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Jean Bodin

Jean Bodin

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Jean Bodin was a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

 and political philosopher
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

, member of the Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

 of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and professor of law in Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

. He is best known for his theory of sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

; he was also an influential writer on demonology
Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. It is the branch of theology relating to superhuman beings who are not gods. It deals both with benevolent beings that have no circle of worshippers or so limited a circle as to be below the rank of gods, and with malevolent...


Bodin lived during the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, and wrote against the background of religious conflict in France. He remained a nominal Catholic throughout his life, but was critical of papal authority over governments, favouring the strong central control of a national monarchy as an antidote to factional strife. Towards the end of his life he wrote, but did not publish, a dialogue between different religions, including representatives of Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and natural theology
Natural theology
Natural theology is a branch of theology based on reason and ordinary experience. Thus it is distinguished from revealed theology which is based on scripture and religious experiences of various kinds; and also from transcendental theology, theology from a priori reasoning.Marcus Terentius Varro ...

, in which all agreed to coexist in concord.


Bodin was successively a monk, academic, professional lawyer and political adviser. An excursion as a politician having proved a failure, he lived out his life as a provincial magistrate.

Early life

Bodin was born near Angers
Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

 (perhaps the son of a master tailor), with modestly prosperous middle-class background. He received a decent education, apparently in the Carmelite monastery of Angers, where he became a novice
A novice is a person or creature who is new to a field or activity. The term is most commonly applied in religion and sports.-Buddhism:In many Buddhist orders, a man or woman who intends to take ordination must first become a novice, adopting part of the monastic code indicated in the vinaya and...

 monk. Some claims made about his early life remain obscure. There is some evidence of a visit to Geneva in 1547/48 in which he became involved in a heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 trial. The records of this episode, however, are murky and perhaps refer to another person.

Paris and Toulouse

He obtained release from his monastic vows in 1549 and went to Paris. He studied at the university
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

, but also at the humanist
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

-oriented Collège des trois langues (now the Collège de France
Collège de France
The Collège de France is a higher education and research establishment located in Paris, France, in the 5th arrondissement, or Latin Quarter, across the street from the historical campus of La Sorbonne at the intersection of Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue des Écoles...

); he was for two years a student under Guillaume Prévost, a little-known magister in philosophy. His education was not only influenced by an orthodox Scholastic
Scholastic may refer to:* Scholastic * Scholastic Corporation, a book publisher* Scholasticism, a form of theology and philosophy* School, a place of learning* A junior member of a religious order, such as the Jesuits...

 approach but was also apparently in contact with Ramistic
Ramism was a collection of theories on rhetoric, logic and pedagogy based on the teachings of Petrus Ramus, a French academic, philosopher and Huguenot convert who was murdered in 1572.According to Jonathan Israel, Ramism-Development:...


Later in the 1550s he studied Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 at the University of Toulouse
University of Toulouse
The Université de Toulouse is a consortium of French universities, grandes écoles and other institutions of higher education and research, named after one of the earliest universities established in Europe in 1229, and including the successor universities to that earlier university...

, under Arnaud du Ferrier
Arnaud du Ferrièr
Arnaud du Ferrièr was a French lawyer and diplomat.He was born at Toulouse about 1508, and practised as a lawyer first at Bourges, afterwards at Toulouse. Councillor to the parlement of the latter town, and then to that of Rennes, he later became president of the parlement of Paris...

, and taught there. His special subject at that time seems to have been comparative jurisprudence. Subsequently he worked on a Latin translation of Oppian of Apamea, under the continuing patronage of Gabriel Bouvery
Gabriel Bouvery
Gabriel Bouvery was a French bishop of Angers, successor to Jean V Olivier who died 12 April 1540.- Nomination and episcopacy:François I of France intervened with the chapter of Angers Cathedral, imposing the nomination of Bouvery. The king had taken the 1534 Affair of the Placards badly, as far...

, Bishop of Angers. Bodin had a plan for a school on humanist principles in Toulouse, but failed to raise local support. He left in 1560.

The Wars of Religion and the politiques

From 1561 he was licensed as an attorney of the Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

of Paris. His religious convictions on the outbreak of the wars of Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

 in 1562 cannot be determined, but he affirmed formally his Catholic faith, taking an oath that year along with other members of the Parlement. He continued to pursue his interests in legal and political theory in Paris, publishing significant works on historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 and economics.

He was imprisoned in Paris in 1569/70 during the Third war of Religion, in what may have been a form of protective custody to escape the persecution of Catholic zealots who considered him a secret supporter of the Reformation. Stories placing Bodin again in Paris and in danger during the St Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 are late reports and unverifiable: his whereabouts at that time are unknown.

Bodin became a member of the discussion circles around the Prince François d'Alençon (or d'Anjou from 1576). He was the intelligent and ambitious youngest son of Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

, and was in line for the throne in 1574, with the death of his brother Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

. He withdrew his claim, however, in favor of his older brother Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

 who had recently returned from his abortive effort to reign as the King of Poland. Alençon was a leader of the politiques faction of political pragmatists.

Under Henry III

After the failure of the hopes Prince François had had to ascend the throne, Bodin transferred his allegiance to the new king Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. In practical politics, however, he lost the king's favor in 1576–7, as delegate of the Third Estate at the Estates-General at Blois
Blois is the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.-History:...

, and leader in his Estate of the February 1577 moves to prevent a new war against the Huguenots. He attempted to exert a moderating influence on the Catholic party, and also tried restrict the passage of supplemental taxation for the king. Bodin then retired from political life; he had married in February 1576. His wife, Françoise Trouillart, was the widow of Claude Bayard, and sister of Nicolas Trouillart who died in 1577; both were legal officials in Vermandois
Vermandois was a French county, that appears in the Merovingian period. In the tenth century, it was organised around two castellan domains: St Quentin and Péronne . Pepin I of Vermandois, the earliest of its hereditary counts, was descended in direct male line from the emperor Charlemagne...

, and Bodin took over their duties around Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...


