y w h a t Du H a i l l a n h a d i n

mind i n r a d i c a l l y changing h i s in terp retatio n of French h is to r y .

It seem s more t h a n s i m p l y a q u e s t i o n o f h i s t o r i c a l sch o larsh ip ;

n e v e r t h e l e s s , Du H a i l l a n is extrem ely d is c r e e t in r e f e r r i n g to

contem porary p r a c t i c e s . It i s however a p p a r e n t t h a t h i s l a t t e r

work would h av e t h e e f f e c t o f e n h a n c in g t h e p r e s t i g e o f t h e "tro is

E tats" and g iv in g it a power in r e l a t i o n to th e king q u ite d i f ­

f e r e n t from t h a t o f t h e t r a d i t i o n a l in terp re ta tio n . The e x p l a n a ­

t i o n o f th e r a d i c a l change w hich to o k p l a c e i n Du H a i n a n ' s

thought l i e s in t h e e v e n t s w hich o c c u r r e d In t h e s i x y e a r s separ­

atin g t h e two w o rk s ; t h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t o f t h e s e w as t h e a p p e a r ­

a n c e o f t h e F r a n c o - G a l l i a . a r a d i c a l new w o r k on F r e n c h g o v e r n ­

ment by F r a n c o i s Hotman.

1I b l d ., p. 151. 2I b i d . , p. 123.
40

H otm an d i d n o t s h a r e t h e r e t i c e n c e o f Du H a i l l a n . H is

F ran co -G allia was m e a n t t o p r o v i d e a s o l u t i o n f o r th e problem s

of h is tim e; Hotman w r o t e f i r s t of a ll to f u r t h e r the cause of

th e H uguenots. It is c l e a r l y a p o l e m i c a l work; h i s argum ent ta k e s

the form o f a h i s t o r y o n ly b e c a u s e th e a p p e a l t o c u sto m was t h e

most p e r s u a s i v e a p p ro a c h a t t h e tim e . Hotman, a l r e a d y In e x i l e

when h e w r o t e t h e F r a n c o - G a l l i a ' , i n 1 5 7 3 > made n o e f f o r t t o b e

d iscreet, beyond t h a t needed t o be p e r s u a s i v e .

In th e E p i s t l e D e d ic a to r y , Hotman e x p l a i n s t h a t h e w as

led to th e study o f th e e a r ly in stitu tio n s by " la co n sid eratio n

de c e s e x t r e m e s c a l a m i t e s e t m i s e r e s communes." The e v i l s o f

th e tim e a r e n o t, as th e y a re g e n e r a lly tho ught to b e , caused

by t h e "p artialitd s e t d i v i s i o n s d o m e s t i q u e s ." These a re e f ­

fects r a t h e r than causes; the r e a l cause l i e s i n t h e damage done

to the n a tio n s i n c e men f i r s t sought to " re n v e r s e r le s bonnes

lo is et statu ts de nos a n c e t r e s . " Thus Hotman, l i k e h is oppon­

en ts, sees the so lu tio n to the p re se n t situ atio n In t h e r e t u r n

t o a n c i e n t custom s: " c 'e s t 1& l e s e u l e t v r a i rem ede a t o u s

no s maux, que de r e f o r m e r n o t r e m a n ie r e de v i v r e au m oule d es

v e r t u s de c es g ra n d e s p e r s o n n a g e s l a : e t de r e d u i r e n o t r e e t a t

corrom pu, comme u n e M u s i q u e d e s a c c o r d ^ e a c e b e l a n c i e n a c c o r d

q u i f u t du tem ps de nos P e r e s . " 1

To t h o s e who w o u l d on t h e c o n tra ry seek to reform or

in terp ret t h e F r e n c h c o n s t i t u t i o n t h r o u g h t h e s y s t e m o f Roman

law , h i s answ er i s b lu n t: "la c o n n a i s s a n c e de l ' ^ t a t R om ai n n e

F r a n c o i s H o t m a n , La G a u l e f r a n c o l s e [French t r a n s l a t i o n
o f F r a n c o - G a l l i a 1 (C o lo g n e , 1 5 7 4 ) , Ep. Ded.
41

p e u t s e r v i r a u g o u v ern em en t de l a F r a n c e , n ' e t a n t la form des

d e u x r ^ p u b l l q u e s a u c u n e m e n t s e m b l a b l e . 1,1

To w h a t e x t e n t i s H o t m a n 1s I n t e r p r e t a t i o n of French

h is to ry accu rate? Th e q u e s t i o n is i n t e r e s t i n g b u t beyond th e

lim its of our study. It seems a t l e a s t t o h a v e b e e n c o n v i n c i n g .

There i s , h o w e v er, no r e a s o n t o b e l i e v e t h a t Ho tma n d e r i v e d h i s

p o l i t i c a l th e o r y from t h e stu d y o f F ren ch custom s. It i s more

d ifficu lt to s a y t o w h a t e x t e n t Hotman b e l i e v e d in th e su p erio r­

ity o f t h e p o l i t i c a l sy ste m f o r w hich he a rg u e d in th e F ra n c o -

G allia . He w as l a t e r w i l l i n g t o make a l t e r a t i o n s on t h e t h e o r y

in o r d e r to keep i t in fa s h io n w ith th e changing needs o f th e

H uguenots. Yet a p a r t a t le a s t of h is i d e a s seem s t o b e more

th a n a mere c o n s t r u c t i o n d e s ig n e d t o meet t h e n e ed s o f h i s argu­

m ent. We n e e d n o t a t t e m p t t o a n s w e r t h e s e q u e s t i o n s in t h e case

o f H o t m a n , b u t we s h o u l d k e e p t h e m i n m in d when we l a t e r come t o

c o n sid e r the r e la tio n o f p r a c t i c a l and t h e o r e t i c a l aim s in t h e

w ritin g s o f Bod i n .

Ho tm a n s o u g h t t h e o r i g i n o f t h e F r e n c h m onarchy in th e

v e r ’y e a r l i e s t a c c o u n t s o f t h e F r a n k s a n d t h e G a u l s . From t h e

v e ry e a r l i e s t u n t i l th e most r e c e n t tim e s he f i n d s t h a t th e

m onarchy r e t a i n e d the s am e b a s i c in stitu tio n s. The f i r s t p rin -


»

c i p l e o f t h e m onarchy, and t h a t from w hich a l l the o th e rs d e riv e ,

is th e e le c tio n o f the king. The k i n g i s e l e c t e d b y " l 1a v i s d e s

^ tats et les v o lx du p e u p l e . " A lthough t h i s idea b rin g s in to

F r a n c o i s Hotman, A n f c i t r l b o n l a n , ou D l s c o u r s d ' u n g r a n d
e t ren om m^ .-juf1i s c o n s u i t e d e n o s t r e t e m p s s u r l ' ^ s t u d e d e s l o l x
( P a r i s , 1603 L f i r s t p u b l i s h e d 157& J).
2
Hotman, G a u le f r a n y o i s e , c h a p . v ii, p. 72.
42
q u estio n the S a lic law g o v e r n i n g t h e r o y a l s u c c e s s i o n , it does

not a ffe ct the t r a d i t i o n a l n otion of th e ro y a l a u th o r ity . Nor

does th e a d d itio n a l c la im t h a t t h e k in g s were " e l u s p o u r e t r e

R ois sous c e r t a i n lo is et co n d itio n s qui le u r e ta ie n t lim itee s.

The r a d i c a l p a r t o f H otm an’ s d o c t r i n e lies in th e conclusions

t h a t he drew fro m t h e s e two i d e a s . S ince th e p eo p le chose t h e i r

own k i n g a n d a c c e p t e d h i s r u l e only in so f a r a s i t conform ed t o

certain law s and c o n d i t i o n s , it follow ed t h a t th e y re s e rv e d for

t h e m s e l v e s t h e p o w e r t o d e c i d e when t h e s e c o n d itio n s had been

v io lated and c o n s e q u e n t l y t o w ith d ra w t h e i r obedience to th e k in g .

A l t h o u g h t h e k i n g i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l d o c t r i n e was a l s o l i m i t e d by

th e law s, he n e v e rth e le s s re ta in e d f u l l and c o m p lete a u t h o r i t y ;

alth o u g h h is au th o rity is lim ited , he rem a in s sovereign by th e

fact th at the . o b e d i e n c e owed t o h i m i s v ir tu a lly u n lim ited . For

th e f i r s t tim e, w i t h Hotm an, t h e a u t h o r i t y is d iv id e d betw een th e

k in g and t h e p e o p le ; th is is th e f i r s t p resen tatio n o f a th eo ry

o f " c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarchy." Thus t h e p e o p le "a e u p l e i n pouvoir

et souveraine a u to r lte de l e s [ le s R ois] d e p o se r quand i l s l'a v a ie n t

d e s s e rv i." 2 Indeed, w ith o u t f o r g e ttin g th e lack o f p re c isio n w ith

w h i c h t h e w ord s o v e r e i g n t y was e m p lo y e d b e f o r e B o d i n , one m ig h t

w e l l c o n c lu d e from th e above s ta te m e n t t h a t the p eo p le, and n o t

th e king, is sovereign. In t h i s case, th e kings " n ‘E ta ie n t au tre

chose que m a g is tr a ts p e r p e t u a l s ," a s t a t e m e n t m a de b y H o tm a n a b o u t


3
t h e m i n o r G e rm a n k i n g s a t t h e t i m e o f C a e s a r . He d i d n o t h o w e v e r

n
Ib id ,., chap. v i, p. 68. 2I b i d ., p. 66.

^I b ld ., chap. i, p. 11.
43
come t o s u c h a c o n c l u s i o n I n t h e c a s e o f t h e F r e n c h k i n g .
Hotm an w as n o t c o n t e n t t o r e s e r v e o n l y t h e f i n a l word

f o r th e people a g a in s t th e k in g . Not o n l y t h e judgm ent r e g a r d ­

ing th e fundam ental law s, but a ls o "to u te 1 ’a d m i n i s t r a t i o n p o ­

litiq u e d u Royaume e t a i t e n t i e r e m e n t en l a d isp o sitio n de

l'a s s e m b le e des E t a t s ." The " E t a t s g ^ n e r a u x " u n d e r s u c h a

s y s te m would c o n s t i t u t e an a lm o s t p e r p e t u a l bod y , or at l e a s t an

an n u al assem bly e l e c t i n g o f f i c e r s t o w atch o v e r th e c o n d u ct o f

a f f a i r s w h i l e t h e a s s e m b l y was n o t i n s e s s i o n . "A ll im p o rtan t

m a t t e r s w ere r e s e r v e d fo r th e decision o f th e assem bly: d eclara­

tio n s o f w ar, t r e a t i e s , appointm ent o f h ig h e s t m a g is tr a te s , th e


p
public law s, etc. H o tm an 's sy ste m i s f a r from t h e t r a d i t i o n a l

c o n c e p t i o n o f a m onarch f r e e l y a d m i n i s t e r i n g the' a f f a i r s o f the

realm w ith in th e broad l i m i t s o f custom and fu n d a m e n ta l la w s.

The k in g had alw ays been r e q u i r e d t o h e a r th e a d v ic e o f h is

co u n sello rs, but not n e c e s s a r ily to follow it. H o t m a n , on t h e

o th e r hand, fin d s th a t in th e case of th e " tr o is E ta ts , 11 a

fallu q u e l e s r o i s memes, q u i d o n n e n t l o i a u x a u t r e s se l a i s s a s s e n t

g o u v e r n e r p a r son a d v i s . " ^ The k i n g no l o n g e r h a s t h e a u t h o r i t y

to ta k e any Im p o rtan t a c tio n on h i s o w n. It som etim es becomes

d ifficu lt to s e e i n w h a t way t h e k i n g may b e t h o u g h t t o b e

so v e re ig n o r even to share in th e sovereignty; he a p p e a rs very

sim ila r to th e "perp etu al m ag istrats" o f t h e a n c i e n t Germans.

1I b l d . , chap. x i, p. 121. 2I b i d ., p. 114.

^ I b i d . , c h a p . x v i i , 1 7 2 ; c f . , ^l b i d . , c h a p . x v , p . 1 5 5 :
"La c o n n a l s s a n c e , l e j u g e m e n t e t l a d e c i s i o n f i n a l e d e s a f f a i r s ,
c o n c e r n a n t I ' ^ t a t p o l i t i q u e e t u n i v e r s e l de c e Royaume, a p -
p a r t e n a i t a l a c o n g r e g a t i o n g £ n £ r a l e d u p e u p l e , e t (comme n o u s
p a rlo n s a u jo u r d 'h u i) a l'a s s e m b le e des £ t a t s ."
44

Th e " t r o i s E t a t s " have n o t o n ly th e so v e re ig n a u t h o r i t y to e l e c t

and depose th e k in g : " Q u i p l u s e s t q u e meme a p r e s 1 'electio n des

R ois, le C oncile [tro is E tats] se r e s e r v a i t en co re e t r e t e n a i t

p ar devers s o i la souveraine a u to r it^ des a f f a i r e s du Royaume.

S till, th e king i s sovereign, o r more p r e c i s e l y , he s h a r e s

in th e so v ereig n ty of the " tro is E ta ts," f o r he makes up a p a r t o f

t h a t assem bly. The " s o u v e r a i n e jugem ent e t la d ecisio n des a f ­

faires n * e t a i t p o i n t en l a d isp o sitio n


de P e p i n , ou de C h a r l e s ,
x 2
ou de L o u i s , m a is t o t a l e m e n t en l a M a j e s t e R o y a l e . I t i s only

when t h e k i n g i s sittin g in th e " E ta ts gen^raux" t h a t he i s p r o p e r l y

c a l l e d by t h i s t e r m .-5 One s h o u l d e m p l o y t h e t i t l e o n ly " l o r s que

l e Roi t i e n t co n seil, p o u r d e l i v e r e r de 1 ‘ e t a t de la chose p u b liq u e ."

Thus t h e " m a je s t^ R oyale" does no t belong to th e kin g a lo n e , but

has re a lly its s e a t in th e assem bly o f th e E s t a t e s . The " M a j e s t e

R o y ale," th e so v ereig n ty , belo n g s n e i t h e r to th e king n o r t o th e

" t r o i s E t a ts ," but to the two u n i t e d in onebo d y . The id e a is

c u rio u sly sim ila r to th a t of S i r Tho ma s S m i t h , who w r o t e h i s w o r k

on t h e E n g l i s h g o v e r n m e n t w h i l e a m b a s s a d o r t o F r a n c e i n 1 5 ^ 5 .

S m i t h saw t h e s o v e r e i g n a u th o r ity o f th e realm in " th e k in g in

P a r l i a m e n t ." -5 Yet in n e i t h e r c a s e can t h e "king in P a rlia m e n t"

I 2
Ib id ., chap. xix , p. 183. Ib id ., chap. xv, p. 151.
"5 4
Ib id ., chap. x, p. 108. Ib id .. p. 109.

' ’"And t o b e s h o r t , a l l t h a t e v e r t h e p e o p l e o f Rome m i g h t


d o e i t h e r i n C e n t u r i a t i s c o m i t i i s o r t r i b u t i s , t h e s am e may b e
doone by t h e p a r l i a m e n t o f E n g l a n d e , w h ic h r e p r e s e n t e t h and h a t h
t h e pow er o f t h e w h o le r e a l m , b o t h h aed and b o d i e . For ev erie
Englishm an i s e n ten d ed to bee t h e r e p r e s e n t , e i t h e r in p erso n or
by p r o c u r a t i o n and a t t o r n i e s , o f w hat p r e e m in e n c e , s t a t e , d l g n i t i e ,
o r q u a l i t i e s o e v e r he b e , from t h e P r i n c e (be he King o r Q ueene)
to th e low est person of E nglande. And t h e c o n s e n t o f P a r l i a m e n t
45

b e l o o k e d on a s a n e n t i t y . N e i t h e r S m i t h n o r Hotman h a d a

"th e o ry of s o v e r e ig n ty ," a th e o ry o f the i n d i v i s i b i l i t y of the

h ig h e st a u th o rity of th e s t a t e . They b o th view ed t h e i r n a t i o n s

a s b e i n g g o v e r n e d by a m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n . The h i g h e s t a u t h o r i t y

is s h a r e d b etw een t h e m onarch and t h e e l e c t e d r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s

of th e people.

Ho tm an w r o t e a s s t r o n g l y a g a i n s t t h e p o w e r s o f P a r l i a ­

ment a s he d id in f a v o r o f t h e pow ers o f t h e " t r o i s E t a t s . "

The P a r l i a m e n t , in h i s view , o r ig in a te d o n ly w ith th e C ap e tia n s,

in th e su b stitu tio n o f a '''c o u n se l" f o r t h e " tro is E ta ts." D uring

th e p a s t t h r e e hundred y e a r s P a rlia m e n t has succeeded in u s u r p ­

in g , "to u te 1'au to rite du C o n c ile des E t a t s . " The members o f

P a r l i a m e n t h a v e e v e n g ro w n s o p o w e r f u l t h a t t h e y h a v e " c o n t r a i n t

memes l a M a je s te du Hoi de p a s s e r so u s l e u r m ain , e t de s ' h u m l l i e r

sous le u r g ra n d e u r." 1 U nderstood, th at th is " M a je s te du R oi"

w ould a l s o in clu d e a c ts of the " tro is E tats." A side from w h a te v e r

d i f f e r e n c e s Ho tma n m i g h t h a v e h a d w i t h t h e a c t u a l d e c i s i o n s o f

P arliam en t, its f u n c t i o n a s a c o n s t r a i n t upon t h e k in g c o u ld n e v e r

have s a t i s f i e d him . In t h i s c a n b e s e e n how f a r Hotman i s f r o m

t h e t r a d i t i o n a l c o n c e p tio n o f th e m onarchy. From S e y s s e l t o

Pasq u ier, th e P arliam ent appeared as th e g r e a t e s t p o s s ib le r e ­

s t r a i n t t h a t m ight l e g i t i m a t e l y be p la c e d upon t h e pow er o f t h e

king. P arliam ent, and th e o t h e r o f f i c e r s o f t h e k in g , m ight

j u s t l y oppose th e w i l l o f th e m onarch, b u t in th e f i n a l d e c is io n

i s ta k e n t o be e v e r i e m a n 's c o n s e n t . " S i r T h o m a s S m i t h , De
R e p u b lic s A nglorum , ed . L. A ls to n (C am bridge, E n g la n d , 1 9 0 5 ),
p . 1 9 ; c f . , my M a s t e r ' s t h e s i s , c h a p . i v .

P o tm an , G aule f r a n c o l s e , ch ap . xx, p. 197.


46
t h e y had no power o r a u t h o r i t y w ith w h ich t o b a c k up t h e i r o b j e c ­

tio n s. H o t m a n , on t h e o t h e r h a n d , w a n t e d an a s s e m b l y w i t h an

a u th o r ity independent o f, and a t le a s t equal to , th at of the

m onarch. For t h is , th e P a rliam e n t did n o t s u f f i c e , in s o fa r as

i t s . members a r e o n l y m a g i s t r a t e s a p p o in ted by th e k ing. To

a c h i e v e t h e r e s u l t Homan d e s i r e d , t h e o n l y r e c o u r s e w as t o a b o d y

d eriv in g i t s power d i r e c t l y from t h e p e o p le : "il e s t p l u s que

n e c e s s a i r e q u ' u n R o i s o i t r e t e n u en son d e v o i r p a r l a reverence

et l'a u to r it^ des gens de b ie n e t d 'h o n n e u r , comme r e p r e s e n t a n t

l a p e r s o n n e du P e u p le , l e q u e l d e s commet a c e l a , e t l e u r donne

c e t t e p u i s s a n c e . 1,1

Such i s th e s y s t e m o f g o v e r n m e n t Homan c l a i m e d t o h a v e

disco v ered in th e e a r l i e s t h i s t o r i e s of th e French p eo p le. It

continued to e x i s t , he p r e t e n d e d , u n t i l , " i l y a c e n t a n s ou

e n v iro n ," one f i r s t began t o overthrow th e a n c ie n t law s. Hotman,

was n o t , h o w e v e r , c o n t e n t t o b a s e h i s d o c t r i n e on t h e a n c i e n t

custom s o f F r a n c e . Indeed, th ere is a doctrin arism in h is w r it­

i n g s w h i c h s c a r c e l y a p p e a r e d among F r e n c h a u t h o r s b e f o r e t h e W ar s

of R elig io n . Hotman i s n o t c o n t e n t t o show t h a t th e F ren c h king

can t a x o n l y w i t h t h e c o n s e n t o f t h e p e o p le : a n y k i n g who d o e s
2
otherw ise is a ty r a n t. On t h e q u e s t i o n o f t h e r i g h t o f t h e

p e o p le t o a ss e m b le and t o g i v e c o u n s e l - - e s p e c i a l l y s i n c e Hotman

regards counsel as in e f f e c t "d ecisio n "--h e is even more r a d i c a l :

"On p e u t d e l a a i s & n e n t c o n c l u r e n o n s e u l e m e n t q u e c e t t e lib erte

ta n t b elle de t e n i r a s s e m b l i e s g e n e r a l e s de c o n s e i l , e s t une

p artie d u d r o i t d e s g e n s , m a i s memes q u e l e s R o i s q u i p a r m a u v a i s e s

•^I b i d . , c h a p . i, p. 12. 2I b i d ., chap. x v ii, p. 178.


k7

p r a t i q u e s e t c a u t e l l e s opprim ent c e t t e sain te e t sacr£e l i b e r t y ,

n e d o i v e n t p l u s § t r e t e n u s en q u a l i t y de R o i s , m a is de t y r a n s ,

comme c e u x q u i v i o l e n t l e p l u s s a i n t d r o i t q u i a i t jam ais eu l i e u

en tre l e s ho mm es , e t r o m p e n t l e s lien s de t o u t e s o c i e t y h u m a in e ."

H otm an r e g a r d s t h i s r i g h t a s s o f u n d a m e n t a l t h a t its d e n i a l by

t h e k i n g w ould j u s t i f y r e b e l l i o n : "com bien que t o u t e s sed itio n s

so ien t to u jo u rs dangereuses, que n e a n m o in s i l y en a q u e l q u e f o i s

qui sont ju ste s e t presque n ^ c e s s a ire , que quand l e p e u p le f o u l e

e t opprim £ p a r l e c ru a u td d 'u n ty r a n , va d e m a n d e r s e c o u r s a
* O
to u te la co n gregation des cito y en s legitim em ent assem b lee."

The " l e g i t i m e m e n t " does n o t s o fte n th e ju stific a tio n of reb el­

lio n : a r e b e l l i o n would f o r c e t h e k i n g t o c a l l an a s s e m b ly o f

t h e E s t a t e s , w h i c h when " l e g i t i m e m e n t " a s s e m b le d w ould have in

tu r n th e a u t h o r i t y t o depose th e k in g .

F in ally , Hotman s e e k s t o su p p o rt h is d o c trin e by c a ll in g

on t h e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e c la s s ic a l au th o rs, in su p p o rt o f h i s
x
t h e o r y o f a m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n .

Th e c l a s s i c a l t h e o r y o f t h e m i x e d c o n s t i t u t i o n was

r e g u l a r l y a c c e p te d by s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y a u t h o r s and q u o te d in

1 2
Ib id ., chap. x, p. 106. I b id ., chap. x v il, p. 175.

^ " C a r l ' d t a t du g o u v e r n e m e n t de ce Royaume, 6 t a l t t o u t


t e l q u e c e l u i l e q u e l a u j u g e m e n t d e s a n c i e n s p h l l o s o p h e s , nomme-
ment de P l a t o e t d 'A r i s i t o t e , que P o ly b i u s a s u l v i e s t l e m e i l l e u r ,
e t l e p l u s p a r f a i t de to u s l e s a u t r e s : c 'e s t a sav o ir, c e lu i
q u i e s t com post e t te m p e rd de t o u t e s l e s t r o i s e s p e c e s de g o u v e r n e ­
m e n t : d e l a M o n a r c h i e , o u i l n ' y a a u ' u n R o i q u i commande s o u v e r a i n e -
m e n t, de 1 ' A r i s t o c r a t i e , q u i e s t 1 ' e t a t de l a N o b l e s s e , ou un
p e t i t nombre d e s p l u s g e n s de b i e n , a l ' a u t o r i t ^ e n t r e m a in s ,
e t de l ' d t a t ou l e p e u p le e s t s o u v e r a in : q u i e s t a u s s i l a form e
de g o u v e r n e m e n t p o l i t i q u e , q u i c i c e r o n a l a p l u s a p p r o u v e e de
t o u t e s en s e s l i v r e s de l a R e p u b l i q u e . " I b i d . , chap. x , p. 97.
48
s u p p o r t o f t h e F r e n c h s y s t e m , e v e n s o m e t i m e s when t h e a u t h o r ’ s
own d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e g o v e r n m e n t h ad l i t t l e i n common w i t h t h e
theory. La P e r r i e r e , who e x p l i c i t l y d e n i e d t h a t F r a n c e was r u l e d

u n d e r a n y t h i n g b u t a p u r e m o n a r c h y , n e v e r t h e l e s s a c c e p t e d and
seemed t o show r e s p e c t f o r t h e t h e o r y o f t h e m ix e d c o n s t i t u t i o n .
T h e d o c t r i n e h ad a v e r y g r e a t a u t h o r i t y a t t h e t i m e . Bodin r e ­

m a r k e d i n t h e M e th o d , w h i c h was w r i t t e n b e f o r e H o t m a n ' s F r a n c o -
G allia, th at, " p le riq u e hujus a e t a t i s , graves eru d iti v iri, ,
optim atum s t a t u s ; n o n n u l l i e tia m p o p u la r e s magis p r o b a n t . " 1 The
a u t h o r i t y o f t h e c l a s s i c a l d o c t r i n e was s u c h t h a t when B o d i n
d i r e c t e d h i s a t t a c k a g a i n s t t h e t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n
he went d i r e c t l y to i t s supposed s o u rc e , t o A r i s t o t l e . He d i d
not a tte m p t o n ly to prove t h a t th e system did n o t e x i s t in F ra n c e ,

but t h a t t h e e n t i r e i d e a i s an e r r o r , a n d t h a t s u c h a s y s t e m did
not and c o u ld n e v e r e x i s t .
We. h a v e t h u s f a r e x a m i n e d i n t h i s c h a p t e r t h e m a j o r
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f t h e F r e n c h c o n s t i t u t i o n up t o t h e tim e of
Bodin. I t m i g h t b e w e l l , b e f o r e p r o c e e d i n g t o B o d i n t o sum­
m arize th e v a rio u s t h e o r i e s . A l l o f t h e a u t h o r s may b e g r o u p e d ,

w i t h o u t t o o g r e a t v i o l e n c e do ne t o t h e m , in to th ree c la sse s.

There i s , first, the tr a d it io n a l d o ctrin e: the k ing, w h ile h o ld ­

in g t h e t o t a l a u t h o r i t y o f t h e s t a t e and t h e c o n t r o l o v e r t h e

ad m in istratio n , i s l i m i t e d b y t h e f u n d a m e n t a l l a w s and c u s t o m s .
There I s , h o w e v e r , no one t o o p p o s e h i s f i n a l d e c i s i o n . Secondly,
t h e r e d e v e l o p e d among t h e h u m a n i s t s a n d "Roman l a w y e r s " a s o r t o f

^Jean B odin, Oeuvres p h ilo s o p h iq u e s (P aris: Presses


U n i v e r s i t a i r e s , 1 9 5 1 )> P - 2 l 4 .
49

in c ip ie n t ab so lu tism : th e king is still l i m i t e d by t h e fu n d a ­

m e n ta l law s o f th e re a lm , b u t in g e n e r a l he i s less restrain ed

b y law and custom : the id e a t h a t h i s . s u b m is s io n t o them i s

v o l u n t a r y becom es more i m p o r t a n t . The r e s t r a i n t s of the

m a g i s t r a t e s a r e m inim ized, and t h e o ld idea of a d iv in e p ro v i­

dence is used to e x a lt the ro y a l m ajesty . F in ally , th e re appears

w i t h Ho tm an t h e r e a l d o c t r i n e o f t h e m i x e d c o n s t i t u t i o n : th e king

is n o t only su b je c t to th e fu n d am en tal law s, b u t he m ust a l s o

s h a r e h i s a u t h o r i t y o v e r b o th th e f i n a l d e c i s i o n s and t h e o r d i n a r y

a d m in istra tio n of the s ta te .

At t h e tim e B odin w r o t e , t h e r e was l i t t l e agreem ent,

eith er in th eo ry or p r a c tic e , about th e fu n ctio n s of th e in sti­

tu tio n s th at form ed t h e F r e n c h s t a t e . B odin, w ith h i s th e o ry

of so v ereig n ty , considered h im se lf th e f i r s t ab le to r e c o n s titu te

th e state upon a sim p le and u n i v e r s a l l y v a l i d p r i n c i p l e .


CHAPTER I I

THE CRITIQUE OP CLASSICAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

The M eth o d , p u b l i s h e d i n 1566,, c o n t a i n s B o d i n ! s f i r s t

p resen tatio n of h is p o l i t i c a l th o u g h t. H i s own i d e a s a r e set

f o r t h by means o f a s y s t e m a t i c c ritiq u e 'o f A r is to tle 's P o litics.

B o d in 's argum ent i s d irected ag ain st o th er p o lit ic a l p h ilo so p h ers,

not ag ain st leg ists. Though t h e la tte r are c e rta in ly not ou tsid e

h is thought, it is i n w r i t i n g s much o l d e r a n d r e s p e c t e d t h a t

B odin s e e s t h e source of t h e i r e r r o r s . A risto tle is a t the sam e

t i m e o n e o f t h e m o s t r e s p e c t e d a u t h o r s on g o v e r n m e n t a n d t h e

o r i g i n a t o r o f what B odin r e g a r d s a s t h e t r a d i t i o n a l errors of

p o litical theory.

B o d i n i s b y some s c h o l a r s r e g a r d e d a s o n e o f t h e o r i g i ­

n ato rs o f modern p o l i t i c a l scien ce: o f an e m p i r i c a l s t u d y o f

r e a l governm ents c o n t r a s t e d w ith an a b s t r a c t co n stru ctio n of

id eal c o n stitu tio n s, w hich I s th o u g h t t o c h a r a c te r iz e the

c la s s ic a l au th o rs. W hatever t r u t h t h e r e is in th is view , It

m ust be n o te d t h a t it is n o t t h a t o f Bodin h i m s e l f . H is a r g u ­

ment w ith A r i s t o t l e b e a r s on t h e co n clu sio n s, n o t on t h e m e t h o d ,

of h is stu d y . On t h e c o n t r a r y , Bodin b e l i e v e s A r i s t o t l e t o have

f o ll o w e d a m ethod o f p u r e c o m p a r a t i v e . 1 It is the r e s u lts of

E t e n i m P l a t o cum n u l l a m R e i p u b l i c a e g e r e n d a e s c i e n t i a m
e s s e p u t a r e t , a u t i t a d i f f i c i l e m a d i n t e l l l g e n d u m , u t earn nemo
c a p e r e t : legum tr a d e n d a r u m ac c l v i t a t i s b e n e i n s t i t u e n d a e

50
51
A ris to tle 's s t u d y t h a t Bodin b r i n g s in to questio n . To c o n t r a s t

Bodin and A r i s t o t l e a s e m p i r i c a l and i d e a l i s t i c is to do a

d isserv ice to both. W hat i s r a d i c a l i n t h e Method i s n o t a

rejectio n of p h ilo so p h y in fa v o r o f e m p iric a l science* but the

rejectio n of p h ilo so p h y --ev en ph ilo so p h y w ith e m p iric a l

fo u n d atio n s--in favor of h isto ry .


B odin a t t a c k s A r i s t o t l e ' s p o l i t i c a l p h ilo so p h y by a t ­

tack in g h is d efin itio n s* w hich a r e " a t the b a s is of t h i s con­

tro v e rsy ." Bodin s e e k s t o e s t a b l i s h t r u l y u n i v e r s a l d e f i n i ­

t i o n s , w hereas A r i s t o t l e h im s e lf ad m itted t h a t h is d efin itio n s

lacked u n i v e r s a l i t y . R ath er than g ive a d e f i n i t i o n b ro a d and

v a g u e e n o u g h t h a t a l l members o f t h e c l a s s w ould b e e q u a l l y w e l l

d e fin e d by i t , A risto tle s o u g h t t o g i v e a d e f i n i t i o n w h ich w ould

apply to t h e most p e r f e c t exam ple c o n ta i n e d w i t h i n t h e class* a

d efin itio n w h ich w ould a p p l y a l s o t o t h e o t h e r exam ples b u t in

e a c h c a s e w i t h some s o r t o f e x c e p t i o n . Thus A r i s t o t l e d efines

a citizen a s o n e "who s h a r e s i n t h e h o n o u r s o f t h e sta te ," one

who i s e lig ib le for o ffice. A r i s t o t l e must r e c o g n i z e t h a t th is

d efin itio n does not ap p ly e q u a lly w e ll to a l l states. It ap­

p l i e s b e s t t o a dem ocracy* b u t even th e n it does n o t apply

e q u a lly w ell to a l l the c itiz e n s . A risto tle accep ts th ese short

com ings* for it is a q u e stio n of applying a d e f in itio n to a

c l a s s w h i c h b a r e l y c o n t a i n s a common n a t u r e . 1 In t h i s c a s e he

ratio n em hanc a n im a d v e r tit: s i v i r i p r u d e n t e s o m n i b u s omn ium


R erum publicarum m o rib u s ac l e g i b u s c o l l e c t l s * e a s i n t e r se
c o m p a r a r e n t* & e x h i optim um R e l p u b l i c a e g e n u s c o n f l a r e n t .
quod quidem c o n siliu m * A r i s t o t e l e s * quoad e j u s f i e r i p o t u i t *
s e c u t u s v i d e t u r ; non tam en a s s e c u t u s . " J e a n B o d in , M ethodus
ad F a c lle m H ls to r la r u m C ognitionem , O euvres P h ilo s o p h lq u e s
de J e a n Bodin* p . 1 6 7 .

■ ^A ristotle P o l i t i c s 1279a 50.


52

tries to d efine a c itiz e n in th e a b so lu te sense, r e q u i r i n g no

c o r r e c t in g term . A citizen is defined, "by n o th in g e l s e s o much

a s," by t h e r i g h t t o h o ld o f f i c e . Th e d e f i n i t i o n ap p lies b e tte r

than any o th e r to t h e many d i f f e r e n t cases in w hich t h e d e s i g n a ­

tio n i s ’u s e d . At t h e same t i m e , it is n o t so g e n e r a l a s t o be

void o f s i g n i f i c a n c e . B o d i n on t h e o t h e r h a n d r e j e c t e d such a

d efin itio n . He s o u g h t t o f i n d a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c common t o a l l

c a s e s in w hich t h e te rm c i t i z e n had been a p p l i e d . E lig ib ility

fo r o ffice is c e r t a i n l y no s u c h c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ; it is f a r from

u n iv ersal. The o n l y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c common t o a l l c i t i z e n s is

th eir s u b m i s s i o n t o a common a u t h o r i t y . T his i s th e prim ary d is -


1
t i n g u i s h i n g mark o f t h e c i t i z e n . T his d e f in itio n corresponds

t o o u r word " s u b j e c t " in so f a r as i t i s b ased upon s u b m issio n

r a t h e r than r i g h t s . It is, how ever, to o g e n e r a l f o r B o d in , for

as such i t Includes s la v e s and a l i e n s a s w e l l . It is th erefo re

n e c e s s a r y t o add a n o t h e r d i s t i n c t i o n : the c itiz e n i s h e who ow es

subm ission to th e s o v e r e i g n and i n a d d i t i o n "enjoys th e common

l i b e r t y and t h e p r o t e c t i o n of the a u th o rity ." T h e "common l i b e r t y "

i s meant o n ly to d i s t i n g u i s h th e citizen from t h e slav e. The

d e f i n i t i o n being u n iv e r s a l, even in th e most d e s p o t i c o f re g im e s

a citizen w ould b e s a i d t o s h a r e i n t h e common l i b e r t y , w hich i s

only to s a y t h a t he i s n o t a s l a v e .

For A ris to tle a state i s a kind o f p a r tn e r s h ip (koivw via),


2
and t h e c i t i z e n s who make u p t h e state are i n some s e n s e p a r t n e r s .

"^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p p . 169, 171.

2A r i s t o t l e P o l i t i c s 1279a 30.
55

That is to say, they are defined in term s o f t h e i r p a r t i c i p a ­

tio n , th e ir p articip atio n in t h e g o v e rn m e n t, w hich i s t h e

o rg a n iz a tio n of th e s t a t e . As t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n changes, the

p articip atio n in governm ent c h a n g e s , and t h e c i t i z e n s a l s o .

V iew ing t h e s ta te as a p a rtn e rs h ip , it is th is p articip atio n

w hich r e t a i n s th e center of in te re s t for p o litic a l scien ce.

B odin, on t h e o t h e r h a n d , d e fin e s the state and t h e citizen in

t e r m s o f "a s i n g l e common a u t h o r i t y " - - b y s o v e r e i g n t y . A state

i s a g r o u p o f men l i v i n g u n d e r t h e same s o v e r e i g n ; a citizen is

a n y man s u b j e c t e d t o t h e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e sovereign. Such a

d e fin itio n , s u c h a view o f t h e s t a t e and t h e c i t i z e n , im m edi­

a te ly estab lish es s o v e r e ig n ty in th e p la c e of c e n t r a l im portance.

The s t u d y o f t h e state is the stu d y o f so v ereig n ty . Where t h e r e

i s no s o v e r e i g n t y t h e r e i s no s t a t e ; t h e r e a r e no c i t i z e n s ;
1
th e re is only anarchy.

In s e e k in g t o a r r i v e a t u n i v e r s a l d e f i n i t i o n s , Bodin

se ts asid e a l l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s w h i c h do n o t e x i s t in every ex­

am ple. The d e f i n i t i o n o f the state i s reduced to th e lo w est

common d e n o m i n a t o r , an e lem en t e x i s t i n g u n i v e r s a l l y : a co n tro llin g


2
pow er, sov ereig n ty . S o v e r e ig n ty becomes t h e c e n t r a l c o n c e p t o f

p o litic a l s c i e n c e when a s c i e n t i f i c enquiry seeks u n iv e rs a l d e f in i­

tio n s; when q u e s t i o n s o f c e n t r a l im p o rtan ce f o r e a r l i e r a u th o r s

are e ith e r rejected o r a t l e a s t postponed. A sim ilar re s u lt can

b e s e e n in modern l e g a l p o s i t i v i s m , o r in any o f th e d e f i n i t i o n s

■^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p p . 168, 169.