Bodin was in touch with William Waad in Paris, Lord Burghley's contact, at the time (1576) of publication of the Six livres. He later accompanied Prince François, by then Duke of Anjou, to England in 1581, in his second attempt to woo Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

. On this visit Bodin saw the English Parliament. He brushed off a request to secure better treatment for English Catholics, to the dismay of Robert Parsons, given that Edmund Campion
Edmund Campion
Saint Edmund Campion, S.J. was an English Roman Catholic martyr and Jesuit priest. While conducting an underground ministry in officially Protestant England, Campion was arrested by priest hunters. Convicted of high treason by a kangaroo court, he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn...

 was in prison at the time. Bodin saw some of Campion's trial, he is said also to have witnessed Campion's execution in December 1581, making the hanging the occasion for a public letter against the use of force in matters of religion. Bodin became a correspondent of Francis Walsingham
Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security...

; and Michel de Castelnau
Michel de Castelnau
Michel de Castelnau, Sieur de la Mauvissière , French soldier and diplomat, ambassador to Queen Elizabeth, was born in Mauvissière, , Touraine about 1520...

 passed on to Mary, Queen of Scots a prophecy supposed to be Bodin's, on the death of Elizabeth, at the time of the Babington Plot
Babington Plot
The Babington Plot was a Catholic plot in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, on the English throne. It led to the execution of Mary. The long-term goal was an invasion by the Spanish forces of King Philip II and the Catholic league in...


Prince François became Duke of Brabant
Duke of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was formally erected in 1183/1184. The title "Duke of Brabant" was created by the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in favor of Henry I, son of Godfrey III of Leuven . The Duchy of Brabant was a feudal elevation of the since 1085/1086 existing title of Landgrave of Brabant...

 in 1582, however, and embarked on an adventurer's campaign to expand his territory. The disapproving Bodin accompanied him, and was trapped in the Prince's disastrous raid on Antwerp that ended the attempt, followed shortly by the Prince's death in 1584.

Last years

In the wars that followed the death of Henry III (1589), the Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

 attempted to prevent the succession of the Protestant Henry of Navarre by placing another king on the throne. Bodin initially gave support to the powerful League; he felt it inevitable that they would score a quick victory.

He died, in Laon, during one of the many plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

 epidemics of the time.


Bodin generally wrote in French, with later Latin translations. Several of the works have been seen as influenced by Ramism
Ramism was a collection of theories on rhetoric, logic and pedagogy based on the teachings of Petrus Ramus, a French academic, philosopher and Huguenot convert who was murdered in 1572.According to Jonathan Israel, Ramism-Development:...

, at least in terms of structure.

Bodin wrote in turn books on history, economics, politics, demonology, and natural philosophy; and also left a (later notorious) work in manuscript on religion (see under "Religious tolerance"). A modern edition of Bodin's works was begun in 1951 as Oeuvres philosophiques de Jean Bodin by Pierre Mesnard, but only one volume appeared.

Methodus ad facilem historiarum cognitionem

In France, Bodin was noted as a historian for his Methodus ad facilem historiarum cognitionem (1566) (Method for the easy knowledge of history). He wrote, "Of history, that is, the true narration of things, there are three kinds: human, natural and divine". This book was one of the most significant contributions to the ars historica
Ars historica
Ars Historica was a genre of humanist historiography in the later Renaissance. It produced a small library of treatises underscoring the stylistic aspects of writing history as a work of art, but also introducing the contributions of philology and textual criticism in its precepts and...

of the period, and distinctively put an emphasis on the role of political knowledge in interpreting historical writings. He pointed out, equally, that the knowledge of historical legal systems could be useful for contemporary legislation.

The Methodus was a successful and influential manual on the writing of technical history. It answered by means of detailed historiographical advice the skeptical line on the possibility of historical knowledge advanced by Francesco Patrizzi. It also expanded the view of historical "data" found in earlier humanists, with the immediacy of its concerns for the social side of human life.

Bodin rejected the biblical Four Monarchies
Four monarchies
The four kingdoms refers to four monarchies, or world empires, described in dreams and visions in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. The actual term "four kingdoms" occurs once, found in Daniel 8:22. These four kingdoms are described in different ways throughout Daniel, beginning with chapter...

 model, taking an unpopular position at the time, as well as the classical theory of a Golden Age
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

 for its naivety. He also dropped much of the rhetorical apparatus of the humanists.

Economic thought: the Reply to Malestroit

The Réponse de J. Bodin aux paradoxes de M. de Malestroit (1568) was a tract, provoked by theories of Jean de Malestroit, in which Bodin offered one of the earliest scholarly analyses of the phenomenon of inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

, unknown prior to the 16th century. The background to discussion in the 1560s was that by 1550 an increase in the money supply
Money supply
In economics, the money supply or money stock, is the total amount of money available in an economy at a specific time. There are several ways to define "money," but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits .Money supply data are recorded and published, usually...

 in Western Europe had brought general benefits. But there had also been appreciable inflation. Silver arriving via Spain from the South American mine of Potosí
Potosí is a city and the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation at a nominal . and it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint, now the National Mint of Bolivia...

, together with other sources of silver and gold, from other new sources, was causing monetary change.

Bodin was after Martín de Azpilicueta, who had alluded to the issue in 1556 (something noticed also by Gomara in his unpublished Annals), an early observer that the rise in prices was due in large part to the influx of precious metals. Analysing the phenomenon, amongst other factors he pointed to the relationship between the amount of goods and the amount of money in circulation. The debates of the time laid the foundation for the "quantity theory of money
Quantity theory of money
In monetary economics, the quantity theory of money is the theory that money supply has a direct, proportional relationship with the price level....

". Bodin mentioned other factors: population increase, trade, the possibility of economic migration, and consumption that he saw as profligate.

The Theatrum

The Theatrum Universae Naturae is Bodin's statement of natural philosophy. It contains many particular and even idiosyncratic personal views: eclipse
An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured, either by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer...

s are related to political events. It argued against the certainty of the astronomical theory of stellar parallax
Stellar parallax
Stellar parallax is the effect of parallax on distant stars in astronomy. It is parallax on an interstellar scale, and it can be used to determine the distance of Earth to another star directly with accurate astrometry...

, and the terrestrial origin of the "comet of 1573" (i.e. the supernova SN 1572
SN 1572
SN 1572 , "B Cassiopeiae" , or 3C 10 was a supernova of Type Ia in the constellation Cassiopeia, one of about eight supernovae visible to the naked eye in historical records...

). This work shows major Ramist influences. Consideration of the orderly majesty of God leads to encyclopedism about the universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 and an analogue of a memory system.

Problems of Bodin became attached to some Renaissance editions of Aristotelian problemata in natural philosophy. Further, Damian Siffert compiled a Problemata Bodini, which was based on the Theatrum.

Les Six livres de la République

Bodin's best-known work was written in 1576. The discussion regarding the best form of government which took place in those years around the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

 (1572) gave the inspiration; Bodin attempted to embark on a middle path. Machiavelli would have granted the sovereign the right to act for the benefit of his state without moral consideration, and Protestant theorists advocated a popular government, or at least an elective monarchy
Elective monarchy
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected rather than hereditary monarch. The manner of election, the nature of the candidacy and the electors vary from case to case...

. Bodin's classical definition of sovereignty is: “” (the absolute and perpetual power of a Republic). His main ideas about sovereignty are found in chapter VIII and X of Book I, including his statement "The sovereign Prince is only accountable to God".

The Six livres were an immediate success and were frequently reprinted. A revised and expanded Latin translation by the author appeared in 1586. With this work, Bodin became one of the founders of the pragmatic inter-confessional group known as the politiques
Politique is a term that was used during the sixteenth and seventeenth century Wars of Religion, to describe moderates of both religious faiths who held that only the restoration of a strong monarchy could save France from total collapse. It frequently included a pejorative connotation of moral...

, who ultimately succeeded in ending the Wars of Religion under King Henry IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

, with the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. In the Edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity...

 (1598). Against the monarchomachs who were assailing kingship in his time, such as Theodore Beza
Theodore Beza
Theodore Beza was a French Protestant Christian theologian and scholar who played an important role in the Reformation...

 and François Hotman
François Hotman
François Hotman was a French Protestant lawyer and writer, associated with the legal humanists and with the monarchomaques, who struggled against absolute monarchy. His first name is often written 'Francis' in English. His surname is Latinized by himself as Hotomanus, by others as Hotomannus and...

 Bodin succeeded in writing a fundamental and influential treatise of social and political theory. In its reasoning against all types of mixed constitution and resistance theory, it was an effective counter-attack against the monarchomach position invoking “popular sovereignty”.

The structure of the earlier books has been described as Ramist in structure. Book VI contains astrological and numerological reasoning. Bodin invoked Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

 in discussing justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 and in Book IV used ideas related to the Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

 of Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

 The use of language derived from or replacing Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

's città (Latin civitas) as political unit (French cité or ville) is thoughtful; Bodin introduced republic (French république, Latin respublica) as a term for matters of public law
Public law
Public law is a theory of law governing the relationship between individuals and the state. Under this theory, constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law are sub-divisions of public law...

 (the contemporary English rendering was commonweal(th)). Bodin, although he referenced Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, was not writing here in the tradition of classical republicanism
Classical republicanism
Classical republicanism is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity. The earliest examples of the school were classical writers such as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero...

. The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 is analysed as a “seigneurial monarchy”. The Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 is not accepted in the terms of Gasparo Contarini
Gasparo Contarini
thumb|240px|Gasparo Contarini.Gasparo Contarini was an Italian diplomat and cardinal. He was one of the first proponents of the dialogue with Protestants, after the Reformation.-Biography:...

: it is called an aristocratic constitution, not a mixed one, with a concentric structure, and its apparent stability was not attributable to the form of government.

The ideas in the Six livres on the importance of climate in the shaping of a people's character were also influential, finding a prominent place in the work of Giovanni Botero
Giovanni Botero
Giovanni Botero was an Italian thinker, priest, poet, and diplomat, best known for his work Della ragion di Stato . In this work, he argued against the amoral political philosophy associated with Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, not only because it lacked a Christian foundation but also because...

 (1544–1617) and later in Baron de Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

's (1689–1755) climatic determinism. Based on the assumption that a country's climate shapes the character of its population, and hence to a large extent the most suitable form of government, Bodin postulated that a hereditary monarchy
Hereditary monarchy
A hereditary monarchy is the most common type of monarchy and is the form that is used by almost all of the world's existing monarchies.Under a hereditary monarchy, all the monarchs come from the same family, and the crown is passed down from one member to another member of the family...

 would be the ideal regime for a temperate nation such as France. This power should be "sovereign", i.e., not be subject to any other branch, though to some extent limited by institutions like the high courts (Parlement) and representative assemblies (États). Above all, the monarch is "responsible only to God", that is, must stand above confessional factions.

The work soon became widely known. Gaspar de Anastro made a Spanish translation in 1590. Richard Knolles
Richard Knolles
Richard Knolles was an English historian, famous for his account of the Ottoman Empire, the first major description in the English language....

 put together an English translation (1606); this was based on the 1586 Latin version, but in places follows other versions. It appeared under the title The Six Bookes of a Commonweale.

De la démonomanie des sorciers (On the Demon Worship of Sorcerers)

Bodin's major work on sorcery
Sorcery may refer to:* Magic * Maleficium * Witchcraft* Sorcery , a video game for the PlayStation 3 utilizing the PlayStation Move* Sorcery , 1995* Sorcery , 1974...

 and the witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

 persecutions was first issued in 1580, ten editions being published by 1604. In it he elaborates the influential concept of "pact witchcraft" based on a deal with the Devil
Deal with the Devil
Deal With The Devil is the fifth studio album by the American heavy metal band Lizzy Borden released in 2000 .A return to form, featuring a cover by Todd McFarlane.2 covers were recorded...


The book relates histories of sorcerers, but does not mention Faust
Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical...

 and his pact. It gave a report of a 1552 public exorcism
Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed...

 in Paris, and of the case of Magdalena de la Cruz
Magdalena de la Cruz
Magdalena de la Cruz was a Franciscan nun of Córdoba in Spain, who for many years was honored as a saint. However, St. Ignatius Loyola had always regarded her with suspicion. Falling dangerously ill in 1543, Magdalena confessed to a long career of hypocrisy, ascribing most of the marvels to the...

 of Cordova
-Places:*Cordova, Alabama, USA*Cordova, Alaska, USA*Cordova, Cebu, Philippines*Cordova, Illinois, USA*Cordova, Maryland, USA*Cordova, Nebraska, USA*Cordova, New Mexico, USA*Cordova, South Carolina, USA*Cordova, Tennessee, USA*Córdoba, Argentina...