2I b i d . , pp. 172-175.
54

o f g o v e rn m e n t a s t h e m onopoly o f f o r c e . G overnm ent, s t r i p p e d

of a ll Its supposedly n o n e s s e n tia l a t t r i b u t e s , is d istin g u ish ed

o n ly by i t s ab ility to coerce; p o l i t i c a l s c i e n c e becomes t h e

s tu d y o f pow er.

I t would be a m i s t a k e t o c o n c l u d e t h a t B odin h e l d - - e v e n

in t h i s sectio n of h is w ritin g s, p e rh a p s t h e most r a d i c a l - - a n

am oral, scien tific attitu d e c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o t h a t o f modern

p o litic a l scien ce. There i s h e re , how ever, a d istin ctio n drawn

by Bodin w hich c l e a r l y s e p a r a t e s him fro m t h e c l a s s i c a l p o l i t i c a l

ph ilo so p h ers: the d is tin c tio n b e t w e e n t h e 'fend" o f t h e s t a t e and

its "n atu re."1 That i s to say, the state can be d e f in e d w i t h ­

out referen ce to its ends. What B o d i n h e r e m e a n s i s th at it

is p o ssib le to s t u d y p o l i t i c s w ith o u t b r i n g i n g up th e p roblem

o f th e h ig h e r ends o f th e state. The q u e s t i o n of the u ltim a te

end o f t h e state is e s s e n t i a l l y a m oral problem , th e q uestion

of ju stic e. The l o w e r a im s o f t h e state do n o t p r e s e n t a p r o b ­

lem; t h e y a r e a p p a r e n t and e v e ry w h e re p u r s u e d i n a c t u a l p r a c ­

tice; it may b e t a k e n f o r g r a n t e d t h a t e v e r y g o v e r n m e n t s e e k s

i n t e r n a l p e a c e and e n d u r a n c e . For the c la s s ic a l p h ilo so p h ers,

th e u ltim a te ends of th e state form ed t h e p r im a r y p ro b lem o f

p o l i t i c a l philosophy. To s e e t h i s , one need exam ine o n ly th e

first page o f A r t i s t o t l e ' s P o litics. The p r o b le m o f t h e h i g h e s t

e n d s w as e m b o d i e d i n t h e q u e s t i o n o f t h e " b est reg im e." The

co n cep t o f th e b e s t regim e has th u s been c a l l e d "th e c e n tra l

*1
"Nam q u o d T u l l i u s R e m p u b l i c a m d e f i n i t , h o m in u m m u l t i -
tudinem bene v iv e n d i causa so ciatam : f i n e m q u id e m optimum
s i g n i f l c a t , non R e i p u b l i c a e vim & n a t u r a m . " Ib id ., p. 169.
55

concept of c l a s s i c a l p o l i t i c a l p h ilo so p h y ." The c l a s s i c a l

a u th o rs attem pted first t o d i s c o v e r t h e t r u e p o l i t i c a l norms

and th e n t o s e e i n w hat m anner and t o w hat e x t e n t t h e s e norms

ma y b e f o l l o w e d in a c tu a l p r a c tic e . Bodin d id n o t deny th e

v alid ity of th e u ltim a te ends o f th e state, b u t t h e y no l o n g e r

occupy th e c en tral p o sitio n th e y h eld in c l a s s i c a l p o l i t i c a l

p h ilosophy. The q u e s t i o n o f ends in n o t r e j e c t e d , but i t is

no l o n g e r e s s e n t i a l to the s t u d y o f p o l i t i c s . ' 1" It is p o ssib le,

B odin a rg u e d , to study p o l i t i c s w ith o u t re fe re n c e to th e ends,


2
w ithout r a is in g q u e s t i o n o f j u s t i c e . M oral c r i t e r i a a r e r e ­

j e c t e d b e c a u s e th e y form an o b stacle to th e c reatio n of a

tr u ly u n iv ersal p o litic a l science. If one s t u d i e s p o l i t i c s

w ithout re fe re n c e to its ends, one in e f f e c t stu d ie s th e r e l a ­

tio n sh ip s o f power in th e state. T his is e x a c t l y what B o d in 's

t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y was: a th e o ry p u rp o rtin g to dem onstrate

t h e u n i v e r s a l and n e c e s s a r y p a t t e r n s o f power in th e s t a t e . We

may t h e r e f o r e conclude t h a t so v ereig n ty rep laced th e "best

regim e" a s t h e c e n t r a l c o n c e p t o f p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y w he n t h e

aim o f e s t a b l i s h i n g a u n iv ersal p o litic a l science sh ifted the

cen ter of in te re s t from t h e ends o f th e state t o th e power o f

the state.

B o d in 's p o l i t i c a l science is n o t, how ever, a th eo retical

scien ce. Its a im was n o t s i m p l y t o d e s c r i b e , but to p re scrib e

^ " N e q u e e n i m d e o p t i m a R e p u b l i c s , sed. d e o p t i m o i m p e r i i
s t a t u h ie agim us." I b i d . t p . 223.
2
B o d in was u n a b l e t o c o n s i s t e n t l y m a i n t a i n t h i s s e p a r a ­
tio n . In th e R e p u b liq u e , he to o d e f in e s th e s t a t e by i t s end,
by j u s t i c e .
56

general ru les o f conduct. It was a b o v e a l l B o d i n ' s p r a c t i c a l

o rien tatio n w hich le d t o h i s b r e a k w i t h c l a s s i c a l p o l i t i c a l

p h ilo so p h y . It was h i s im m ediate in terest in p r a c t i c e w hich

l e d B odin t o turn from philosophy to h is to ry ; but th is is the

su b ject of our follow ing ch ap ter.

We h a v e seen t h a t f o r B odin b o th th e citizen and th e

state are defined in relatio n to so v ereig n ty .1 S o vereignty

is th e b a s is o f B o d in 's p o l i t i c a l scien ce: "hoc enim p e r c e p t o ,

m u lta e de R e p u b l i c s q u aestio n es obscurae ac d i f f i c i l e s ex-


n
p lic a n tu r." However, a q u estio n im m ediately p r e s e n ts itse lf,

a q u estio n w hich fo rm s the "raiso n d 'e tre " of th is d isserta tio n :

"Why, if so v ereig n ty is t h e most im p o r ta n t concept of p o litic a l

science--w hy, If it is the p rin c ip le of th e state--h ad the idea

of so v ereig n ty receiv ed so l i t t l e developm ent b e f o r e B odin?" In

sp ite of its im p o r ta n c e , B odin n o t e s , "tam en e s t ab A r i s t o t e l e ,

& ils q u i de R e p u b lic s s c r ip s e r u n t p reterm issum .

H e r e o n e ma y s e e t h e im p o r t a n c e o f B odin In th e h i s t o r y

of p o litic a l scien ce. He s e t o u t t o d e m o n s t r a t e f o r t h e first

tim e th e t r u e p rin cip le o f governm ent and to combat an e r r o r

w hich he th o u g h t l a y a t t h e b a s i s of p o litic a l scien ce, an

e r r o r w h ich dom inated p o l i t i c a l scien ce sin ce A r is to tle and

had Its o rig in In t h a t g re a t p h ilo so p h er h im self.

B odin d o e s n o t charge A r is to tle w ith h aving ig n o red

com pletely th e p r in c ip le of so v ereig n ty . Indeed, I t w ould be

lMN e q u e e n i m d e o p t i m a R e p u b l i c s , sed de o p tim o i m p e r i i


s t a t u h ie ag lm u s." I b i d . , p. 223.

2I b i d . , p . 174. ^Ib ld .
57

absurd to c l a i m t h a t he had o v e r l o o k e d t h e v e r y f o u n d a t i o n of

c iv il so ciety . R a t h e r , B odin c laim ed t h a t A r i s t o t l e m is u n d e r ­

sto o d s o v e r e ig n ty b e c a u se he co n fu sed i t w ith o th e r a s p e c ts of

the state. A r is to tle recognized th a t th e c o n s titu tio n of a

state d e p e n d s u p o n who h o l d s t h e sov ereig n ty , the suprem e pow er.

" C o n s t i t u t i o n means t h e same a s g o v e r n m e n t , and t h e governm ent

is the suprem e pow er in t h e state, and t h i s must be e i t h e r a


•j
sin g le r u l e r o r a few o r t h e mass o f t h e c itiz e n s." Thus f a r

he i s in agreem ent w ith B odin. Bodin c h a r g e s , how ever, t h a t

A risto tle, having re c o g n ize d so v ereig n ty , g o e s on t o confuse i t

w ith th e o rg a n iz a tio n designed to c a rry out th e w ill of th e

sovereign. A risto tle states th at, "a c o n s t i t u t i o n is the order­

in g of a s t a t e in r e s p e c t o f i t s various m a g istra c ie s, and e s -

p ecially th e m agistracy th a t is suprem e o v e r a l l m a t t e r s . "

But does n o t such a m a g is tr a te h o ld th e so v ereig n ty ? Is he not

sovereign? T h i s , Bodin c h a r g e s , is th e e r r o r o f A r is to tle : he

confused s o v e r e ig n ty w ith governm ent, the sovereign w ith the

m a g i s t r a t e h o ld in g h i s pow ers o n ly by th e w i l l o f t h e so v ereig n .

Bodin t h u s e x p l a i n s th e cause of A r i s t o t l e 's error:

" P u t a b a m summus i m p e r i u m v e l m a g i s t r a t u u m c r e a t i o n e , v e l praem iorum

ac paenarum p o t e s t a t e d efin iri: s e d cum v a r i a e q u o q u e p o e n a e a c

praem ia, v o lu n tate ac im perio m ag istratu u m s o le a n t i r r o g a r i ,

o p o rtate cum p r i n c i p e c o p u l a r i ; quod absurdum e s t . " ^ "Sed im ­

p e r i u m q u o d summum d i c i t u r , ejusm odi e s s e d e b e t, u t n u l l i m agis

1A r i s t o t l e , P o litics 1279a 26. 2I b l d . , p . 1278b 10.

^B odin, O euvres, p. 174.


58

t r a t u i b rib u atu r: a l i o q u i summum n o n s i t , n i s i populus aut

p rin cep s im perio se p e n itu s sp o liaret.


, c > ' \
A r i s t o t l e u s e s t h e w ords m a g i s t r a t e and o f f i c e (/i A/ 7 7 )

w ith a v e ry broad m eaning. Thus he s p e a k s o f a jurym an and a


P
member o f t h e a s s e m b l y a s o f f i c e - h o l d e r s . When h e s a y s t h a t

the co n stitu tio n is, "an o r d e r i n g o f a s t a t e in re g a rd to its

v a r i o u s m a g i s t r a c i e s / 1 t h e word m u s t b e t a k e n i n its most g e n e r a l

sense. For th is r e a s o n , Bodin a d m its t h a t A r i s t o t l e ' s e r r o r w as

not so f l a g r a n t a s a p p e a r s from t h e above q u o t a t i o n s . There a r e ,

acco rd in g to A r is to tle , th ree p arts w h i c h g o t o make u p a n y c o n ­

stitu tio n . "Of t h e s e t h r e e facto rs one i s , what i s to be the

body t h a t d elib erates a b o u t t h e common i n t e r e s t s , second, the

one co n n ected w ith th e m a g i s t r a c i e s , th at is, what t h e s e a r e to

be and w hat m a t t e r s t h e y a r e t o co n tro l, and what i s t o be th e

m ethod o f t h e i r e l e c t i o n , and a t h i r d is, w hat i s t o be th e

judiciary. Th e s o v e r e i g n p o w e r m u s t l i e i n o n e o r i n a co m­

b in atio n o f th e s e pow ers. B odin re m a rk s t h a t A r i s t o t l e n e v e r

d efined so v ereig n ty u n le ss, "we u n d e r s t a n d in t h i s sense h is

d iv isio n o f th e R epublic in to t h r e e pow ers.

In w hich o f t h e s e th ree fa c to rs , if in any s i n g l e one

o f them , m ig h t s o v e r e i g n t y l i e ? A risto tle elsew h ere rem arks

th at it is, "the d e li b e r a t i v e body, w hich in f a c t is th e sov-


!l5
ereign power In t h e co n stitu tio n . B odin, hav in g r e j e c t e d th e

^I b i d ., p. 168. 2A r i s t o t l e , P o litics 1275a 50.

•^I b l d . , p. 1297b 4 l . ^B odin, O e u v re s , p . 168.

^ A risto tle, P o litics 1299a l .


59
idea th at sovereignty lie s in th e m a g i s t r a c i e s , w hich e x e r c i s e

only a d eleg a te d a u th o r ity , rejects ev en more f o r c e f u l l y t h e

th e sis t h a t b e lo n g s t o t h e d e l i b e r a t i v e a ss e m b ly , w h ich , he

claim s, e x e r c i s e s no a u t h o r i t y w h a t s o e v e r .

B o d i n ' s a r g u m e n t i s b a s e d on a m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e

m eaning o f A r i s t o t l e s term , "d elib erativ e assem bly ." A risto tle

understood "d elib eratio n " to in c lu d e th e d e c is io n reach ed as

w ell as th e d isc u ssio n l e a d i n g up t o th e d e c i s i o n . B odin, on

t h e o t h e r h a n d , w i s h e d t o make a s h a r p d i s t i n c t i o n betw een c o u n s e l

a n d command. He w a n t e d t o make c l e a r t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n t h e

c o n c l u s i o n s r e a c h e d by an a d v i s o r y body and t h e commands o f t h e

so v ereig n . " A liu d e s t enim legem f e r r e , a l i u d de l e g e f e r e n d a


O
c o n su ltare ." T h e e s s e n c e o f p o l i t i c a l a u t h o r i t y , B o d i n 1s a r g u ­

ment c o n t e n d s , is coercion, no p e r s u a s i o n . B odin t h u s t r a n s ­

lated A risto tle s "d elib eratio n " in to French as "av is e t c o n se il"

and i n t o L a t i n a s " c o n s i l i u m " and " d e c r e t u m . He was c o n s e ­

q u en tly m islead, seem ingly by th e l o g i c o f h i s own t h o u g h t , in to

m isreading A r i s t o t l e . When A r i s t o t l e referred to the "d elib era­


t i v e assem bly" ( r e v [3 <'<>>/ ) f B o d i n u n d e r s t o o d h i m t o
m ean a n a s s e m b l y w h i c h h a d o n l y a n a d v i s o r y f u n c t i o n . T h u s when

A risto tle stated th at t h e d e l i b e r a t i v e a s s e m b l y was t h e sovereign

p o w e r , B o d i n t h o u g h t t h a t A r i s t o t l e w as a t t r i b u t i n g the sovereign

pow er t o a b o d y w h ic h i n d e e d had no a u t h o r i t y w h a t e v e r . However,

"^C f., Tho ma s H o b b e s , L e v i a t h a n , c h a p . x x v .

2B o d i n , O euvres, p. 120.

•^ B odin , R e p u b l l q u e ( P a r i s : G a b r i e l C a r t i e r , 1 6 0 8 ) , Bk. I,
chap. v i i i , p . 212; O e u v r e s . p p . 168, 152.
60

A risto tle meant by t h e d e l i b e r a t i v e a sse m b ly th e a sse m b ly w hich

h e l d t h e p o w e r o f co mma nd, n o t s i m p l y o f c o u n s e l . 1

B odin e r r e d in a t t r i b u t i n g to A ris to tle th e opinions of

P o ly b iu s and C ic e ro . T h ese a u t h o r s , Bodin c la im e d , stated th at

a p a rt of the s o v e r e i g n p o w e r o f t h e Roman r e p u b l i c was h e l d

by th e S e n a te .2 T h is Bodin d e n ie d : "Quia S e n a t u s n u l l u m im -

perium , nullam h a b et ju risd ictio n em : n is i P rin cip is aut p o p u li

p atien tir, q u i acta S e n a t u s p r o b a r e v i d e t u r q u ae non i m p r o b a t . " ^

In r e a d i n g A r i s t o t l e , B odin to o k t h e d e l i b e r a t i v e a ss e m b ly t o

m e an a n a s s e m b l y s i m i l a r t o t h e Roman S e n a t e . Thus Bodin c h a r g e d

A r i s t o t l e w ith having seen th e s o v e r e ig n power o f a dem ocracy in

the s e n a te r a t h e r than in th e " a s s e m b l^ e du p e u p l e . " ^ B odin was

m istaken. When A r i s t o t l e spoke o f th e d e l i b e r a t i v e assem bly

o f a dem ocracy, he m eant t h e p o p u l a r a s s e m b ly , not the sen ate.

R ig h tly u n derstood, A r is to tle a n d B o d i n w e r e i n a g r e e m e n t on

t h e n a t u r e and l o c a t i o n o f t h e s o v e r e ig n pow er.

The c r i t i c i s m of A risto tle , even th o u g h m is ta k e n , c learly

re v e a ls the b asic p rin c ip le of B o d in 's th e o ry of s o v e re ig n ty :

th ere is in any s t a b l e s o c ie ty only one, independent a u t h o r i t y .

1A r i s t o t l e , P o litics 1297b f f .

2B o d i n , O euvres, p. 177. ^I b id ., p. 176.

^ " A u s s i n ' e s t - c e p a s marque de s o u v e r a i n e t e , de p r e n d r e


c o n s e il pour le s a f f a i r e s d 'e s t a t , q u i e s t la p ro pre charge
d u p r i v e c o n s e i l ou S e n a t d ' u n e R e p u b l i q u e , l e q u e l e s t s o u v e r a i n :
e t m e sm es e n l ' e s t a t p o p u l a i r e , o u l a s o u v e r a i n e t e g i s t e n
l ' a s s e m b l e e du p e u p l e , t a n t s ' e n f a u t que l e c o n s e i l d e s a f ­
f a i r e s s o i t p ro p r e au p e u p le , q u ' i l ne l u i d o i t p o i n t e s t r e
c o m m u n i q u e , comme n o u s d i r o n s e n s o n l i e u . A in si peut-o n
j u g e r q u ' i l n y a p a s un s e u l p o l n c t d e s t r o i s q u ' A r i s t o t e a
p o s e z q u i s o i t m arque de s o u v e r a i n e t e . " B odin, R epublique
(1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , Bk. I , c h a p . v l i i , p . 2 1 6 .
6l

A ll o t h e r a u t h o r i t y w hich e x i s t s In t h e governm ent d e r i v e s from

th is sin g le source. The t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y i n its o rig in

and i t s essence is n o th in g o th e r th an a r e j e c t i o n of the th e o ry

o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n . It is a d e n ia l not only of th e ad­

v isab ility o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n , b u t even o f i t s p o ssi­

b ility . It i s a n a t t a c k b r o u g h t f o r t h n o t on t h e f i e l d of

ju risp ru d en ce alone, b u t , more i m p o r t a n t , on t h a t o f h i s t o r y .

The m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n , c laim s B odin, has never e x is te d (outside

of a co ndition of c i v i l w a r).

Bodin h i m s e l f , in a r g u i n g from h i s t o r i c a l ex am p les t o

show t h a t a m i x e d c o n s t i t u t i o n never e x iste d , p o in ts out the

danger of exaggerating the im portance o f the h i s t o r i c a l s i t u a ­

t i o n upon t h e o r i g i n of the th eo ry of so v e re ig n ty . Y e t o n e may

adm it th e p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t th e th e o r y m ight have been d e v elo p ed

in any p e rio d , and s t i l l lo o k f o r t h e h i s t o r i c a l f a c t o r s w hich

h elp to e x p l a i n why I t d i d a c t u a l l y a p p e a r I n t h e tim e o f B odin.

In th e tim e o f A r i s t o t l e , and e s p e c i a l l y in t h e democ­

racies of G reece, i t was n a t u r a l t o see th e d e l i b e r a t i v e assem bly

as th e sovereign a u th o r ity . The r e l a t i o n of the d e lib e r a tiv e

assem bly to th e p eo p le d id not pose a problem , f o r th e assem bly

was t h e p e o p l e : the c i t i z e n s m eetin g in a body t o e x p r e s s t h e i r

w ill. Th e p r o b l e m a r i s e s more r e a d i l y u n d e r a system In w hich

th e p e o p le choose d e le g a te s t o r e p r e s e n t them in t h e a s s e m b ly

r a t h e r than p a r t i c i p a t i n g them selves. In t h i s case to c a l l the

assem bly so v e re ig n is to pose th e q u e stio n of th e source of i t s

au th o rity --to pose th e q u e stio n of s o v e re ig n ty i t s e l f . The


62

p r o b l e m o f s o v e r e i g n t y was e s p e c i a l l y a c u t e i n B o d in * s t i m e

because of an o th er q u estio n of i t s o rig in s. The e l e c t e d as­

sem bly claim ed to h o ld a s h a r e in t h e s o v e r e ig n pow er, t o have

received it from th e p e o p le . However,, th e k in g claim ed a so v ­

e r e i g n power n o t o r i g i n a t i n g w ith t h e p e o p l e , b u t in h i s own

rig h t. These c o n f l i c t i n g c laim s t o power e x i s t e d lo n g b e f o r e

B odin, in m edieval tim e s . The c o n f l i c t b e ca m e , h o w e v e r , es­

p ecially b itte r in t h e s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y . Th e t h e o r y o f s o v ­

ereig n ty , i n m aking e v i d e n t t h e c o n t r a d i c t i o n b e tw e e n t h e two

c la im s to pow er, re n d e re d th e c o n f l i c t irreco n cilab le. I t was

l a t e r decided i n two ways: e i t h e r a l l p o w e r w as s a i d to come

fr o m t h e p e o p l e o r i t was s a i d t o e x is t s o le ly w ithin the p e r ­

sonal rig h t o f th e m onarch. The l a t t e r so lu tio n posed g re a t

d ifficu lties and had f i n a l l y t o b a s e i t s e l f upon t h e f i a t of d i­

v ine r i g h t . Let us n o te in p a s s in g , how ever, t h a t Bodin h im ­

self seems n e v e r t o h a v e d a r e d f u l l y exam ine t h e o r i g i n of the

s o v e r e ig n pow er. In t h i s resp ect his t h e o r y h a s p e r h a p s more

in common w i t h t h e l a t e r t h e o r i e s of le g a l p o s itiv is m than it

has w ith th e s y s te m s o f Hobbes and R o u s s e a u .

A risto tle stated th at a ll c o n s t i t u t i o n s a r e made u p o f

th ree fa c to rs: the d e lib e ra tiv e a sse m b ly , t h e m a g i s t r a t e s and

th e ir electio n , and t h e ju d iciary . Thus t h e s o v e r e i g n power

must l i e in one o f t h e s e f a c t o r s , o r in a c o m b in a tio n o f them .

Bodin r e j e c t s the p o s s ib ility of a d iv isio n of th e sovereign

pow er; the claim of th e j u d i c i a r y he r e j e c t s alm ost w ith o u t

argum ent; and t h e claim of th e d e lib e r a t iv e a s s e m b ly , w here

A risto tle saw t h e s o v e re ig n pow er, he r e j e c t s a s h a v i n g no


65

au th o rity . The l a s t of the th re e f a c to r s , the creatio n of the

m ag istrates, is th erefo re t h e o n ly one w h e re in s o v e r e i g n t y m ight

ex ist: "itaq u e nu lla p a r s e s t ex h i s t r i b u s , i n qu a i m p e r i i

summi m a j e s t a s e l u c e r e p o s s i t , p raeterq u am in m agistratuum

c r e a t i o n e . 111

A risto tle, in B odin*s o p i n i o n , m en tio n ed o n ly one o f

th e pow ers b e lo n g in g d i r e c t l y t o th e sov ereig n . Bodin s t a t e s

th at sovereignty c o n sists in f i v e e s s e n t i a l a t t r i b u t e s : the

first and t h e m ost im p o r t a n t i s t o a p p o i n t t h e m a g i s t r a t e s and

defin e th e o ffic e of each; th e second i s t o ma ke a n d a b r o g a t e

th e law s; the t h i r d , to d e c l a r e war and c o n c lu d e p e a c e ; the

fo u rth , to judge in th e case o f f i n a l a p p ea l o ver a l l th e m ag is­

trates; and t h e last, t o h a v e t h e power o f p a rd o n even a g a i n s t


2
th e p ro v isio n s of the law s. These a r e powers w hich in a w e l l -

ordered state w ill re st in th e hands o f th e sovereign. Or, if

t h r o u g h some n e c e s s i t y t h e y a r e e x e r c i s e d b y a m a g i s t r a t e , th e ir

s a n c ti o n alw ays b e lo n g s d i r e c t l y t o th e sovereign. A ll of th e se

a ttrib u tes a r e n o t however o f e q u a l im p o rtan c e . Some na y b e

placed in th e hands o f m a g is tr a te s w ith o u t c au sin g grav e danger

to the c o n s titu tio n . O th e r s , how ever, could n o t w ith o u t th e

g r e a t e s t r i s k be e x e r c is e d by a n o th e r th an th e sovereign. W hile

^B odin, O e u v re s , p . 168.
O
" V i d e o summam R e i p u b l i c a e i n q u i n q u e p a r t i b u s v e r s a r i .
u n a e s t a c p r a e c i p u a , i n su m m is m a g i s t r a t i b u s c r e a n d i s , & o f f i c i o
c u ju sq u e d e fin ie n d o : a l t e r a in le g lb u s ju b e n d is a u t a b ro g a n d is:
t e r t i a in b e l l o in d ic e n d o ac f in i e n d o : q u a rta in extrem e p ro -
v o c a t i o n e ab om nibus m a g i s t r a t i b u s : p o stre m a in p o t e s t a t e v i t a e
8c n e c i s , cum l e x i p s a n e c f a c i l i t a t i s u l l u m , n e c c l e m e n t i a e
locum r e l i n q u i t . " I b i d . , pp. 17^-175.
64

t h e fo rm er a r e o n ly pow ers o r d i n a r i l y e x e r c i s e d by t h e s o v e r e ig n ,

the la tte r--p ro m u lg a tio n o f law s and c r e a t i o n of m ag istrates--

a re of the essence of so v ereig n ty . S o v e re ig n ty r e s i d e s above

a ll i n t h e s e two p r i n c i p a l a t t r i b u t e s .

Of t h e s e t w o p o w e r s , B o d i n s a y s h e r e i n t h e M e t h o d t h a t

the cre atio n of the m a g istrates is the f i r s t and m ost im p o r­

t a n t . ' 1' It is t h e e s s e n c e o f s o v e r e i g n t y and t h e s o l e power

t h a t one m ust p o s s e s s in o r d e r to be s o v e r e ig n . B o d in 's th e o ry

of so v ereig n ty o rig in a te s in a r e j e c t i o n o f th e m ixed c o n s t i t u ­

tio n . He r e j e c t e d it a s a c o n fu s io n betw een t h e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n

of th e state and t h e suprem e p o l i t i c a l power in t h e state.

Though t h e r e is a g reat v ariety of o ffice s in th e s t a t e , they

a ll d e r i v e t h e i r a u t h o r i t y from a s i n g l e source, the sovereign.

T h e ir dependency l i e s in th e fact th at t h e y owe t h e i r e x i s t e n c e

to the sovereign. Th e p o w e r t o c re ate th ese o ffic e rs is thus

t h e e s s e n t i a l power o f t h e sovereign. In th e R e p u b lic , how ever,

Bodin s t a t e s th at, " S o u s c e s t e mesme p u i s s a n c e d e d o n n e r e t c a s s e r

la lo i, so n t com pris to u s l e s a u t r e s d r o i t s e t m arques de s o u ­

v erain ete: d e s o r t e q u ' c i p a r l e r p r o p r e m e n t on p e u t d i r e q u ' i l

n 'y a que c e s t e s e u l e m arque de s o u v e r a i n e t e , a t t e n d u que t o u s

le s au tres d ro its s o n t c o m p r is en c e s t u y - l a . " T his c o n t r a d i c ­

t i o n m arks a c e r t a i n developm ent o f th e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y

b e tw e e n t h e Method and t h e R e p u b l i c . T h i s d ev elo p m en t w i l l be

^"Q ui u t n i h i l a l i u d h a b e a n t quan m a g istra tu u m c r e a tlo n e m ,


summum i m p e r i u m h a b e n t , & a b i i s s t a t u s R e i p u b l i c a e p e n d e a t
necesse e s t." I b i d . , p . 177.

2B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I, chap. x, p. 155.
65

considered in a l a t e r ch apter. Let us n o te o n ly in p a ssin g

t h a t t h e r e a r e two s t a g e s in th e developm ent o f t h e idea of

sovereignty: first, the s o v e r e i g n a u t h o r i t y must be f r e e d from

the co n strain t o f any o th e r a u t h o r i t y in th e state; second, it

must be f r e e d from t h e c o n s t r a i n t o f even th e co n stitu tio n of

the state; th at is to say, from th e la w s. Th e l a t t e r d e v e l o p ­

ment i s p e r h a p s more I n t e r e s t i n g ; B o d in showed more h e s i t a t i o n

in re g a rd to it, and i t is indeed d o u b tfu l w h eth er he f u l l y r e ­

s o l v e d t h e p r o b l e m i n h i s own m i n d .

The r e l a t i o n of the sovereign to th e law s i s com plex in

B o d in 's w r itin g s ; a lack of re sp e c t fo r th is com plexity has led

to serio u s errors in th e stu d ies o f B o d in 's th o u g h ts .

The r e l a t i o n of the sovereign to the law p r e s e n t s the

g r e a t e s t problem in a monarchy; in a dem ocracy o r a r i s t o c r a c y ,

the c i t i z e n s b o t h g o v e rn and a r e g o v e r n e d . Though a s a whole

t h e y ma ke t h e l a w s , a s in d iv id u als there is little question th at

t h e y must obey th e law s. T h i s i s b y no m e a n s t r u e o f t h e mon­

arch. The t y r a n t is d istin g u ish ed from th e k in g , not in reg ard

to c o n s titu tio n a lity or leg itim acy , b u t m e re ly by th e fa c t th at

he seek s h is own b e n e f i t a n d n o t th a t of his people; the d is-.

tin ctio n i s m oral, not l e g a l . ' 1' A k i n g who g o v e r n s s o l e l y a c c o r d ­

in g to h is own w i l l , w ithout b e n e f it o f law s, i s no l e s s a k in g


2
and no l e s s ju st.

There a re s e v e r a l w a y s i n w h i c h a k i n g may b e s a i d to

govern by law . F irst, h e may e s t a b l i s h l a w s w h i c h g o v e r n t h e

1B o d i n , O e u v r e s , p . 186. 2I b i d . , p. 187.
66

citizen s, r a t h e r than le a v in g a l l t o h i s own d e c i s i o n s o r t h o s e

of h is m ag istrates; y e t t h e s e a r e l a w s w h i c h h a v e no c o n t r o l

over th e king h im s e lf. S e c o n d , h e may c o n s e n t t o b e b o u n d

h im s e lf by th e law s, r e s e r v in g only th e p re ro g a tiv e of d e cid in g

q u estio n s of eq u ity , of in te rp re tin g the law s in p a r t i c u l a r

cases. But in t h i s case, how c a n t h e k i n g b e s a i d t o b e s o v ­

ereign? "Nam q u i j u b e n t l e g e m , su p erlo res legibus esse o p o rte t,

u t earn v e l a b r o g a r e , v el e i derogare, v e l o brogare, v e l sub-

rogare p o ssin t: v el etiam , f i res ita p o stu lat, an tiq u ari

p arian tu r. Q uae f i e r i n o n p o s s u n t , s i lege te n e a tu r is qui

tu lit."^ A c c e p tin g t h a t o b j e c t i o n , B odin n e v e r t h e l e s s sees

n o r e a s o n why t h e sovereign, o nce a law h a s b e e n p r o m u l g a te d

a n d a c c e p t e d b y a common a c c o r d , c a n n o t b e b o u n d b y t h e l a w h e
2
h i m s e l f h a s made. I n t h i s way t h e k i n g i s b o u n d b y t h e l a w ,

but c o n d itio n a lly o n ly, so lo n g a s he does n o t d ecide to change

it.^ It is th is d o c t r i n e w h i c h i s now known a s "the r u le o f

law ." It s e e m s t h a t one m u s t a l s o u n d e r s t a n d In t h i s manner

th e advice o f A r is to tle th a t the law s be s o v e r e i g n . ' A king

who i n t h i s way s u b m i t s t o b e g o v e r n e d b y l a w s i s still an a b ­

s o l u t e m onarch, so lo n g a s he i s a b l e t o change t h e s e law s by

h i s own a u t h o r i t y w i t h o u t c o n s e n t o f a n o t h e r . Though B odin

has thus f a r reso lv ed t h e q u e s t i o n o f how a s o v e r e i g n may b e

governed by la w s, he has n o t y e t b ro ach ed th e q u e s tio n o f th e

1I b i d . 2I b i d .

^"Gum i g i t u r s u a l e g e p o p u l u s t a n t i s p e r t e n e r e t u r , dum
a b r o g a r i a e q u iu s e s s e t ; consequens e s t P r in c i p e s quopue t e n e r l . "
Ib id .
67

" c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarch." T h e way i n w h i c h h e a p p r o a c h e s t h e

l a t t e r problem i s cu rio u s, f o r h i s argum ent, h e r e t o f o r e most

lo g ical, b e tra y s a confusion--a c o n f u s io n w hich one c a n n o t b u t

su sp e c t to be v o lu n ta ry .

Bodin does n o t s p e c i f i c a l l y r a i s e th e q u e stio n of con­

s t i t u t i o n a l monarchy; on t h e co n trary , he p a s s e s o v e r th e p r o b ­

lem w i t h o u t comment. He h a s d e f i n e d tw o s o r t s o f m onarchs:

t h o s e who c o n f o r m t o t h e l a w s a n d t h o s e who d o n o t . We h a v e

seen i n w h a t way t h i s conform ity is u n d ersto o d . But in f u r t h e r

discussing such a co n fo rm ity to th e la w s , he c h o o se s th e example

of France. The k in g o f F r a n c e , B odin r e m a r k s , " l e g e s autem t o t i u s

im p erii p ro p rias c o n v e l l e r e non p o t e s t , nec de m o rib u s c i v i t a t u m

& antiqua c o n s u e tu d in e q u lcq u an im m utare, sine trlu m ordinum

consensu."'*' This i s in e f f e c t a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarchy, and

t h e k in g i s bound by t h e l a w s i n q u i t e a d i f f e r e n t way t h a n

t h a t w h ich Bodin had t h u s f a r been d i s c u s s i n g . Y et Bodin p a s s e s

over th is d ifferen ce in com plete s i l e n c e : it seems even t h a t

he w ished t o o b s c u r e t h e d i f f e r e n c e . Im m ediately a f t e r having

g iv e n t h e exam ple o f t h e F r e n c h k in g , Bodin r e j e c t s the conten­

tio n t h a t k i n g s bound by la w s a r e n o t r e a l l y k i n g s ; they e ith e r

are, " a u t n e p o p u l u s q u i d e m R om an us summum R e i p u b l i c a e jus h a b u it,

cum j u r e j u r a n d o l e g i b u s o b l l g a r e t u r ." H o w e v e r , t h e Roman p e o p l e

swore t o su bm it t o th e law s a s I n d i v i d u a l s : th is d i d n o t mean

t h a t as a body, a s " t h e s o v e r e i g n p e o p l e o f Rome," t h e y w ere

prevented f r o m c h a n g i n g t h e i r own l a w s . T h a t B o d in would h ave

1I b i d . 2I b id . , p. 188.
68

b eliev ed im p o ssib le.1 T h e p e o p l e o f Rome w e r e b o u n d b y i t s

own l a w s o n l y s o l o n g a s it w as n o t t h o u g h t d e s i r a b l e to change

them . Bodin h as a l r e a d y e x p la i n e d t h a t t h i s is also t h e w ay

t h a t t h e p r i n c e m ust be u n d e r s to o d t o be bound by t h e law . Yet

t h e k in g o f F r a n c e , B odin h e r e shows, i s u n c o n d i t i o n a l l y bound

by th e law s. He c a n n o t c h a n g e t h e m b y h i s own a u t h o r i t y ; he i s

d e p e n d e n t upon t h e consent of th e E s ta te s . By t h e l o g i c of

B o d i n 1s own a r g u m e n t , h o w e v e r , h e w o u l d h a v e t o conclude t h a t

th e F ren ch k in g could change th e l a w s s o l e l y on h i s own a u t h o r ­

ity , o r t h a t h e was n o t s o v e r e i g n .

T h e r e a r e o n l y two s t a t e m e n t s i n t h e Method w h ic h

p r e s e n t a n o t i o n o f c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarchy; th e y a re b oth

made i n c o n n e c tio n w ith th e F ren c h m onarchy. One h a s b e e n

quoted above; the o th e r, made i n c o n s i d e r i n g a law p r o h i b i t i n g

the k in g from a l i e n a t i n g a p a rt of th e p u b lic domain w i t h o u t

the consent of the E s ta te s , is sim ply th e rem ark t h a t , "the

k in g s have o f t e n t r i e d t o change t h i s law , b u t t h e y have n e v e r


O
su cceed ed ." T h e s e a r e t h e o n l y r e f e r e n c e s ma de t o a n i n a b i l ­

ity of the king to change t h e law s sim p ly upon h i s own a u t h o r i t y .

B odin d o e s , it is tru e, m ention o t h e r l i m i t a t i o n s on

the power o f t h e king: the S alic law g o v e r n i n g t h e r o y a l succes­

sio n , th at g o v e rn in g th e r o y a l dom ain, law s g o v e rn in g a p p r o p r i a ­

tio n s, and th e a b i l i t y o f P a rlia m e n t to oppose r o y a l d e c re e s

w h i c h do n o t c o n f o r m t o t h e law s. These l i m i t a t i o n s a re some­

tim es w ritte n la w s and so m etim es no more t h a n c u s t o m s . But th e

1I b i d . 2I b i d . , p. 208.
69
fact, t h a t a k in g , " s 'in c lin e devant le s lo is et les a rre ts de

ju stic e ," d o e s n o t make h i m a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m o n a r c h , n o t s o

l o n g a s h e may c h a n g e t h e l a w s s o l e l y u p o n h i s own a u t h o r i t y .