, an abbess who had confessed to sexual relations with the Devil over three decades. Bodin cited Pierre Marner on werewolf
A werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope , is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse...

 accounts from Savoie
Savoie is a French department located in the Rhône-Alpes region in the French Alps.Together with the Haute-Savoie, Savoie is one of the two departments of the historic region of Savoy that was annexed by France on June 14, 1860, following the signature of the Treaty of Turin on March 24, 1860...

. He denounced the works of Cornelius Agrippa, and the perceived traffic in "sorceries" carried out along the Spanish Road
Spanish Road
The "Spanish Road" was a military supply/trade route used from 1567–1620, which stretched from Northern Italy to the Low Countries. It crossed through relatively neutral territory, and was therefore Europe's most preferred military route...

, running along eastern France for much of its length.

He wrote in extreme terms about procedures in sorcery trials, opposing the normal safeguards of justice. This advocacy of relaxation was aimed directly at the existing standards laid down by the Parlement of Paris (physical or written evidence, confessions not obtained by torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, unimpeachable witnesses). He asserted that not even one witch could be erroneously condemned if the correct procedures were followed, because rumours concerning sorcerors were almost always true. Bodin's attitude has been called a populationist strategy typical of mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...


The book was influential in the debate over witchcraft; it was translated into German by Johann Fischart
Johann Fischart
Johann Fischart was a German satirist and publicist.-Biography:Fischart was born, probably, at Strasbourg , in or about the year 1545, and was educated at Worms in the house of Kaspar Scheid, whom in the preface to his Eulenspiegel he mentions as his cousin and preceptor...

 (1581), and in the same year into Latin by François Du Jon as De magorum dæmonomania libri IV. It was quoted by Jean de Léry
Jean de Léry
Jean de Léry was an explorer, writer and Reformed Pastor born in Lamargelle, Côte-d'Or, France. Little is known of his early life; and he might have remained unknown had he not accompanied a group of Protestants to their new colony on an island in the Bay of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil...

, writing about the Tupinamba people of what is now Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...


Law and politics

Bodin was best known for his analysis of sovereignty, which he took to be indivisible, and to involve full legislative powers (thought with qualifications and caveats). With François Hotman
François Hotman
François Hotman was a French Protestant lawyer and writer, associated with the legal humanists and with the monarchomaques, who struggled against absolute monarchy. His first name is often written 'Francis' in English. His surname is Latinized by himself as Hotomanus, by others as Hotomannus and...

 and François Baudouin
François Baudouin
François Baudouin , also called Balduinus, was a French jurist, Christian controversialist and historian. Among the most colourful of the noted French humanists, he was respected by his contemporaries as a statesman and jurist, even as they frowned upon on his perceived inconstancy in matters of...

, on the other hand, Bodin also supported the force of customary law, stating that Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 alone was not adequate.

He hedged the absolutist nature of his theory of sovereignty, which was an analytical concept; if later his ideas were used in a different, normative fashion, that was not overtly the reason in Bodin. Sovereignty could be looked at as a “bundle of attributes”; in that light the legislative role took centre stage, and other “marks of sovereignty” could be discussed further, as separate issues. He was a politique in theory, which was the moderate position of the period in French politics; but drew from it the conclusion that only passive resistance to authority was justified.

Bodin's work on political theory saw the introduction of the modern concept of “state” but was in the fact on the cusp of usage (with that of Corasius), with the older meaning of a monarch “maintaining his state” not having dropped away. Public office belonged to the commonwealth, and its holders had a personal responsibility for their actions. Politics is autonomous, and the sovereign is subject to divine and natural law, but not to any church; the obligation is to secure justice and religious worship in the state.

Bodin studied the balance of liberty and authority. He had no doctrine of separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 and argued in a traditional way about royal prerogative
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

 and its proper, limited sphere. His doctrine was one of balance as harmony, with numerous qualifications; as such it could be used in different manners, and was. The key was that the central point of power should be above faction. Rose sees Bodin’s politics as ultimately theocratic, and misunderstood by the absolutists who followed him.

Where Aristotle argued for six types of state, Bodin allowed only monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 and democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

. He wrote, however, that the form of state (constitution) was to be distinguished from the form of government (administration). Bodin had a low opinion of democracy.

Families were the basic unit and model for the state; on the other hand John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 found in Bodin an ally on the topic of divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

. Respect for individual liberty and possessions were the hallmark of the orderly state, a view Bodin shared with Hotman and George Buchanan
George Buchanan
George Buchanan may refer to:*George Buchanan , Scottish humanist*Sir George Buchanan , Scottish soldier during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms*Sir George Buchanan , Chief Medical Officer...

. He argued against slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...


On change and progress

He praised printing as outshining any achievement of the ancients. The idea that the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 was driven by economic and political forces is attributed to him. He is identified as the first person to realize the rapid rate of change of early modern Europe.

In physics he is credited as the first modern writer to use the concept of laws of nature to define change; but his idea of nature included the action of spirits. In politics, he adhered to the ideas of his time in considering a political revolution in the nature of an astronomical cycle: a changement (French) or simply a change (as translated 1606) in English; from Polybius Bodin took the idea of anacyclosis, or cyclic change of constitution. Bodin's theory was that governments had begun as monarchical, had then been democratic, before becoming aristocratic.

Public position

In 1576 Bodin was engaged in French politics, and then argued against the use of compulsion in matters of religion, if unsuccessfully. Wars, he considered, should be subject to statecraft, and matters of religion did not touch the state.

Bodin argued that a state might contain several religions; this was a very unusual position for his time, if shared by Michel de l'Hôpital
Michel de l'Hôpital
Michel de l'Hôpital was a French statesman.-Biography:De l'Hôpital was born near Aigueperse in Auvergne ....

 and William the Silent
William the Silent
William I, Prince of Orange , also widely known as William the Silent , or simply William of Orange , was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born in the House of...