A s i d e fro m t h e s e two r e m a r k s concerning th e French

m onarchy, e v e r y t h i n g B o d in s a y s i n t h e Method w ould l e a d t o

the co nclusion expressed in th e R e p u b lic : " s i le P rince e st

o b l i g e de ne f a i r e lo y sans le c o n s e n te m e n t d 'u n p l u s g r a n d que

soy, il e s t vray s u b je c t; s i d 'u n p a r e i l , il aura campagnon; si

des s u b je c ts , so it du S e n a t , ou du p e u p l e , i l n 'e s t pas s o u rv e ra in . " ^

That th e re i s a c o n t r a d i c t i o n betw een t h i s t h e o r y a nd h i s de­

scrip tio n o f t h e F r e n c h monarchy c a n n o t be d e n ie d . It seems

stran g e, how ever, t h a t given t h i s co n trad ictio n , w hich th e y

seem n e v e r t o h a v e f u l l y u n d e r s t o o d , s c h o l a r s have view ed th e

statem ents r e la tin g t o t h e F r e n c h monarchy r a t h e r th a n t h e t h e o ­

retical s ta te m e n ts as th e t r u e d o c t r i n e o f th e M ethod. T h e y would

h a v e B o d i n s u p p o r t a t y p e o f m i x e d c o n s t i t u t i o n when h i s express
2
purpose i n t h e M e t h o d was t o d i s p r o v e such a n o tio n . It is even

more s t r a n g e s i n c e s u c h an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n n e c e s s a r i l y l e d them

to conclude t h a t later, i n t h e R e p u b l i c , Bodin "adapted h is

th eo ries t o th e needs o f th e d a y ," and th u s h i s m ajo r t r e a t i s e


■3
was b a s i c a l l y a p o l e m i c a l w ork n o t r e f l e c t i n g h i s tru e th o u g h t.

^B odln, R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I, chap. x, p. 154.


P
C f . , R o g e r C h a u v l r e , J e a n B o d i n , a u t e u r de l a "R ep u b ­
liq u e" (P aris: C h a m p i o n , 1 9 1 4 )> p p . 4 2 6 - 5 5 ; B e a t r i c e R e y n o l d s ,
P r o p o n e n ts o f L i m ite d Monarchy in S i x t e e n t h C e n tu ry F r a n c e :
F r a n c i s H o t m a n a n d J e a n B o d i n (New Y o r k , 1 9 3 1 ) 7 p p . 1 2 1 - 1 2 4 .

^C hauvir^, pp. 402-405; R eynolds, p. 145.


70

Is it n o t more r e a s o n a b l e t o b e l i e v e t h a t B odin, seeing th a t

some a s p e c t s o f t h e F r e n c h c o n s t i t u t i o n did n o t accord w ith

h is own i d e a s , passed over in silen ce th is la c k o f agreem ent.

T h u s t h e Method and t h e R e p u b l i c w ould b e s e e n t o b e b a s i c a l l y

u n p o l e m i c a l w o r k s , w h i c h c o i n c i d e s more w i t h t h e t o n e o f t h e

two w orks and B o d i n ' s e x p r e s s statem en ts. He g a v e v e r y c l e a r

re a so n s f o r being r e t i c e n t about p r a c t i c a l a p p lic a tio n s of h is

theory: "M ulta quidem in m o rib u s , leg ib u s, in stitu tis, ju d lc iis,

e g e n t em endatione: statu s vero R eipub. tan ta d iu tu r n ita te pro b atu s,

s i n e g r a v i s s i m o R e i p u b l i c a e p e r i c u l o m u t a r i non p t o e s t . Haec

enim optim a cautio est A risto telis, u t n i h i l i n ea R e p u b . m u t e u t r ,

quae d iu f l o r u i t in eo de m s t a t u . "

The d o c t r i n e o f t h e R e p u b l i c i s the same a s t h a t o f t h e

M ethod; th e descrip tio n o f t h e F re n c h m onarchy i s somewhat d i f ­

feren t. In th e R e p u b lic t h e pow ers o f t h e F re n c h s o v e r e ig n

a r e b r o u g h t more i n t o a c c o r d w i t h B o d i n ' s t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y .

One w o u l d h a v e t o c o n clu d e from t h i s th a t the c o n tr a d ic tio h con­

tain ed i n t h e e a r l i e r w o rk was n o t s e e n b y B o d in u n t i l later,

o r t h a t he th o u g h t b e t t e r n o t to m ention i t . The f i r s t p o s ­

sib ility should be r e j e c t e d , f o r Bodin seems t o have seen a l ­

r e a d y i n 1566 t h a t t h e F re n c h c o n s t i t u t i o n a s u n d e rs to o d i n g e n ­

e r a l d i d n o t a c c o r d w i t h h i s own i d e a s . The d i f f e r e n c e b e tw e e n

t h e two w orks d o e s seem t o d e r i v e from p o l i t i c a l m o t i v a t i o n s , as

o th e r s c h o la r s have p o in te d o u t. However, t h i s d if f e r e n c e does

not arise in t h e manner in w hich t h e y d e s c r i b e . It arises be-

■^Bodln, O e u v r e s , p . 214.
71

c a u s e B odin in t h e e a r l i e r work d i d n o t b e l i e v e I t then p o l i t i c

t o d i r e c t l y a t t a c k what he m ust have view ed a s e r r o n e o u s in te r­

p retatio n s of th e French c o n s ti tu tio n . We w i l l see t h a t t h i s

reticen ce does not e n t i r e l y d is a p p e a r in th e R e p u b lic . If,

h o w e v e r , h e h a s p a s s e d o v e r w i t h o u t comment c e r t a i n in stitu ­

t i o n s w h ic h w ould seem t o show F r a n c e t o b e a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l

m o n a r c h y , h e h a s a l s o made r e m a r k s w h i c h s u g g e s t a n o t h e r i n t e r ­

p retatio n of th ese i n s t i t u t i o n s .^ Bodin n o t o n l y c o n c lu d e s

t h a t he has r e f u te d t h o s e who w o u l d s e e i n F r a n c e a g o v e r n ­

ment a p p r o a c h i n g an a r i s t o c r a c y o r d e m o crac y b u t a l s o , by

denying th e p o s s i b i l i t y o f a m ixed r e g i m e , he h a s w arned them

t h a t t o d i v i d e t h e a u t h o r i t y b e t w e e n t h e m o n a rc h and t h e n o ­

b ility o r th e people i s in e f f e c t t o d e s t r o y th e m onarchy.

A m o r e c o m p l e t e a n a l y s i s o f B o d i n 1s v i e w o f t h e F r e n c h

m onarchy must a w a it a l a t e r c h a p t e r , w h e re t h e more c o m p le te

d e s c r i p t i o n g i v e n i n t h e R e p u b l i c w i l l b e e x a m i n e d a n d com ­

p a r e d w i t h t h a t o f t h e M ethod. Though d i f f e r e n c e s do e x i s t

b e t w e e n t h e two w o r k s , t h e s e d i f f e r e n c e s h a v e b e e n e x a g g e r a t e d

by modern s c h o l a r s , and an e s s e n t i a l a g re e m e n t e x i s t s be tw ee n

t h e two w o rk s i n r e g a r d b o t h t o B o d i n ' s t h e o r y a n d h i s v ie w o f

th e French c o n s titu tio n .

Much o f t h e m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g a r i s e s from a c o n fu s io n

a s t o what B odin m eant by a b s o l u t e and l i m i t e d m o n a r c h i e s . It

w ould c e r t a i n l y be f a l s e t o a s c r i b e t o B odin a p r e f e r e n c e f o r

a b s o l u t e m onarchy, b u t th e a l t e r n a t i v e , l i m i t e d m onarchy, is

^■Cf., i b i d . , p p . 208-209, 219.


72

n o t n e c e s s a r i l y w h a t we t h i n k o f a s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m o n a r c h y .
/•
B o d i n u s e s t h e w o r d " a b s o l u t e ” t o d e s c r i b e a m o n a r c h who d o e s

n o t h i m s e l f s u b m it t o be g o v e rn e d by law . Such a k in g i s n eith er

n e c e s s a rily u n ju st nor i l l e g i t i m a t e ; nor. Indeed, i s a king

who r u l e s e n t i r e l y w i t h o u t b e n e f i t o f l a w . ’1' B odin, how ever,

f a v o r s a monarchy in w hich th e k in g i s h i m s e l f o b e d i e n t t o t h e

la w s, and in d e e d , "quo n i h i l d i v i n i u s o p t a r i p o t e s t . " We h a v e

already seen t h a t such a monarchy need n o t be " c o n s t i t u t i o n a l , "

f o r t h e b e s t m onarchy must be one in w hich t h e k in g h o ld s u n ­

div id ed th e sovereign a u th o r ity . Yet B odin does n o t depend

s o l e l y upon t h e good w i l l o f t h e k i n g t o obey law s he h i m s e l f

makes. " At q u o p l u s d e t r a x e r i s im perio p r i n c i p i s (neque vero

i n earn p a r t e m p e c c a r i p o t e s t ) eo j u s t i u s est im perium ac s t a b i l i u s

fu tu ru m ."^ The p ro b le m i s to leav e to th e p rin c e th e f u l l sov­

e r e i g n a u t h o r i t y a n d a t t h e s ame t i m e l i m i t t h i s a u th o rity to

the g re a te s t p o s sib le ex ten t. Bodin so u g h t t o p r e v e n t a t y r a n n y

on t h e p a r t o f t h e k i n g w i t h o u t f a l l i n g p r e y t o t h e a n a r c h y h e

fe lt ex isted i n a m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n .

Bodin sought to s o l v e t h e p r o b le m i n a m anner more

s u b t l e th a n h as g e n e r a l l y been se e n . He r e c o g n i s e d t h a t in

t h e n o r m a l w o r k i n g o f g o v e r n m e n t s t h e r e a r e c h e c k s and b a l a n c e s

w hich need n o t d e r i v e from d e f in e d le g a l pow ers. He d i s c o v e r e d

th ese p ro te c tio n s in t r a d i t i o n a l p ro c e d u re s w hich e s t a b l i s h a

s o r t of " d r o it d t a b l i , " w ith o u t th e e x is te n c e of any d e fin e d


4
law . He w as t h e r e f o r e , l i k e h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s , r e l u c t a n t t o

1Ibid ., p. 186. 2Ibid., p. 192.

•^ I b l d c , p . 209.
I b i d . , pp. 208-209; R e p u b l i c , Bk. I, chap. x, p. 154.
73

u p s e t th e b a la n c e developed by t r a d i t i o n a l p r a c t i c e s ; h e was a

co n serv ativ e. He r e c o g n i z e d t h a t w h i l e c u s t o m d o e s n o t make

law , it can p ro d u ce a r e s t r a i n t f u lly as e f fe c tiv e .

Bodin r e l i e d on t h e p o w e r s o f r e s t r a i n t e x e r c is e d by

t h e m a g i s t r a t e s even th o u g h t h e y w ere u n a b le t o d i r e c t l y oppose

th e w ill o f th e p rin c e . He g i v e s a n e x a m p l e o f i t s effectiv e­

n e s s i n an a n e c d o t e c o n c e r n i n g t h e F r e n c h m o n a r c h y .1 L ouis XI

th r e a te n e d to d is s o lv e th e P a rliam e n t f o r r e f u s in g to prom ul­

gate c e rta in la w s he had d e c r e e d . The r e p l y o f t h e m a g i s t r a t e s

w as t h a t t h e y p r e f e r r e d t o d i e r a t h e r t h a n t o r e g i s t e r s u c h u n ­

ju st law s. T h e i r a d m ir a b le f i r m n e s s b o t h im p r e s se d and f r i g h t ­

ened t h e k in g t o t h e p o i n t t h a t he a c c e p te d t h e i r r e f u s a l . Th e

k i n g ' s r i g h t t o d i s s o l v e P a r l i a m e n t was n o t q u e s t i o n e d . B odin

states elsew here t h a t P a rlia m e n t' s r ig h t to prom ulgate th e law s

does n o t in v o lv e a r i g h t of san ctio n , w hich b e lo n g s o n ly t o the

sovereign. N e v e rth e le ss th e o p p o sitio n o f P a rliam e n t achieved

n e a rly the same r e s u l t , and B odin r e g r e t s t h a t the custom te n d s

to d isap p ear. Such p a s s i v e r e s i s t a n c e on t h e p a r t o f t h e

m a g i s t r a t e s B o d in b o t h a d m i r e d and f e l t t o b e o f e x t r e m e im­

portan ce. He s t a t e s t h a t n o t h i n g c o u l d more e f f e c t i v e l y oppose

t h e t y r a n n y of. a p r i n c e th a n t h e i n s t i t u t i o n of life -tim e ‘ ap-

pointm ents f o r th e m a g is tr a te s . Such a p p o in tm e n ts added

n o th in g t o t h e powers o f th e o f f i c e , but increased the p re s tig e

o f t h e m a g i s t r a t e s and removed t h e f e a r o f l o s i n g t h e i r p o s i -

•^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p . 208. 2I b i d . , p. 219.

^I b i d .. pp. 208-209.
7^
t i o n s and b e i n g a f t e r w a r d s u b je c t to th e rev en g e o f th e pow er­

fu l. Such m a g i s t r a t e s m ight oppose th e in ju stic es o f t h e most

p ow erful, even t h e k in g h i m s e l f .

B odin d id n o t depend o n ly upon t h e c o u r a g e and h o n e s t y

of th e m a g is tra te s fo r th e p ro te c tio n of the p eo p le. He r e c o g ­

n ized th a t t h e i r o p p o sitio n to th e in ju stice o f t h e p r i n c e and

t o o n e a n o t h e r w o u l d o f t e n b e m o t i v a t e d b y t h e i r own i n t e r e s t s .

He c l e a r l y r e c o g n i z e d t h e im portance o f p a r t i e s , b u t he f e l t

t h a t t h e y m u s t o p e r a t e w i t h i n t h e g o v e r n m e n t r a t h e r t h a n on

the le v e l of a d iv isio n of so vereignty. The i m p o r t a n c e o f

differen ces among t h e m a g i s t r a t e s h a s s c a r c e l y e v e r b e e n m o r e

stro n g ly stated th a n by B odin: "Cum v e r o s e m u t u i s o d i i s a p -

p etu n t, sua scelera detegunt: ita plebs a r a p in is , m agistratuum

in ter se d isse d e n tiu m , tu tio r e st." 1

B o d i n may p e r h a p s b e c r i t i c i z e d fo r having r e l i e d on

such vague p r o t e c t i o n s . However, c o n sid e rin g the im portance

h e sa w i n t h e m , o n e m u s t r e j e c t the in t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f those

s c h o l a r s who a s c r i b e t o h i m a b e l i e f i n an a b s o l u t i s m w i t h o u t

l i m i t s a s w e l l a s t h o s e who w o u l d i n t e r p r e t t h e lim itatio n s

in th e l e g a l i s t i c term s o f c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarchy.

I t may s e e m a s i f B o d i n 1s s y s t e m o f m o n a r c h y d e p e n d s

upon a g r e a t d e a l o f f a i t h in th e m o r a lity o f th e p r in c e . On

the co n trary , B odin had no f a i t h in p r i n c e l y v i r t u e , and r e c o g ­

n ised th a t th e very s itu a tio n o f a k i n g made h i m m o r e s u s c e p t i b l e

t h a n o t h e r men t o v i o l e n t p a s s i o n s a n d v i c e s . B o d i n w a s no l e s s

s k e p t i c a l t h a n M a c h i a v e l l i a b o u t t h e g o o d n e s s o f man. Like

1I b i d . , p. 207..
75

M achiavelli, he b e l i e v e d s o f e w men l o v e d v i r t u e for its own

s ak e t h a t one c o u ld n o t depend upon i t to govern t h e i r a c t i o n s .

Men m u s t b e made t o a c t v i r t u o u s l y f o r r e a s o n s o t h e r t h a n a

love of v i r t u e . As f o r t h e o t h e r c i t i z e n s , it is the fe a r of

the la w s and t h e m a g i s t r a t e s w hich k e e p s them fro m c rim e and

in iq u ity .1 But n o th in g can f o r c e t h e k i n g t o good c o n d u c t ; a

w illin g n ess is n e e d e d on h i s p a r t , " s i n e quo f r u s t r a leges in

P rincipem f e r a n t u r ." ^ The f i r s t s o l u t i o n B odin p r o p o s e s is

relig io n : the p rin c e , lik e h is su b jects, w ill act v irtu o u sly

out of fe a r, bu t in h is case out o f "fear of re lig io n ." The

p r i n c e m ust be t a u g h t t o b e l i e v e " s u a r u m omn ium a c t i o n u m j u d i c e m

ac s p e c t a t o r e m Deum e s s e . " ^

The f e a r o f r e l i g i o n is at the s am e t i m e t h e b e s t m e a n s

by w hich t o r e s t r a i n t h e p r i n c e and t o a s s u r e h i s au th o rity

over h is su b jects. However, as in th e case of th e su b jects,

th e ir fe a r of re lig io n d o e s n o t a s s u r e t h e i r good c o n d u c t and

to t h i s m u s t b e a d d e d t h e m o r e i m m e d i a t e f e a r o f t, h e m a g i s t r a t e s ,

so in th e case of the p rin c e i t may e s p e c i a l l y b e d o u b t e d t h a t

relig io n w ill su ffice t o ma ke h i m g o o d . "Sed qu on iam P r in c i p u m

c u p id itates quam plurim ae e x i s t u n t , quae r e s t i n g u i f a c i l e non

p ossunt; alteru m P r in c ip is i n s t i t u e n d i momentum e r i t , ut solida


it 4
veraque laude p a s c a tu r, in eaque senslm a d o l e s c a t . The e f ­

fect of the fear of re lig io n i s to be re in fo rc .e d by th e even

m ore p o w e r f u l m o t i v a t i o n s o f an a p p e t i t e fo r g lo ry .

1I b i d .. p. 225. 2l b i d . 3I b i d .
4 ^
I b i d .; cf., R e p u b l l q u e . Bk. IV, chap. iv , p. 510.
76

The d e s i r e fo r glory, r a th e r than th e f e a r of r e l i g i o n ,

is t h e r e a l m e a n s b y ■which t o c o n tro l the p a ssio n s o f the

m onarch. H is p a s s i o n s w i l l b e s t be c o n t r o l l e d - - n o t by e x ­

h o rtatio n to v irtu o u s c o n d u c t n o r b y t h e f e a r o f some d i s t a n t

p u n i s h m e n t - - b u t b y t h e d e v e lo p m e n t o f an even more p o w e r f u l

p assio n . For th is r e a s o n B o d i n p l a c e d r a d i c a l i m p o r t a n c e on

th e stu d y of h is to ry ; it is through th e study of h i s t o r y t h a t

one n o t o n l y g a i n s an a p p e t i t e fo r glory, but a lso d iscovers

t h e w a y s i n w h i c h g l o r y may b e a c h i e v e d . H istory teach es th a t

g lo ry is achieved o n ly th ro u g h " v irtu o u s " conduct. B o d i n 1s

attem p t to base th e science of p o l i t i c s on t h e p a s s i o n s o f men

r a t h e r th a n upon t h e i r v i r t u e s shows t h e s p e c i f i c a l l y modern

c h a ra c te r of h is thought. The v i r t u e s a r e u n d e p e n d a b l e ; h isto ry

shows t h a t t h e y h a v e l i t t l e i n f l u e n c e on t h e a c t i o n s o f men a n d

states. The s c i e n c e o f p o l i t i c s m u s t , th erefo re, b e b u i l t on

su re r fo undations. C la s s ic a l p o l i t i c a l philosophy, w hich d e ­

p e n d e d on t h e v i r t u e s o f m e n , is in adequate.

M a c h i a v e l l i had a l s o s e e n t h e p o w e r o f g l o r y a n d how

men i n t h e i r s e l f i s h p u r s u i t o f g l o r y may b e made t o w o r k f o r

th e common b e n e f i t . I n t h i s B o d i n a g r e e d , b u t h e a l s o sa w t h a t

the d e sire f o r g l o r y can l e a d t o chaos. M achiavelli p re fe rre d

a dem ocracy b ecause i t s c o m p e t i t i o n f o r h o n o r s p r o d u c e d more

g r e a t men t h a n a m o n a r c h y . Bodin a d m itte d t h e n e c e s s i t y o f a

com petition fo r honors, b u t he r e g a r d e d a s an e q u a l n e c e s s i t y

an a u t h o r i t y , a m o n a r c h , who w o u l d b e a b o v e , a n d a b l e t o r e g u l a t e

th is com petition. W h e r e a s M a c h i a v e l l i a d m i r e d t h e Roman r e p u b l i c ,


77

B odin lo o k e d w i t h h o r r o r upon i t s a n a r c h y . ’1'


Bodin r e c o g n iz e d
p
the s u p e r i o r i t y o f d e m o c ra c y i n p r o d u c i n g g r e a t men. He w a s ,

how ever, w i l l i n g to forego t h is advantage f o r th e g r e a te r

stab ility p o ssib le in m onarchy.

B odin, lik e Hobbes, liv ed in a p e rio d o f c i v i l w ar,

a n d l i k e H o b b e s h e w as p r o f o u n d l y a f f e c t e d b y t h e m i s e r i e s w h i c h

a tte n d th e la c k o f s t a b l e governm ent. T his background to h is

w r i t i n g s must in p a r t e x p l a i n t h e d evelopm ent o f h i s theory of

sovereig n ty . He e x a m i n e d t h e h i s t o r y a n d w o r k i n g s o f c i v i l

s o c i e t y and c o n c l u d e d t h a t its e s s e n t i a l was t h e e x i s t e n c e o f

a s i n g l e d o m in a tin g pow er. T h is pow er, th e sovereign a u th o r ity

of the state, may b e h e l d b y t h e p r i n c e , the n o b les, o r the

people; but i t c a n n o t b e d i v i d e d among t h e m . F o r when i t is

d ivided, each group w i l l a tte m p t to g a in a g r e a t e r share, and

"il f a u d r a t o u j o u r s v e n i r a u x a r m e s , " u n t i l one g r o u p h o l d s


■5
a l l t h e power in t h e s t a t e . When B o d i n s a y s t h a t a m i x e d

regim e h as n e v e r e x i s t e d , w hat he means i s t h a t a s t a b l e m ixed

regim e has n e v e r e x i s t e d , th at such s t a t e s , "ne c e s s e n t d ' e t r e

a g ite e s des ven ts des s e d itio n s civ ile s, ju s q u 'a ce que la

souverainete s o i t aux u n s ou aux a u t r e s . " ^ The d i v i s i o n of

so v ereig n ty , f a r from c r e a t i n g a m u tu al r e s t r a i n t and an e q u i l i b ­

riu m betw een g ro u p s , only le a d s to c i v i l w ar. The t h e o r y o f

s o v e r e i g n t y i s b a s e d on t h e p r e m i s e t h a t m e n ' s t h i r s t f o r power

■^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p . 215.

2B o d l n , R e p u b l l q u e . B k . IV, chap. iv , pp. 509ff.

^ I b i d ., Bk. II, chap. i, p. 185.

^I b i d .. p. 186.
78

is by i t s very n a tu re im m oderate; they a re in cap ab le of sh arin g

pow er. Thus t h e d i v i s i o n of so v ereig n ty lead s to v io len ce

r a t h e r th an co o p eratio n . T h e s am e r e a s o n i n g led to B odin’ s

preference f o r m onarchy; o n ly in a m onarchy i s the sovereign

power c o m p le te ly u n i t e d . In an a r i s t o c r a c y o r a dem o cracy

t h e r e w i l l alw ay s be c o m p e titio n f o r power w ith in the ru lin g

group. F in a lly , t h e m onarchy sh o u ld be h e r e d i t a r y in o rd e r to


1
remove t h e la st source of c o n f l i c t .

B odin was n o t b l i n d to th e dangers o f ty ra n n y , b u t he


2
v ie w ed a n a r c h y a s a g r e a t e r e v i l and a more im m in e n t d a n g e r .

C iv il so ciety a ris e s out of a s ta te of law lessn ess. It o rig i­

nates in th e d esire f o r p e ac e and p r o t e c t i o n , and a s such t h i s

rem ains its fundam ental g o a l. The e s s e n c e o f t h e state is a

s i n g l e pow er, and t h e citizen s are t h o s e who s h a r e in its pro­

tectio n . The b e s t sign of th e ex cellen ce of a s ta te is in its

a b ility to rep u lse its


e n e m i e s a n d m a i n t a i n p e a c e among i t s
■3
m em bers--and t o endure. The m a in te n a n c e o f a s t a b l e o r d e r i s

n o t o n ly t h e most im p o r ta n t f u n c t io n o f governm ent; it is also

th e' c o n d i t i o n w ith o u t w hich none o f i t s o th er e n d s may b e

ach iev ed . B odin i s , th erefo re, w illin g to s a c r i f i c e much t o

th is, and, lik e M ach iav elli, is w illin g to excuse o th erw ise
4
c o n d e m n a b l e a c t i o n s wh en t h e y a r e n e c e s s a r y t o a c h i e v e i t .

B odin r e c o g n i z e d t h e h i g h e r aim s o f p o l i t i c s , b u t, a s C hauvire

■'‘B o d i n , O euvres, pp. 220ff.

2I b i d . , pp. 194, 214, 215.

-^ I b i d . , p p . 218, 221. ^C hauvire, p. 280.


79

n o tes, h e w as a l m o s t a l w a y s c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e lo w er. 1

Th e f u n d a m e n t a l a i m o f p o l i t i c s is peace,and o t h e r
2
ends must be s a c r i f i c e d when t h e y m i g h t j e o p a r d i z e i t . Though

B o d in 's argum ents a g a i n s t th e d e f i n i t i o n s of A risto tle seem

r a t h e r a b s t r a c t and t h e o r e t i c a l , t h e y . a r e a l l based upon t h i s

common c r i t i c i s m : A ris to tle 's d efin itio n s express i d e a l s w hich

at least i n many s i t u a t i o n s can n o t be a t t a i n e d . E x istin g govern­

m ents a r e c riticized by th e c r i t e r i a of th ese id e a ls , and t h u s

th e y f u r n i s h th e o c ca sio n f o r c i v i l w ar. B o d i n ' s a r g u m e n t w as

n o t, how ever, a critiq u e o f A r i s t o t l e alone; it showed a f u n d a ­

m ental d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w ith th e e n tir e trad itio n of c lassica l

p o l i t i c a l philosophy. B odin view ed t h e p o l i t i c a l norms o f

c l a s s i c a l philosophy as im p racticab le. I t was t h i s d i s s a t i s ­

factio n w h ic h l e d Bodin t o t u r n from p h ilo s o p h y t o h i s t o r y .

1I b i d ., pp. 298-299. 2B o d i n , O e u v r e s , p. 222.


CHAPTER I I I

THE USE OF HISTORY

Th e M e t h o d c o n t a i n s alread y th e e s s e n t i a l p a r t o f B o d in 's

p o l i t i c a l th ought; however* it is not p rim arily a tr e a tis e on

p o litic a l scien ce. As i t s fu ll title* M ethodus ad F a c l l e m

H lsto riaru m C o gnltionem * in d ic a te s * it is a tre a tise on h i s t o r y .

In th e D e d ic a to ry E p is tle * B odin r e f e r s t o an a l r e a d y c o m p l e t e d

work* a " P r i n c i p i o J u r i s U n i v e r s i form am i n t a b u l a ; " he a ls o re­

m arks t h a t he i s engaged in th e p re p a ra tio n o f a rmich m o r e i m ­

p o rtan t work* "on t h e l a w s . " ’1' It i s w ith re lu c ta n c e t h a t B odin

f in d s h im s e lf conducted " a d h o c g e n u s s c r i p t i o n i s *" t h a t is to

say* from p o l i t i c a l th eo ry to h is to ry . Why d i d B o d i n f i n d it

necessary to tu rn to the su b ject of h isto ry ? T his Is the q u es­

tio n w hich f i r s t p resen ts Itse lf in r e a d i n g th e M ethod. From

th is fo llo w s an other: "What i s th e im portance o f th e study of

h is to ry fo r th e su b sta n c e o f B o d in 's p o l i t i c a l p h ilo so p h y ?

The Method i s n o t a w o r k d e s i g n e d t o t e a c h o n e how t o


2
w rite h isto ry * b u t how t o r e a d It. B odin c o m p la in s t h a t b e ­

f o r e h im on o n e h a d d e f i n e d t h e c o n t e n t and t h e method o f

h isto ry * n o r drawn fro m i t th e least in stru ctio n . Of t h o s e

■''The l a t t e r w o r k i s u n d o u b t e d l y w h a t a p p e a r e d i n 1 5 7 6
a s t h e R e p u b l i c ; t h e f o r m e r w a s p u b l i s h e d i n 1 5 8 0 a s 11J u r i s
U niversi d i s t r i b u t i o . "

2I b i d . . p. 114.

80
81

who w r o t e t r e a t i s e s on h i s t o r y h e r e m a r k s t h a t t h e y w o u l d h a v e

done b e t t e r to in v ite one t o re a d the h is to r ie s and i m i t a t e them

r a th e r than to have d isco u rse d on q u e s t i o n s o f f o r m a n d s t y l e .

The h i s t o r i e s ex ist, i n more t h a n s u f f i c i e n t num bers; what i s

lacking is a g u i d e w h i c h w o u l d sh ow how t o choose betw een them ,

te st the v a lid ity of th e th in g s th ey re c o u n t, and draw t h e g r e a t ­

est amount o f i n s t r u c t i o n from t h i s fru itfu l source. Such i s

t h e p u r p o s e o f t h e M ethod.

H isto ry is first of a ll v alu ab le sim ply a s a s o u rc e ,

co n tain in g a l l t h e k n o w l e d g e t h a t men h a v e a c q u i r e d a f t e r mu ch

effort and e x p e r ie n c e . The g r e a t e s t know ledge t o be g a in e d from

h isto ry is the sc ie n c e of governm ent. 1 "Ex h a c i g i t u r v e te r u m

le g e s hue i l l u c d isp ersas co llig im u s, u t h u ic quoque o p e r i con-

jun gam us. T his s t u d y o f " c o m p a r a t i v e law " is the b a s is of

B o d in 's p o l i t i c a l scien ce. He c l a i m s in t h i s endeavor the sup­

po rt of P lato , " q u i legum t r a d e n d a r u m a c m o d e ra n d ae c i v i t a t l s

unam e s s e formam p u t u a v i t , s i o m n ib u s omnium, aut m agis i l l u s t r i u m

R erum publicarum le g i b u s i n un um c o l l e c t i s , v i r i prudentes eas

in te r se com pararent, a t i q u e optim um g e n u s ex i i s co n flaren t.

Ad h o c ig itu r in stitu tu m , o m n i a mea s t u d i a , omnes c o n t u l i

c o g i t a t i o n e s ."

Bodin re m a rk s t h a t P l a t o had r e c o u r s e to
com parative
A
law b e c a u s e h e d i d n o t b e l i e v e in a s c ie n c e o f g o v ern m en t.

A lth o u g h B odin s h o w e d some h e s i t a t i o n as to what e x te n t p ru -

1I b i d . , pp. 109, 167. 2I b i d . , p. 109.

^ I b i d . , p. 107. ^I b i d . . p . 167.
d e n ce and s c i e n c e each have a p a r t in th e s t u d y o f huma n i n s t i ­

tu tio n s, th e teach in g s of h isto ry elev ated f o r him c o m p a r a ti v e

law t o som ething f a r above th e sim ple c o l l e c t i o n and c o m p a ris o n

o f law s. H i s t o r y i s mu ch m o r e t h a n a d e p o s i t o r y o f l a w s ; B odin

saw i n it th e fo u n d atio n s fo r a scien ce o f governm ent: "in

h isto ria ju ris u n i v e r s i p a r s optim a la te t: quodque ad le g e s optim e

d i j u d i c a n d a s m agni p o n d e r i s e s t a c m om ent!, m ores p o p u lo ru m , ac

r e r u m o m niu m p u b l i c a r u m i n i t i a , increm enta, statu s, co n v ersio n es,

ex itu s ab ea d e r i v a n t u r . In quo p r a e c ip u u m e s t h u j u s m e th o d l

a r g u m e n t u m . "'L H is to ry not o nly c o l l e c t s th e law s from w hich th e

best law s c o u ld be ch o sen : it is a ls o th ro u g h th e stu d y of


2
h i s t o r y t h a t one a c q u i r e s t h e p r u d e n c e n e e d e d t o m a ke t h e ch o ice.

H isto ry is not lim ited to show ing w hich law s h av e been s u c c e s s ­

f u l and w hich u n s u c c e s s f u l ; it shows w h ic h la w s a r e successful

u n d e r w hich c ir c u m s t a n c e s . W hile h i s t o r y is n o t b a s e d upon

n ecessity , th is is not to say th a t it is only a m a tte r o f chance.

There a re law s g o v e rn in g h i s t o r y . "Q uaeram us i g i t u r ilia quae

non a b hominum i n s t i t u t i s , sed a n a tu ra d ucuntur, quoque stab ilia

su n t, n e c u n q u a m n i s i m a gn a v l , aut d iu tu rn a d iscip lin a m utantur;

& m utata n ih ilo m i n u s ad p r i s t i n a m red eu n t n atu ram ."^ In show­

in g what i s governed by n a tu re a n d w h a t b y h um a n i n s t i t u t i o n s - -

1I b i d ., p. 109.

" Q u a n q u i d e m a d p r u d e n t i a m c o m p a r a n d a m cum n i h i l s i t
m a ju s , a u t m ag is n e c e s s a r i u m h i s t o r i a , p r o p t e r humanos c a s u s
q u i v e l u t i n orbem s u i s i m i l e s a l i q u a n d o r e c u r r u n t . " Ib id .,
P. 115.

3 I b i d . , p . 140 .
83

in r e l a t i n g the law s and i n s t i t u t i o n s to th ese facts of n atu re--

h isto ry is ab le to provide th e found atio n s fo r a p o l i t i c a l

s c ie n c e having a c e r t a i n t y h i t h e r t o th o u g h t im p o s sib le . B odin

b eliev ed , as M ontesquieu did la te r, t h a t th e m ost Im p o rtan t of

th ese n a tu ra l i n f l u e n c e s w as t h a t o f c l i m a t e a n d g e o g r a p h y on

the "nature of p e o p les." 1

It is th e stu d y of h i s to r y , n o t c o m p a ra tiv e law , w hich

form s th e r e a l b a s is o f B o d i n 's th o u g h t and m arks a b r e a k w ith

c l a s s i c a l p o l i t i c a l p h ilosophy. Bodin t u r n e d to h is to ry in o r d e r

to correct the errors a n d m a ke u p f o r t h e inadequacies of p h i­

losophy: "certe p h ilo so p h ia, quae ipsa v itae dux a p p e l l a t u r ,

p r o p o s i t i s bonorum ac m alorum f i n i b u s i n t e r m ortua iaceret,

n i s i ad re ru m p r a e t e r i t a r u m h isto ries omnia d i c t a , facta, con-

silia r e v o c a r e n t u r : ex q u i b u s non fo lu m p r a e s e n t i a commode e x -

p lic a n tu r, sed e tia m f u t u r a co llig u n tu r, c e r tis s im a q u e rerum

expetendarum ac fu g ien d aru m p ra e c e p ta c o n sta n tu r." P hilosophy

is in ad eq u ate b ecau se, th o u g h i t d ecid es the e n d s w h i c h men

should seek, it g i v e s no v e r y c e r t a i n in d icatio n s o f how t o

a c h i e v e them . F irst of a ll , th erefo re, if th e determ in atio n

o f t h e norms i s le ft to p hilosophy, it is h i s t o r y t h a t w ould

te ac h th e tech n iq u es, th e m eans, by w hich t h e y can be a t t a i n e d .

In t h i s case h is to ry is v alu ab le but lim ite d ; and, " i l ne fa u t

pas m esurer la lo i de n a t u r e a u x a c t i o n s d e s hom m es."^

B odin is, how ever, c le a rly u n w illin g to lim it h isto ry

to the in stru ctio n of the techniques: " Q u a r e cum a b h i s t o r i a

1 I b i d . , pp. l 4 0 f f . 2I b i d ., p. 112.
■3
^B od in, R e p u b l i q u e . Bk. I , chap. v , p p . 3 5 - 3 6 .
84

p en itu s erudiam ur, non so lu m a r t e s ad v ita m degendam n e c e s s a r i a s ,

v e r u m e t i a m q u a e omnino s u n t e x p e c t e n d a , q u a e f u g i e n d a , q u i d

tu rp e, q u id honestum , quae optim a leg es, quae optim a R e s p u b lic a ,

quae b e ata v ita ." '* ' Thus Bodin r e v e a l s a b e l i e f in th e r a d i c a l

u tility of h isto ry , w h ic h w ould seem t o do a w a y w i t h t h e n e e d

for--assum e the p lace o f--p h ilo s o p h y . How c a n t h i s b e r e c o n ­

ciled w ith h is r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t t h e way i n w h i c h men s h o u l d

act c a n n o t b e d e d u c e d f r o m t h e w ay men do a c t .

H is to ry cannot by i t s e l f do a w a y w i t h t h e n e e d f o r

p hilo so p h y ; it cannot i t s e l f e s t a b l i s h t h e n o r m s o f human b e ­

hav io r. It is n o t however l i m i t e d to the d e term in a tio n of

techniques. The m ost i m p o r ta n t p a r t o f h i s t o r y , Bodin states,


2
is n o t w ords o r d e e d s , but the in te n tio n s o f men. H isto ry is

not lim ited to c riticizin g t h e m e a n s b y w h i c h men s o u g h t t o

a c h ie v e t h e i r aim s; It can a l s o sh ow w h e t h e r o r n o t t h e s e a i m s

should e v e r have been s o u g h t. H is to r y can n o t e s t a b l i s h norm s,

but it can c r i t i c i z e t h e norms p r e s e n t e d b y p h i l o s o p h y . It can

sho w c e r t a i n norms t o b e I m p r a c t i c a l and t h e r e f o r e n o t t o be

sought a f t e r : it c a n sho w o t h e r t y p e s o f b e h a v i o r t o b e n e c e s ­

s a r y and t h e r e f o r e n o t t o be condemned. H i s t o r y c a n n o t demon­

strate th at c e r t a i n modes o f b e h a v i o r a r e good o r b a d , but th at

th ey lead to success or f a ilu r e . U sing th e criterio n of suc­

cess, it can r e v i s e th e judgm ents o f p h ilo s o p h y : the I d e a l in

the d ire c tio n of the p o s sib le , the d esirab le in th e d irectio n

o f the p r a c t i c a b l e .

^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p . 1 1 4 . 2 I b i d . , pp. 119 , 12 2.


85

It has been s ta te d th a t the "six teen th cen tu ry d evelop­

ment te n d s to rep lace p h ilo so p h y by h i s t o r y ." 1 Is th is state ­

ment t r u e in th e c a s e o f B odin? Is it tru e th at., "if d isco v ery

of the norms i s a n y w ay e x p e c t e d from h i s t o r y , th en --e x p lic itly

o r I m p l i c i t l y - - m o r a l g o o d n ess must have been i d e n t i f i e d w ith

success, and v i r t u e w ith prudence"?^ I f the norm s can be d i s ­

covered from h i s t o r y a l o n e , then such m ight be th e resu lt. If,

how ever, h i s t o r y p l a y s a p a r t - - b u t n o t t h e w hole p a r t - - i n the

d is c o v e r y o f norm s, then such a r e s u l t does not n e c e s s a r ily fo llo w .

A norm t h o u g h t t o be good i f sh ow n b y h i s t o r i c a l exam ple to be

unsuccessful (im p racticab le) may n o l o n g e r b e s a i d t o be in

f a c t good. But i t does n o t fo llo w from t h i s th at a norm o f .

b e h a v io r w hich i s successful is n e c e s s a rily good. H is to ry w ith

its so le c riterio n o f s u c c e s s does n o t by I t s e l f estab lish a

stan d ard of goodness. I t w ould n o t u n l e s s one w ere t o a rg u e

a p o sitio n such as t h a t ad o p ted by Thrasym achus; and such is

n o t the p o sitio n o f B odin. H i s t o r y can o n ly p ro n o u n c e upon

norm s w h ic h h a v e t h e i r o rig in in a n o th e r s o u rc e . If th at source

be p h ilo so p h y , then h i s to r y supplem ents p h ilo s o p h y , and d o e s n o t

rep lace It. O r, it ma y b e s a i d o nly to r e p la c e it in im portance

or in te re s t.

Bodin d o es n o t seem t o be c o n s i s t e n t In r e g a r d to th e

relatio n betw een p h ilo s o p h y and h i s t o r y . In h i s ad h eren c e to

n atu ral la w , he seems t o view p h ilo s o p h y a s n e c e s s a r y and

1Leo S t r a u s s , T h e P o l i t i c a l P h i l o s o p h y o f H obbes (C hicago:


U n i v e r s i t y o f C hicago P r e s s , 1 9 5 2 ), p . 95.

2I b i d . , p. 94.
86

h i s t o r y as a supplem ent t o it. Yet he s t a t e s t h a t h i s t o r y is

in d ep en d en t o f a l l o th e r s c ie n c e s : "nam ' i n a l i i s a rtib u s, quod

o m ne s i n t e r se a p ta e & iisdem v ln c u lis co llig atae sunt., a l t e r a

sine a l t e r i u s co gnitione p ercipe n e q u it. H isto ria vero q u a s i

supra scien tias omne s i n a l t i s s i m o d i g n i t a t i s gradu lo c a ta ,

n u lliu s e t e t o p e ." '* ' I f h i s t o r y can p r o v i d e th e norms o f b e ­

h a v io r in d ependently of a l l o th e r sc ie n c e s, it follow s th at

h is to r y w ill re p la c e p hilosophy. Such b e in g th e case, would

it mean t h a t t h e g o o d m u s t b e i d e n t i f i e d - w i t h t h e s u c c e s s f u l

and t h e bad w ith t h e u n s u c c e s s f u l ? Is the so lu tio n not th at

h i s t o r y can o n ly r e c t i f y t h e norms w h ic h d e r i v e fro m a n o t h e r

source: i f not p h ilosophy, then perhaps th e sim ple lo v e o f good­

n e s s w h i c h t o d a y we c a l l conscience? The i n s t r u c t i o n o f norms

b y h i s t o r y w o u l d t h e n d e p e n d u p o n some p r i o r g o o d n e s s e x i s t i n g

in th e stu d en t, such as t h a t A r i s t o t l e re q u ire d of the student


2
of eth ics.

Yet i t w as e x a c t l y t h i s t h a t Bodin f e l t to be th e

second g r e a t d e f e c t in p h ilo so p h y (the f i r s t being that it

g a v e no v e r y c e r t a i n in stru ctio n s, nor very p r a c tic a l in stru c ­

tio n s). P h i l o s o p h y c o u l d o n l y e x h o r t men t o r i g h t a c t i o n s ; it

h a d t o a s s u m e i n men a d e s i r e fo r goodness. However, since

m o s t men d o n o t d e s i r e v i r t u e for its own s a k e , philosophy is

in effectiv e; and a means m ust be fo u n d t o c o n d u c t men t o r i g h t

^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p . 113.
2A r i s t o t l e E t h i c s 1095a .
87

a c t i o n s by a p p e a lin g to o th e r d e s i r e s . It is in a p p e a lin g to

the " l a u d i s f r u c t u m , quem p l e r i q u e solum d u c u n t" t h a t one can

f i n d t h e m e a n s . ' 1' The d e s i r e f o r g l o r y - - t h e l o v e o f p r a i s e and

th e fe a r of in fam y --rep laces th e love of v i r t u e a s t h e f o r c e by


2
w hich to l e a d men t o r i g h t a c t i o n s . H istory, showing g l o r y

t o be g a in e d from v i r t u o u s conduct, w o u l d l e a d men t o im itate

such conduct in o rd e r to a c h ie v e sim ila r glo ry ; " h i e enim

h i s t o r i a r u m f r u c t u s e s t v e l m a x i m u s , u t a l i i w u id e m a d v i r t u t e m

in flam m ari, alii a v itiis d e terreri p o ssin t.

H i s t o r y can t e a c h norms o f b e h a v i o r i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f a l l

other sciences; it n e e d n o t e v e n p r e s u p p o s e a l o v e o f v i r t u e on

th e p a r t of the student. Since h i s t o r y can t e a c h o n ly w h ich

actio n s lead to s u c c e s s and w h ic h t o f a i l u r e , its teach in g w ill

e q u a t e good w i t h s u c c e s s f u l - - a n d bad w i t h u n s u c c e s s f u l — a c t i o n s .

However, it c a n now b e s e e n w h a t s u c c e s s m e a n s f o r B o d i n . It

i s n o t r i c h e s o r pow er, b u t g l o r y . Th e e q u a t i o n o f g o o d w i t h

successful actio n s d o e s n o t l e a d men t o a n y b r u t a l , an ti-so cial

conduct; on t h e c o n t r a r y , it leads to "virtu o u s conduct"--con­

d u c t d i r e c t e d to w a rd t h e good o f s o c i e t y , for i t is o n l y by

su ch co n d u ct t h a t one can a t t a i n g lo ry .

Though h i s t o r y n e ed p r e s u p p o s e no l o v e o f v i r t u e on t h e

p a rt of the a c to r, i t m u s t on t h e p a r t o f t h o s e who w i l l judge

h is actio n s. I f n ot, there i s no a s s u r a n c e t h a t o n l y v i r t u o u s

^B odin, O e u v re s , p . 112.

^ Ib id ., p. 223; B o d in , R g p u b l i q u e , Bk. IV, chap. Iv,


pp. 509ff.
<B odin, O e u v r e s , p . 113.
88

conduct w ill re c e iv e p r a is e . T h is does n o t, how ever, p r e s e n t

a g rav e problem . Few p e r h a p s a r e t h e men who r e q u i r e v i r t u e

in th em selv es; everyone w ishes to see i t in h is n eig h b o rs. In

o u rse lv e s the req u irem en ts of v ir tu e a re in co n v en ien t; in o th e r s

th e y lead only to our b e n e f i t . One c an f e e l c o n f i d e n t t h a t the

c i t i z e n s w i l l rew ard o n ly v i r t u o u s conduct w ith g lo r y , because

o nly v irtu o u s conduct w i l l lead to t h e i r common b e n e f i t . Th e

love of v ir t u e re q u ire d by p h ilo so p h y i s seldom e f f e c t i v e b e ­

cause i t c o n f l i c t s w ith s e l f - i n t e r e s t . Thus B o d in , lik e

M a c h i a v e l l i b e f o r e him , saw how men c a n b e made t o w o r k f o r

t h e common i n t e r e s t s of the citizen s even w h ile m o tiv a te d


1
o n ly by t h e i r own s e l f i s h d e s i r e fo r g lo ry .

In a d d itio n t o its "in cred ib le u t i l i t y ," h isto ry is to

be p r e f e r r e d because of i t s facility . H isto ry is the e a s ie s t

of a ll d iscip lin es. B eing ind ep en d en t of a l l o th e r scien ces,

it r e q u i r e s no o t h e r t r a i n i n g on t h e p a r t o f t h e stu d en t. A ll

o th er scien ces are s o i n t e r - d e p e n d e n t t h a t o n e n e e d know a l l o f

them t o m a s t e r an y o f th em . H i s t o r y i s a l s o th e most p l e a s a n t

of stu d ies; s o muc h s o t h a t it seems more a p a s t t i m e t h a n a

serious stu d y . W hereas p h ilo s o p h y , b e in g d i f f i c u l t and i n a c ­

cessib le, could have l i t t l e e f f e c t u p o n t h e c o n d u c t o f men a n d

states; h i s t o r y on t h e o t h e r h a n d i s s u b j e c t t o no s u c h l i m i t a ­

tio n s.

In c o n s id e r in g th e s e f i n a l a d v a n t a g e s o f h i s t o r y one

n o t e s a n i m p l i c i t d i s t i n c t i o n ma de b y B o d i n b e t w e e n h i m s e l f

and "m ost m en." H isto ry appeals to g lo ry , b u t Bodin r e c o g -

1C f., M achiavelli, Th e P r i n c e , c h a p . x lx , p assim .


89

nized th a t v ir t u e should be loved f o r its own s a k e . H istory

a p p e a l s t o men b e c a u s e o f i t s e a s e and p l e a s a n t n e s s , y e t Bodin

was n o t d e t e r r e d from p h ilo s o p h y b e c a u se o f i t s d ifficu lty .

F in ally , h isto ry cannot be accu sed o f b e in g " p e r n i c i o u s 11- - a n

accu satio n l e v e l e d a t one tim e o r a n o t h e r a g a i n s t a lm o s t e v e r y

o th e r scien ce; b u t such a c r i t e r i o n seems more i m p o r t a n t i n con­

sid erin g its ap p ro p riaten ess to the stu d ies o f y o u n g men r a t h e r

than old sch o lars. There i s in B o d in 's d is c u s s io n a certain

r e s e r v e w hich l e a d s one t o c o n c lu d e t h a t h i s argum ent betw een

h i s t o r y and p h i l o s o p h y was n o t m e a n t t o d i s c r e d i t p h i l o s o p h y .

B o d in d id n o t c l a i m t h a t p h i l o s o p h y was i n c a p a b l e o f

arriv in g at tru th . He d i d n o t c o n t e n d t h a t t h e n o r m s e s t a b ­

l i s h e d by p h i l o s o p h y w ere in th e m s e lv e s f a l s e . He q u e s t i o n e d

o n ly th e p r a c t i c a b i l i t y o f t h e s e norm s, a r g u i n g t h a t t h e y w ere

irr e le v a n t to the n e c e s s itie s of p o litic s . The t u r n to h isto ry

d id n o t mean, in B o d in 's th o u g h t, a rejectio n of p h ilosophy.

It d id , h o w e v e r, mark t h e attem pt to found a s c i e n c e o f p o l i t i c s

independent of p hilosophy; it was an a t t e m p t t o lib erate po­

litic a l th o u g h t from A r i s t o t e l i a n and s c h o l a s t i c p h ilosophy.

Thus B odin d i v i d e d know ledge in to th re e classes--hum an, n atu ral,

and s a c r e d - - a n d argued t h a t
t h e k n o w l e d g e o f human a f f a i r s could
1
be a tta in e d w ith o u t re fe re n c e to p h ilo so p h y o r th e o lo g y . T his

is not to s a y t h a t B odin b e l i e v e d p h i l o s o p h y had n o t h i n g t o do

w it h q u e s t i o n s o f m o r a l i t y and p o l i t i c s . B odin r e c o g n iz e d t h a t

l n I t a q u e e t r i b u s h i s t o r i a r u m g e n e r i b u s , d iv in u m quidem
t h e o l o g i s ; n a t u r a l e p h i l o s o p h i s t a n t i s p e r o m i t t a m u s , dum i n h u m a n i s
a c t i o n i b u s earum que p r a e c e p t i s , d l u multum que f u e r i m u s e x e r c i t a t i . "
B o d in , O e u v r e s , p . 115; c f . , i b i d . , p . 114.
90

t h e n a t u r e a n d t h e e n d s o f man c o u l d n o t b e l e a r n e d from h i s t o r y

a lo n e. T his is shown b y h i s a d h e r e n c e t o c l a s s i c a l n a t u r a l law:

a l a w o f how men s h o u l d a c t w h i c h i s n o t m e a s u r e d b y how men do

a ct. However, t h i s does n o t c o n t r a d i c t B odin*s c la im t h a t

h i s t o r y can e s t a b l i s h norms i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f p h i l o s o p h y .

B odin d id n o t r e j e c t t h e norms o f c l a s s i c a l p o l i t i c a l

p h ilo s o p h y in so f a r as t h e y a r e u n d e rs to o d as th e g o a ls tow ard

w h i c h men s h o u l d s t r i v e . He a c c e p t e d A r i s t o t l e ' s view o f th e

h i g h e s t e n d s o f man a n d o f t h e s t a t e . ' * ' He d i d , how ever, reject

t h e norms o f p h i l o s o p h y a s r u l e s o f c o n d u c t . O nly h i s t o r y , not

p h ilo so p h y ,co u ld e s ta b lis h r e a l i s t i c norm s, r u l e s o f conduct

w h i c h h a v e some c h a n c e o f s u c c e s s . H isto ry is not s u f f ic ie n t


p
in itse lf; it does n o t te a c h " s a p i e n t i a " b u t " p r u d e h t i a ." H istory

c an e s t a b l i s h norms o f b e h a v i o r o n l y i f the u ltim a te ends a re a l ­

ready g iv en . The t u r n f r o m p h i l o s o p h y t o h i s t o r y m eans t h a t t h e


3
e n d s o f man c a n i n some s e n s e b e t a k e n f o r g r a n t e d . I t marks

a change o f i n t e r e s t from t h e norms t h e m s e l v e s t o t h e c o n d i t i o n s

of th e ir ap p licatio n . The know ledge s o u g h t from h i s t o r y is not

th a t of the u ltim a te e n d s o f m a n , b u t t h e k n o w l e d g e o f how men

sh o u ld a c t u n d e r th e u n f a v o r a b l e c o n d i t i o n s w hich form th e n o rm al

circum stances of t h e i r e x iste n c e .

1I b i d . , pp. 119- 1 2 0 . 2 I b i d . . pp. 114-115.


2
A know ledge o f t h e ends m ig h t be c o n s i d e r e d a s a l r e a d y
g i v e n b y p h i l o s o p h y ; i t m ig h t a l s o be t h o u g h t t o be e v i d e n t .
See B o d i n ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e n a t u r a l law a s " e v i d e n t que s o l e l l . "
B o d in , R ^ p u b liq u e , Bk. I I , ch ap . i i i , p . 195.
CHAPTER IV

SOVEREIGNTY: I T S POWERS AND LIMITATIONS

In 1576, ju st ten y e a rs a f t e r th e a p p earan ce o f the

M ethod, Bodin p u b l i s h e d h i s S ix l i v r e s su r la R ep u b liq u e. T his

work had b een in p r e p a r a t i o n d u r i n g ma ny y e a r s , and was u n d o u b t ­

e d l y t h e w ork "on t h e law s," t o w h ich Bodin r e f e r r e d In th e

M ethod. U n lik e t h e M ethod, t h e R e p u b lic is c o m p le te ly devoted

to the su b ject of p o litic s . M assive, and o f e n c y c l o p e d i c scope,

it was d e s i g n e d t o s e t f o r t h the conclusions reached i n many

years of re fle c tio n on a l l t h a t g o e s t o make u p p o l i t i c a l so ciety .

T h is w ork, turgid and r e p e t i t i o u s , is p e r h a p s more o f t e n

referred to than a c t u a l l y r e a d . A ll e ls e t h a t Bodin s a i d has

been l a r g e l y f o r g o tte n or d isreg ard ed , but h is developm ent o f

t h e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y a s s u r e s him a p l a c e o f i m p o r t a n c e in

the h is to ry of p o litic a l th eo ry . It is ju st t h a t Bodin is so

rem em bered, fo r the concept of so v ereig n ty is a t once the c en tral

and most o r i g i n a l p a r t o f h i s th ought. The c o n c e p t o f s o v e r e i g n t y

has, i n many and v a r i e d w a y s , p e r v a d e d modern p o l i t i c a l t h o u g h t .

B odin em ploys in t h e R e p u b lic t h e s am e s y s t e m o f p r o c e e d ­

in g from d e f i n i t i o n s as t h a t used in th e M ethod. There is, how­

ever, an im p o r ta n t d i f f e r e n c e i n t h e way i t is used. In t h e

M ethod, B odin b eg an w i t h a c c e p t e d d e fin itio n s (in most c a s e s

those of A r is to tle 's P o l i t i c s ) and in criticizin g them a r r i v e d

at new d e f i n i t i o n s , w hich i n h i s o p in io n w ere s u p e r i o r . In the

91
92

R e p u b l i c , B odin no l o n g e r f i n d s t h i s necessary. He b e g i n s w i t h

h is own d e f i n i t i o n s , explains t h e ir c o n t e n t and m e a n in g , and th e n

o n l y som etim es com pares them w i t h t h o s e o f o t h e r a u t h o r s . W hile

t h e Method i s esse n tially a critiq u e of c la s s ic a l p o litic a l

science, th e R epublic i s t h e s t a t e m e n t o f a new p o l i t i c a l scien ce,

a t once l e s s r a d i c a l i n a p p e a r a n c e and more i n d e p e n d e n t in c o n te n ts .

Bodin b e g in s th e R epublic w ith a d e f i n i t i o n of the funda­

m ental p o l i t i c a l o r g a n iz a tio n , the state. Th e s t a t e is defined

as "un d r o i t g o u v e rn e m en t de p l u s i e u r s m esnages e t de ce q u i
*1
l e u r e s t commun, a v e c p u i s s a n c e s o u v e r a i n e . " T his d e f in itio n

is the b a sis of a l l th a t follow s, and, " s i e l l e n 'e s t pas b ien

fondee, t o u t ce q u i s e r a b a t i s u r i c e l l e se r u in e r a bien to t

a p r e s ." 2 The q u a l i f i c a t i o n , "avec p u issa n c e so u v erain e," is

a t t h e same t i m e t h e m o s t o r i g i n a l a n d i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f B o d i n ' s

d e fin itio n . The s t a t e is r e c o g n i z e d and d i s t i n g u i s h e d


from
4
all o t h e r a s s o c i a t i o n s by th e p o s s e s s i o n of so v ereig n ty . Sov­

ereig n ty is in h e re n t in th e very n o tio n of th e state; it is the

"form " o f t h e s t a t e , t h a t w hich b e s t d e f i n e s what a t h i n g r e a l l y

is. W he re t h e r e i s no s o v e r e i g n t y t h e r e i s no s t a t e , but only

anarchy. I t m a t t e r s n o t what o th e r e le m e n ts e x i s t i n g in the

^ I b i d . , Bk. I, chap. i, p. 1. 2I b i d .

•^Ibld. , chap. v i i i , p . 8 5 .
4
B o d in , M ethod. p . 1 6 9 .
hit
Tout a i n s i que l e n a v i r e n ' e s t p l u s que b o i s san s forme
de v a i s s e a u , quand l a q u i l l e , q u i s o u t i e n t l e s c o a s t e s , la
p ro u e , la poupe e t l e t i l l a c sont o s td s : a u s s i la R epublique
s a n s p u i s s a n c e s o u v e r a i n e q u i u n i s t t o u s l e s memhres e t p a r t i e s
d ' i c e l l e e t t o u s l e s m e s n a g e s e t c o l l e g e s en un c o r p s , n ' e s t
p lu s R ep u b liq u e." B o d in , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I , c h a p . i , p . 1.
93

state are p re sen t, what o t h e r f o r c e s o f c o h e s io n m ight e x i s t :

" R e p u b lic a n : eodem i m p e r i o d e f i n i r i . Al l th e o t h e r e le m e n ts ,

more o r l e s s t r a d i t i o n a l , in th e d e f in itio n of th e s ta te are

dispensed w ith . T h e r e i s no l o n g e r a n y c r i t e r i o n of size; a

g ro u p o f s e v e r a l f a m i l i e s and t h e m ost v a s t o f e m p ire s a r e e q u a l l y

d efined as s t a t e s , i f they possess sovereignty. H aving d i s ­

pensed w ith th e c r i t e r i o n of th e "good l i v e , " B odin need n o t

req u ire th a t the s t a t e b e o f s u c h a s i z e a s t o make i t p o ssib le.

The good l i f e i s a j u s t aim o f th e state, but it does not con­

stitu te a p a rt of the d e fin itio n . S im ilarly , a community o f l a w s ,

in B o d in 's o p in io n , defines "la c ite ," not the state. A v illag e,

a city , a n a t i o n — e a c h may e q u a l l y w e l l b e a n i n d e p e n d e n t s t a t e .

The s t a t e s ta n d s above th e s e f u r t h e r c la s s e s as a genus t o its

several sp ecies: its only d is tin g u is h in g ch aracteristic is sov­

ereig n ty .

Sovereignty is defin ed as th e "puissance absolue e t

p erp etu elle d 'u n e R e p u b liq u e . "^ That is to say, "la souverainete

n ’e s t l i m i t e e n y en p u i s s a n c e , n y en c h a r g e , ny a c e r t a i n tem p s.

S ov ereig n ty , lik e the state itse lf, is p erp etu al. B or a democ­

racy or a risto c ra c y , th is is apparent. The s o v e r e i g n , lik e the

state itse lf, i s a g r o u p o f men c o n s t a n t l y r e n e w i n g i t s e l f . In

the c a s e o f m onarchy, how ever, t h e r e is a d iffic u lty . T h e Roman

d ictato r, r e g a r d l e s s o f h i s g r e a t pow ers c o u ld n o t be c o n s id e r e d

■^Bodin, O e u v r e s , p . 169. 2I b l d .. p. 173.

^B odin, R e p u b l iq u e , Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 85.

^I b i d ., p. 86.
94

as sovereign, s i n c e h i s pow ers w ere l i m i t e d to a d esig n ated p eriod

of tim e. In such a c ase , th e p eo p le rem ained s o v e r e i g n . 1 A

h e r e d i t a r y m onarchy, on t h e o t h e r h a n d , c o u l d b e c o n s i d e r e d in

the f u l l sense p e rp e tu al; a t the death of the p rin ce, the sov­

e r e i g n t y rem ains w ith h is successor. But what o f t h e e l e c t e d

m onarch? He r e c e i v e s t h e s o v e r e i g n power c o m p le te and u n l i m i t e d ,


p
to e x e r c i s e a c c o r d i n g t o h i s own w i l l d u r i n g h i s l i f e t i m e . At

h is d eath, how ever, he has no r i g h t o f c h o o s in g a s u c c e s s o r .

The s o v e r e i g n t y r e t u r n s a g a in to th e p e o p l e - - e i t h e r to a group

of n obles o r to a l l the citizen s--w h o elect a new m o n a r c h . The

e l e c t e d m onarch r e c e i v e s t h e f u l l pow ers o f s o v e r e i g n t y , b u t how

can he be s a id t o be r e a l l y sovereign; how c a n t h e so v ereig n ty

be re g a rd ed as th e "property" o f t h e m o n a r c h w he n h e h a s no p o w e r

o v e r what w i l l be done w ith h i s sovereign power a t h i s death?

How c a n t h e p e o p l e d i v e s t itse lf c o m p letely o f the sovereign

pow er and s t i l l claim th a t th is s o v e re ig n power n e c e s s a r i l y r e ­

tu rn s to them upon t h e d e a t h o f t h e p r i n c e ? Are t h e r e n o t h e r e

o n l y two a l t e r n a t i v e s ? E ith er, as in th e o p in io n o f Hobbes, th e

electio n of a sovereign t o t a l l y d iv ests th e people o f a l l r i g h t s

connected w ith s o v e re ig n ty ; or, a s i n t h e o p i n i o n o f H o tm a n a n d

R ousseau, th e electio n could o n ly be re g a rd e d as a d e l e g a t i o n

of so v ereig n ty , w hich in f a c t alw ays re m ain s w ith t h e p e o p le .

B odin n e v e r t h e l e s s a c c e p t s th e s y s t e m o f e l e c t i v e m o n a r c h y a nd

concludes t h a t sovereignty is p e r p e t u a l when h e l d "pour la vie


-z
de c e l u i q u i a l a p u issa n c e."

B o d in 's r e s o l u t i o n o f th e problem c r e a te d by e l e c t i v e

1 I b i d . , pp. 8 6 - 8 7 . 2I b i d . , p . 8 8 . 3Ib ld .
95

m onarchy i s illu stra tiv e o f h i s m ethod and a im s . Through a

lo g ic a l an aly sis o f la\MS a n d in stitu tio n s, B odin s o u g h t t o de­

velop a coh eren t p o l i t i c a l th eo ry out of the chaos o f e x is tin g

p ractices. At t h e sam e t i m e , he demanded t h a t th e co n clu sio n s

of p o litic a l th e o r y be t e s t e d by h i s t o r y and t h u s r e s u l t in a

p r a c t i c a l and u n i v e r s a l p o l i t i c a l t h e o r y . To t h i s l a t t e r goal

he was a l s o im pelled by a b a s ic conservatism , or—if one p r e f e r s - -

a lack of d o c trin a irism . P o l i t i c a l t h e o r i e s w hich e x p re s s e d

i d e a l s r a t h e r th a n d e s c r i b i n g r e a l g o vernm ents w ere d a n g e r o u s .

They th r e a te n e d t h e p e a c e and s t a b i l i t y of e x istin g states.

B odin had re p ro a c h e d o t h e r s for th is , and h e was c a r e f u l t o

avoid it a s much a s p o s s i b l e .

B o d in 's a tte m p t to e stab lish a p o litical s c i e n c e on t h e

two f o u n d a t i o n s o f p h i l o s o p h y and h i s t o r y l e d - - p e r h a p s n e c e s s a r i l y -

to certain c o n tra d ic tio n s w ith in h is thought. However, it does

n o t n e c e s s a r i l y f o l l o w t h a t B o d in h i m s e l f was u n a w a r e o f t h e s e

co n trad ictio n s. The u n fo u n d e d a s s u m p t i o n t h a t such c o n tr a d ic ­

t i o n s a r e n e c e s s a r i l y unknown t o t h e a u t h o r i s a g e n e ra l cause

f o r e r r o r among s c h o l a r s ; it has been e s p e c i a l l y m isle a d in g in

stu d ies o f B odin. Bodin d id see t h e p ro b le m p r e s e n t e d by t h e

sy stem o f e l e c t i v e m onarchy. However, to have r e je c te d the

s y s t e m on t h e b a s i s of th e p rin c ip le o f th e a b so lu te n e ss of

s o v e r e i g n t y would h a v e c a s t d o u b t u p o n a common f o r m o f g o v e r n ­

m e n t , a n d p e r h a p s on t h e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y i t s e l f . ' 1' He w a s ,

■^"Qu'on e n t e n d i s t l e m o t p e r p e t u a l e n u n M o n a r q u e , p o u r
l u i & s e s h e r i t i e r s , 11 y a u r a i t p e u d e M o n a r q u e s s o u v e r a i n s ,
a t t e n d u q u ' i l y en a f o r t p e u q u i s o y e n t h e r e d i t a i r e s : e t mesme-
m e n t c e u x q u i v l e n n e n t a l a c o u r o n n e p a r d r o i t d 1e l e c t i o n , n e
seroyent pas so u v erain s." Ib id .
96

therefore, forced to extend th e d e f i n i t i o n o f s o v e r e ig n ty to in ­

clude the e l e c t e d m onarch. There i s , how ever, a n o th e r c o n t r a ­

d ictio n in B o d in ’s th o u g h t r e l a t e d to th a t concerning e l e c t i v e

m onarchy; it was m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l , and i t is d o u b t f u l t h a t B odin

was e v e r c o m p l e t e l y a w a r e o f i t .

A man h o l d i n g a l l t h e p o w e r o f a s t a t e , p erp etu ally , is

not sovereign if t h i s power h a s o n ly been " d e l e g a t e d " t o him .

The s o v e r e i g n pow er h e l d t h r o u g h d e l e g a t i o n is not p ro p erly

sovereign; nor indeed i s s o v e r e ig n ty given "sous charges e t condi

tio n s."'* ' S overeignty is "ab so lu te." I t must be g iv e n a s a w hole

"car le p e u p l e s ’e s t d e s s a i s i e t d e s p o u i l l e de sa p u i s s a n c e

so u veraine, pour l 'e n s a i s i n e r e t in v estir: et a lu i, e t en l u i

tra n sp o rte to u t son p o u v o i r , a u to rite, p rero g ativ es e t souver-

ain et^s: comme c e l u i q u i a d o n n e l a p o ssession e t p r o p r i e t y de


n
ce q u i l u i a p p a r t e n a i t ."

Th e s o v e r e i g n p o s s e s s e s h i s p o w e r a s h i s own p r o p e r t y ,

w ith o u t c o n d itio n s . T h e r e i s n o t h i n g t o p r e v e n t him from e x ­

ercisin g h is s o v e r e i g n t y i n w h a t e v e r way h e w i s h e s , n o r even

from le a v in g i t t o whomever he p r e f e r s . Indeed, th ere seems t o

b e n o way i n w h i c h t h e s o v e re ig n co u ld even be o b lig e d t o leave

th e so v ereig n ty to h is h e ir . H e r e d i t a r y m onarchy, as w ell as

e l e c t i v e m onarchy, is called in to q u e s tio n by th e p r i n c i p l e of


3
a b so lu te so v ereig n ty .

1I b i d ., p. 8 9 . 2I b i d ., p. 8 8 .
3
^That th e system o f h e r e d i t a r y s u c c e s s io n sh o u ld p ro p -
p e r l y h a v e b e e n c o n s i d e r e d a l i m i t a t i o n on t h e p o w e r o f t h e
s o v e r e i g n i s shown b y B o d i n ' s s t a t e m e n t t h a t t h e s u c c e s s o r t o
t h e p r i n c e r e c e i v e s h i s r i g h t t o t h e o f f i c e b y t h e l a w s a nd
c u s to m s o f t h e c o u n t r y , n o t a s an h e i r . I b i d . , p p . 110-111;
c f . , Hobbes, L e v ia th a n , chap. x ix .
97

It is d iffic u lt to d e c i d e w h e t h e r B o d in was h i m s e l f

aw are o f th e c o n t r a d i c t i o n betw een h i s t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y

and th e system of h e r e d i t a r y s u c c e s s io n . He d o e s a t l e a s t o n c e

make t h e s t a t e m e n t t h a t t h e o n l y t r u e sovereign i s h e who h a s

t h e power t o " d isp o se r des b ie n s , des p e rso n n e s, e t de t o u t

I 'e s ta t a son p l a i s i r , e t puis le la is se r a qui i l voudra." 1

W hile t h i s s t a t e m e n t would seem t o show c l e a r l y e n o u g h t h a t t h e

s o v e r e ig n c an n o t be bound by t h e system o f h e r e d i t a r y s u c c e s s io n ,

there i s no e x p l i c i t r e c o g n i t i o n by B o d in t h a t t h i s is so. These

in co n sisten cies s e e m t o d e r i v e f r o m m or e t h a n a s i m p l e r e t i c e n c e

on t h e p a r t o f B o d i n .

B o d i n ' s t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y i s b a s e d on t h e idea t h a t ,

"P rince s o u v e ra in ne r e c o n n a i t , a p re s D ieu, rien p l u s g ra n d que

soi-m em e." 2 The s o v e r e i g n p o s s e s s e s t h e e n t i r e power and a u ­

th o r ity of the state; h is a u th o rity , sov ereig n ty , is i t s e l f what

makes t h e state. H aving gone t h i s f a r in statin g th e a b s o l u t e ­

ness of th e sovereign a u th o r ity , B odin i s n e v e r t h e l e s s f a c e d

w ith the q u e stio n of th e s o v e r e ig n 's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to the

state.

S o v e r e i g n t y makes t h e state, Bodin p o s i t s . He d o e s

n o t, how ever, conclude t h a t sov ereig n ty is the state. Sover­

eig n ty , i n B o d i n Ts t h o u g h t , is n o t th e w hole o f th e state. In

sp ite o f h i s t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y , Bodin s t i l l view s t h e s t a t e

a s a c o n ti n u o u s p o l i t i c a l com m unity, o f w h ic h t h e s o v e r e i g n is

■''Bodin, R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I, chap. v iii, p. 89.

2I b i d . , Bk. Ill, chap. v, p. 300.


98

o nly a p a r t . He w a s t h e r e f o r e still faced w ith th e same p r o b ­

lem a s h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s . L i k e C l a u d e d e S e y s s e l a n d S i r Th o m as

S m i t h , h e was s t i l l try in g to decide th e q u e stio n of the rela­

t i o n s h i p betw een t h e tw o e n t i t i e s : the s o v e r e i g n and t h e state.

D eclaring th e s o v e r e ig n t o be a b s o l u t e and u n l i m i t e d did not

s o lv e th e problem . It o n l y ma de t h e p r o b l e m m o r e a p p a r e n t .

The s o v e r e i g n pow er, a lth o u g h not th e a b s t r a c t term

sov ereig n ty , was an i d e a t h a t had a p p e a re d freq u en tly in the

w orks o f B o d i n 's p r e d e c e s s o r s . I n t h e w o r k s on F r e n c h c o n s t i ­

tu tio n al law , t h e v a r i o u s p o w e rs o f g o v e rn m e n t w ere e v e r more

fre q u e n tly gathered to g eth er in to a sin g le concept o f the h ig h ­

e s t pow ers o f th e re a lm . T his c o n c e p t w as e x p r e s s e d in such

term s as "au to rite ab so lu e," "puissance so u v e ra in e ," "m ajestas,"

and " m a j e s t e r o y a l e ." The h i g h e s t pow er o f t h e re a lm com prised

t h e v a r i o u s pow ers and p r e r o g a t i v e s g e n e r a l l y b e l i e v e d t o be

th e possession o f the p rin ce.1

B odin a c c e p te d t h e t r a d i t i o n a l list o f such pow ers,

called " l e s m a rq u e s de s o u v e r a i n e t e ." B o d in 's most e x t e n s i v e

list i n c l u d e s t h e p o w e r t o m a ke l a w s , d e c id e q u e s t i o n s o f war

and p e a c e , in stitu te the p r in c ip a l o f f i c e r s , judge in th e case

of la s t reso rt, issu e pardons, reg u late currency, c o n tro l stand-


p
ards o f w e ig h t and m e a su re , and l e v y t a x e s . These a re in e f ­

f e c t th e pow ers t r a d i t i o n a l l y regarded as b ein g in the posses­

sion of th e sovereign. Some o f t h e m a r e sim ply th e o rd in a ry

1C f . , Du H a i l l a n , L 'E ta t, p. 82v.

2B o d in - , R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I, chap. x, pp. 148, 154-170.


99

p rero g ativ es of the sovereign, and o t h e r s form t h e f o u n d a t i o n

o f h i s pow er. The f i r s t fiv e lis te d above a re b e lie v e d to b e ­

lo n g n a t u r a l l y to th e so v ereig n.1

When t h e a u t h o r i t y is w ell c o n s titu te d , none o f th e s e

b a s i c pow ers a re g iv e n to th e m a g i s t r a t e s . However, if a m agis­

trate i s a b l e t o d e c i d e on o n e o f t h e s e m a t t e r s , the san ctio n


2
rests alw ays w ith th e p r i n c e o r th e p e o p le , a s t h e c a s e may b e .

T hese pow ers b e lo n g , by t h e i r v e ry n a t u r e , to the sovereign; th ey

are th e re fo re i m p r e s c r i p t i b l e and i n a l i e n a b l e . The s o v e r e i g n

cannot lo se h is t i t l e t o one o f t h e s e p r e r o g a t i v e s t h r o u g h a

custom ary d is u s e o f i t . He may n o t e v e n g i v e it to another;

or, at least, no o n e c a n c l a i m a - r i g h t t o o n e o f t h e s e p r e r o g a t i v e s

even i f he can p r o v e t h a t i t w as g i v e n t o h i m b y t h e sovereign

h im self. For th e sovereign t o g iv e one o f t h e s e b a s i c pow ers

t o a n o t h e r w o u l d mean t h a t h e w o u l d i n e f f e c t t r a n s f e r t h e sov­

e r e i g n t y t o t h e o t h e r and he h i m s e l f l o s e a l l claim to any o f

t h e p o w e r s , o r t h a t he would d i v i d e t h e s o v e r e i g n t y and s h a r e

it w i t h a n o t h e r - - i n w h ic h c a s e n e i t h e r one w ould be s o v e r e i g n .

W hile e a c h o f t h e s e f i v e pow ers b e lo n g s e s s e n t i a l l y

to the sovereign, th ey are not a l l of equal im portance. The

d e c i s i o n on some o f t h e s e m a t t e r s may b e d e l e g a t e d t o o t h e r s .

F o r exam ple, in a dem ocracy o r a r i s t o c r a c y , d ecisio n s concern­

in g p e a c e and war w ould f o r t h e s a k e o f s e c r e c y need t o be l e f t

t o a s m a l l g ro u p o f men. There a r e , how ever, tw o p o w e rs w h ic h

■^Bodin, O eu vres, pp. 1 7 4 -1 7 5 -


2I b i d . 3 I b i d . . pp. 1 7 1 , 174.
100

a re fundam ental to so v ereig n ty , and from w hich a l l of the o th ers

d eriv e. T h ese a r e t h e m aking and a b r o g a t i n g o f law s and t h e a p ­

pointm ent of m a g is tra te s ; " i m p e r i i summi j u s i n h i s p r a e c i p u e

v e r s a r i . 1,1

In t h e M eth o d , Bodin v iew s t h e power o f c r e a t i n g m a g is -


2
trates a s t h e more f u n d a m e n t a l t o s o v e r e i g n t y . T h is power i s

alw ays m entioned f i r s t in th e l i s t o f s o v ere ig n pow ers. Bodin

a ls o rem arks t h a t t h i s power i s o f t e n t h e o n l y one e x e r c i s e d by

t h e p e o p l e i n a d e m o crac y and by t h e b o d y o f t h e n o b l e s i n an

aristo cracy , and i s thus s u f f ic ie n t to recog nize t h e i r so v er-

e ig n ty .^

In t h e R e p u b l i c , t h e power o f l e g i s l a t i o n i s view ed as
4
t h e f i r s t mark o f s o v e r e i g n t y . I t i s f i r s t o f a l l t h e power

a s o v e r e i g n must n e c e s s a r i l y p o s s e s s . Bodin h e r e a l s o s t a t e s

th at it is t h e power o f l e g i s l a t i o n , and n o t t h a t o f a p p o in tin g

m ag istrates, w hich i s su fficien t t o show who i s so v ereig n . A l­

though he f i r s t rem arks t h a t th e p o s se ss io n of the tw o p o w e rs

t o g e t h e r makes one s o v e r e i g n , he l a t e r adds t h a t o n ly th e law -

m aking power i s necessary.