. It was attacked by Pedro de Rivadeneira and Juan de Mariana
Juan de Mariana
Juan de Mariana, also known as Father Mariana , was a Spanish Jesuit priest, Scholastic, historian, and member of the Monarchomachs....

, from the conventional opposing position of a state obligation to root out religious dissent. He argued in the Six livres that the Trial of the Knights Templar
Trial of the Knights Templar
The Trial of the Knights Templar was a major event planned by King Philip IV with the complicity of Pope Clement V in the early 14th century, against the Order of the Knights Templar. King Philip, deeply in debt to the Templars, from the endless financial drain of the wars, ordered a dramatic...

 was an example of unjustified persecution, similar to that of the Jews and medieval fraternities.

Private position in the Colloquium

In 1588 Bodin completed in manuscript a Latin work Colloquium heptaplomeres de rerum sublimium arcanis abditis (Colloquium of the Seven). It is a conversation about the nature of truth between seven educated men, each with a distinct religious or philosophical orientation - a natural philosopher, a Calvinist, a Muslim, a Roman Catholic, a Lutheran, a Jew, and a skeptic. Because of this work, Bodin is often identified as one of the first proponents of religious tolerance in the western world. Truth, in Bodin's view, commanded universal agreement; and the Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

 agreed on the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 (Tanakh). Vera religio (true religion) would command loyalty to the point of death; his conception of it was influenced by Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 and Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

. His views on free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 are also bound up with his studies in Jewish philosophy. Some modern scholars have contested his authorship of the text. The "Colloquium of the Seven regarding the hidden secrets of the sublime things" offers a peaceful discussion with seven representatives of various religions and worldviews, who in the end agree on the fundamental underlying similarity of their beliefs.

Bodin's theory, as based in considerations of harmony, resembles that of Sebastian Castellio
Sebastian Castellio
Sebastian Castellio was a French preacher and theologian; and one of the first Reformed Christian proponents of religious toleration, freedom of conscience and thought....

. He has been seen as a scriptural relativist, and deist, with Montaigne and Pierre Charron
Pierre Charron
Pierre Charron was a French 16th-century Catholic theologian and philosopher, and a disciple and contemporary of Michel Montaigne.-Biography:...

; also in the group of learned Christian Hebraist
Christian Hebraist
A Christian Hebraist is a scholar of Hebrew who comes from a Christian family background/belief, or is a Jewish adherent of Christianity. The main area of study is that commonly known as the Old Testament to Christians , but Christians have occasionally taken an interest in the Talmud, and...

s with John Selden
John Selden
John Selden was an English jurist and a scholar of England's ancient laws and constitution and scholar of Jewish law...

, Carlo Giuseppe Imbonati
Carlo Giuseppe Imbonati
Carlo Giuseppe Imbonati was a Cistercian scholar who was active during the last half of the 17th century. He spent much of his career in Rome and rose to the title of abbot. He was a theologian and a Hebrew scholar who wrote prolifically in his fields. The last known references to the man are...

, and Gerhard Vossius. By reputation, at least, Bodin was cited as an unbeliever, deist or atheist by Christian writers who associated him with perceived free-thinking and sceptical tradition of Machiavelli and Pietro Pomponazzi
Pietro Pomponazzi
Pietro Pomponazzi was an Italian philosopher. He is sometimes known by his Latin name, Petrus Pomponatius.-Biography:...

, Lucilio Vanini
Lucilio Vanini
Lucilio Vanini was an Italian free-thinker, who in his works styled himself Giulio Cesare Vanini.He was born at Taurisano, near Lecce, and studied philosophy and theology at Rome. After his return to Lecce he applied himself to the physical studies which had come into vogue with the Renaissance....

, Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 and Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

: Pierre-Daniel Huet,, Nathaniel Falck, Claude-François Houtteville. Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher and writer best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary, published beginning in 1695....

 attributed to Bodin a maxim about the intellectual consequences of the non-existence of God (a precursor of Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

's, but based on a traditional commonplace of French thinkers). Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey was a German historian, psychologist, sociologist and hermeneutic philosopher, who held Hegel's Chair in Philosophy at the University of Berlin. As a polymathic philosopher, working in a modern research university, Dilthey's research interests revolved around questions of...

 later wrote that the protagonists in the Colloquium anticipate those of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature...

's Nathan der Weise
Nathan der Weise
Nathan the Wise is a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, published in 1779. It is a fervent plea for religious tolerance...


The Colloquium was one of the major and most popular manuscripts in clandestine circulation in the early modern period, with more than 100 copies catalogued. it had an extensive covert circulation, after coming into intellectual fashion. The 1910 Encyclopædia Britannica states "It is curious that Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, who originally regarded the Colloquium as the work of a professed enemy of Christianity, subsequently described it as a most valuable production". Its dissemination increased after 1700, even if its content was by then dated. It was interpreted in the 18th century as containing arguments for natural religion
Natural religion
Natural religion might have the following meanings:* In the modern study of religion it is used to refer to the notion that there is a spontaneous religious apprehension of the world common to all human beings, see:**Urreligion**origin of religion...

, as if the views expressed by Toralba (the proponent of natural religion) were Bodin's; wrongly, according to Rose, whose reconstruction of Bodin's religious views is a long way from belief in a detached deity. Grotius had a manuscript. Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, who criticized the Colloquium to Jacob Thomasius and Hermann Conring
Hermann Conring
Hermann Conring was a German intellectual. He made significant contributions to the study of medicine, politics and law....

, some years later did editorial work on the manuscript. Henry Oldenburg
Henry Oldenburg
Henry Oldenburg was a German theologian known as a diplomat and a natural philosopher. He was one of the foremost intelligencers of Europe of the seventeenth century, with a network of correspondents to rival those of Fabri de Peiresc, Marin Mersenne and Ismaël Boulliau...

 wanted to copy it, for transmission to John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 and possibly John Dury
John Dury
John Dury was a Scottish Calvinist minister and a significant intellectual of the English Civil War period. He made efforts to re-unite the Calvinist and Lutheran wings of Protestantism, hoping to succeed when he moved to Kassel in 1661, but he did not accomplish this...

, or for some other connection in 1659. In 1662 Conring was seeking a copy for a princely library. It was not to be published in full until 1857, by Ludwig Noack, from manuscripts collected by Heinrich Christian von Seckenberg.