There a re s e v e r a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s w hich m ig h t a c c o u n t

f o r B o d in 's change o f o p in io n . I n t h e M e th o d , Bodin speaks of

. 1I b i d . , p . 177. 2I b i d .

• ^ " C ' e s t d o n e u n e ma xim e f o n d a m e n t a l e d e c e g o u v e r n e m e n t .


q u e l e p e u p l e nomme s e s m i n i s t r e s , e ' e s t a d i r e s e s m a g i s t r a t s .
M o n te s q u ie u , E s p r i t d e s l o i s , Bk. I I , c h a p . i i .
4 .
B o d in , R e p u b l iq u e , Bk. I , c h ap . x, p . 154.

5 I b i d . . Bk. I I , chap. i , pp. 177, 182, 18 4.


101
t h e power t o c r e a te the m a g is tra te s and d e f i n e t h e i r p o w e r s .

T h is d u a l pow er, f i r s t listed a s a s i n g l e mark o f s o v e r e i g n t y ,

is elsew here r e f e r r e d to s im p ly as th e power t o c r e a t e the

m a g istrates.^ Th e tw o f u n c t i o n s a r e , how ever, separable. The

p e o p l e may w e l l h a v e t h e p o w e r o f e l e c t i n g t h e o f f i c e r s o f the

s t a t e w h ile th e power o f d e f i n i n g t h e i r o ffices, w hich i s prop­

erly a le g isla tiv e fu n ctio n , may r e s t w i t h a b o d y o f e l e c t e d of­

ficers. It is th u s th e e le c tio n of m ag istrates, and n o t th e

d efin itio n o f t h e i r p o w ers, w hich i s regarded as fundam ental.

The r e c o g n i t i o n o f e l e c t i o n r a t h e r than leg islatio n as the

p r i n c i p a l s o v e r e i g n p o w e r c o r r e s p o n d s much b e t t e r t o t h e a c t u a l

p ractice o f d e m o c r a c ie s and a r i s t o c r a c i e s . A lso, the lo g ical

b asis fo r i t is sim ple: h e who d e c i d e s who s h a l l make t h e law s

may b e s a i d t o t h u s i n d i r e c t l y make t h e law s.

I n t h e R e p u b l i c , B o d in no l o n g e r r e g a r d s t h e p o w er o f
p
e le c tin g m a g istra te s as a b so lu te ly n ecessary to so v ereig n ty .

T h is power m ig h t, th erefo re, be d e l e g a t e d by th e sovereign, or

it m ight be s h a r e d , the sovereign r e ta in in g o n ly th e r i g h t of

" c o n f i r m a t i o n and p r o v i s i o n " of the m a g istra te s.

In t h e M eth o d , Bodin view ed t h e e l e c t i o n of m ag istrates

a s t h e most e s s e n t i a l power o f t h e sovereign: h e who e l e c t s

th e m ag istrates c o n t r o l s t h e making o f la w s . . In th e R e p u b lic .

he h as r e v e r s e d t h i s relatio n sh ip : h e who m a k e s t h e l a w s t h e r e b y

co n tro ls the e le c tio n of the m a g istra tes. "T oute l e s au tres

m arques de l a sou v erain ete so n t com pris dans la p re m ie re : le

^B odin, O e u v re s , p . 117.

B o d in , R e p u b l i q u e . Bk. I, chap. x, p. 160.


102

p o u v o ir fa I r e et casser les l o i s . " ' 1' T h eo retically , the system

would work e q u a l l y w e l l in e i t h e r c a s e . A so v ereig n through

t h e power o f e l e c t i o n c o u ld c o n tro l law -m aking, o r th ro u g h law ­

m aking, c o n tro l the e le c tio n . However, e i t h e r fu n c tio n alone

l e a v e s a s e r i o u s w eakness in t h e power o f t h e sovereign. In

th e fo rm e r, m a g i s t r a t e s e l e c t e d by th e s o v e re ig n could in f a c t - -

if n o t i n t h e o r y - - m a k e la w s w h ic h would ch an g e t h e system of

electio n . In th e l a t t e r , m a g i s t r a t e s a p p o in te d by o t h e r s could

refuse t o e n f o r c e t h e l a w s made b y t h e sovereign. N either func­

tio n in itse lf s u f f i c e s t o e n s u r e t h e power o f t h e sov ereign.

However, it must n o t be f o r g o t t e n t h a t t h e s e powers a r e o n ly

d eleg ated , never given, to a n o th er. In b o th m a t t e r s , the fin al

word r e m a i n s w i t h t h e sovereign: if the m a g is tra te s a re e le c te d

by o th e r s , th eir confirm ation r e s t s w ith th e so v e re ig n , and i f

t h e l a w s a r e made b y o t h e r s , th eir s a n c tio n rem ain s w ith the

sovereign.

B o d in 's c h a n g e o f o p i n i o n a s t o w h ic h o f t h e two p o w e rs

is the f i r s t mark o f s o v e r e i g n t y i s p e r h a p s t h e r e s u l t o f l o g i c a l

a n a ly s is r a t h e r than a ' study of a c tu a l p r a c t i c e s . Law-making

does ep ito m ize th e s o v e r e i g n power: a ll o t h e r m arks o f s o v e r ­

e ig n ty a re contained in t h i s p rim a ry pow er. S ov ereig n ty is the

p o w e r o f co mmand. "P uissance" is d efined as the " p o u v o i r de

commander a a u t r u i , " and law "ne s i g n i f i e a u t r e chose que le

commandment d u s o u v e r a i n , u s a n t d e s a p u i s s a n c e . " The pow er

1I b i d . . p. 155.
2I b i d . , Bk. I , chap. iv , p. 20; chap. v iii, p. 108, Bk.
Ill, chap. v , p. 299.
103

of g iving law s i s thus the essence of so v e re ig n ty . The power

o f e le c tin g m a g is tra te s to execute th e se law s d e r i v e s from

th is p r i n c i p a l pow er.

The d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n t h e M e t h o d a n d t h e R e p u b l i c i n

r e g a r d t o t h e p r i n c i p a l m ark o f s o v e r e i g n t y w ould seem t o i n ­

d icate a d iffe re n t c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e pow er and l i m i t a t i o n s of

the sovereign. I f t h e s o v e r e i g n p o w e r t o make l a w s i s thought

t o be l im it e d by t h e f u n d a m e n ta l law s and cu sto m s (the c o n s ti­

tu tio n ) of the s ta te , th is power c o u ld be h a n d le d by a body w ith

only d eleg ated a u th o rity . Such a body could n o t , how ever, change

the co n stitu tio n of a s ta te , f o r t o do s o w o u l d b e t o a l t e r t h e

s o v e r e i g n pow er, and t h i s c o u ld o n ly be done by t h e so v ereig n .

I f t h e p o w e r t o make l a w s i n c l u d e s t h e p o w e r t o change th e con­

stitu tio n , th is power c o u ld n e v e r be d e l e g a t e d . Such seems t o

b e more c l e a r l y t h e p o s i t i o n o f t h e R e p u b l i c , and i n d i c a t e s a

certain developm ent of th e concept of so v ereig n ty . In t h e

R e p u b l i c , B o d i n was m o re I n c l i n e d t o p l a c e t h e s o v e r e i g n power

above even th e fu n d a m e n tal law s o f th e state, a lth o u g h B o d in 's

a r g u m e n t was s t i l l not free of in c o n siste n c ie s. A more t h o r o u g h

a n a l y s i s o f t h i s problem w i l l be g iv e n in th e sectio n on t h e

lim itatio n s of so v ereig n ty . We m u s t f i r s t c o n s i d e r how t h e s e

s e v e r a l marks o f s o v e r e i g n t y a r e c o n c e i v e d a s f o r m i n g an i n d i ­

v is ib le u n ity .

T h e p o w e r t o make l a w s i s t h e n e c e s s a r y a n d s u f f i c i e n t

power o f s o v e r e i g n t y ; a l l t h e o t h e r m arks o f s o v e r e i g n t y a r e

"co n tain ed " in t h i s , the f i r s t . Bodin a c c e p t e d t h e t r a d i t i o n a l

list o f pow ers h e ld by t h e so v ereig n , b u t he t h e n p ro c e e d e d t o


104
show t h a t t h e s e v a r i o u s p o w e rs fo rm a s i n g l e p o w e r: " s o u v e r a i n e t e ."

T h e s e pow ers form an e s s e n t i a l u n i t y ; they a re i n d i v i s i b l e .1

When t h e y a r e d i v i d e d , s o v e r e i g n t y i s d e s t r o y e d , and w i t h i t

the state itse lf; t h e r e rem ains o n ly a n arch y .

S ov ereig n ty is n o t s im p ly an a b s t r a c t o r l o g i c a l u n i t y .

When t h e s o v e r e ig n powers a r e d i v l d e d - - t h a t is to s a y , when

they are not a l l h e l d b y a s i n g l e man o r s i n g l e b o d y o f m e n - -

th ere i s no l o n g e r a s o v e r e i g n . In such a s i t u a t i o n , those p o s­

s e s s i n g t h e d i f f e r e n t powers a r e alw ays to o n e a r to b e in g e q u a l s .

T h e r e w i l l b e no c o o p e r a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e g r o u p s h o l d i n g p o w e r ,

n o r w i l l t h e i r m utual r e s t r a i n t keep t h e i r a c t i o n s w ith in le ­

g itim a te b oundaries. When t h e sovereign powers a r e d i v i d e d ,

"il f a u d r a t o u j o u r s v e n i r aux arm es" u n t i l one p a r t y h a s th e

e n t i r e power o f t h e state. B o d i n ' s t h e o r y o f ‘" s o v e r e i g n t y i s

t h u s b a se d upon a c e r t a i n idea o f t h e n a t u r e o f man a n d p o l i t i c a l

so ciety . Men a r e s u c h t h a t when t h e y s e e a c h a n c e t o g a i n p o w e r

o v er o th e rs ', a n d when t h e y a r e n o l o n g e r f o r c i b l y p r e v e n t e d ,

t h e y w i l l alw ays a tte m p t i t , and t h e y w i l l n o t stop sh o rt of

v io len ce. The t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y i s e s s e n t i a l l y t h e view

t h a t a monopoly o f f o r c e is n e ce ssa ry to m aintain a p e ac e fu l

so ciety . W ithout t h i s , a l l o th er r e s tr a in ts on t h e p a s s i o n s

" L e s m a rq u e s de s o u v e r a i n e t e s o n t i n d i v i s i b l e s : c a r
c e l u y q u i a u r a p u i s s a n c e d e d o n n e r l o y a t o u s , c ' e s t a d i r e co m­
m a n d e r o u d e f e n d r e c e q u ' i l v o u d r a , s a n s q u ' o n en p u i s s e a p p e l l e r ,
n i me sm es s ' o p p o s e r a s e s m a n d e m e n t s , i l d e f e n d r a a u x a u t r e s d e
f a i r e n i p a ix n i q u e rre , n i le v e r t a l l i e s , n i ren d re la f o i e t
hommage, s a n s s o n c o p g e: e t c e l u i a q u i sera deu la foy e t
hommage l i g e , o b l i g e r a l a N o b l e s s e e t l e p e u p l e d e n e p r e s t e r
o b e iss a n c e a a u tr e q u 'a l u i ; t e n e m e n t q u ' i l fau d ra to u jo u r s
v e n i r aux a rm e s, ju s q u e s a ce que la s o u v e r a i n e t e dem eure a
un P r i n c e , ou a m o in d r e p a r t i e du p e u p l e , o u a t o u t l e p e u p l e . "
B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e (1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , B k . I I , c h a p . i , p . 2 6 6 .
105

o f men a r e In effectiv e. B o d i n ' s p o l i t i c a l t h e o r y I s b a s e d on

a conception o f t h e n a t u r e o f man s i m i l a r t o th a t of M ach iav elli

and Hobbes.

The ty p e o f s t a t e ("l 'e t a t de R ^ p u b l i q u e " ) i s defined

by t h e p o s s e s s i o n o f s o v e r e ig n pow er. Since t h i s power i s in ­

d iv isib le, it follow s th a t th ere can o n ly be t h r e e t y p e s o f

state, acco rd in g ly as the s o v e r e ig n power i s h e ld e i t h e r by a


1
sin g le ru ler, a m in o rity , or a m a jo rity of th e citizen s.

The mixed c o n s t i t u t i o n is not a f o u r th type o f s t a t e ,

but a "c o rru p tio n ." 2 B o d in c l a i m e d i n t h e Method t h a t a m ix e d

re g im e had n e v e r e x i s t e d , and he s t i l l m a k e s t h e s am e s t a t e m e n t
•3
in th e R ep u b lic . H ere, how ever, h i s argum ent becomes c l e a r .

There a r e , in e f f e c t , only th r e e types of s ta b le regim es. The

co rru p tio n s "ne c e s s e n t d ' e t r e ag itees des v e n ts des s e d it io n s

c i v i l e s , j u s q u ' a ce que la s o u v e r a i n e t e s o i t a u x u n s ou au x
,,4
au tres. B odin r e c o g n i z e s t h a t t h e r e a r e t im e s i n w h ich th e

so v ereig n ty of a s ta te is in t h e p r o c e s s o f c h a n g in g and th e

s o v e r e ig n pow ers a r e d iv id ed . But t h i s does not c r e a te a n o th e r

ty p e of s t a t e ; it is only a t r a n s i t i o n b e tw e e n two o f t h e r e c o g ­

nized ty p e s . Such a s i t u a t i o n s h o u ld b e t t e r be d e s c r i b e d as

anarchy r a t h e r th an as a n o th e r type of regim e. B o d in 's argum ent

thus r e s t s on t h e b e l i e f t h a t a m i x e d r e g i m e c a n n e v e r b e p e a c e ­

f u l o r en d uring.

1
B o d in , O e u v r e s , p. l 8 l .
P
B o d in , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I I , chap. i , p. 185.
^Ibld. ^I b i d . , p. 1 8 6 .
106

The a d v o c a t e s o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n claim ed t h a t a

d iv isio n o f power le d t o a m utual r e s t r a i n t of th e v a rio u s groups

w hich h e ld t h e i r a c t i o n s w ith in th e co n stitu tio n al lim its. It is

th is t h a t Bodin d e n i e s . In r e a l i t y , , Bodin c o n te n d s , a d iv isio n

of the suprem e power l e a d s o n ly t o v i o l e n c e . Th e i d e a o f t h e

m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n is d a n g e ro u s and " p e u t m ouvoir de g r a n d s t r o u ­

b le s ."1 I t must t h e r e f o r e be c a r e f u l l y stu d ied .

Bodin a t t r i b u t e s th e c la s s ic s t a t e m e n t o f t h e m ixed c o n ­

stitu tio n to P olybius: "ab su rd u m q u o q u e d e b e t v i d e r i quod

P olybius a f f ir m a t, R eipublicae summum i m p e r l u m p a r t i m in p o p u lo ,

partim in Senatu, partim in C onsulibus f u i s s e : ac p r o p te r e a im-

perium tem peratum v i d e r i ex o p tim a tib u s , regno ac populo, quan

opin io n em D ionysium ac C ic e ro a r r i p u e r u n t : deinde M a c ia v e llu s ,

C o n t a r e n u s , Th. M orus, G a r i m b e r t u s , M anutius v eh em en ter p r o -

b aru n t." The s o u r c e o f t h i s idea is in A r i s t o t l e , alth o u g h

B odin i s u n c e r t a i n t o what e x te n t A r i s t o t l e h im s e lf r e c o g n iz e d

t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n . Bodin som etim es i n c l u d e s A r i s t o t l e among

those th e o r is ts r e c o g n i z i n g t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n , but on ly b e ­

cause A r is to tle seems t o h a v e s e e n s u c h a r e g i m e in S p a r t a .

O th e r w is e , B odin n o t e s , A r is t o t l e recognized only th e th re e


3
ty p e s of regim e.

1I b i d ., p. 176.
2B o d i n , O e u v r e s , p . 1 7 7 ; c f . , R e* p u b l i q u e . B k . I , c h a p . x ,
pp. l4 8 ff.

•^"Quod a d L a c e d a e m o n i o s a t t i n e t , v i d e t u r A r i s t o t e l e s
i i s e r r a n d i occaslonem p r a e b u i s s e , q u i tem peratum r e i p u b l i c a e
g en u s e s s e p u t a r u n t : p r o p t e r e a quod a l l o r u m s e n t e n t l a s r e t u l i t ,
q u i p a r t i m p o p u la re m , p a r t i m re g ia m , p a r t i m optim aturn e s s e
d l c e r e n t ; q uos non r e f e l l i t . S e d cum s u b l a t a d i s p u t a t i o n e t r i a
107
A risto tle d id r e c o g n iz e a n o th e r ty p e o f re g im e , w hich
C .
he c a l l e d s i m p l y t h e " c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r e g i m e " ( /y JTo } \ kT £ oi )•

It is sig n ifica n t t h a t B odin does n o t c a l l t h i s a m ixed c o n s t i ­

tu tio n . A lthough he r e f u s e s to reco g n ize It as a tru e "etat de

R ep u b liq u e," h is argum ent h e re r e s t s on d i f f e r e n t g r o u n d s .

A risto tle, l i k e B odin, in itia lly classified regim es in to th ree

ty p es: ru le o f one man, o f a m i n o r i t y , and o f t h e m a j o r i t y o f

the c itizen s. W hereas A r i s t o t l e g o e s on t o ma ke f u r t h e r d i s t i n c ­

tio n s w ith in th is classific atio n , B odin r e f u s e s t o do s o . B odin

charged th at A risto tle ma de a l o g i c a l e r r o r : he f a i l e d to d is­

tin g u ish "d ifferen ces e ssen tielles et fo rm elles" from " a c c i d e n t s , "

and, in in tr o d u c in g m oral c r i t e r i a , he confused th e "nature" and

the "q u alite" of a th in g .1 B odin does n o t a rg u e a g a i n s t th e .a d ­

d itio n al d istin ctio n s, he a rg u e s o nly t h a t th e y should create

su b -c a te g o rie s under th e th re e types o f regim e, and n o t a d d i ­

tio n a l ty pes o f regim e. W h e t h e r a n a r i s t o c r a c y b e b a s e d on t h e

p rin cip le o f w ealth o r of v ir t u e , th e regim e i s still the ru le

of th e few . W hether a p r i n c e be good o r b a d , th e regim e rem ains

no l e s s m o n a r c h i c a l . In B o d in 's o p in io n , A ris to tle 's co n stitu ­

t i o n a l regim e i s e i t h e r a dem ocracy o r a r i s t o c r a c y , d epending

on w h e t h e r t h e s o v e r e i g n p o w e r I s h e l d b y t h e may o r t h e few .

A regim e is not " m i x e d " w he n t h e d ifferen t classes in

the state a l l have a sh are In s o v e r e ig n ty . The s o v e r e i g n t y

in such a s i t u a t i o n could still be a s i n g l e w hole e x e r c i s e d

by a s in g le so vereign body. The f a c t th at th e body e x e r c is in g

d u n t a x a t R e i p u b lic a r u m g e n e r a p o s u e r i t , non a m p liu s quaerendum


v i d e t u r q u i d d e r e t o t a s e n t i a t , cum a p p a r e t q u i d s c r i p s i t . "
B o d in , O e u v r e s , p . l 8 0 j c f . R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I I , c h a p . i , p . 184.

1 I b i d . , p. 175.
108

the s o v e r e i g n p o w er i s made up o f m em bers f r o m d i f f e r e n t so cial

and econom ic c l a s s e s does not n e c e s s a r ily c o n s t i t u t e ' a m ixed

c o n stitu tio n . "G ouvernem ent p o p u l a i r e " is not th e ru le o f the

p eo p le, but of th e m ajo rity . Thus a s t a t e in w hich th e p rin ce,

the nobles, and th e common p e o p l e a l l h a v e a p a r t i n m ak in g law

"ne f a i t que l ' e t a t p o p u la ire ." '* '

B odin d id n o t o b j e c t to the idea o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u -

tio n --at le a s t p rim arily --b ecau se i t accepted the p a r tic ip a tio n

of a l l classes of citizen s in th e e x e r c is e o f the sovereign pow er.

He o b j e c t e d to the n o tio n th at each c la s s of citizen s by i t s e l f

h eld a p o rtio n of the so v ereig n ty : th at the sovereign pow ers

w ere b e lie v e d t o be d iv id e d a m ong t h e classes and e a c h c l a s s

h eld its power in d e p e n d e n t l y o f t h e o th ers. B odin o b j e c t e d t o

the d iv isio n of so v ereig n ty , not th e p a r tic ip a tio n of d iffe re n t

classes of c itiz e n s in the sov ereig n body. He w o u l d h a v e h a d

to reject a sy stem in w hich th e sovereign po w er was h e l d e n ­

tirely by a s in g le c l a s s — th e w ealth y , th e n o b ility , or the

common p e o p l e - - b u t d i v i d e d a m ong s e v e r a l g r o u p s w i t h i n t h a t

c l a s s r a t h e r t h a n h e l d by a l l members a s co n stitu tin g a sin g le

group. The n e c e s s a r y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a stab le regim e is eq u ally

lacking in e i t h e r case: th ere i s no one man, o r one g r o u p of

men, in p o s s e s s io n o f th e und iv id ed s o v e r e ig n pow er.

In s e e k in g to d isprove the t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u ­

tio n , B odin su p p o rts h is argum ent w ith t h e v e ry exam ples t h a t

w ere c i t e d in support o f, and gave r i s e to , th a t th eo ry . He

th erefo re p resen ts, i n b o t h t h e M ethod and t h e R e p u b l i c . a

1I b l d ., p. 177.
109

c a re fu l a n a ly s is of the c o n s titu tio n s of th e "most i l l u s t r i o u s "

states t h a t have e x is te d in E urope. These a re perhaps the b e s t

pages w r i t t e n by B odin. Th e a r g u m e n t i s c o n c i s e and h a s a n

o r d e r and c l a r i t y so la c k i n g in t h e r e s t o f h i s work. Here h i s

great learn in g and p ow ers o f a s s i m i l a t i o n become a p p a r e n t . Here

also , B odin m ost a b l y u s e s th e m ethod s e t f o r t h in h i s earlier

w ork; th e argum ents o f p o l i t i c a l theory are rig o ro u sly te ste d

and c o r r e c t e d by th e evidence o f h i s t o r y .

I n o r d e r t o d i s p r o v e t h e t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u ­

tio n , it was n e c e s s a r y t o r e f u t e t h e t e a c h i n g s o f some o f t h e

most a u t h o r i t a t i v e w r i t e r s on p o l i t i c a l a f f a i r s , bo th a n c ie n t

and m odern. The n o t i o n o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n w as f i r s t

e l a b o r a t e d b y P o l y b i u s a n d C i c e r o i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h t h e Roman

rep u b lic. B o d in 's f i r s t task , th erefo re, w a s t o p r o v e t h a t Rome

was a p u r e d e m o c r a c y and n o t a c o m b i n a t i o n o f t h e t h r e e t y p e s o f

state. He a t t e m p t s , th ro u g h an a n a l y s i s of the d esc rip tio n s

g i v e n b y t h e Roman h i s t o r i a n s - - a n d b y P o l y b i u s a n d C i c e r o t h e m -

selv es--to show t h a t t h e f u l l a n d s u p r e m e p o w e r w as i n t h e h a n d s

o f th e people. Th e S e n a t e a n d C o n s u l s e x e r c i s e d o n l y a d e l e g a t e d ,

lim ited a u t h o r i t y . T h e p e o p l e o f Rome r e t a i n e d for i t s e l f both

t h e p o w e r t o make l a w s a n d e l e c t t h e m a g i s t r a t e s : the p o sses­

sion o f t h e s e tw o p o w e rs s u f f i c e s to show t h a t t h e p e o p l e a l o n e
, 1
was s o v e r e i g n .

I n a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n , B o d i n g o e s on t o r e f u t e the o pin-

•'■"Tenemus i g l t u r o m n i a S e n a t u s & m a g i s t r a t u u m i m p e r i a ,
in a r b i t r i o & v o lu n ta te p o p u li f u i s s e . Quod s a t i s e s s e t a r g u ­
m e n t ! ad ju d ic a n d u m s t a t u m f u i s s e omnlno p o p u l a r e m . " B odin,
O e u v re s , p . 178.
11 0

Ion t h a t a m ixed re g im e e x i s t e d in o th e r s t a t e s : S parta was a n

aristo cracy : A thens, a democracy; V enice began as a dem ocracy

and changed p r o g r e s s i v e l y i n t o an a r i s t o c r a c y ; t h e Ge rman

e m p i r e was a n a r i s t o c r a c y g o v e r n e d b y t h e Im p erial D iet; England

and F ra n c e a r e p u re m o n a rc h ie s.

One m u s t , h o w e v e r , d o u b t t h a t Bodin r e a l l y succeeded

i n r e f u t i n g t h e t h e o r y o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n . B o d i n w as

ab le to show t h a t t h e r e w as i n e v e r y s t a t e one man, o r g r o u p o f

m e n, in p o s se ss io n o f th e u n d iv id ed s o v e r e ig n pow er. B u t would

th is c o n t e n t i o n have been d e n ie d by th e a u t h o r s he s e t o u t t o

refu te? F o r exam ple, i n t h e c a s e o f Rome i t is questio n ab le

w h e th e r P o ly b iu s o r C ic ero meant t o deny t h a t th e suprem e power

of th e s t a t e w as h e l d b y t h e p e o p l e , or th at the a u th o rity of the

S e n a t e a n d C o n s u l s came f r o m t h e p e o p l e . Indeed, th eir d escrip ­

tio n s o f t h e Roman r e p u b l i c a r e t h e c h i e f e v i d e n c e g i v e n b y

B odin in d e m o n s tr a tin g t h a t th e s o v e r e i g n t y b e lo n g ed t o th e

p eo p le.

C ic e ro 's d is tin c tio n betw een t h e "p o testas" of th e

p e o p l e and t h e "au cto ritas" o f t h e S e n a t e w ould seem t o show

t h a t he to o b e l i e v e d t h e S e n a te t o be s u b o r d i n a t e t o t h e p e o p l e . 1

N o r d o e s B o d i n show t h a t P o l y b i u s d e n i e d t h e so v ereig n ty of the

people. B odin c laim ed t h a t P o l y b i u s b e l i e v e d th at "R eipublicae

summum i m p e r i u m p a r t i m in p o p u lo , p a r t i n in S en atu , p artin in

C onsullbus f u i s s e . " But had P o ly b iu s been aw are o f B o d in 's

rig o ro u s term inology, th ere is no r e a s o n t o b e l i e v e t h a t h e

w ould h a v e i n s i s t e d the " i m p e r i u m t e m p e r a t u m " o f Rome was a

^ C i c e r o De L e g i b u s , c h a p . ill, p. 13.
Ill

d iv isio n of so v ereig n ty . In e f f e c t , P o ly b iu s on ly s t a t e d th at

t h e Roman r e p u b l i c contained elem ents o f a l l th ree types o f s ta te .

He d i d n o t d e n y t h a t th e people h eld suprem e pow er. W hether o r

not the S e n a te and C o n s u ls h e l d t h e i r au th o rity as a deleg atio n

b y t h e p e o p l e was n o t t h e q u e s t i o n P o ly b iu s ask ed . R ather,

h e ask ed what a u t h o r i t y t h e y h e l d a n d how t h e y e x e r c i s e d it.

They d id in f a c t have a u t h o r i t y and t h e r e b y had an i m p o r t a n t

part in th e a c tu a l o p eratio n o f t h e Roman s t a t e .

To t h e q u e s t i o n why h e h a d r e c o g n i z e d c ertain pow ers

to b e lo n g to t h e S e n a te and th e C onsuls, P o l y b i u s w ould seem­

i n g l y h a v e g i v e n tw o a n s w e r s : first, th ese are t h e pow ers

they e x ercise in th e norm al f u n c tio n in g o f th e state, and second,

t h e s e a r e th e pow ers th e y p o s s e s s a c c o r d in g t o the co n stitu tio n .

These re a so n s a re g e n e r a lly su fficien t. For exam ple, an A m erican

p o litic a l scie n tist does not norm ally ask about th e lo catio n of

so v ereig n ty in th e governm ent; he c o n t e n t s h im self w ith d e s c rib ­

in g th e pow ers each g r o u p a c t u a l l y e x e r c i s e s . T his is su fficien t

so lo n g a s t h e state fu n ctio n s n o r m a l l y and t h e c o n stitu tio n is

g e n e r a lly accepted as th e fin a l au th o rity . B o d in was n o t , how­

ever, c o n te n t w ith s u c h an e x p l a n a t i o n , perhaps because he liv e d

in a s t a t e w h ic h was n o t f u n c t i o n i n g n o r m a l l y and i n w h ic h th e

co n stitu tio n i t s e l f was b e i n g q u e s t i o n e d . He w a s l e d to ask

t h e more u l t i m a t e q u e s t i o n s a b o u t p o l i t i c a l p o w e r. The a u t h o r ­

ity of the co n stitu tio n , as w ell as th a t of the v a rio u s groups

under th e co n stitu tio n , h ad become p r o b l e m a t i c . It was t h e r e ­

fo re n e ce ssa ry to exam ine th e o r i g i n of th is au th o rity : t o pose

th e q u estio n of so v ereig n ty .
B odin does n o t r e a l l y argue th a t in a c c e p tin g the idea

o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n P o ly b iu s r e je c te d the p r in c ip le o f an

In d iv isib le so v ereig n ty . The e r r o r o f P o l y b i u s , and o f a l l th e

o th er a u th o rs, was i n failin g to reco gnize th e ex isten ce of

such a p r in c ip le . B odin s e e s t h e g r e a t im p o rtan ce o f h i s own

w ork in h i s having been the first to s e e and t o explain the

p rin c ip le of so v ereig n ty .1 H is p r e d e c e s s o r s , B odin claim s,

failed to see th a t in every s ta b le regim e th e r e is a sin g le

suprem e pow er and t h a t t h i s power must be d i s t i n g u i s h e d from

a ll su b o rd in ate a u th o rity . They co nfused th e so v ereig n ty ,

" l'e ta t d 'u n e R e p u b liq u e ," w ith th e " g o u v e r n e m e n t ." The d i s ­

tin ctio n betw een th e form o f th e state and i t s governm ent is

th e fo u n d atio n o f B o d in 's th e o ry o f s o v e r e ig n ty . He b e l i e v e d
p
h im s e lf to have been th e first t o m a ke t h i s d istin c tio n .

The id e a o f t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n had i t s source in a

con fu sio n o f t h e re g im e and th e governm ent. T his e r r o r first

appeared in A r i s t o t l e 's P o litics. Bodin claim s th at A risto tle

confused the au th o rity of th e m a g is tra te s w ith the so v ereig n

power o f th e state. T his co n fu sio n , a rg u e s B odin, is evident

in A r l s t o t l e s classificatio n of the types of state. A risto tle

is supposed to have based h is d efin itio n of the form o f th e

^ o d in , R e p u b liq u e , Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 85; O euvres,


p. 174.

" P e u t e s t r e o n me d i r a i q u ' i l n ' y a q u e moy d e c e s t


a d v i s , e t que p a s un d es a n c l e n s , e t m oins e n c o r e d e s n o u v e a u x ,
q u i o n t t r a i c t d de la R e p u b liq u e , n 'a to u c h £ c e s t o p i n i o n . Je
n e l e v e u x p a s n i e r , m a is c e s t e d i s t i n c t i o n m 'a sem b le p l u s que
n e c e s s a i r e , p o u r b ie n e n t e n d r e l ' e s t a t de chacu n e R e p u b liq u e :
s i on n e v e u t s e p r e c i p i t e r e n u n l a b y r i n t h e d ' e r r e u r s I n f i n i s .
B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e (1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , B k. IX , c h a p . v i i , p . 3 3 7 .

^Ib id ., p. 359.
113

state on t h e r i g h t to hold o ffice r a t h e r t h a n on t h e r i g h t t o

elect th e o f f ic e r s a n d make t h e law s.1 B odin’ s c r i t i c i s m of

A risto tle was m i s t a k e n . He w a s , how ever, more j u s t i f i e d in

charging c ertain o t h e r a u t h o r s w i t h h a v i n g m a de t h i s error. The

French j u r i s t s and p o l i t i c a l t h e o r i s t s of th e six teen th century

w ere g u i l t y o f a v e r y vague and i n a c c u r a t e u s e o f t h e idea of

t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n . B o d in u n d o u b t e d l y d i d much t o clarify

th e d istrib u tio n of a u th o rity w ith in th e regim e.

B o d i n sa w t h e fundam ental e r r o r o f h i s p re d e c e s s o rs in

th e ir confusion o f o r i g i n a l and d e le g a te d au th o rity . T heir

co n fu sio n r e s u lte d fr o m n o t h a v i n g had an e x a c t n o t i o n s of th is

o rig in a l au th o rity and t h e r e f o r e , i n t h e w o rd s R o u s s e a u was

l a t e r t o have em ployed, " d 1a v o i r p r i s pour des p a r tie s de c e t t e

au th o rite ce q u i n 'e n e tait que des e m a n a tio n s ." The d e l e g a t e d

a u t h o r i t y could be, and w as, s h a r e d b y d i f f e r e n t g ro u p s and by

members o f t h e d i f f e r e n t so cial c lasses. A dem ocracy m ight

aw ard o f f i c e s a n d h o n o r s o n l y on t h e b a s i s o f p r e - e m i n e n t v i r t u e

o r w ealth . It plight, on t h e o th e r hand, d eleg ate th e e n tire

au th o rity to a sin g le person. O r, th e selectio n of o fficers

m ight be b ased en tirely on c h a n c e . In th e first exam ple, th e

1,1 i l d i t q u e s i l a p l u s p a r t d u p e u p l e a y a n t l a s o u v e r -
a l n e t ^ d o n n o i t l e s o f f i c e s aux p l u s b e a u x , ou a u p l u s g r a n d s ,
l ' e s t a t , d i t - i l , ne s e r a i t pas p o p u la ire , a in s a r i s t o c r a t i q u e :
q u i e s t une e r r e u en m a t i e r e d ' e s t a t , a t t e n d u q u ’ i l n ' e s t p a s
q u e s t i o n p o u r j u g e r un e s t a t de s a v o i r q u i a l e s m a g i s t r a t s e t
o f f i c e s a in s seulem ent q u i a la s o u v e r a in e te , e t t o u t e p u is sa n c e
d ' i n s t l t u e r ou d e s t i t u e r l e s o f f i c l e r s , e t donner l o l a chacun.
T o u t e s s e s a b s u r d i t e z s u s d i t e s r e s u l t e n t de ce q u ’A r l s t o t e a
p r i s la form e de g o u v e rn e r p o u r l ' e s t a t d 'u n e R e p u b liq u e ."
I b i d . , p . 337.
114

s t a t e would be a dem ocracy g o v e r n e d a r i s t o c r a t i c a l l y ; in th e


second, governed m o n a rc h ie slly ; i n t h e t h i r d , g o v e r n e d demo­
cratically . Th e d e m o c r a c y m i g h t e v e n c o m b i n e a l l t h r e e s y s t e m s
of sele ctin g i t s o fficers. The s t a t e n o n e t h e l e s s r e m a i n s demo­
cratic, so lo n g a s t h e su p rem e, o r i g i n a l a u t h o r i t y r e m a in s in
th e hands o f th e m a jo rity o f th e c i t i z e n s . " E t combien q u e l e
g o u v e r n e m e n t d ' u n e R e p u b l i q u e s o i t p l u s ou m o i n s p o p u l a l r e , ou
aristo cratic, ou R o y a l, s i e s t - c e que l ' e s t a t en s o y n e r e c o i t
c o m p a r a is o n de p l u s n i de m o in s: c a r tounours la souverainete
in d iv isib le e t i n c o m m u n i c a b l e e s t a un s e u l , ou a la m o in d re
p a r t i e de t o u s , ou a l a p l u p a r t . " ^
In e f f e c t , Bodin i s o n ly s a y in g t h i s , th a t w hatever d i v i ­
sion of a u th o r ity e x i s t s w ith in a s t a t e , th ere i s a l w a y s o n e man
o r one group t h a t i s a b l e t o make t h e f i n a l d e c i s i o n in case of
co n flic t. B o d i n d i d n o t r e a l l y go s o f a r a s t o say t h a t t h i s
had b een d e n ie d by e a r l i e r a u t h o r s . They had s im p ly f a i l e d to
c le a r ly recognize i t and comprehend i t s c e n t r a l im portance fo r
p o litical scien ce. Too c o n c e r n e d w i t h a n a l y z i n g t h e complex
d iv isio n of p o litic a l a u th o rity , they f a ile d to recognize i t s

e s se n tia l u n ity . T h i s u n i t y s h o u l d h av e b een t h e c e n t r a l and


p rim ary co n cern . In em phasizing th e u n i t y r a t h e r th a n th e
d i v e r s i t y o f p o l i t i c a l a u t h o r i t y , Bodin p la y e d a m a jo r p a r t

i n t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f a new m ovement i n p o l i t i c a l t h e o r y .

W h ile r e j e c t i n g t h e t h e o r y o f t h e mixed c o n s t i t u t i o n ,

Bodin a c c e p t e d t h e c e n t r a l argum ent o f t h e t h e o r y . The t h e o r y


o f t h e m i x e d c o n s t i t u t i o n r e s t e d on t h e b e l i e f t h a t a p a rtic ip a -

1I b i d ., p. 559.
115

tio n of th e s e v e ra l c la s se s of c itiz e n s In t h e g o v e rn m e n t would


r e s u l t I n a m ore j u s t a n d s t a b l e r e g i m e . T h is Bodin a c c e p t e d .
He a d d e d , h o w e v e r , o n e q u a l i f i c a t i o n : p o l i t i c a l a u t h o r i t y may
be s h a r e d , b u t o n l y t h e s u b o r d i n a t e a u t h o r i t y ; t h e supreme a u t h o r ­

ity is in d iv isib le. We h a v e a l r e a d y p o s e d t h e q u e s t i o n w h e t h e r


o r n o t some s u c h q u a l i f i c a t i o n already ex isted in t h e minds o f
the c la s s ic a l th e o r is ts . However, it i s not the d isco v ery of
t h e n o t i o n o f s o v e r e i g n t y t h a t m akes B o d i n i m p o r t a n t f o r t h e
h i s t o r y of p o l i t i c a l philosophy; rath er, it i s t h e u s e he makes
of th is notion. Bodin b e l i e v e d to have d is c o v e r e d in th e idea
of so v ereig n ty th e f i r s t p rin c ip le of p o l i t i c a l scien ce. W ith
B odin, s o v e r e i g n t y became f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e t h e c e n t r a l c o n ­
c e p t and a s su ch a f f e c t e d e v e r y a s p e c t o f h i s p o l i t i c a l t h o u g h t .
The r o l e t h a t t h e c o n c e p t o f s o v e r e i g n t y p l a y s i n B o d i n ' s
p o l i t i c a l t h e o r y can b e s t be seen in h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e b e s t
form o f s t a t e . B o d in 's choice is little m o re t h a n t h e r e s u l t o f
a d e d u c tio n from th e p re m is e s of h i s t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y .
T h a t form o f s t a t e is b e s t w hich b e s t c o rre sp o n d s to th e
necessary u n ity of sov ereig n ty .
S o v ereig n ty is in d iv isib le; it is th e possession of

o n e man, a f e w , o r t h e m a j o r i t y . Thus t h e r e a r e t h r e e t y p e s
of sta te : m onarchy, a r i s t o c r a c y , and d e m o c r a c y . In th e case

o f a r i s t o c r a c y an d d e m o c r a c y , so v e re ig n ty is undivided in th a t

it i s th e p ro p e rty o f a s in g le group. H ere, however, th e u n ity

o f s o v e r e i g n t y i s n o t so c l e a r as in t h e c a s e o f m onarchy. The

so v ereig n ty is i n e f f e c t d i v i d e d among t h e m em bers o f t h e g r o u p :


" e s t enim p o p u l a r i s s t a t u s n i h i l a l u i d quam I m p e r i i summl
116

a e q u a tio ." 'L Under t h i s type of so v ereig n ty , th e "m ajeste" of

so v ereig n ty , on ■which d e p e n d s t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n o f t h e la w s and


2
th e state, cannot be m a in ta in e d .

More p r e c i s e l y , the s o v e re ig n power b e lo n g s t o th e

m a j o r i t y o f t h e members o f t h e s o v e re ig n assem bly. The d e c i ­

sion of th e m a jo rity is said to be th e w i l l o f th e assem bly.

When d i f f e r e n c e s a mo ng t h e m e m b e r s a r e such as to p rev en t th e

creatio n of a m ajo rity , th e so v e re ig n assem bly cannot issu e com-

m ands, and t h e r e is i n e f f e c t no s o v e r e i g n . Democracy r e q u i r e s

a certain b asic agreem ent c o n c e rn in g what i s p e r m i s s i b l e and

d esirab le. T h is agreem ent i s n o to rio u sly d if f ic u lt to m ain tain .

W ithout it, so v ereig n ty disap p ears and t h e re g im e f a l l s in to a

state of anarchy. T h u s, B odin c l a i m s , d em o cracies have alw ays

been a t war o r in a s t a t e of c iv il war u n l e s s t h e y a r e


in f a c t
4
g o v e r n e d by one o r a few u n d e r t h e appearance o f dem ocracy.

W h i l e a n a g r e e m e n t a m on g t h e r u l i n g class is e a s ie r to m aintain

in an a r i s t o c r a c y th a n in a dem ocracy, th e aristo cracy is in

ad d itio n s u b je c t to th e danger a ris in g from th e d isc o n te n t of

th o se denied a sh are in th e sovereign au th o rity .

T h e same r e a s o n s w h ic h l e d B o d i n t o r e j e c t t h e d i v i s i o n

o f p o w e r a m on g t h e several classes of c itizen s also c a u s e d him

to regard as In ferio r a state w herein th e s o v e r e ig n power i s

^ o d i n , O eu v res, p . 214.
O
B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. IV, chap. iv , p. 656.

•^"Le p e u p l e d t a n t d i v i s £ e n l ’ ^ t a t p o p u l a i r e , n 'a poin t


de s o u v e r a i n e ." I b i d . , chap. v i i , p. 442.

^ I b i d . , Bk. V I , c hap. i v , p . 659 .


117

div id ed a m ong t h e m e m b e r s o f a n y o n e c l a s s . The b e s t re g im e

is th at in w hich th e so v e re ig n power i s co m p letely u n d iv id e d ,

where i t is t h e p r o p e r t y o f one man. W h ile d e m o c r a c y and

aristo cracy are not "co rru p tio n s" lik e t h e m ixed c o n s t i t u t i o n ,

th ey are n e v e rth e le ss clea rly in ferio r to m onarchy.

The need f o r "un s e u l c h e f" in th e state is expressed

in B o d in 's o fte n re p e a te d statem ent th a t "la fam ille est la


•j

vrai im age de l a R ep u b liq u e." The f a t h e r i s by n a tu r e the

un q uestioned a u th o r ity in th e fam ily ;


a sim ilar au th o rity ,
P
B odin a r g u e s , should e x i s t in th e S ta te . The f a m i l y i s t h e

most im p o rta n t im age o f m o n a r c h i c a l r u l e , b u t B odin a l s o claim s

th a t " s i naturam p r o p r iu s in s p ic ia m u s m onarchiam u b iq u e in tu eri

l i c e b i t ." 5
W hile B odin em p h asized t h e need f o r c o m p le te u n i t y of

th e s o v e r e i g n p o w e r , h e di d - n o t r e j e c t a d iv ersity in th e

governm ent. In d eed , he arg u es t h a t o n ly under a s in g le r u l e r s

is i t p o ssib le to have th e g reatest d iv ersity , the b ro ad est

rep resen tatio n , in th e governm ent. B odin a c c p e te d th e n o tio n

th a t th e vario u s classes of c itiz e n s should a l l have a p a r t in

th e governm ent. Mixed g o v e r n m e n t i s necessary fo r a stab le


4
regim e o f any s o r t - d e m o c r a t i c , aristo cratic, o r m onarchic.

But a p o p u lar s ta t e seems b y n a t u r e to te n d tow ard p o p u la r

^I b i d ., p. 66l .

2 " Q u id e s t a l i u d f a m i l i a , quam v e r a R e i p u b l i c a e im a g o ?
Haec tam en u n i u s im p e r io c o n t i n e t u r , q u i non f i c t a m , u t V e n e-
to ru m d u x , sed veram R e g i s im aginem r e f e r t , " . B odin, O e u v re s.
p. 216.

^I b id . , p . 215 .
118

governm ent; and an a r i s t o c r a t i c state, to w a rd an a r i s t o c r a t i c

governm ent. M onarchy, h o w ev er, Is n a t u r a l l y g o v e rn e d b y a m ixed

governm ent, and i t is th u s su p e rio r to the o t h e r s . ’*' A m ixed

governm ent u n i t e s th e c itizen s in m aking p o s s i b l e a w ider p a r ­

tic ip a tio n in p o l i t i c a l affa irs. I n an a r i s t o c r a c y o r democ­

racy, how ever, it also creates th e danger t h a t th e people or th e

n o b les, wh en d i s s a t i s f i e d w ith th e ir lo t, w i l l be in a p o s i t i o n

to change th e form o f th e regim e. The same th in g is tru e in r e ­

gard to d ifferen ces am ong t h e m a g i s t r a t e s . It i s good t o h ave

a certain d isco rd and d i f f e r e n c e of in te re st among t h e o f f i c e r s

o f th e governm ent. In t h e c a s e o f a r i s t o c r a c y and dem ocracy,

how ever, th is discord can too e a s ily develop in to d estru ctiv e

factio n s. When t h o s e h o l d i n g t h e so vereign power a r e divided

in to factio n s, so v ereig n ty is destro y ed . In a m onarchy, the


2
p rin ce is ab le to p reserv e and r e g u l a t e th ese d ifferen ces.

T h u s, B odin c o n te n d s , the s t r i c t u n i t y o f s o v e r e ig n ty prom otes

r a t h e r than d isco u rag e s the g r e a te s t p o s s ib le ex p ressio n of

d iffe re n c e s w ith in th e governm ent. A b s o l u t e m o n arch y and m ixed

governm ent, f a r from b ein g in co m p atib le, a c t u a l l y f a v o r one

an o th er.

The b e s t state, w h ile a m onarchy, is a m onarchy

"te m p e re d " by a m ix tu r e o f d e m o c r a tic and a r i s t o c r a t i c govern­

m ent: " e t ne s u f f l t p a s e n c o r e s de d i r e que l ' e s t a t Royal e s t

le p lu s ex cellen t, s i on n e m o n s t r e a u s s i q u ' i l d o it estre

1I b i d ., p. 753.

2I b i d ., Bk, IV, chap. v, p. 423, chap. v ii, p. 442.


11 9 ; - -

tem pere p a r l e gouvernem ent A r i s t o c r a t i q u e e t P o p u l a i r e , c 'e s t


a d i r e p a r j u s t i c e h a r m o n iq u e , q u i e s t composee de l a ju stice
d i s t r i b u t i v e ou G e o m e tr i q u e , e t co m m u ta tiv e ou A r i t h m e t i q u e ,
lesq u e lles sont propres a l ' e s t a t A risto c ra tiq u e e t P opulaire:
en q u o ! f a i s a n t l ' e s t a t de M o n a r c h i e s e r a sim p le, e t l e gouverne
ment compose, e t te m p e r ^ , sa n s aucun c o n fu s io n des t r o i s Re-
■i

p u b liq u es." Harmonic j u s t i c e , w h ic h B odin c l a i m s t o have a p ­


p lie d fo r th e f i r s t tim e t o p o l i t i c a l a f f a i r s , is s i m p l y a com­
b i n a t i o n o f g e o m e tr ic and a r i t h m e t i c j u s t i c e a s t h e l a t t e r were
d e f i n e d by A r i s t o t l e . Bodin o b j e c t s t o g e o m e tr ic ju stice,
e q u a l i t y among e q u a l s , b e c a u s e i t ten d s to sep arate the c itiz e n s
A rith m etic ju stice, sim ple e q u a l i t y f o r a l l , fa ils to take a c ­
count of th o se c itiz e n s w ith s u p e rio r a b i l i t y or s i t u a t i o n .

Harm onic j u s t i c e , in b a s in g th e system o f o f f i c e s , h o n o r s and


p e n a l t i e s on a c o m b i n a t i o n o f t h e tw o p r i n c i p l e s , w o u ld r e d u c e

th e d e fe c ts of each.
P o l i t i c a l t h e o r y h a s a l w a y s b e e n f a c e d w i t h tw o b a s i c
problem s: the c r e a tio n of a s tro n g , u n if ie d a u t h o r it y ab le
t o m a i n t a i n p e a c e and o r d e r , and t h e d e .v isln g o f r e s t r a i n t s
upon t h i s a u t h o r i t y t o a s s u r e a g r e a t e r d e g r e e o f j u s t i c e and
lib erty . Few a u t h o r s h a v e e v e r r e j e c t e d e i t h e r o f t h e s e aim s
as unnecessary. Yet i n t h e w orks o f a l m o s t e v e r y p o l i t i c a l

t h e o r i s t may b e s e e n a p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h , an e m p h a s i s u p o n ,
t h e one p ro b le m o r t h e o t h e r . C e r t a i n l y B o d i n saw t h e c r e a ­
tio n of a stro n g p o l i t i c a l a u th o r ity as th e f i r s t n ecessity ,

and h i s e n t i r e p o l i t i c a l thought i s c e n te r e d around t h i s problem

^ o d in , R epublique (1 6 0 8 e d . ) , Bk. V I, chap. v i, p. 1015


120

H i s c h o i c e o f t h e b e s t r e g i m e was a m o n a r c h y t e m p e r e d b y a m i x e d
governm ent; i t was n o n e t h e l e s s an a b s o l u t e m o n a r c h y . T he r a d i ­
c a l c h a r a c t e r o f B o d i n 's th o u g h t can be seen by com paring h i s
concept of th e " b e s t regim e" w ith t h a t o f th e c l a s s i c a l p h i ­
losophers. For P la to , t h e " b e s t reg im e " meant t h e most j u s t
regim e; f o r Bodin, i t m eans o n l y t h e m o s t p e a c e f u l , t h e most
stab le, regim e. B o d i n ' s e m p h a s is upon t h e need f o r s t r o n g p o ­
litic a l a u t h o r i t y was r e l a t e d t o t h e a t t e m p t t o e s t a b l i s h m o re
p r a c t i c a b l e n o r m s , an a t t e m p t t h a t b e g a n w i t h M a c h i a v e l l l and
c u lm in a te d w ith Hobbes. I t was, how ever, a l s o r e l a t e d t o th e
m o re i m m e d i a t e p r o b l e m s o f F r e n c h p o l i t i c s , and i t is th is r e la ­
t i o n s h i p t h a t we m u s t f i r s t co n sid er.
B o d i n saw i n F r a n c e , in h is lifetim e, an a n a r c h y a s

c o m p le te and d i s a t r o u s as th a t e x p e r i e n c e d by Hobbes d u r i n g t h e

E n g l i s h C i v i l War. In 1 5 6 6 , t h e Wars o f R e l i g i o n h ad a l r e a d y

raged a c ro ss France d uring several years. The s i t u a t i o n at

th a t tim e has been d e sc rib e d as "le desordre, l'a n a rc h ie , la

guerre civ ile, to u tes les p ires c o n d itio n s d 'u n E t a t se d ls -

s o c i a n t . . . .On a l l a i t a la r u in e ." 1 In t h a t y e a r , B odin p u b ­

lish ed h is first w o r k on p o l i t i c a l th eo ry , t h e M ethod. Ten

years la te r , wh en B o d i n ' s R e p u b l i c first appeared, c o n d itio n s

in F ra n c e w ere even w o rse. The F r e n c h m o n a rc h y , u n a b l e t o

e i t h e r a c c e p t o r e x t e r m i n a t e t h e new c u l t of p ro testan tism ,

enjoyed the confidence o f n e i t h e r p a r t y and was a l m o s t sw ept

asid e in th e stru g g le. P r o t e s t a n t and C a t h o l i c arm ies ravaged

‘' " L o u i s B a t i f f o l , Le s i e c l e de l a R enaissan ce (P aris:


H a c h e t t e , 1955)., p . 2 1 9 .
121

t h e l a n d , a n d t h e o n l y e x i s t i n g a u t h o r i t y was t h a t won b y
s u p e rio rity of arm s. It i s no w o n d e r t h a t B o d i n v i e w e d t h e
a tta in m e n t o f c i v i l o rd e r as the f i r s t aim o f p o l i t i c s a n d saw

t h e o n l y means i n a s i n g l e suprem e pow er.


N otw ithstanding i t s f o r b i d d i n g s i z e and d i f f i c u l t
s t y l e , B o d i n ' s R e p u b l i c was m e a n t f o r a l a r g e a u d i e n c e . For
th is reason, i t w as, u n l i k e t h e M ethod, w r i t t e n in th e "popular"
language; th a t Is to say, in F r e n c h . Bodin hoped t h a t i t would
t h u s h a v e a w i d e r i n f l u e n c e among h i s f e l l o w c i t i z e n s . 1 This
f a c t p o i n t s up t h e d u a l p u r p o s e o f t h e work: i t was m e a n t b o t h
t o s e t f o r t h a g e n e r a l s c i e n c e o f g o v ern m en t and t o h av e a p r a c ­
t i c a l e f f e c t upon t h e c o n d u ct o f F r e n c h p o l i t i c s .
T he d u a l p u r p o s e o f t h e work c r e a t e s a p r o b l e m f o r t h e
sch o la r. To t h e e x t e n t t o w h i c h t h e w o r k was m e a n t t o h a v e a
popular in flu e n c e , it i s a w o r k o f r h e t o r i c a s w e l l a s a w ork
o f philo so p h y . The end o f r h e t o r i c is not tr u th , but p ersu a­
sio n; to a tta in th is e n d , t h e g e n e r a l t r u t h s may w e l l b e p r e ­

s e n t e d I n s u c h a way a s n o t t o c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e i n t e n d e d im­
m ediate e f f e c t . The a u t h o r ' s p ro b le m i s t o a c h i e v e t h e d e s i r e d

e f f e c t w ithout obscuring com pletely h is tru e o p in io n . In such


a work, c o n t r a d i c t i o n s do n o t n e c e s s a r i l y i n d i c a t e a c o n f u s i o n
on t h e p a r t o f t h e a u t h o r . I t may w e l l b e h i s way o f a c h i e v i n g
t h i s d u a l aim . One m u s t , t h e r e f o r e , never conclude t h a t a con­
tra d ic tio n s how s a c o n f u s i o n i n t h e mind o f t h e a u t h o r u n t i l h e
h as exam ined e v e r y p o s s i b i l i t y o f r e s o l v i n g i t . We w i l l s e e
t h a t when t h i s I s done In t h e c a s e o f B o d in , most o f t h e c o n ­

■^Bodin, R e p u b l i q u e , p r e f a c e .
122

fu sio n th at s c h o l a r s h av e so i n t r e p i d l y a t t r i b u t e d to B o d in 's

th o u g h t w i l l be seen to have been th e r e s u l t of h is d iscretio n ,

not h is co nfusion. O nly t h e n can one u n d e r s t a n d th e sig n ifican ce

of the in co n sisten cies w h ic h do e x i s t in B o d in 's th o u g h t.

C hauvire, in p e rh a p s t h e most d e t a i l e d stu d y o f B o d in 's

p o litic a l th o u g h t, s u g g e s ts t h a t B o d in , in th e R epublic 3 ex ag ­

gerated t h e pow ers o f t h e m onarch in o r d e r t o m eet th e problem s

of the im m ediate s i t u a t i o n . Bodin is said to have r e ta in e d th e

restrictio n s on t h e m o n a r c h , b u t d i s s i m u l a t e d them so t h a t th ey

m ight r e a p p e a r "une f o i s l 'o r a :g e p asse."'* ' T his in terp retatio n

was a d o p t e d and e x t e n d e d b y B e a t r i c e R e y n o l d s , who s t i l l more

e m p h a tic a lly m ain tain ed t h a t th e R epublic does not r e f l e c t B o d in ' s


p
tru e opinion. T h e ir c o n te n tio n i s of th e utm ost im p o rta n c e . It
n ot only r a i s e s th e q u e stio n o f B o d in 's o p in io n s about the a c tu a l
and p r e f e r a b l e co n stitu tio n of Prance; it a l s o c a s t s d o u b t on
t h e m eaning o f B o d i n 's most r e a s o n e d s t a t e m e n t s r e g a r d i n g s o v ­
ereig n ty .

The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of. C h a u v ire and R ey n o ld s i s in con­

flict w i t h B o d in 's most e x p l i c i t statem en ts, re g a rd in g both

t h e o r y and p r a c t i c e . There is a b asic ag reem ent betw een th e

M ethod and t h e R e p u b l i c , b o t h i n r e g a r d to B o d in 's th e o ry of

so v ereig n ty in g e n e r a l and t h e co n stitu tio n of France in p a r-

1C h au v ire, p. 470.
2
"B odin, f e a r f u l o f a n a rc h y , a d ap te d h i s t h e o r i e s to
th e needs o f th e day. He e l i m i n a t e d f r o m La R e p u b l i q u e h i s m o s t
f o r c e f u l s t a t e m e n t s in f a v o r o f c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l i m i t a t i o n upon
t h e k i n g , a n d m a de a p l e a f o r d i v i n e r i g h t m o n a r c h y , r e c e i v i n g
i t s s o v e r e i g n t y f r o m on h i g h , a n d s h a r i n g i t w i t h n o o n e . "
R ey n o ld s, p . 143.
123

ticu lar. There I s , a s h a s been shown, a f u r t h e r d e v e lo p m e n t o r


clarificatio n o f t h e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y in t h e l a t e r work,
but th e p rin c ip le of th e th eo ry , th e a b so lu te n e ss of the sov­
e r e ig n power, i s e q u a l l y p r e s e n t in th e M ethod. T h is C hauvire
and R e y n o ld s d id n o t d e n y . They d id c o n te n d , how ever, t h a t th e
i n t e r p r e ta tio n o f th e French c o n s titu tio n d iffered co n sid erab ly
i n t h e tw o w o r k s . Supposing t h i s to be t r u e , it is d iffic u lt to
u n d e r s t a n d how t h e y came t o c o n c l u d e t h a t t h e M e t h o d . an d n o t t h e
R e p u b lic , co n tain ed B o d in 's t r u e o p in io n . If, as th ey contend,
t h e M eth od sh owed F r a n c e t o b e a l i m i t e d , c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m onarchy,
th is d e s c r i p t i o n would h av e b een i n c o n t r a d i c t i o n to the th e o ­
r e t i c a l argum ent o f b o th w orks, w h ereas t h e a b s o l u t e m onarchy of
F r a n c e d e s c r i b e d i n t h e R e p u b l i c would h av e b een in a g r e e m e n t
w ith th e th e o ry . I t w o u l d h a v e b e e n m or e r e a s o n a b l e t o c o n c l u d e

th at i t was i n t h e M e t h o d , n o t i n t h e R e p u b l i c , t h a t B o d l n m o d i f i e d

h is i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the French c o n s titu tio n in o r d e r t o meet


th e needs o f th e day.
However, C h a u v i r e and R e y n o ld s w ere m i s t a k e n i n b e l i e v ­
i n g t h a t t h e r e was a g r e a t d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n t h e i n t e r p r e t a ­
tio n s of th e French c o n s titu tio n c o n t a i n e d i n t h e tw o w o r k s .
A l r e a d y i n t h e M e t h o d , B o d i n s e t o u t t o r e f u t e t h e c l a i m made
by o t h e r s t h a t t h e P a rle m e n t and t h e " t r o i s E t a t s " were, respec­
tiv ely , a r i s t o c r a t i c and d e m o c ra tic e le m e n ts In t h e F re n c h

r e g i m e . ' 1' P a r l e m e n t s p o w e r was f o r t h e m o s t p a r t b a s e d on i t s

rig h t of " v e rific a tio n " of ro y al e d ic ts . Bodin r e c o g n i z e d t h i s


r i g h t and even s t r e s s e d its im portance in r e s t r a i n i n g the actio n s

^ C f . , B o d in , R ^ p u b l l q u e , Bk. II, chap i , pp. 183-184.


124

of the p rin c e .^ He r e f u s e d , how ever, to see th e re in any in d e ­

p e n d e n t a u t h o r i t y o r power o f o p p o s i t i o n to the c o mm an ds o f t h e

p rin ce. P a rle m e n t had o n ly th e power t o r e s t r a i n , not to oppose.

B odin, i n t h e M e th o d , drew a c l e a r d i s t i n c t i o n betw een th e P arle-

m e n t's power o f " p ro m u lg a tio n " of th e law s and t h e power o f " s a n c ­

t i o n ." 2 P a rle m e n t had o n ly t h e r i g h t o f "rem onstrance"; it could

refuse to prom ulgate th e o rd in a n c e u n t i l it made i t s o b jectio n s

to th e k in g . F in ally , how ever, at the k in g 's in sisten ce, P arle­

ment had t o com ply. Even t h e n , its i n f l u e n c e was n o t a t an en d ,

for it could p u b lis h th e law w i t h t h e n o t a t i o n "de e x p re sso

m an d ato ."^ The m a g i s t r a t e s , seein g th a t th e lav ; w a s p a s s e d a t

th e express command o f t h e king a g a in s t th e w ishes of P arlem en t,


4
w ould do l i t t l e to put the law i n t o e f f e c t . W hile v e r i f i c a t i o n

is th u s im p o rtan t, it does not co n stitu te san ctio n . The k i n g

can still pass law s w i t h o u t it and e n f o r c e them , a l t h o u g h in t h is

c a s e he w i l l have t o overcom e a c e r t a i n p assiv e re s is ta n c e on t h e


5
p a rt o f the m a g is tra te s .

In t h e M ethod. t h e assem bly of th e "tro is E tats" is

seldom m e n tio n e d . W hen , h o w e v e r , B o d i n d o e s s p e a k o f i t he

ascrib es to it pow ers w hich a r e in d irect co n trad ictio n to h is

own i d e a s o f m o n a r c h i c a l s o v e r e i g n t y . He h a d e x p l a i n e d that

"1'B o d i n , O euvres, p. 208-209; R e p u b liq u e , Bk. Ill, chap.


iv , p. 290.

2B o d i n , O euvres. p. 219.

^B odin, R ep u b liq u e, B k. I l l , chap. iv , p. 291.

^ Ib id ., Bk. I, chap. v iii, pp. 102, 104.

^I b i d ., Bk. Ill, chap. iv , p. 292.


12 5

the s u b m issio n o f a s o v e r e ig n p r i n c e t o t h e law s c o u ld o n ly be

considered p ro v is io n a l, so lo n g a s he d id not d e c id e to change

them .1 Yet he s t a t e d t h a t t h e k in g o f F ra n c e could n o t change

the l a w s u p o n h i s own a u t h o r i t y ; he needed th e ’’c o n s e n t " o f t h e

"tro is E t a t s ." 2 By t h e l o g i c o f h i s own a r g u m e n t , B o d i n w o u l d

have had t o c o n c l u d e t h a t t h e F r e n c h m o n arch was n o t s o v e r e i g n .

Yet e v e r y t h i n g e l s e he h a s s a i d would i n d i c a t e t h e contrary.

Bodin p a ss e d o v e r t h i s co n trad ictio n in com plete s i l e n c e .

In t h e R e p u b l i c , t h e power o f t h e E s t a t e s is c arefu lly

exam ined and t h e co n trad ictio n of the e a r l i e r work i s done away

w ith. B odin c l e a r l y states th at i f t h e p r i n c e were s u b j e c t t o

the consent of the E s ta te s , t h e r e g i m e w ould be an a r i s t o c r a c y . -

It I s t h e custom o f F ra n c e f o r th e k in g t o a s k t h e a d v ic e o f

th e " tro is E tats," but not th e ir "consent"; h e may o r may n o t

follow t h e i r a d v ic e .^ Indeed, th e French kings have o fte n

changed custom s and law s w i t h o u t h a v in g h e a r d t h e a d v i c e o f

th e E s t a t e s T h e p rero g ativ e of th e king to c a l l th e assem bly

of the E sta te s shows t h a t t h e E s t a t e s h a v e no s h a r e in th e sov- '

e re ig n ty .^ The " t r o i s E tats" i n no way l e s s e n s t h e p o w e r o f

th e kin g . On t h e c o n t r a r y , B o d i n c l a i m e d , th ey are of g re a t

v a l u e t o him i n g i v i n g a g r e a t e r a u t h o r i t y an d a c c e p t a n c e t o

h is commands. B o d i n c o n t e n d e d t h a t t h e k i n g o f E n g l a n d was

a l s o an a b s o l u t e sovereign, although the e state th ere (P arliam en t)

h a d more a u t h o r i t y t h a n in F ran c e . Laws made b y t h e E n g l i s h k i n g

1B o d i n , O e u v r e s , p. 187. 2i b i d .
■^Bodin, R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I, chap. v l i i , pp. 9 5 - 9 6 , Bk. II,
chap. 1 , p . l 8p.

^I b id ., Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 99. ^I b id ., p. 97.


126

a t th e re q u e st of the e s ta te c o u ld o n l y be a b r o g a t e d a f t e r t h e

k in g has convened th e e s t a t e s , but has not n e c e s s a r ily receiv ed

th eir p e r m i s s i o n . ' 1'

Except fo r th e s t a t e m e n t made c o n c e r n i n g t h e c o n s e n t

of the "tro is E ta ts," t h e r e i s n o t h i n g i n t h e M e th o d w h i c h e x ­

p lic itly
i n d i c a t e s t h a t B odin viewed F r a n c e a s a " c o n s t i t u t i o n a l
Q
m onarchy." Th e m o s t t h a t c a n b e s a i d i s t h a t t h e r e a r e c e r t a i n

statem ents th a t a re eq uivocal. T h e y do n o t i n t h e m s e l v e s make

c l e a r what l i m i t a t i o n s B odin t h o u g h t e x i s t e d on t h e p o w e r o f

th e F ren c h m onarch. H o w e v e r , when t h e s e s t a t e m e n t s a r e p l a c e d

w ithin th e fram ew ork o f B o d in 's p o l i t i c a l th o u g h t--w h e n t h e y a r e

in terp reted in th e lig h t of h is theory of s o v e re ig n ty --it is

seen t h a t th e y a re not in c o n f l i c t w ith th e s o v e r e ig n powers

o f an a b s o l u t e m onarch.

It d o e s, how ever, seem t o b e t r u e t h a t Bodin em phasized

the r e s t r a i n t s on t h e F r e n c h k i n g m o r e i n t h e M e th o d t h a n in

the R ep u b lic. In 156 6 , B o d in seemed s t i l l c o n fid e n t o f the

s t r e n g t h o f th e F re n c h m onarchy. E s s e n tia lly a co n serv ativ e,

h e may h a v e t h o u g h t b e s t t o b e r e t i c e n t a b o u t c l a i m s and p r a c ­

t i c e s w ith w hich he d i s a g r e e d . T h i s w o u l d e x p l a i n why he

•^I b i d . , B k . I, chap, v iii, pp. 97-98; Bk. II, chap. i,


p. 87.
o
The e r r o r o f C h a u v i r e and R e y n o ld s a r o s e fro m t h e i r
f a i l u r e t o d i s t i n g u i s h r e s t r a i n t from o p p o s i t i o n , and c o u n s e l
from c o n s e n t. Thus R ey n o ld s c la im e d t o s t i l l see t h e r e q u i r e ­
m ents o f t h e c o n s e n t o f th e " t r o i s E t a t s " in t h e R e p u b l i c ,
w h e r e a s B o d in o n l y s t a t e s t h a t i t was n o t t h e c u s to m t o c h an g e
la w s, " s in o n a p r e s a v o i r b ie n e t deuement a sse m b le l e s t r o i s
e s t a t s de F r a n c e en g e n e r a l . " B o d i n g o e s on t o e x p l a i n t h a t
th e k in g need o n ly r e c e i v e t h e i r c o u n s e l, n o t t h e i r c o n s e n t.
C f. R e y n o l d s , p . 147; B o d in , R ^ p u b l i q u e . Bk. I , c h a p . v i i i ,
PP. 9 5 - 9 6 .
•^ B o d in , O e u v r e s , p . 210.
127

v irtu ally Ignored th e fu n c tio n s of th e " tro is E tats" and y e t

accepted Its c l a i m t o pow ers t h a t w ere In c o n t r a d i c t i o n to h is

th eo ry of sovereig n ty . I t w as o n l y a f t e r 1566 t h a t such w r i t e r s

a s Hotman a n d Du H a i l l a n made r a d i c a l new c l a i m s f o r t h e p o w e r

of the " tro is E tats." In 1576, it was no l o n g e r p o s s i b l e t o

ig n o re th e claim s of th e E s t a t e s . B o d i n h i m s e l f w as a member

o f t h e E s t a t e s o f 1 5 7 6 a n d was i n s t r u m e n t a l i n . o p p o s i n g t h e

k in g 's a t t e m p t t o r a i s e mo ne y t h r o u g h t a x a t i o n o r s a l e o f t h e

dom ain. He w as u n d o u b t e d l y a w a r e o f t h e f o r c e s w o r k i n g a g a i n s t ,

t h e m onarchy. I n t h e p r e f a c e t o t h e R e p u b l i c , B o d i n made e v i d e n t

his f e a r f o r t h e r o y a l a u t h o r i t y and t h e s t a t e of Prance. He

s e e m s t o h a v e f e l t t h e t i m e h a d come t o r e j e c t a n y c l a i m made

f o r Parlem ent o r th e " tro is E tats" t h a t w ould t e n d to w a rd a

d iv isio n o f s o v e r e i g n t y and t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f t h e r o y a l a u t h o r i t y .

I n t h e R e p u b l i c ., B o d i n c a r e f u l l y r e f u t e d any supposed

l i m i t a t i o n s on t h e r o y a l a u t h o r i t y t h a t w o u l d h a v e d e n i e d t h e

k in g com plete s o v e r e ig n ty . T h ere w as, how ever, one su c h l i m i t a ­

tio n t h a t B o d i n n o t o n l y c o n t i n u e d t o a c c e p t , b u t e v e n made m o r e

ex p licit. T h i s l i m i t a t i o n was i n con trad ictio n to his own t h e o r y

of so v ereig n ty . T herefore, th is c o n tra d ic tio n , u n lik e the o th e rs,

can n o t be e x p la in e d by B o d in 's supposed r e t i c e n c e in th e e a r l i e r

work. It seems r a t h e r t o h av e e x i s t e d i n B o d i n ' s own t h o u g h t .

W hereas t h e o t h e r c o n t r a d i c t i o n s a l l concerned th e r e l a t i o n of

th e sovereign to th e s u b je c ts (and t o th e m a g i s t r a t e s ) , th is con­

cerned th e r e la tio n of the sovereign to the law s: "Quant, aux

lo ix q u i concernent l ' e s t a t du Royaume, e t 1 'estab lissem en t

d 'ic e lu y , d 'a u ta n t q u 'e lle s s o n t annexees e t u n ie s avec la


128

couronne, le P rin ce n 'y peut d ero g er, comme e s t la loy S aliq u e:


e t quoy q u ' l l face, to u jo u rs le successeur peut casser ce q u l

aura este fa it au p re ju d ic e des l o i x R o y ales, et sur lesq u elles

e s t appuy£ e t fonde la m a je s te s o u v e ra in e
Th e p r i n c e d o e s n o t h a v e t h e a u t h o r i t y t o c h a n g e t h o s e

l a w s on w h i c h h i s own a u t h o r i t y d e p e n d s . Thus B o d in seems t o

have d is tin g u is h e d a p articu lar class o f law s, the "leges im p erii"

or co n stitu tio n al law s, w h ic h fo rm an e x c e p t i o n t o th e p rin cip le


2
th at th e king Is sovereign over a l l civ il law s. In a d d itio n

to th e S alic law g o v e r n i n g t h e r o y a l s u c c e s s i o n , the law p r o ­

h ib itin g alien atio n of th e p u b lic dom ain and t h a t r e q u i r i n g

"v erificatio n " of ro y a l ord in an ces are d escrib ed as "leg es

i m p e r i i ." '5

I f th e k in g a lo n e does n o t have power t o change th e

co n stitu tio n al law s, how c a n t h e y b e c h a n g e d ? The c o n s e n t o f .

the " E t a t s g e n e r a u x " w ould seem t o add n o t h i n g t o the power o f

th e p rin ce. B odin re m a rk s o n ly t h a t it is custom ary t o assem ble

the E states before changing th e law s " q u i ne c o n c e rn e n t p o i n t


n4
1 1e s t a b l i s s e m e n t d u R o y a u m e . The E s t a t e s having o n ly an a d ­

v iso ry fu n ctio n , t h e y w ould in no c a s e add t o the au th o rity of

th e p rin ce h im se lf. E v e r y t h i n g B odin h as s a i d w ould l e a d to th e

"4 3 0 8 1 0 , R e p u b l i q u e ( 1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , Bk. I, chap. v iii,


p. 1^7; c f . B odin, O e u v re s, p . 187.

2I b i d ., 3I b id .. p. 208.
4 ✓
B odin, R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 96.

' ’" L e P r i n c e p e u t d e r o g e r a u x l o i s q u ' i l a p r o m i s e t j u r e


g a r d e r , s i la j u s t i c e d ’ I c e l l e c e s s e , sans le consentem ent des
su b jec ts." I b i d ., p. 93.
12 9

c o n c l u s i o n t h a t i f t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l a w s c a n n o t be c h a n g e d by
t h e s o l e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e p r i n c e , t h e y s im p ly c a n n o t be ch an g ed .
Bodin h e r e d e n i e s t h a t t h e s o v e r e i g n p r i n c e h a s t h e pow er. Yet
h e r e p e a t e d l y e m p h a s i z e d t h a t t h e s o v e r e i g n c a n n o t b e bound b y
the c i v i l l a w , an d m u s t h a v e t h e p o w e r t o m o d i f y t h e l a w s t o m e e t
changing c irc u m sta n c e s . E ve n i f t h e s o v e r e i g n d i d n o t h a v e t h e
r i g h t t o c h a n g e t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l a w s , t h e r e w ould b e no one
t o o p p o s e him i f he s h o u l d do s o . Bodin s t a t e s e x p l i c i t l y t h a t
t h e m a g i s t r a t e s s h o u l d o b e y r o y a l commands e v e n when t h e y a r e
a g a i n s t t h e f u n d a m e n t a l l a w s o f t h e s t a t e - - a g a i n s t a n y human l a w s
1
w hatsoever.
B o d i n i s h e r e f a c e d w i t h t h e same p r o b l e m a s t h a t r a i s e d
b y e l e c t i v e an d h e r e d i t a r y m o n a r c h y . I t d e r i v e s f ro m a f u n d a ­

m en tal c o n t r a d ic tio n in B o d in 's tho u g h t: th e monarch i s s a i d


to possess th e e n tire s o v e r e i g n p o w e r , b u t i s n e v e r t h e l e s s bou nd
by c e r t a i n l i m i t a t i o n s . The p o s s i b i l i t y o f s u c h l i m i t a t i o n s is
d e n ie d by t h e p r i n c i p l e o f s o v e r e ig n ty : " c a r l e p e u p l e ou l e s

s e ig n e u r s d 'u n e R e p u b liq u e, peuvent donner purement e t s im p le -


m ent l a p u i s s a n c e s o u v e r a i n e e t p e r p e t u e l l e a q u e l q u ' u n p o u r
d i s p o s e r d e s b i e n s , d e s p e r s o n n e s , e t d e t o u t l ' e s t a t a son

p lalsir, e t p u i s l e l a i s s e r a q u i i l v o u d r a , e t t o u t a l n s i que
l e p r o p r i e t a i r e p e u t d o n n e r son b i e n p u r e m e n t e t s i m p l e m e n t ,

s a n s a u t r e c a u s e q u e de sa l i b e r a l i t d , qu i e s t la vraye dona­
tio n : e t q u i ne r e c o l t p l u s de c o n d i t i o n s , e s t a n t une f o i s p a r -
f a i c t e e t accom plie: a t t e n d u que l e s a u t r e s d o n a t i o n s , qui

p o r t e n t ch arg e e t c o n d i t i o n , ne s o n t pas v ra y e s d o n a tio n s : aussi

1 I b i d . , Bk. Ill, chap. iv, p. 288.


150

la s o u v e r a i n e t e d o n n e e a un P r i n c e sous ch arg es e t
co n d itio n s
1
n 'e s t pas proprem ent s o u v e r a in e te n i p u is sa n c e a b s o lu e ." Bodin

never f u ll y resolved th is co n trad ictio n . He n e v e r e x p l a i n e d how

a people could g iv e its e n t i r e power and a u t h o r i t y t o a prin ce

and s t i l l retain rig h ts and p r e r o g a t i v e s connected w ith t h i s

au th o rity . He n e v e r came t o id en tify the state w ith s o v e r e ig n ty

as is shown i n h i s im p licit d i s t i n c t i o n betw een th e law s o f t h e

s o v e r e ig n and t h e law s o f t h e state (les lo is du Royaum e"). So

long as th e s t a t e was n o t i d e n t i f i e d w ith th e so vereign., th e

state c o u ld be u n d e r s t o o d t o h a v e c e r t a i n r i g h t s and p r e r o g a ­

tiv es above th o s e o f th e sovereign. The l o g i c of B o d in 's a rg u ­

m ent was l e a d i n g him to w a r d such an i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , to w a r d a con

elu sio n s im ila r to th a t o f Hobbes. He n e v e r r e a c h e d t h a t con­

clu sio n . He may h a v e l a c k e d t h e lo g ical c larity to see tow ard

what c o n c lu s io n s h is argum ents l e d . He may h a v e b e e n l o a t h e to

accept such a c o n c lu s io n . I t would h av e m ean t f i r s t th e adm is­

sion th a t h is t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y , f o r w h ich he c la im e d t h e

s u p p o r t o f h i s t o r i c a l e x am p le, w ould have been a t v a r i a n c e w i t h

th e p ra c tic e s o f most o f th e states he c h o se a s h i s exam ples.