Personal religious convictions

Bodin was influenced by philosophic Judaism to believe in the annihilation of the wicked 'post exacta supplicia'.

Cultural and universal history and geography

Bodin was a polymath, concerned with universal history
Universal history
Universal history is basic to the Western tradition of historiography, especially the Abrahamic wellspring of that tradition. Simply stated, universal history is the presentation of the history of humankind as a whole, as a coherent unit.-Ancient authors:...

 at which he came as a jurist. He belonged to an identifiable French school of antiquarian and cultural history
Cultural history
The term cultural history refers both to an academic discipline and to its subject matter.Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural...

, with Lancelot Voisin de La Popelinière
Lancelot Voisin de La Popelinière
Lancelot Voisin de La Popelinière , was a Gascon writer and historian. He was a Protestant, and took part in the Wars of Religion on the Huguenot side...

, Louis Le Caron, Louis Le Roy, Étienne Pasquier
Étienne Pasquier
Étienne Pasquier , French lawyer and man of letters, was born at Paris, on 7 June 1529 by his own account, according to others a year earlier. He was called to the Paris bar in 1549....

 and Nicolas Vignier.

Historical disciples included Jacques Auguste de Thou
Jacques Auguste de Thou
Jacques Auguste de Thou was a French historian, book collector and president of the Parlement de Paris.-Life:...

 and William Camden
William Camden
William Camden was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.- Early years :Camden was born in London...

. The genre thus founded, drawing social conclusions, identified itself as "civil history", and was influenced particularly by Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

. The Methodus was been called the first book to advance "a theory of universal history based on a purely secular study of the growth of civilisation". Bodin's secular attitude to history therefore goes some way to explain his perceived relationship to Machiavelli. While Bodin's common ground with Machiavelli is not so large, and indeed Bodin opposed the Godless vision of the world in Machiavelli, they are often enough paired, for example by A. C. Crombie as philosophical historians with contemporary concerns; Crombie also links Bodin with Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

, as rational and critical historians. Both Bodin and Machiavelli treat religion as situated historically.

Bodin drew largely on Johann Boemus
Johann Boemus
Johann Boemus was a German humanist, canon of Ulm Cathedral, traveller, and Hebraist. He was compiler and author of the first ethnographic compendium of the Early Modern period in Europe....

, and also classical authors, as well as accounts from Leo Africanus
Leo Africanus
Joannes Leo Africanus, was a Moorish diplomat and author who is best known for his book Descrittione dell’Africa describing the geography of North Africa.-Biography:Most of what is known about his life is gathered from autobiographical...

 and Francisco Álvares
Francisco Álvares
Francisco Álvares was a Portuguese missionary and explorer. In 1515 he traveled to Ethiopia as part of the Portuguese embassy to emperor Lebna Dengel accompanied by returning Ethiopian ambassador Matheus. The embassy arrived only in 1520 to Ethiopia where he joined long sought Portuguese envoy...

. He showed little interest, however, in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

. In terms of theories of cultural diffusion
Cultural diffusion
In cultural anthropology and cultural geography, cultural diffusion, as first conceptualized by Alfred L. Kroeber in his influential 1940 paper Stimulus Diffusion, or trans-cultural diffusion in later reformulations, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies,...

 he influenced Nathanael Carpenter
Nathanael Carpenter
Nathanael Carpenter was an English author, philosopher, and geographer.-Life:He was son of John Carpenter, rector of Northleigh, Devon, and was born there on February 7, 1589. He matriculated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, on June 7, 1605; but was elected, on a recommendatory letter of James I, a...

, and many subsequently, with his “south-eastern origin” theory of the transmission from peoples of the Middle East to Greece and Rome (and hence to Northern Europe). Another follower was Peter Heylyn in his Microcosmus (1621). In anthropology Bodin showed indications of polygenism
Polygenism is a theory of human origins positing that the human races are of different lineages . This is opposite to the idea of monogenism, which posits a single origin of humanity.- Origins :...

 as theory of human origins. In clearer terms, on the other hand, he believed that mankind was unifying, the drivers being trade, and the indications of the respublica mundana (world commonwealth) and international law as developing. This was within a scheme of Vaticinium Eliae or three periods of 2000 years for universal history, to which he had little commitment, though indicating its connection with the three climate regions and their predominance.

The “south-eastern” theory depended for its explanation on Bodin's climate theory and astrology: it was given in the Methodus, and developed in Book VI of the Six Livres. He made an identification of peoples and geographical sectors with planetary influences, in Book V of the Six Livres. His astrological theory is combined with the Hippocratic tradition; but not in the conventional way of Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

. It has been suggested that he took them from a follower of Cardano, Auger Ferrier
Auger Ferrier
Auger Ferrier was a French physician, known also as an astrologer, poet, and interpreter of dreams.-Life:He was born near Toulouse, and educated by his father, a surgeon. He studied medicine with the law and mathematics. He took a medical degree at the University of Montpellier in 1540, under Jean...



Bodin's conception of sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 was widely adopted in Europe. In a form simplified and adapted by others, such as the French jurists Charles Loyseau
Charles Loyseau
Charles Loyseau was a French jurist, a lawyer in the Parlement of Paris, the highest royal court in France, as well as a judge in local and seigneurial courts...

 (1564–1627) and Cardin Le Bret
Cardin Le Bret
Cardin Le Bret was a French jurist, known as the major supporter of the legal basis for the rule of Cardinal Richelieu in France.On the key issue for absolutist conceptions of government, sovereignty, he stated that “sovereignty is no more divisible than the point in geometry”. His 1632 book on...

 (1558–1655), it played an important role in the development of absolutism
Absolutism (European history)
Absolutism or The Age of Absolutism is a historiographical term used to describe a form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by all other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites...


In France

Influentially, Bodin defended an orderly Gallican monarchy against Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s, and any external interference. These general ideas became political orthodoxy, in the reign of Henry IV of France
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

, tending to the beginnings of absolutism
Absolutism (European history)
Absolutism or The Age of Absolutism is a historiographical term used to describe a form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by all other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites...