It would a l s o h a v e m eant t h a t t h e s o v e re ig n had th e a u t h o r i t y

to c h an g e t h e r e g i m e , and would t h u s h a v e c o n s t i t u t e d a th re a t

to the peace of e x is tin g states. P e a c e was t h e c h ie f concern

o f B o d i n ’ s p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y 3 I t was f a v o r e d b o t h b y t h e

suprem acy o f t h e p r i n c e and t h e suprem acy o f th e law s,


and y e t
2
to a d m i t b o t h w as t o a c c e p t t h e co n trad ictio n betw een them .

^B odin, R epublique (1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , Bk. I, chap. v i i i ,


p. 128.
t- " l l [B odin] so u tin t d 'u n co 'te, q u 'Il y av ait dans
131

We h a v e t h u s f a r e x a m i n e d o n l y t h e r e l a t i o n of the sov­

ereig n to the c iv il law s. In t h i s r e s p e c t , Bodin b e l i e v e d th e

s o v e r e ig n power t o be in p r i n c i p l e u n l i m i t e d ; n o r w as i t bound

by th e "d ro it des g e n s ." 1 Bodin d i d , how ever, reco g n ize the

lim itatio n s on t h e sovereign d e riv in g fro m n a t u r a l and d i v i n e

law . B o d in 's is the c la s s ic a l understan d in g o f n a tu ra l law ,


2
a h i g h e r law i n d e p e n d e n t o f t h e a c t u a l b e h a v i o r o f men. The

content of th e law i s n a r r o w l y c o n s t r u e d . The n a t u r a l law i s


"5
c l e a r and n o t o b s c u r e ; it is " e v i d e n t que s o l e i l . " W hile t h e

n a t u r a l law i s b i n d i n g upon t h e sovereign, it e q u a l l y demands


4
th e obedience of th e su b ject to h is sovereign.

B odin w ish ed to m a in ta in the s o v e re ig n 's o b lig atio n to

n atu ral law ; a t the same t i m e , he w ish ed t o r e d u c e t h e p o s s i ­

b ility of a situ a tio n w herein th e s u b j e c t w ould f e e l it necessary

to d is o b e y an o r d e r b e c a u s e he b e l i e v e d it co n trary to n atu ral

law . I n such a s i t u a t i o n , the su b ject can o n l y d e c i d e a c c o r d i n g

1 ' E u ro p e q u e l q u e s M onarques a b s o l u s ; e t de 1 ' a u t r e , q u ' i l


n ' a p p a r t i e n t p a s a un d e s s u j e t s en p a r t i c u l i e r , n i a t o u s en
g e n e r a l , d ' a t t e n t e r a l ' h o n n e u r n i a l a v i e de t e l s M onarques,
s o i t p a r v o y e d e f a i t , s o i t p a r v o y e d e j u s t i c e , q u a n d meme i l s
a u r a i e n t com mis t o u t e s l e s m e s c h a n c e t e z , i m p i e t e z e t c r u a u t e z ,
q u 'o n p o u r r a i t d i r e . Ce s e n t i m e n t n e p a r a i t b i e n l i e a v e c l e
dogme q u ' i l a v a i t a u s s i s o u t e n u , q u e l a p u i s s a n c e d e c e s M o n a r q u e s
a des b o r n e s , e t q u ' i l s s o n t o b l i g e s de r e g n e r s e lo n l e s L oix;
m a i s , a p r e s t o u t , on p e u t c o n n a i t r e d a n s l ' u n e e t l ' a u t r e d e c e s
d o c t r i n e s , q u ' i l a v a i t a co eu r l e b ie n _ p u b lic , la p a ix e t la
t r a n q u i l l i t e de 1 ' E t a t s . " P ie r r e B ayle, D ic tio n n a ire h ls to r iq u e
e t c r i t i q u e ( p p . 3 3 - ^ 1 o f 5 t h e d . , A m sterd am , 173^* a r e r e p r i n t e d
in B odin, O e u v res). p . xxv.

^ B o d in , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 112; Bk. Ill,


chap. iv , p. 288.

2I b i d ., Bk. I, chap. v, p. 35.

^ I b i d ., Bk. II, chap. iii, p. 195; Bk. Ill, chap. iv , p . 292.

^I b i d ., Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 106.


132

to h is degree of c e r ta in t y th a t th e o rd e r i s c o n tra ry to the

law.'*' The law b e i n g " e v i d e n t , " if the


s u b je c t has any doubts
p
on t h e issu e, it is b e tte r to obey th e o r d e r . E v e n wh en h e

fin d s it im p o ssib le to obey, t h e s u b j e c t may n o t a c t i v e l y r e ­

sist the s o v e r e i g n I n reb ellin g , he w ould h i m s e l f be v i o l a t ­

i n g t h e n a t u r a l l a w , w h i c h commands t h e o b e d i e n c e o f t h e su b ject

to h is sovereign.

To u n d e r s t a n d B o d i n ' s c o n c e p t i o n o f n a t u r a l law and r e ­

latio n to the sovereign, one must c a r e f u l l y c o n s i d e r t h e q u e s ­

tio n of p riv a te p ro p erty . It is the one p r o v is io n of the n a tu ra l

law w h ic h i s b o t h f u n d a m e n ta l and e x p l i c i t : "il n 'e s t en la

p u i s s a n c e de P r i n c e du monde, de l e v e r im p o s t a son p l a i s i r sur


11 4
le peuple, non p l u s que p r e n d r e l e b i e n d 'a u tru y . Bodin v iew ed

th e in stitu tio n of p riv ate p ro p e rty as th e very foundation o f the


5
state and i t s p ro tectio n as one o f th e p rim a ry ends o f th e state.

H is argum ent f o r p r i v a t e p r o p e r t y i s -t h e a r g u m e n t o f A r i s t o t l e

ag ain st P la to 's R ep u b lic. Most i m p o r t a n t is the d estru ctio n of

1I b i d . , Bk. Ill, chap. iv , p. 290. 2I b id ., pp. 297-298.

^ I b i d . , Bk. II, chap. v, p. 215.

^ I b i d . , Bk. I, chap. v iii, pv 97.

^ " E n o s t a n t c e s d e u x m o t s t i e n e t m i e n , on r u i n e l e s
fo n d e m e n ts de t o u t e s R e p u b l i q u e s , q u i s o n t p r i n c i p a l e m e n t e s -
t a b l i e s p o u r r e n d r e a chacun' ce q u i l u i a p p a r t i e n t , e t d e fe n d re
l e l a r c i n , comme i l e s t p o r t e p a r l a l o i d e D i e U j q u i a d i s t e r t e -
ment v o u lu , que l a p r o p r i e t y d es b i e n s f u s t gardee. a c h a c u n , e t
n e f a u t p a s d i r e q u e l a n a t u r e a f a i c t t o u t e s c h o s e s co m m un e s:
c a r l a l o y de l a m e re n ' e s t p o i n t c o n t r a i r e a u commandement du
p e r e , comme d i t S a l o m o n , f i g u r a n t p a r a l l e g o r i e , l e s c o m m a n d e -
m e n ts de D ie u , e t l a lo y de N a t u r e . " B odin, R epublique (l6 0 8
e d i t i o n ) , Bk. V I, chap. i v , p . 9^8.
133

t h e f a m i l y t h a t would r e s u l t from a d e s t r u c t i o n of p riv ate

p ro p erty . 1 T h e I m p o r t a n c e o f t h e f a m i l y i n B o d i n 1s p o l i t i c a l

th o u g h t has a lr e a d y been n o te d . He v i e w e d i t as "la vraye

s o u r c e e t o r i g i n e d e t o u t e R e p u b l i q u e , e t membre p r i n c i p a l
2
d 'ic e lle . So i m p o r t a n t was i t s f u n c t i o n i n t h e s t a t e t h a t

Bodin re m a rk e d , "les fam ilies e sta n s bien gouvernees, la Repub­

liq u e ira b ien ."^ The p u b l i c m o r a l i t y d e p ended upon t h e p r o p e r

fu n c tio n in g o f th e fam ily; to assu re t h i s , Bodin went so f a r

a s t o f a v o r t h e a d o p t i o n o f t h e Roman l a w s w h e r e b y t h e fath er
4
h e l d t h e power o f l i f e and d e a t h o v e r h i s c h i l d r e n .

From t h e i n s t i t u t i o n o f p r i v a t e p r o p e r t y , Bodin c o n ­

cludes th a t th e p rin ce cannot ta x w ith out th e consent o f h is

su b jects. B o d in d o e s ho w ev er add t h e q u a l i f i c a t i o n th at "toute

fo is s i la n e c e s s ite e s t u rg en te, en ce c a s l e P r i n c e n e d o i t

pas a tte n d re l'a s s e m b le e des e s t a t s , n i le c o n s e n t e m e n t du

p eu p le." Bodin s t i l l held th e opin io n t h a t except f o r excep­

tio n a l circum stances ta x a tio n was a n i n d e f e n s i b l e p r a c t i c e .

T h e p r i n c e was e x p e c t e d t o p a y t h e e x p e n s e s o f t h e g o v e r n m e n t

from t h e re v e n u e d e r i v i n g from t h e r o y a l dom ain. The p r i n c e

h a d o n l y t h e e x e r c i s e o f t h e domain; it belonged to th e state.

Yet B o d in , in s p i t e of h is having d e sc rib e d th e in stitu

tlo n o f p r i v a t e p r o p e r t y a s a command o f n a t u r a l a n d d i v i n e law

g o e s on t o a c c e p t t h e ju stice o f s e i g n e u r i a l m onarchy, in w hich

1I b i d . , Bk. I , chap. ii, p. 15.

2I b i d . , p. 16. 3 I b i d . . p . 11.
4 , •
B o d in , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I , c h a p . i v , p . 22.
134

th ere i s no p r i v a t e p ro p erty .'* ' B odin d i v i d e s m onarchy i n t o

th ree types, according to the sy stem o f governm ent. ( T h e s am e

d iv isio n h o l d s good f o r d em ocracy and a r i s t o c r a c y a s w e l l . )

"M onarchie r o y a l e " is a l e g i t i m a t e m onarchy c o n fo rm in g t o t h e

law s o f n a t u r e and r e c o g n iz in g the lib erty and p r i v a t e p ro p erty

of the su b jects. "M onarchie s e i g n e u r i a l e " is based on t h e "d ro it

des arm es," holds a l l p ro p e rty to belong to th e r u l e r and d e n ie s

th e su b jects lib erty . "T yrannie" is ru le co n trary to the n a ­

tu ra l law , u n d e r w hich a l l p r o p e r t y b e lo n g s to the r u l e r and f r e e

men a r e t r e a t e d as slav es. S e i g n e u r i a l m onarchy i s "ju ste,

v irtu o u s and e q u i t a b l e " ; though i t does not obey the law o f


3
n atu re in one r e s p e c t , it does in a l l o th ers.

It is n ecessary to d istin g u ish s e i g n e u r i a l m onarchy from

tyranny, B odin a r g u e s , f o r w ithout th is d istin ctio n th ere is no

d istin ctio n drawn b e tw e e n j u s t war and b r ig a n d a g e . Y e t why

c o u ld B odin n o t a c c e p t t h e r i g h t of ju st c o n q u e st and s t i l l re­

q u ire th a t the conqueror ru le as a "ro y al" m onarch. He r e j e c t e d

th e rig h t of s l a v e r y b a s e d on a r m s , even th o u g h i t was d e f e n d e d

by the " ju s g en tiu m ." In th e case of s e i g n e u r i a l m onarchy,

a kind o f s la v e r y e x e r c is e d by th e state, th e " ju s gentium " is

accepted ag ain st th e command o f t h e n a t u r a l l a w .

l n Ne q u e e n i m c o n t r a n a t u r a m e s t , a u t c o n t r a j u s g e n t i u m ,
u t P r i n c e p s i n R e p u b l i c s r e r u m o m n iu m a c l e g u m d o m i n u s f i t .
modo i m p e r i u m s u i s a r m i s e t s a n g u i n e p a r t u m j u s t e t u e a t u r .
B odin, O euvres, p. 1 87 .

^B odin, R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I, chap. ii, pp. 190ff.

^ I b l d ., chap. ii, p. 19-4-J c f . , c h a p . i v , p . 2 0 1 .


4 1 3
I b i d ., chap. ii, p. 194. I b i d . , Bk. I , c h a p . v , p. 35.
135

The q u e s t i o n of p riv ate p r o p e r t y shows t h e extrem e lib e rty

w i t h w h ich B odin In terp reted the n a tu ra l law . He s e e m s t o have

regarded I t more a s a g u id e th a n a s a c om m a nd . Where o b e d i e n c e

to the law I s p o s s i b l e . , such as in th e case o f slavery., he r e ­

q u ires it; however,, w here i t is to o d i f f i c u l t , he j u s t i f i e s d is­

obedience. B odin w ished to oppose th e d ictates o f a h i g h e r law

to the u n ju st c o u n s e ls o f M a c h i a v e l l i , ; he was, how ever, aw are

of th e p o l i t i c a l n e c e s s itie s .^ He w a n t e d , lik e M ach iav elll be­

f o r e him , to b u ild a p o litic a l th e o r y w hich c o rre s p o n d e d t o a c ­

tu a l p ractice. W henever h i s th eo ry ran c o u n ter to w idely a c ­

cepted p r a c t i c e s , he adapted h is th e o ry to in clu d e th ese p ra c ­

tic e s. B pdin so u g h t b o th t o set f o r t h the stan d ard s fo r p o l i t i c a l

actio n and t o dem onstrate th a t th ese s t a n d a r d s w ere in a c c o rd

w ith actu al p ra c tic e . T hings seldom b e in g a s t h e y o u g h t t o be,

B o d in w ould e i t h e r h a v e had t o low er h is stan d ard s co n sid erab ly

or to f r a n k l y adm it th at t h e y w ere o f o n ly l i m i t e d p racticab ility .

H is r e f u s a l to accept e ith e r a lte rn a tiv e left him a s h i s o nly

recourse th e m anipulation o f.h is p rin cip les and th e d escrip tio n s

of actu al p ractice in o rd e r to at least reduce th e co n trad ictio n s

b etw een them .

The d i v i n e law i s f o r B odin t h e la w . o f t h e Old T e s t a m e n t ,

esp ecially th e law s o f M oses. It covers p o l i t i c a l and ju d icial

m a tte r s as w e ll as th o s e th in g s a lr e a d y p r o h ib i te d by n a t u r a l
2
law . T h e o b e d i e n c e owed t o t h e d i v i n e l a w I s s i m i l a r t o t h a t

^C f. P reface to R ep u b liq u e.

2I b i d ., Bk. IV, chap. iv , p. 412; Bk. V I, chap. v i, p. 712.


156

owed t o n atu ral law . T h u s when B o d i n r e m a r k s t h a t m o n a r c h y i s

approved by th e d i v i n e , law o r t h a t gynecocracy is ag ain st d ivine

law , o n e may n o t c o n c l u d e t h a t B o d i n v i e w s d e m o c r a c y o r t h e

E n g l is h m onarchy u n d e r E l i z a b e t h a s e s s e n t i a l l y u n j u s t . 1 The

d iv in e law a l s o r e q u i r e s th e obedience of th e su b ject to th e

so v ereig n ; even in th e c a s e o f an o r d e r c o n t r a r y t o divine


law ,
O
the o nly re c o u rse fo r th e su b ject is passiv e disobedience. The

s u b j e c t s may n o t " a t t e n t e r a la vie ou a l 'h o n n e u r " of the sov­

ereig n , e v e n wh en h e i s g u ilty of "im p ie te s.

R eynolds co n ten d s t h a t B odin, i n t h e R e p u b l i c . m a de a

't>lea f o r d i v i n e r i g h t m o n arch y ."^ B odin d id state th at, "O’e s t

une l o i d iv in e e t n a t u r e l l e , d 'o b e i r aux e d ic t s et ordonnances

de c e l u i a q u i D ieu a donne la p uissan ce sur nous. However ,

th is does n o t n e c e s s a r ily in d ic a te a b elief in div in e rig h t

m onarchy. It is ra th er the t r a d i t i o n a l view , as expressed „

e v en more f o r c e f u l l y by S e y s s e l in h i s statem en t th a t the p rin ce

"est elu et depute p a r la d iv in e providence a c e tt e d ig n ite si

grande e t s i h o n o r a b l e . " ^ . S u c h a v ie w was b y no m eans n e c e s s a r i l y

in co m p atib le w ith lim it a ti o n s on t h e r o y a l pow er. I t must a l s o

b e rem em bered t h a t such sta te m e n ts o f the d iv in e ch aracter of

t h e m o n a r c h w e r e m e a n t o n l y t o m a ke I t clear th at th is power

^ o d in , O euvres, pp. 208, 214-220.

2B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I I , chap. v, p. 213.
3 4 ,
I b i d . , pp. 210, 212. R eynolds, p. 143.

^ B o d ln , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. I, chap. v iii, p. 106.

^S ey ssel, Bk. II, chap. xv.


d i d n o t come f r o m , a n d was n o t su b ject to , th at of the Papacy.

It is d ifficu lt to d ecid e j u s t what i s m eant by th e

th eo ry of "divine rig h t m onarchy." It m u s t m ean m o r e t h a n

sim ply th e idea th at the selectio n of so v ereig n s is some how

guided by p ro v id e n c e , or th at su b jects do n o t h a v e t h e r i g h t of

reb ellio n ag ain st im pious r u l e r s . B oth t h e s e id e a s w ere a c ­

c e p t e d b y men who w e r e c e r t a i n l y not defenders of d iv in e rig h t

m onarchy. If, on t h e o th e r hand, th e th e o r y concluded from

th e ro le of providence in the selectio n of ru le rs th a t the ac­

tio n s of th ese ru lers w e r e so me how a l w a y s in acco rd w ith th e

d iv in e w ill, th e n B odin c e r t a i n l y was n o t a b e l i e v e r in d iv in e

rig h t. The t h e o r y o f d i v i n e rig h t essen tially concerned th e

d u ties of supposedly C h ris tia n su b jects to su pposedly C h ris tia n

m onarchs. When B o d i n speaks o f t h e o b e d i e n c e owed t o ru lers,

h is s ta te m e n ts a r e n o t meant to a p p ly e i t h e r e x c lu s iv e ly to

C h ristian s n o r to m onarchies. B o d in ’ s view o f d i v i n e law , b a se d

o n l y on t h e Old T e s t a m e n t , has n o th in g sp ecifically C h ristian

about it.

As t o relig io n itse lf, th ere is no fr e e d o m t o p ractice

it a s one w is h e s . True r e l i g i o n is a p riv ate and i n d i v i d u a l

m atter: "R elig io vero ip sa id est p u rg a ta e m en tis i n Deum r e c t a

co n v ersio , sin e c iv ili scien tia, sin e co etu , in u n iu s hom inis

so litu d in e e s s e p o t e s t . " ' 1' On t h e o th e r hand, th e state has a

rig h t and even a d u ty t o m a in ta in a p u b lic c u lt. B odin v iew s

relig io n as the surest fo u n d atio n f o r th e power o f th e sovereign

^Bodin, O eu v re s, p . 1 2 1 .
138

and t h e p e a c e o f t h e state .^ So i m p o r t a n t i s r e l i g i o n th at in

regard to the state even t h e w o rs t s u p e r s t i t i o n i s b e t t e r than

atheism . A theism i s the g re a t p e r ils lead in g to disobedience


2
and c i v i l w ar.

B elieving th a t tru e re lig io n req u ires n e ith e r in stitu ­

tio n s nor o v ert p ractices., Bodin r e g a r d s t h e r e g u l a t i o n of r e ­

lig io n as a question t o be d e c id e d by p r u d e n t i a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s

only. When o n e r e l i g i o n i s r e c e i v e d b y common c o n s e n t o f t h e


3
p eo p le, a l l d is p u te abo u t r e l i g i o n should be p r o h i b i t e d . In

such a s i t u a t i o n , one c o u ld t o l e r a t e only c e r ta in o ld er c u lts ,

s u c h a s t h e J e w s , who w o u l d p r e s e n t n o t h r e a t t o t h e g e n e r a l

b elief. When, h o w e v e r , t h e r e ex ists a n o th e r s e c t w ith a pow er­

f u l m em bership, t h e o n ly p o l i c y f o r th e r u l e r is on e o f t o l e r a ­

tio n . The m ost e f f e c t i v e a n d s a f e s t way t o o p p o s e s u c h a s e c t


4
is to fav o r the co n trary , b u t n o t ma ke u s e o f f o r c e . B odin

c riticized th e p rin c e s f o r having ta k en p a r t in th e r e l i g i o u s

s t r u g g l e and t h u s h a v i n g p l a c e d t h e i r a u t h o r i t y in jeopardy.

B o d i n w a s a me mber o f t h e g r o u p known a s " l e s P o litiq u e s,"

who a d v o c a t e d a p o l i c y o f r e l i g i o u s to leratio n in P ra n c e . It

1 " I I n 'y a ch o se q u i p l u s m a in tie n n e l e s e s t a t s e t Re-


p u b l i q u e s que la R e l i g i o n , e t que c ' e s t l e p r i n c i p a l fondem ent
de l a p u i s s a n c e d e s M onarques e t s e i g n e u r i e s , de l ' e x e c u t i o n
d e s l o i x , de l ’o b6 i s s a n c e d e s s u b j e c t s , de l a r e v e r e n c e d es
M a g i s t r a t s , de l a c r a i n t e de mal f a i r e , e t de l ' a m i t i e m u t u e l l e
e n v e r s un c h a c u n . " B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. IV, c h a p . v i i , p . 4 5 4 .

2 I b i d . , Bk. IV, chap. v ii, p. 456; Bk. V I, chap. i, p. 590.

^ I b i d . . Bk. IV, c h a p . v i i , p. 454; Bk. Ill, chap. v ii,


p. 346.
4 /
I b i d . ; c f . A p o l o g i e d e R e n e H e r p i n (a r e p l y w r i t t e n b y
Bodin h i m s e l f t o t h e c r i t i c s o f h i s R e p u b l i q u e ) . R e p u b liq u e
(1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , p . 4 v .
13 9

w as i n d e f e n s e o f t h i s p o l i c y t h a t Bodin opposed t h e attem pt of

H enri I I I t o r a i s e mo ne y i n t h e "assem blee des E ta ts " i n 1576.,

mo n e y t h a t w as t o b e u s e d f o r t h e s tr u g g le a g a in s t the P ro testan ts.

T his p o lic y o f r e lig io u s to le r a n c e , although f i r s t a tte m p te d by

t h e C h a n c e l l o r M ic h e l de l ' H o p i t a l a s e a r l y a s 1 5 6 1 , was n o t t o

w i n g e n e r a l a c c e p t a n c e u n t i l t h e a d v e n t o f H e n r i IV .

Bodin rem ark ed in h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f p u b l i c r e l i g i o n

t h a t he was n o t g o i n g t o speak about the "b est r e lig io n , but

th at th ere is o n ly one, " p u b l i c p a r l a b o u c h e de D i e u . " As t o

B o d i n ' s own r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s , C h a u v i r 6 seems t o h a v e d e s c r i b e d

them c o r r e c t l y a s , " c e q u ' i l nomme r e l i g i o n n atu relle, c 'e s t a

d i r e un d ^ is m e p h i l o s o p h i q u e , q u i n e s o u f f r e p l u s q u ' u n minimum

de dogmes e t q u ' i l c r o i t r e n o u v e l^ du c u l t e p r i m i t i f p r a t i q u e

par le s J u i f s ." 1

1C hauvir^, p. 160.
CHAPTER V

THE ORIGIN AND THE END OF THE STATE

We h a v e t h u s f a r e x a m i n e d B o d i n ' s concept of th e sov­

e r e i g n pow er: its a u t h o r i t y and i t s lim itatio n s. We h a v e y e t

to a s k th e most im portant q u e s tio n , the q u estio n of its ju stic e.

That is to say, by what r i g h t does th e sovereign claim the

obedience o f th e c itizen s? W hatever t h e d iv ersity of sta te s

and r u l e r s , th ere a r e o n l y two c r i t e r i a in r e s p e c t to w hich

one d e c id e s th is q u estio n . The j u s t i c e or in ju stice of a state

is determ ined eith er in re s p e c t to the o rig in of i t s power o r to

t h e m anner in w hich i t ex ercises th is pow er.

To j u d g e o f t h e ju stic e of p a rticu lar states, one m u st

first have an id e a of the state itse lf. In r e s p e c t to the

state itse lf, the tw o c r i t e r i a m entioned above can n o t be sepa­

rated . The o r i g i n of th e state ex p lain s the end o r p u rp o s e o f

the state, and t h e end in t u r n d e te r m in e s what i s meant by a

ju st state. Thus B o d in 's o p in io n s co ncerning ju stice depend

first of a ll on h i s account of the o rig in of the state.

Bodin e n v is a g e d a tim e p r e c e d i n g t h e ex isten ce of th e

state, in w hich th e on ly a s s o c ia tio n was t h a t of the fam ily ,

and t h e o n l y a u t h o r i t y was t h e "natu ral" a u t h o r i t y of the fath er.

A lthough th e fa m ily i s th u s "la vrai source e t o rig in e de t o u t e

R ep u b liq u e," th e a u th o r ity of the state is not an o u tg r o w th o f

th e a u th o rity of th e fath er. B odin d id n o t hav e a t h e o r y o f

140
l4 l

p a t r i m o n i a l m onarchy. When h e s p e a k s o f t h e f i r s t in stitu tio n

of sovereignty, th ere i s no r e f e r e n c e t o t h e f a m i l i e s , b u t o n l y

to in d iv id u als. The f r e q u e n t r e f e r e n c e t o t h e m onarch a s t h e

"fath er" of the citizen s i s o n l y an im a g e . Th e d i s t i n c t i o n be­

tw een t h e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e f a t h e r and t h a t o f t h e p r i n c e is funda­

m ental to B o d in 's th o u g h t. T h e o n l y m o n a r c h whom B o d i n d e s c r i b e d

as ru lin g "comme p e r e d e f a m i l l e " is th e s e i g n e u r i a l m onarch,

whose p o w e rs , f a r fro m b e i n g an o u tg r o w th o f p a t e r n a l p o w e rs ,

a r e b a s e d on t h e r i g h t of conquest. The s e i g n e u r i a l m o n a r c h

ru les as a f a th e r because he d is re g a r d s th e d i s t i n c t i o n betw een

p u b l i c and p r i v a t e , in d i s o b e d i e n c e t o n a t u r a l law . A lthough

m onarchy a lo n e is in a c c o rd w ith t h e n a t u r a l law , w hich p r e s c r i b e s

a sin g le ch ief in a l l a f f a i r s , there i s no c o n c l u s i o n drawn from

th is th at it i s th e o n ly n a t u r a l form o f s o v e r e i g n t y . It is,

fro m t h e p o i n t o f view o f i t s o rig in s, e q u a lly as a r t i f i c i a l as

th e o t h e r form s o f s t a t e . Even t h e h e r e d i t a r y m onarch d o e s n o t

r e c e i v e h i s power by any n a t u r a l r i g h t , a s an h e i r , b u t by th e

law s o f t h e state.

The f i r s t s t a t e o f man w as t h a t o f n a t u r a l l i b e r t y , "la

p lein et en tlere lib erty q u e c h a c u n a v a i t de v i v r e a s o n p l a i s i r ,

sans e tre commande d e p e r s o n n e . A cooperation first developed

among s e v e r a l f a m i l i e s f o r r e a s o n s o f c o m m e r c e , p l e a s u r e , and d e ­

fense, and t h e n expanded t o form v i l l a g e s and c i t i e s . These

first s o c i e t i e s w ere n o t , h o w e v er, s t a t e s ; t h e y were " s a n s l o i x ,


✓ O
sans M ag istra ts, sans P rin c ip a u te so u v erain e." W hereas Bodin

■LB o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I , c h a p . v i , p . 4 7 . C f. i b i d . ,
Bk. I, chap. i l , pp. 11, 13-14; O e u v re s, p. 191.

^B odin, R ep u b liq u e (1 6 0 8 e d . ) , Bk. Ill, chap. v i i , p. 474.


142

accep ts the pleasu re of s o c i e t y and th e b e n e f i t o f commerce a s

m otives fo r the developm ent o f s o c i e t y , he does not m en tio n them

as m otives fo r th e creatio n of the state. The s t a t e was c r e a t e d

fo r the s o le p u rp o se o f p r o v id i n g p e ac e and p r o t e c t i o n .

The s t a t e o rig in ated in v io le n c e . The s o c i e t y f o u n d e d

on o o o p e r a t i o n w i t h o u t a u t h o r i t y was u n a b l e t o p r o t e c t itse lf

from th e op p ressio n of th e stronger, e ith er in tern ally or ex­

te rn a lly ." '' The s t a t e ca m e i n t o b e i n g , on t h e one h a n d , w i t h t h e

o p pression o f th e w eaker by th e stro n g er, on t h e o t h e r h a n d , w i t h

th e org an izatio n of th e weaker to p r o te c t th e m selv e s. The s t a t e

" s 'e ta b lit p a r la v io len ce des p lu s f o r t s : ou du c o n s e n t e m e n t

des uns, qui a ssu lettisen t v o lo n ta ire m e n t aux a u tr e s peur p lein e

et en tiere lib erte, pour e n e s tr e p a r eux d isp o se p a r p u is sa n c e


p
souveraine sans lo y , ou b i e n a c e r t a i n s lo lx et c o n d itio n s."

The s t a t e is founded e i t h e r by c o n q u est o r by i n s t i t u ­

tio n ; in b o th cases the first form o f s t a t e was a m o n a r c h y .


3
The m o n arch s r u l e d w i t h o u t law , ju stly or u n ju stly . In th e

M ethod, B od in a c c e p t e d the opinion of A risto tle th at th e first

" S e d h a e c vLtae d u l c e d o , quam h o m i n e s e x m u tu a s o c i e t a t e


c a p i e b a n t , d i s s i d i i s v i o l a r i c o e p i t , cum s c i l i c e t t e n u e s a p o t e n -
t i b u s o p p r i m e r e n t u r : quod u n i v e r s a e n a t u r a e V a r r o t r i b u i t ; Q ui
p o t e s t p l u s u r g e t : u t p i s c e s s a e p e m in u to s magnus c o m e s t, u t
av es e n e c a t a c c i p i t e r . 1 B odin, O euvres, p . 191. C f. R e p u b liq u e
(1608 E d i t i o n ) , Bk. I l l , c h a p . v i i , p p . 4 7 4 f f .

2B o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e (1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , B k . I l l , c h a p . I , p . 5 0 3 .
3
B odin shows a c e r t a i n i n c o n s i s t e n c y b o t h a s t o t h e q u e s ­
t i o n o f w h e th er th e f i r s t m onarchs r u l e d w ith o r w ith o u t b e n e f i t
o f la w , and a s t o t h e q u e s t i o n w h e th e r o r n o t t h e y w ere j u s t .
C f. O e u v re s ,p p . 191-192; R e p u b liq u e , Bk. I l l , c h a p . i i i , p . 273;
Bk. IV, c h a p . i , p . 350; R e p u b l iq u e (1608 e d i t i o n ) , Bk. I l l ,
chap. i , p. 503.
i4?

m onarchs were e l e c t e d on t h e b a s i s o f v i r t u e a n d w i s d o m : la te r,

in R e p u b l i c , he s t r o n g l y d e n ie d t h i s . The f i r s t states, he con­

tended, had t h e i r o r i g i n in "ty ran n ies v io le n te s ." 1 He d i d

not, h o w e v e r , go s o f a r a s t o c o n t e n d t h a t a l l s t a t e s were

f o u n d e d on i n j u s t i c e . N e v e r th e le s s , he did in c r e a s in g ly tend

to see the o rig in of the s ta te in i n j u s t i c e , in "la force, la

v io len ce, l'a m b itio n , l'a v a ric e , la vengeance, les guerres et


p
les com bats."

B o d in 's c o n v ic tio n th a t th e e a r lie s t s t a t e s w ere founded

on i n j u s t i c e was b a s e d on t h e e v i d e n c e o f h i s t o r y . H isto ry , and

esp ecially B ib lic al h isto ry , denied th e t r a d i t i o n a l b e l i e f in

th e h e ro ic e x i s t e n c e o f t h e e a r l i e s t men. B o d i n came t o v i e w

the f i r s t state o f man a s o n e i n w h i c h m a n ' s o n l y a i m was t o


•3
k ill, m urder, subject o th e rs, rob, and s t e a l . A lre a d y in B o d in 's

thought, t h e g o l d e n a g e was b e i n g r e p l a c e d b y H o b b e s ' s s t a t e of

n atu re.

B o d in 's account of th e o r ig i n s o f th e state does not

ju stify its au th o rity . He n o w h e r e j u s t i f i e s the a u th o rity of

a s o v e r e i g n t y f o u n d e d on c o n q u e s t . We know f r o m h i s d i s c u s s i o n

o f s e i g n e u r i a l m onarchy t h a t B odin d id a c c e p t s o v e re ig n ty based

on c o n q u e s t , but th is i s n o w ay e x p l a i n e d b y h i s a c c o u n t o f t h e

o rig in s of th e state. Indeed, th e r i g h t of conquest, presup­

posing th e e x iste n c e o f s t a t e s , could not ju stify the o rig in

^ o d i n , R e p u b l i q u e . Bk. IV, chap. i, pp. 355-36; Bk. I,


chap. v i , p . 48.

2I b i d . . Bk. I , chap. iv , p. 47.

^ A p o l o g i e de Rene H e r p i n , published in B odin, R epublique


(1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) .
144

of the f i r s t states. S e i g n e u r i a l m o n a r c h y i s b a s e d on t h e

rig h t of j u s t w ar, a term t h a t e x p l i c i t l y e x clu d e s b rig a n d a g e .

T he f i r s t men who f o u n d e d s t a t e s by c o n q u e s t were n o t h i n g b u t

brig an d s.1
Bodin d id n o t d e te r m in e t h e end o r t h e ju stice of th e

state from i t s o rig in . However, t h e h i s t o r y o f i t s o rigin un­

d o u b te d ly did in flu e n c e B o d in 's p o l i t i c a l th o u g h t. H istory

showed t h a t ev en g r e a t and j u s t s t a t e s d e r i v e d fr o m q u e s t i o n a b l e
p
o rig in s. I t a l s o s h o w e d t h e m i s e r a b l e c o n d i t i o n o f men l i v i n g

w ithout b e n e f it o f a u th o r ity . An e s t a b l i s h e d a u t h o r i t y , w her­

ever i t ex isted , w as v i e w e d b y B o d i n a s a g r e a t a n d o b v i o u s

good. He w as u n w i l l i n g t o e n d a n g e r t h a t a u t h o r i t y b y q u e s t i o n ­

ing i t s leg itim acy . The s o v e r e i g n pow er d o e s n o t c l a i m t h e

o b e d ien c e o f th e c i t i z e n s by th e f a s h io n in w hich i t came i n t o

ex isten ce, b u t m erely by th e f a c t t h a t it ex ists. Bodin a d m its

th a t a "ty ran t" who u s u r p s t h e sovereign a u th o r ity , be he good

or ev il, may b e o p p o s e d a n d e v e n k i l l e d , b u t once he h a s e s t a b ­

lish ed h is a u th o rity , h is s u c c e s s o r s become " v r a i m o n a rq u e s"

and t h e r e f o r e , c la im by r i g h t t h e o b e d ie n c e o f th e c i t i z e n s .

T h u s l e g i t i m a c y i s b a s e d s o l e l y on t h e a c t u a l p o s s e s s i o n o f t h e

s o v e r e ig n pow er, w ith t h e u n d e r s ta n d in g t h a t t h i s possession is

ab le t o p r o v i d e a s t a b l e and e n d u r in g a u t h o r i t y .

The n o t i o n of the s t a t e b e i n g f o u n d e d on a n o r i g i n a l

co n tract does n o t a p p e a r In B o d i n 's w r i t i n g s . The d e v e lo p m e n t

1B o d i n , O euvres. pp. l 6g, 192.

2I b i d . , p. 169.

^B o d in , R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. II, chap. v, pp. 207-208.


145

o f t h e t h e o r y o f c o n t r a c t r e q u i r e d two c o n t r a r y m ovem ents in

p o l i t i c a l philosophy. The f i r s t movement, fro m p h i l o s o p h y to

h i s t o r y w as b e g u n b y M a c h i a v e l l i . M achiavelll r e je c te d the

account of the o rig in of th e s ta te found in c l a s s i c a l p h ilo s o p h y ,

b ecause i t .c o n f lic te d w ith th e evidence o f h i s t o r y . H i s t o r y showed

th at t h e r e was no j u s t i c e o u t s i d e c i v i l so ciety , th a t the state,

r a t h e r than i n s t i t u t e d to p reserv e ju stice, was r e a l l y f o u n d e d

b y means o f i n j u s t i c e . B o d i n was v e r y much i n f l u e n c e d b y t h e

argum ent o f M a c h ia v e ll i. He w as n o t , how ever, c o n te n t w ith

M a c h i a v e l l i 1s " d e u x f o n d e m e n t s d e l a R e p u b l i q u e , 1 'im p ie te et

1 ' i n j u s t i c e . 1,1 Bodin w ished t o b a s e th e sovereign a u th o r ity on

j u s t i c e and e n a b l e it to command t h e o b e d i e n c e o f t h e citizen s

by r i g h t , and n o t s im p ly by f o r c e . H is to r y did n o t , how ever,

p r o v i d e t h e means t o t h i s end; it required th a t h is to ry in tu r n

b$ s e t a s i d e i n a r e t u r n t o p o l i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h y , b u t t o a new

p o l i t i c a l philosophy. T h i s was t h e a c h i e v e m e n t o f H o bbes.