. Bodin had numerous followers as political theorist, including Pierre Grégoire
Pierre Grégoire (jurist)
Pierre Grégoire was a French jurist and philosopher- Career :He was born at Toulouse around 1540. After studies at Toulouse, he became an advocate. From 1570 he was professeur of law at Cahors; in 1580 he returned to Toulouse in a similar post...

, in whom with François Grimaudet legislative authority starts to become closer to the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

, and William Barclay
William Barclay (jurist)
William Barclay was a Scottish jurist.-Life:He was born in Aberdeenshire in 1546. Educated at the University of Aberdeen, he went to France in 1573, and studied law at the University of Bourges, where he took his doctor's degree...

. Pierre Charron
Pierre Charron
Pierre Charron was a French 16th-century Catholic theologian and philosopher, and a disciple and contemporary of Michel Montaigne.-Biography:...

 in La Sagesse of 1601 uses the idea of state from Bodin but with fewer limitations on royal power; Charron in this work argued for a secular neo-stoicism, putting together ideas of Montaigne and Lipsius with those of Bodin. Charles Loyseau in the years 1608-10 published absolutist works with the emphasis on orderliness in society, going much beyond Bodin’s writing of thirty years earlier, a trend that continued into the 17th century.

As a demonologist, his work was taken to be authoritative and based on experience as witch-hunting practitioner. As historian, he was prominently cited by Lenglet du Fresnoy in his 1713 Methode pour etudier l’Histoire. Montesquieu read Bodin closely read; the modern sociology hinted at in Bodin, arising from the relationship between the state apparatus on the one hand, and society on the other, is developed in Montesquieu.

In Germany

Bodin's rejection of the Four Monarchies model was unpopular, given the German investment in the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 as fourth monarch, the attitude of Johannes Sleidanus
Johannes Sleidanus
Johannes Sleidanus was a German historian, the annalist of the Reformation.-Life:He was born at Schleiden near Aachen...

. The need to accommodate the existing structure of the Empire with Bodin as theorist of sovereignty led to a controversy running over nearly half a century; starting with Henning Arnisaeus
Henning Arnisaeus
Henning Arnisaeus was a German physician and moral philosopher. He is now known for his writings on political theory.-Life:...

, it continued unresolved to 1626 and the time of Christopher Besoldus
Christopher Besoldus
Christopher Besoldus was a German jurist and publicist whose writing is seen as important for the history of the causes of the Thirty Years' War.-Life:...

. He drew a line under it, by adopting the concept of composite polyarchy, which held sway subsequently. Leibniz rejected Bodin’s view of sovereignty, stating that it might amount only to territorial control, and the consequence drawn by writers in Bodin’s tradition that federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 was chimeric.

In England

Generally the English took great interest in the French Wars of Religion; their literature came into commonplace use in English political debate, and Amyas Paulet made immediate efforts to find the Six livres for Edward Dyer
Edward Dyer
Sir Edward Dyer was an English courtier and poet.-Life:The son of Sir Thomas Dyer, Kt., he was born at Sharpham Park, Glastonbury, Somerset. He was educated, according to Anthony Wood, either at Balliol College, Oxford or at Broadgates Hall , and left after taking a degree...

. Shortly Bodin's works were known in England: to Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

, Walter Ralegh, and to Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey was an English writer. Harvey was a notable scholar, though his reputation suffered from his quarrel with Thomas Nashe...

 who reported they were fashionable in Oxford. His ideas on inflation were familiar by 1581. Somerville makes the point that not all those who discussed sovereignty in England at this period necessarily took their views from Bodin: the ideas were up in the air at the time, and some such as Hadrian à Saravia
Hadrian à Saravia
Hadrian à Saravia, sometimes called Hadrian Saravia, Adrian Saravia, or Adrianus Saravia was an English prebend and theologian and a member of the First Westminster Company, charged by James I of England to produce the King James Version of the Bible.-Early years:Saravia was born in Hesdin , then...

 and Christopher Lever had their own reasoning to similar conclusions. Richard Hooker
Richard Hooker
Richard Hooker was an Anglican priest and an influential theologian. Hooker's emphases on reason, tolerance and the value of tradition came to exert a lasting influence on the development of the Church of England...

 had access to the works, but doesn't reference them. John Donne
John Donne
John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

 cited Bodin in his Biathanatos.

Bodin's view of parallelism of French and English monarchies was accepted by Ralegh. Roger Twysden dissented, to the extent that the English monarchy had in his view never fitted Bodin's definition of sovereignty. Richard Beacon in Solon His Follie (1594), directed towards English colonisation in Ireland, used text derived from the Six livres, as well as much theory from Machiavelli; he also argued against Bodin the proposition that France was a mixed monarchy. Bodin influenced the controversial definitions of John Cowell
John Cowell
-Life:Born in Ernesborough , Devon, he was educated at Eton, and King's College, Cambridge. In 1594 he became professor of civil law at Cambridge, and in 1598 master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.He died at Oxford on 11 October 1611.-Works:...

, in his 1607 book The Interpreter, that caused a furore in Parliament during 1610. Edward Coke
Edward Coke
Sir Edward Coke SL PC was an English barrister, judge and politician considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. Born into a middle class family, Coke was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before leaving to study at the Inner Temple, where he was called to the...

 took from Bodin on sovereignty; and like him opposed the concept of mixed monarchy.

While Bodin's ideas on authority fitted with the theory of divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

, his main concern was not with the choice of the sovereign. But that meant they could cut both ways, being cited by parliamentarians as well as royalists. Henry Parker
Henry Parker (writer)
Henry Parker was an English barrister and political writer in the Parliamentarian cause.He was a major figure as a propagandist and pamphleteer, "the most influential writer to defend the parliamentary cause in the 1640s". He provided the "ideological ballast for resistance", according to Geoffrey...

 in 1642 asserted the sovereignty of Parliament by Bodinian reasoning. James Whitelocke
James Whitelocke
Sir James Whitelocke SL was an English judge.-Early life:He was the younger of posthumous twin sons of Richard Whitelocke, merchant, of London, by Joan Brockhurst, widow, daughter of John Colte of Little Munden, Hertfordshire. His twin-brother, William, served under Francis Drake, and fell at sea...

 used Bodin's thought in discussing the King-in-Parliament. The royalist Robert Filmer
Robert Filmer
thumbnail|150px|right|Robert Filmer Sir Robert Filmer was an English political theorist who defended the divine right of kings...

 borrowed largely from Bodin for his argument in his Patriarcha. John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 in arguing decades later against Filmer in Two Treatises of Government
Two Treatises of Government
The Two Treatises of Government is a work of political philosophy published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke...

didn't go behind his work to attack Bodin; but his ally James Tyrrell
James Tyrrell
Sir James Tyrell was an English knight, a trusted servant of King Richard III of England. He is known for 'confessing' to the murders of the Princes in the Tower under Richard's orders. However, his statement may have been taken under torture, so the confession might not be genuine...

 did, as did Algernon Sidney. Another royalist user of Bodin was Michael Hudson. John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 used Bodin's theory in defending his anti-democratic plan for a Grand Council, after Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

's death.