Hobbes p r e s e n t e d an e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e s t a t e ' s o rig in w hich

was, lik e th e c la s s ic a l e x p lan a tio n , h y p o th etical: an e x p l a n a ­

t i o n w h ich c o u ld be n e i t h e r p ro v e n n o r d i s p r o v e n by h i s t o r y .

I t d iffered , how ever, in t h a t it c o r r e s p o n d e d t o t h e new e v i ­

dence o f h i s t o r y . H o b b e s e x p l a i n e d how a s o v e r e i g n au th o rity

f o u n d e d o r i g i n a l l y on f o r c e c o u l d w i t h ju stice claim th e o b e d i­

ence o f th e su b jects.

T h e r e i s a s t a t e m e n t i n t h e M et h o d w h i c h s e e m s t o In­

dicate t h a t Bodin a t l e a s t once r e c o g n iz e d th e p o s s i b i l i t y o f

^I b l d ., preface.
1 46

e x p la in in g th e o rig in of the state w ith o u t re c o u rse to h isto ry .

The s t a t e o rig in ated , Bodin e x p l a i n s , when t h e w e a k e r s u b m i t t e d

to one s t r o n g e r o r w i s e r f o r t h e sake of p r o te c tio n . "Ex quo

perspicuum f i t , e tl a m s i ab h i s t o r i a d e s t l t u e r u n t u r , plenam

omni um l i b e r t a t e m , Id e s t p o t e s t a t e m v l v e n d l u t v e i l s , sine

leg ib u s aut im perio, a sin g u lis a d unum e s s e d e l a t u m . " 1 T his

Is, how ever, t h e o l d r a t h e r t h a n t h e new e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e

o rig in of the state. The n o t i o n of a "contract" d eriving from

the o rig in a l consent of th e su b jects e x is t e d b e f o r e B odin. But

t h i s notion of c o n tra c t f a ile d to explain the r ig h t of sover­

e i g n t y b a s e d on c o n q u e s t . B odin, h a v i n g a c c e p t e d M a c h i a v e l l i 1s

contention th a t the state o rig in ated n o t by c o n se n t b u t by f o r c e ,

view ed t h e o l d e r id e a of c o n tra c t as in ad eq u ate. He w a s n o t ,

how ever, ab le to fin d an o th er s o lu tio n . Hobbes fo und t h e so lu ­

tio n , and he fo und i t w ith in th e o ld e r idea o f an o r i g i n a l

co n tract. The g e n i u s o f Hobbes l a y n o t i n c re a tin g the idea

of c o n tract in t h e case o f s o v e r e ig n ty a c q u ire d by c o n se n t,

but in showing t h a t t h e s am e c o n t r a c t ex ists in the case of

s o v e r e i g n t y a c q u ir e d by f o r c e . Hobbes had t o explain how s o v ­

e r e i g n t y b a s e d on f o r c e could g iv e th e sovereign a ju st claim

to t h e o b e d i e n c e o f ■t h e su b jects. It is not force, he a rg u e d ,

b u t th e agreem ent o f o b ed ien ce to the c o n q u e r o r m a de b y t h e

conquered in o r d e r t o e s c a p e d e a t h a t h i s h an d s w hich e s t a b ­

lish es the co n tract. T his is, Hobbes a d m i t s , a co n tract pro­

c e e d in g from f e a r , but i t is no l e s s v alid , for in th e case of

■''Bodin, O e u v r e s , p . 1 9 1 .
147

s o v e r e i g n t y by i n s t i t u t i o n the c o n t r a c t a l s o p ro c e e d s from f e a r .

Thus, a rg u e s Hobbes, s o v e r e ig n ty g ain ed by co n q u est is based

on t h e same p r i n c i p l e as s la v e r y , i n t h e c a s e where a s l a v e e x ­

changes h is lib erty for h is life .^ It is in terestin g t h a t B odin,

w hile a c c e p tin g th e le g itim a c y o f s o v e r e ig n ty founded by con-

qu est, refu sed to recognize s l a v e r y b a s e d on t h e same p r i n c i p l e .

He t h e r e b y r e j e c t e d t h e o n l y a r g u m e n t b y w h ic h he c o u l d j u s t i f y

s o v e r e i g n t y founded by c o n q u e s t ,

The s t a t e , as d istin g u ish e d from s o c i e t y , o rig in ated

fo r the so le purpose of p ro v id in g peace. Peace rem ains th e

p r i n c i p a l end o f t h e s t a t e : "est enim p a x . . .im p e rio r u m ac


11 4
R epublicarum p r a e s t a n t i s s i m u s a tq u e optim us f i n i s . Bodin

does n o t, how ever, conclude t h a t the o n l y end o f t h e state is

peace. On t h e c o n t r a r y , the h ig h est e nd o f t h e state is the

sam e a s t h e h i g h e s t e n d o f man: the contem plative v ir t u e s .

J i u s t i c e and v i r t u e , as w e ll as peace belong to th e ends o f

th e state

1 2
Hobbes, L e v i a t h a n . P a r t II, chap. xx. Ib id .

•^ Bodin, R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I, chap. v, pp. 25ff.


k.
B odin, O euvres, p. 222.

' ’" N o u s f e r o n s mesme j u g e m e n t s d e l a R e p u b l i q u e b i e n


o r d o n n e e , l a f i n p r i n c i p a l e de l a q u e l l e g i s t aux v e r t u s c o n -
t e m p l a t i v e s , i a c o i t que l e s a c t i o n s p o l i t i q u e s s o y e n t p r e a l l a b l e s ,
e t l e s m o i n s i l l u s t r e s s o y e n t l e s p r e m i e r e s : comme f a i r e p r o v i ­
sio n n e c e s s a ir e s , pour e n t r e t e n i r e t defendre la v ie des sub­
j e c t s : e t neantm oins t e l l e s a c t i o n s se r a p p o r te n t aux m o ra le s,
e t c e l l e s cy aux i n t e l l e c t u e l l e s , la f i n d e s q u e l l e s e s t l a co n ­
t e m p l a t i o n du p l u s b eau s u b j e c t q u i s o i t , e t q u 'o n p u i s s e
im ag in er." B o d in , R e p u b liq u e (lb 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , Bk. I , c h a p . i ,
p. g. C f. O e u r v r e s , p . 1 2 1 .

B odin, O euvres, pp. 120, 186.


148

The h i g h e r end s o f t h e state a r e r e c o g n iz e d by B odin,

b u t th e y a re n e ith e r as i n t e r e s t i n g nor im portant as the low er.

The f o r m e r a r e i d e a l s w h i c h a, s t a t e m i g h t i n a n u n u s u a l l y f a v o r ­

ab le situ atio n fu lfill. Th e l o w e r a i m s o f p o l i t i c s , the n e c e s ­

sitie s, must alw ay s be d e a l t w ith f i r s t . The h ig h e r ends o f th e

state are ex cep tio n al, d e p e n d i n g on c h a n c e f o r t h e i r f u l f i l l m e n t .

As s u c h t h e y d o n o t form t h e m a t e r i a l f o r a u n i v e r s a l p o l i t i c a l

scien ce. S c i e n c e m u s t c o n c e n t r a t e on t h a t w h i c h i s co n stan t, on

t h a t a b o u t w h i c h o n e c a n l a y down g e n e r a l r u l e s . Bod i n d i d n o t

deny t h e e x i s t e n c e of the h ig h e r p o l i t i c a l ends, o r the h igher

human m o t i v a t i o n s , b u t he d i d , as M a c h i a v e l l i b e f o r e him , la rg e ly

i g n o r e them in c o n s t r u c t i n g h i s p o l i t i c a l s c i e n c e .

However, Bodin a c c u s e d M a c h i a v e l l i o f h a v in g d e n ie d th e

h ig h e r ends of th e state, and i t was B o d i n ' s in ten tio n to r e ­

estab lish j u s t i c e a s t h e e nd o f t h e state. This in ten tio n --if

present--w as i n t h e Method n e g l e c t e d in fa v o r of th e p r in c ip a l

a i m o f t h e w o r k , w h i c h was a c r i t i q u e of c l a s s i c a l philosophy

on t h e b a s i s o f i t s im p racticab ility . For t h is c ritiq u e, w hich

alw ays rem ained a t th e c e n t e r o f h is p o l i t i c a l t h o u g h t . Bodin

w as l a r g e l y in d eb ted to M a c h ia v e lli. In th e R e p u b l i c , how ever,

Bodin r e j e c t e d t h e more r a d i c a l t e a c h i n g s o f ..M a .g h ia v e ll i (as

B o d i n saw t h e m ) in th e s tr o n g e s t te rm s. B odin t h e r e speaks of

the "poison" of M a c h ia v e lli's te a c h in g , o f h is having based

p o litics on " r u s e s " a n d " i n j u s t i c e . " ' 1' In th e R e p u b l i c , B odin

fo r the f i r s t tim e d e f in e s th e s t a t e a s "un d r o i t g o u v e r n e m e n t ";

th at is to say, a j u s t governm ent, n o t n e c e s s a r i l y a l e g a l g o v e rn -

■^Bodin, R e p u b l i q u e , p r e f a c e .
149

m e n t . ' 1' T his d e f in itio n i s b a s e d on t h e c lassica l d istin c tio n


2
betw een a s t a t e and a r o b b e r band. Bodin h e r e r e - i n t r o d u c e s

m oral c r i t e r i a in to his d efin itio n of the state; he had b e f o r e

rejected such d e f i n i t i o n s as a c o n fu s io n betw een th e " e n d " a nd


-7
th e "nature" of a th in g . Yet in t h e R e p u b l i c , B odin f i n d s it

necessary to re tu rn to a d e fin itio n b a s e d on e n d s a n d t o a s s e r t

th a t the end o f t h e state is ju stice. T h i s d o e s n o t m ean, how­

ever, th at th e p r a c tic a l n e c e s s itie s of p o litic s ever ceased to

d o m i n a t e B o d i n 1s t h o u g h t .

In d e f i n i n g t h e state a s j u s t g o v e rn m e n t, Bodin felt

it n e c e s sa ry to q u a lif y th e d e f i n i t i o n w ith th e rem ark t h a t ,

"to u tefo is n o u s n e v o u l o n s p a s a u s s i f i g u r e r u n e R e p u b l i q u e en

Idee sans e f f e t , t e l que P la to n , e t Th o m as l e Mo re c h a n c e l i e r

d 'A n g le te rre ont im a g i n e , m a is n o u s c o n t e n t e r o n s de s u i v r e l e s


v ii 4
reig les P o litiq u es au p lu s p re s q u ' i l sera p o ssib le. An i n ­

terest in th e " p o litic a l ru le s," in th e n e c e s s i t i e s , c a u s e d Bodin

to tu rn from p h ilo s o p h y t o h i s t o r y . He a c c e p t e d t h e classical

v i e w o f t h e h i g h e s t e n d o f man a n d t h e state, but c la ssic a l, po­

l i t i c a l p h ilo s o p h y in itse lf is inadequate. B odin c o n ten d e d

th at, s in c e P l a t o and A r i s t o t l e , tim e ( t h a t i s t o s a y , h i s t o r y )


5
h a s sh o w n u s new t h i n g s . H i s t o r y showed t h a t t h e norm s o f

•^I b i d . , B k . I, chap. i, p. 1; Bk. II, chap. v i, pp. 229-230.

2I b i d . , Bk. I, chap. i, p. 3.

''’B o d i n , O euvres, p. 169.

^B odin, R ep u b liq u e (1 6 0 8 e d i t i o n ) , B k . I, chap. i, p. 4.

^B odin, R e p u b liq u e , P r e f a c e .
150

c la s s ic a l p o l i t i c a l philosophy, though v a lid in th e m s e lv e s ,

were i m p r a c t i c a b l e . P h i l o s o p h y was i n a d e q u a t e b e c a u s e i t set

f o r t h norms w i t h o u t s h o w i n g how a n d when t h e y c o u l d b e a p p l i e d .

T h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n d e p e n d e d on t h e k n o w l e d g e g a i n e d f r o m h i s t o r y .

However, t h e t e a c h i n g o f h i s t o r y w as n o t l i m i t e d to tech n iq u es,

t o means. From h i s t o r y one g a i n e d n o t o n l y a k n o w led g e o f m e n 's

actio n s, but of th e ir in te n tio n s . H isto ry , u n lik e philosophy,

was n o t l i m i t e d t o showing w hich i n t e n t i o n s w ere h o n o r a b l e , b u t

also showed w h ic h i n t e n t i o n s w ere u s e f u l , p racticab le. Thus

h i s t o r y c o u l d be u s e d t o r e v i s e t h e norms o f p h i l o s o p h y b y t e s t ­

in g t h e i r p r a c t i c a b i l i t y . Th e o n l y e f f e c t such a r e v i s i o n could

h a v e was t o l o w e r t h e s ta n d a r d s e s t a b l i s h e d by p h ilo s o p h y .

The t u r n from p h ilo s o p h y t o h i s t o r y meant a change from

a prim ary i n t e r e s t in t h e norms t h e m s e l v e s t o t h e conditions of

th e ir ap p licatio n . H isto ry is n o t lim ite d to re c o rd in g the

s u c c e s s i o n s and r e p e t i t i o n s o f a c t i o n s and c i r c u m s t a n c e s , nor

was i t s v alu e the sim ple p r u d e n t i a l v a lu e such as t h a t g ain ed

from .ex p erien ce. H i s t o r y can e s t a b l i s h th e g en eral ru le s govern­

i n g human a c t i o n s . H is to ry i s not lim ite d to the study o f a r t i ­

f i c i a l and e v e r - c h a n g i n g law s and i n s t i t u t i o n s . The s t u d y o f

h isto ry can d i s c l o s e the co n stan t, n atu ral fa c to rs th a t u n d erlie

these la w s and i n s t i t u t i o n s , th at in flu en ce t h e ir d e v e lo p m e n t and

determ ine t h e i r success or f a ilu r e . B o d i n saw t h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t

n atu ral facto rs in th e i n f l u e n c e o f c l i m a t e a n d g e o g r a p h y on t h e

"n atu re of peoples. Through r e l a t i n g t h e law s and i n s t i t u t i o n s

to th e unchanging n a t u r a l c o n d itio n s , h i s t o r y provided th e surest

p o s s ib le guide to p o l i t i c s .
151
B o d in ’s adherence to th e p r i n c i p l e of ju stic e and

c l a s s i c a l n a t u r a l law fo r m an i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f h i s p o litical

philosophy; b u t t h e y a r e n o t t h e w hole n o r even t h e m ost im ­

p o rtan t p a rt. More i m p o r t a n t i s t h e w ay i n w h i c h t h e standards

of ju stic e are low ered t o a llo w f o r th e u n f o r t u n a t e p o l i t i c a l

n e c e s s i t i e s . " 1' I f Bodin does n o t e x p l i c i t l y r e j e c t t h e classical

norm s, he a t l e a s t q u e s t i o n s t h e i r r e l e v a n c e t o t h e n o rm a l demands

of p o litic s . In B o d in 's th o u g h t, the c e n te r of in t e r e s t has

sh ifted from th e h i g h e r t o th e low er aim s o f p o l i t i c s . In h i s

w ritin g s., " c 'e s t to u jo u rs l e meme t o u r d ' e s p r i t qui se f a i t


p
jo u rs, l e m£me g o u t d u p o s s i b l e . , des r ^ a l i t e s . "

The end o f t h e state i s no l o n g e r o f c e n t r a l im portance

in B o d in 's th o u g h t. The h i g h e r e n d s a r e o n l y m e n t i o n e d i n p a s s ­

i n g and p l a y no p a r t in h i s d is c u s s io n of the p o l i t i c a l r e a l ­

ities. The lo w e r aim s o f t h e state, w i t h w h ich B odin i s a lm o s t

alw ays co n ce rn e d , a re those th a t can be ta k e n f o r g r a n t e d . They

are th e aim s t h a t a l l states a c tu a lly pursue: peace, order, and

endurance .

T he q u e s t i o n of ju s tic e , as has been se e n , does n o t even

e n t e r i n t o B o d i n 's d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e b e s t form o f s t a t e . For

the c la s s ic a l philo so p h ers, th e b e s t form o f s t a t e is the state

r u l e d b y t h e b e s t m e n. T his is r e je c te d by B o d in . A state

r u l e d by th e most v i r t u o u s c i t i z e n s h a s n e v e r e x i s t e d and could

^I b i d . , Bk. I I , chaps, ii, iii, passim .

^C hauvire, p . 281.

^ B o d i n , O e u v r e s , p p . 217* 2 2 1 , 2 2 2 ; R e p u b l i q u e , B k . I,
chap. v i l , p . 70; Bk. I , c h a p . v i i i , p . 106.
152

never e x ist; it is an i m p r a c t i c a b l e id e al.'* ' It i s n o t B odin*s

in te n tio n to d e fin e th e sim ply b e s t s t a t e , but th e "best pos­

sib le s t a t e ." 2 T h e q u e s t i o n o f who h a s a r i g h t to ru le does

n o t a p p e a r i n B o d i n 1s d i s c u s s i o n . The q u e s t i o n o f j u s t i c e does

n o t e n t e r i n t o B odin*s c h o ic e o f th e b e s t state; th e choice is

made o n l y on t h e b a s i s o f t h e l o w e r p o l i t i c a l a i m s . Monarchy

is th e b e s t form o f s t a t e ; it is th e b est because i t is the

m ost p e a c e f u l and l a s t i n g . E ve n when B o d i n a r g u e s t h a t m o n a r c h y

alone is in c o n f o r m i t y w i t h n a t u r a l l a w , h e d o e s n o t mean t h a t

it is t h e r e f o r e more j u s t t h a n t h e o t h e r fo r m s o f s t a t e . Th e

n a t u r a l law i s h e r e u n d e r s t o o d a s t h e n e c e s s i t i e s d eriv in g

f r o m t h e n a t u r e o f man a n d t h e w o r l d in w hich he l i v e s . That

is to say, t h e n a t u r a l law i s h e r e n o t m eant t o d e t e r m i n e t h e


Ll
ju stice of the state, but its p o ssib ilitie s of success. The

n a t u r a l law o n l y shows t h a t "un s e u l c h e f " is n ecessary in a l l

affairs

1B o d i n , O euvres, p . 185; R e p u b l i q u e , Bk. II, chap. v i,


p. 218.

2B o d i n , O e u v r e s , p p . 222-225.

^I b i d ., p. 221; R e p u b l i q u e , Bk V I, chap. iv , p. 675.


4
B odin, O euvres, pp. 192, 2 1 5 ff.

- R o d i n 's argum ent f o r t h e s u p e r i o r i t y o f m onarchy i s


m o s t s i m i l a r t o t h a t made i n a s t a t e m e n t b y P a s c a l ; t h e t h o u g h t
i s t h e sam e, w h a t e v e r t h e d i f f e r e n c e i n s t y l e : "Les c h o s e s du
monde l e s p l u s d e r a i s o n n a b l e s d e v i e n n e n t l e s p l u s r a i s o n n a b l e s
a c a u s e d u d e r e g l e m e n t d e s homm es . Qu’y a - t -1 1 de m oins r a i s o n -
n a b l e q u e d e c h o i s i r , p o u r g o u v e r n e r un E t a t , l e p r e m i e r f i l s
d 'u n e r e in e ? L ’ on n e c h o i s i t p a s p o u r g o u v e r n e r u n b a t e a u c e l u i
d e s v o y a g e u r s q u i e s t d e m e i l l e u r e . .‘m a i s o n . C e t t e l o i s e r a i t
r i d i c u l e e t i n j u s t ; m ais p a r c e q u ' i l s l e s o n t e t l e s e r o n t
to u jo u rs, e lle d evient ra iso n n ab le e t ju s te , car q ui c h o is ira -t-o n ?
Le p l u s v e r t u e u x e t p l u a h a b i l e ? Nous v o i l a i n c o n t i n e n t aux
153

B o d i n ' s e m p h a s i s on p e a c e a n d stab ility led to h is

c h o ic e o f m onarchy a s th e b e s t form o f s t a t e . However, it also

p r e v e n t e d him fro m h a v i n g a n y d o c t r i n a i r e a d h e re n c e t o m onarchy.

M o n a r c h y w as t h e m o s t e n d u r i n g f o r m o f s t a t e , b u t even th e b e s t

co n stitu ted m onarchy c o u ld n o t r e s i s t the fo rc e of change. The

c o n c e p tio n o f change as t h e n a t u r a l and i n e v i t a b l e law o f h i s t o r y

lay a t the c e n t e r o f B o d i n 1s p o l i t i c a l t h o u g h t . 1 The n e c e s s i t y

of change, com bined w i t h t h e im p o r ta n c e o f p e a c e and s t a b i l i t y ,

was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r B o d in 's c o n se rv a tism . It is b e tte r, Bodin

concluded, to s u ffe r the d efects of the e s ta b lis h e d form o f

state t h a n t o r i s k t h e d a n g e r s i n h e r e n t i n an a t t e m p t t o change
2
to a b e t t e r o n e, w h ic h w ould n o t i t s e l f be l a s t i n g . It is also

g e n e ra lly b e tte r to k eep t h e a n c i e n t law s o f a s t a t e r a t h e r than

to attem p t to im prove them , in a tte m p tin g t o im provise, one

th reaten s th e peace of th e state, w hich I s Its p r in c ip a l end.

In B o d i n 's t h o u g h t , so v ereig n ty has rep laced the "best

regim e" as th e cen tral concept of p o l i t i c a l philosophy. It is

th is change w hich e a r n s B odin an i m p o r t a n t p l a c e i n t h e h i s t o r y

of p o l i t i c a l philosophy. The c l a s s i c a l c o n c e p t o f t h e b e s t

r e g i m e m e a n t t h a t p o l i t i c a l t h o u g h t w as c e n t e r e d a r o u n d t h e

q u estio n of ju stic e , t h e h i g h e s t end o f t h e state. Though th e

m a in s, chacun p r e t e n d e t r e ce p l u s v e r t u e u x e t ce p l u s h a b i l e .
A tta c h o n s done c e t t e q u a l i t e a q u e lq u e c h o se d ' i n c o n t e s t a b l e .
C ' e s t l e f i l s a i n e du r o i ; c e l a e s t n e t , i l n ' y a p o i n t de
d isp u te. La r a i s o n n e p e u t m i e u x f a I r e , c a r l a g u e r r e c i v i l e
e s t l e p l u s g ra n d d es m aux." P ensees (B runschvicg e d i t i o n ) ,
No. 32 0 .

■^Bodin, R e p u b l i q u e , p r e f a c e ; Bk. IV, chap. i, pp... 3 5 1 ,


3 7 5 j c h a p . i i , p . 376-

2I b i d . , Bk. IV, chap. iii, p. 399.


154

q uestion of ju s tic e still ex ists in B odin*s th o u g h t, it does

not re ta in its place of c e n tr a l im p o rtan ce. B odin*s a t t e n t i o n

has s h ifte d to the lo w e r aim s o f t h e state, from th e stan d ard s

to the n e c e s s itie s . The q u e s t i o n w h ich m ost c o n c e r n s B o d in i s

n o t, "What i s t h e b e s t r e g i m e ? " b u t , "What c o n s t i t u t e s a s t a b l e

regim e?" The t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y i s B o d in * s a n s w e r t o t h i s

q u estio n . When B o d i n a s k s , "What i s t h e b e s t r e g im e ? " he means

o n ly t h e most s ta b l e r e g im e . The m ost s t a b l e regim e i s t h a t

w h ich b e s t em bodies t h e p r i n c i p l e o f s o v e r e i g n t y .

S overeignty is the f i r s t n e c e s s ity fo r the peace of a

state and w i t h o u t p e a c e no o t h e r end o f t h e state can e v e r be

fu lfilled . Thus s o v e r e i g n t y r i g h t l y c la im s t o be th e p rim a ry

c o n sid e ra tio n of p o l i t i c a l philosophy.

B odin in te n d e d t o found a s c i e n c e o f p o l i t i c s p resen tin g

t r u l y p r a c t i c a b l e norm s. T h is meant t h a t it w ould h a v e t o com­

p l e t e l y meet th e t e s t o f h i s t o r y . T his in te n tio n o f B odin*s

was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r . t h e c e n t r a l im p o rtan ce g iv en to sovereignty;

it was, how ever, a lso re sp o n sib le fo r the in co n sisten cies in

B odin*s t h e o r y o f s o v e r e ig n t y .

Bodin n eed ed n o t o n ly t o show t h a t s o v e r e i g n t y should

e x ist in th e s t a t e and t h a t it was c a p a b l e o f c r e a t i n g a s t a b l e

state; he needed to prove h i s t o r i c a l l y t h a t no s t a b l e state had

ev er e x is te d w ithout a s in g le s o v e re ig n pow er. The u n i t y o f

s o v e r e ig n ty was, in B odin*s a rg u m e n t, a n e c e s s i t y f o r any s t a b l e

governm ent. The p r a c t i c e s o f s t a t e s w ere n o t , how ever, as

l o g i c a l a s B odin*s th e o r y o f s o v e r e ig n ty . In a c t u a l p r a c t i c e ,

the s o v e r e i g n t y was n o t so u n i t e d a s B o d in m i g h t h a v e w i s h e d .
155

I t was t h e r e f o r e m e c e s s a r y t o m o d if y t h e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y

to com prehend t h e s e p r a c t i c e s , s i n c e B o d i n w as u n w i l l i n g t o ' t a k e

the o th er a lte r n a tiv e . B o d i n w as u n w i l l i n g t o criticize the

p ractices on t h e b a s i s o f t h e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y , and th u s

a d m i t t h a t t h e t h e o r y w as n o t su p p o rte d by th e e v id e n c e o f

h isto ry . Bodin i n t e n d e d , by means o f h i s th eo ry of sovereig n ty

to stren g th en the h ig h e st a u th o rity in the state and t h u s in ­

crease its stab ility . However, t h e t h e o r y o f s o v e r e i g n t y i t s e l f

was a t h r e a t t o t h e stab ility of ex istin g states. To show t h a t

w hatever d iv is io n of sov ereig n ty e x iste d i n a s t a t e was a v i o l a ­

tio n of the r ig h ts of the s o v e r e i g n would h a v e m eant e n d a n g e r i n g

t h e v e r y s t a b i l i t y Bodin i n t e n d e d to prom ote. T here w ere c e r ­

tain ly such v io la tio n s , n o ta b ly in th e a c t u a l governm ent o f P ra n c e .

Bodin chose t h e r e f o r e t o equiv o cate, to accep t w ithout c r i t i c i s m

p r a c t i c e s w hich w ere in c o n t r a d i c t i o n to h is own t h e o r y o f s o v ­

e reig n ty .

Most o f B o d i n ’ s i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s can be e x p la i n e d by

h is d esire to t e l l the t r u t h w ith o u t d is tu r b in g the tra n q u illity

of th e state. There a re , how ever, o t h e r i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s w hich

can o n ly have r e s u l t e d f r o m c o n t r a d i c t i o n s w i t h i n B o d i n ’ s own

th o u g h t. These a re the co n trad ictio n s about the r e la t i o n s h i p

betw een th e s o v e r e i g n and t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l law s.

B odin c o n ten d e d t h a t the state came i n t o b e i n g w i t h t h e

in stitu tio n o f a s o v e r e ig n pow er. S o v ereignty is the essen tial

c h aracteristic by w hich th e state is d efin ed . However, B odin d o es

n o t c o n c lu d e from t h i s th at s o v e r e i g n t y and th e state are iden­

tic a l. He w a s , th erefo re, led in to a series of In so lu b le d i f f i -


156

c u ltles reg ard in g th e re la tio n s h ip of the sovereign to the state.

B o d i n a r g u e d on t h e one hand t h a t the in stitu tio n of a sovereign

creates the state and t h a t the s o v e r e i g n h o l d s a m onopoly o f a l l

rig h ts and a u t h o r i t y . On t h e o th e r hand, he a r g u e d t h a t t h e

state ex ists a s an e n t i t y in a d d itio n to the sovereign and t h a t

the state retain s c ertain rig h ts and a u t h o r i t y by w h ich i t can

place lim its a n d c o n d i t i o n s on t h e ; a u t h o r i t y of th e so v ereign.

The n o t i o n th at the so v ereig n re c e iv e d h i s power "so u s charge

et co n d itio n s" w o u l d mean t h a t the state e x iste d b efo re the crea­

tio n of a sovereign; the no tio n of the "lo is d u Royaume" w o u ld

m ean t h a t it continued to ex ist as a se p a ra te en tity a fte r the

in stitu tio n of a so v ereig n .

B o d in was u n a b l e , and p e rh a p s u n w i l l i n g , t o b r e a k away

from th e t r a d i t i o n a l th e o r y , w h ic h view ed th e so vereign as

e x is tin g w ithin the state, as on ly a p a r t of th e state. The

trad itio n al t h e o r y was n o t in itse lf in co n sisten t. Under i t ,

th e s o v e r e i g n w a s s u p p o s e d t o h a v e r e c e i v e d h i s p o w e r b y w ay

of the law s and c u sto m s o f t h e state, a nd t h u s h i s p o w e r was

co n d itio n al, b a s e d on an o b e d i e n c e t o th ese law s and c u sto m s.

T h e i n c o n s i s t e n c y a r o s e when t h e s o v e r e i g n p o w e r was f i r s t

un derstood to be a b s o l u t e . Bodin a rg u e d th at the creatio n of

a sovereign meant th e tran sfer of a ll rig h ts and a u t h o r i t y to

the so v ereig n . T h i s w o u l d a l s o me an t h a t the state c a n n o t be

thought to ex ist a s an e n t i t y d istin g u ish ab le from t h e so v ereig n ty .

One c a n n o t l o g i c a l l y speak of th e r e l a t i o n s h i p of the sovereign

to th e state, but o n ly o f the relatio n sh ip of the so vereign to

the c itizen s. T his relatio n sh ip , th e a u th o rity of th e sovereign


157

over the in d iv id u al c itiz e n s , is what c o n s t i t u t e s th e state.

It is d ifficu lt to s a y j u s t how c l e a r l y a n d how c o n ­

s i s t e n t l y Bodin r e c o g n iz e d th is co n trad ictio n . A t l e a s t on

occasio n , he s t a t e d the p rin cip le o f s o v e r e i g n t y c l e a r l y and

co n cisely , i n a w ay t h a t r e j e c t s t h e p o s s i b i l i t y of any l i m i t a ­

t i o n s on t h e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e sovereign.

One m u s t g i v e c r e d i t t o Bodin f o r h a v in g o r i g i n a t e d the

concept of so v ereig n ty , determ ined its e s s e n tia l co n ten ts, and

estab lish ed it as th e cen tral concept of p o l i t i c a l p h ilosophy.

For th ese reasons, Bodin c la im s an i m p o r ta n t p l a c e in th e h is to r y

of p o litic a l philosophy. It is, how ever, t o Hobbes t h a t one

t u r n s f o r an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f s o v e r e i g n t y and i t s im p o rtan ce

i n modern p o l i t i c a l ph ilo so p h y . B odin la c k e d b o th t h e r a d i c a l

c h a r a c t e r and t h e g e n iu s o f Hobbes, t h e g e n iu s needed to set

f o r th fo r the first tim e a c o n s is te n t th e o ry o f s o v e re ig n ty

and, more i m p o r t a n t s t i l l , to ju stify it. B o d i n 1s v a l u e i s

larg ely h is to ric a l; the stu d y of h is thought is extrem ely v a lu ­

a b le fo r a b e tte r understan d in g of th e re v o lu tio n in p o l i t i c a l

p h i l o s o p h y t h a t b e g a n w i t h M a c h i a v e l l i and c u l m i n a t e d w i t h

Hobbes.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

A llen , J o h n W. A H isto ry of P o li tic a l ThoughtIn t h e S i x t e e n t h


C e n t u r y . London, 1928. ~

B a u d r l l l a r t , H enri. Jean Bodin et son te m p s . P a r i s , 1853.

B odin, Jean. C o llo g u e de J e a n Bodin d es s e c r e t s c a c h e z d e s ^


c h o se s s u b lim e s e n t r e s e p t sca v a n s q u i s o n t de d i f f e r e n s
s e n ti m e n s . F ren c h t r a n s l a t i o n o f t h e C olloquim h e p t a -
plom eres by Roger C h au v ire . P aris: L . T e n i n , 1914~

__________ . La D em o n o m an i e d e s s o r c i e r s . Rouen: R. d u P e t i t V a l ,
i6o¥;
__________ . La R e s p o n s e d e J e a n B o d i n a M. d e M a l e s t r o i t . E dited
by H e n ri H a u se r. P aris: Armand C o l i n , 1 9 3 2 .

__________ . L e s s i x l i v r e s d e l a R e p u b l i q u e . Lyon: J a c q u e s du
PuyiTJ 1 5 8 0 .
__________ . O e u v r e s p h i l o s o p h i q u e s . P aris: Presses U n iv e rsitaires,
1951.
__________ . R e c u e i l d e t o u t c e q u i s ’ e s t n e g o t l e en l a c o m p a g n i e
du t i e r s E s t a t de F r a n c e en l ^ s s e m b l e e g e n e r a l e d e s
t r o i s E s t a t s . a s s i g n e z p a r l e r o y en l a v i l l e de B l o y s .
a u xv novem bre 1 5 7 6 . P a r i s , 1577.

B r o w n , J o h n L. The M ethodus ad f a c i l e m h l s t o r l a r u m c o g n i t i o n e m
o f Jean B odin, a c r i t i c a l s t u d y . W ashington: C atholic
U n i v e r s i t y o f A m erica P r e s s , 1939.

Bude, G u illa u m e . L 1i n s t i t u t i o n du P r i n c e . P aris: Foucher, 15^7.

C a s t o n n e t d e s F o s s e s , H. Jean B odin, sa v i e et ses oeuvres.


A ngers, 1890.

C hauvire, Roger. J e a n B o d in , a u t e u r de l a " R e p u b l i q u e ." P aris:


E. Cham pion, 1 9 1 ^ .

C hurch, W illia m F a r r . C o n s t i t u t i o n a l Thought in l 6t h C en tu ry


France. C am bridge: H arvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1941.

C la u d e de S e y s s e l . Appian A l e x a n d r i a , h i s t o r i a n grec. des


g u e r r e s d e s Roma I n s . P a r i s , 1 5 5 9 .

158
159

C la u d e de S e y s s e l . La g r a n d e m o n a r c h i e de F r a n c e . P aris:
G a l i o t du P r d , 15^1.

C o llin e t, P aul. Je a n Bodin e t la S a l n t - B a r t h ^ l e m y . P aris:


T e n I n , 1909-
Dock, A d o lf . P e r S o u v e r & n e t ^ t s b e r g r i f f von B o d l n b i s z u
F r i e d r i c h dem G r o s s e m . S t r a s s b u r g : S c h l e s l e r , 1 8 9 7 .

Du H a i l l a n , B e r n a r d . De I ' E s t a t et succez des a f f a i r e s de


F ra n c e . P a ris , 1570.

_________. L ' H i s t o l r e de F r a n c e . P aris, 1576.

Du M o u l i n , C harles. O pera. P aris, 1658.

F eist, E lisab eth . W e l t b i l d und S t a a t s l d e e b e i J e a n B o d in .


C hartres: Durand, 1 9 5 0 .

G a rd o t, Andre. J e a n B o d i n . Sa p l a c e p a r m i l e s f o n d a t e u r s du
d ro it in te r n a tio n a l. P aris: Iiachette, 1955.

G e o r g a n t a s , M i c h e l G. De l a N o t i o n d e s o u v e r a l n e t e e t d e s o n
e v o l u t i o n . Lausanne': Im prim eries r e u n ie s , 19217

G ilm ore, Myron P . A r g u m e n t f r o m Roman Law i n P o l i t i c a l T h o u g h t :


1 2 0 0 -1 6 0 0 . " C a m b r i d g e : H arvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1971.

H aneke, E. B o d in . B reslau, 189^.

Hotman, F r a n y o i s . A n t i t r i b o n i a n . ou d i s c o u r s d ' u n g ra n d e t
renomme J u r i s c o n s u l t e d e n o s t r e t e m p s s u r l ’ e s t u d e d e s
lo ix . P a ris , 1605. :
__________ . La G a u l e F r a n p o i s e . C ologne, 157^.

L a n d m a n n , Max, P e r S o u v e r M n e t ^ t s b e g r i f f b e i n den F r a n z t i s i s c h e n
T h e o r e t i k e r n , von J e a n Bodin b i s a u f J e a n - J a c q u e s
R ousseau. L eipzig! V ert, 1896. ’

La P e r r i e r e , G uillaum e de. Le m i r o i r p o l i t i q u e . P aris, 1576.

L em aire, Andre. Les l o i s f o n d a m e n t a l e s de l a m o n a r c h i e


F r a n p a i s e d ' a p r e s l e s t h e o r i c i e n s de 1 t a n c " ie n " re g im e .
P a r i s , 1907.

M a c l l w a i n , C h a r l e s H. The H igh C o u rt o f P a r l i a m e n t and I t s


S u p r e m a c y . New H a v e n 7 1 9 5 7 .

M esnard, P ierre. La p e n s e e r e l i g i e u s e d e B o d i n . N o g en t-le-


R o tr o u : Champion, 1929.
160

M esnard, P i e r r e . L ' E s s o r de l a p h i l o s o p h i e p o l i t i q u e au
seiziem e siec le ". P a ris : B o iv in , 1936.

M oreau-R eibel, J e a n . J e a n Bodin e t l e d r o i t p u b l i c compare


d a n s s e s r a p p o r t s a v e c l a p h i l o s o p h i e de l ' h i s t o i r e .
P o i t i e r s : S o c i e t e F r a n ^ a i s e d 'I m p r i m e r i e e t de l i b r a i r i e ,
P a ris: V rin, 1933.
P asquier, E tienne. Les r e c h e r c h e s de l a P r a n c e . P a r i s , 1617.

Renz, F r i t z . J e a n Bodin . Ein B e i t r a g zue G e s c h i c h t e d e r


H i s t o r i s c h e n M e t h o d e im 1 6 . J a h r h u n d e r t T G o t h a , P a r t h e s ,
1905.
R eynolds, B e a tr i c e . P r o p o n e n ts o f L im ite d Monarchy in S i x ­
te e n t h C entury France: F r a n c i s Ho tman a n d J e a n B o d i n .
New Y o r k , 1 9 3 1 .

S ib ert, M arcel. P a r a l l e l s e n tr e F ra n c is c o Suarez e t Jean B o d in .


P a r i s , Pedone, 19^9.

W e ill, G eorge. Les t h e o r i e s s u r l e p o u v o i r r o y a l en F r a n c e


p e n d a n t l e s g u e r r e s de r e l i g i o n . P a ris, 1891.