Sir John Eliot summarized work of Arnisaeus as critic of Bodin, and wrote in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 following Bodin that a lawful king, as opposed to a tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

, "will not do what he may do", in his De iure majestatis. Robert Bruce Cotton
Robert Bruce Cotton
Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet was an English antiquarian and Member of Parliament, founder of the important Cotton library....

 quoted Bodin on the value of money; Robert Burton
Robert Burton (scholar)
Robert Burton was an English scholar at Oxford University, best known for the classic The Anatomy of Melancholy. He was also the incumbent of St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, and of Segrave in Leicestershire.-Life:...

 on politics in the Anatomy of Melancholy.

Richard Knolles in the introduction to his 1606 translation commended the book as written by a man experienced in public affairs. William Loe complained, in preaching to Parliament in 1621, that Bodin with Lipsius and Machiavelli was too much studied, to the neglect of Scripture. Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long...

 on the other hand regarded the reading of Bodin, Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius , also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law...

 and Francisco Suárez
Francisco Suárez
Francisco Suárez was a Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher and theologian, one of the leading figures of the School of Salamanca movement, and generally regarded among the greatest scholastics after Thomas Aquinas....

 as a suitable training in politics, for lawyers.

Bodin's views on witchcraft were taken up in England by the witch-hunter Brian Darcy in the early 1580s, who argued for burning rather than hanging as a method of execution, and followed some of Bodin's suggestions in interrogating Ursula Kemp
Ursula Kemp
Ursula Kemp or Ursley Kempe alias Grey was an English cunning woman and midwife who in 1582 was tried for witchcraft and hanged. Kemp was accused of using familiars to kill and bring sickness to her neighbours.-Biography:Kemp was born in St Osyth, Essex...

. They were also radically opposed by Reginald Scott in his sceptical work Discoverie of Witchcraft
Discoverie of Witchcraft
The Discoverie of Witchcraft was a partially sceptical book published by the English gentleman Reginald Scot in 1584, and intended as an exposé of medieval witchcraft...

(1584). Later Francis Hutchinson
Francis Hutchinson
Francis Hutchinson was Bishop of Down and Connor and an opponent of witch-hunting.Hutchinson was born in Carsington, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, the second son of Mary and Edward Hutchinson or Hitchinson...

 was his detractor, criticising his methodology.

In Italy

In Italy Bodin was seen as a secular historian like Machiavelli. At the time of the Venetian Interdict
Venetian Interdict
The Venetian Interdict of 1606 and 1607 was the expression in terms of canon law, by means of a papal interdict, of a diplomatic quarrel and confrontation between the Papal Curia and the Republic of Venice, taking place in the period from 1605 to 1607...

, Venetians agreed with the legislative definition of sovereignty. In particular Paolo Sarpi
Paolo Sarpi
Fra Paolo Sarpi was a Venetian patriot, scholar, scientist and church reformer. His most important roles were as a canon lawyer and historian active on behalf of the Venetian Republic.- Early years :...

 argued that Venice's limited size in territorial terms was not the relevant point for the actions it could undertake on its own authority.

Later Giambattista Vico
Giambattista Vico
Giovanni Battista ' Vico or Vigo was an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist....

 was to take Bodin’s cultural history approach noticeably further.

The Papacy

Works of Bodin were soon placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum
Index Librorum Prohibitorum
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. A first version was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form was authorized at the Council of Trent...

for various reasons, including discussion of Fortune (against free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

), and reason of state. The Methodus went on the Index in 1590; Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation...

 as censor found it of some merit in its learning, but the author to be a heretic or atheist, critical of the papacy and much too sympathetic to Charles Du Moulin in particular. Other works followed in 1593. All his work was placed on the Index in 1628; the prohibition on the Theatrum continued into the 20th century. Venetian theologians were described as followers of Machiavelli and Bodin by Giovanni Amato.
Bellarmine's Tractatus de potestate summi pontificis in temporalibus reiterated, against Bodin's sovereignty theory, an indirect form of the traditional papal deposing power
Papal deposing power
The papal deposing power was the most powerful tool of the political authority claimed by and on behalf of the Roman Pontiff, in medieval and early modern thought, amounting to the assertion of the Pope's power to declare a Christian monarch heretical and powerless to rule.Pope Gregory VII's...

 to release subjects from the duty of obedience to tyrants. Jakob Keller, in an apologetical work on behalf of limited justifications for tyrannicide
Tyrannicide literally means the killing of a tyrant, or one who has committed the act. Typically, the term is taken to mean the killing or assassination of tyrants for the common good. The term "tyrannicide" does not apply to tyrants killed in battle or killed by an enemy in an armed conflict...

, treated Bodin as a serious opponent on the argument that subjects can only resist a tyrant passively, with views on the Empire that were offensive.

In Spain

On 1583 Bodin was placed on the Quiroga Index. Against tyrannicide, Bodin's thought was out of step of conventional thinking in Spain at the time. It was recognized, in an unpublished dialogue imagined between Bodin and a jurist of Castile
Castile is derived from a word meaning 'castle' and may refer to:-People:* Brooke Castile , American pairs figure skater* Javier Castilla , professional Colombian squash player* Simeon Castille , NFL cornerback...

, that the government of Spain was harder than that of France, the other major European power, because of the more complex structure of the kingdom.

Bodin's view of witchcraft was hardly known in Spain until the 18th century.

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