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Les six livres de la république Bodin's Les six livres de la république is a vast synthesis of comparative public law and politics, the theoretical core of which is formed by the four chapters translated in this volume These four chapters contain his celebrated theory of sovereignty, which informed his thinking on the state and made his République a landmark in the development of European political thought This theory, however, also contained a seductive but erroneous thesis that was of great importance for the development of royalist ideology: the idea that sovereignty is indivisible, that the entire power of the state has to be vested in a single individual or groupThis thesis, together with the crisis of authority in the French religious wars, led Bodin to a systematically absolutist interpretation of the French and other contemporary monarchies His primary aim was to exclude any legal ground of forcible resistance A king of France, he hoped, would continue to adhere to moral and prudential limitations, but a proper king could not be lawfully constrainedThis is the first complete translation of these chapters into English sinceIt is accompanied by a lucid introduction, a chronology, and a bibliography [from the back cover] I was very disappointed in the editing of this volume, a slim 150page paperback for which I shelled out the equivalent of 30 bucks Of course, Bodin's entire Six Books on the Commonwealth is quite a ponderous volume, but abridging it down to just four of its 42 chapters seems a little extreme, especially when they aren't necessarily the four chapters you're most interested in And the introduction (in contrast to the general trend of great introductions in this series), instead of giving a good general sketch of Bodin's project, seemsinterested just on arguing and nitpicking with him, which is hardly helpful for the neophyte Not that there's not plenty to argue with in here I was frustrated by Bodin's stark centralizing impulse, in which all political power descends from a central national authority, and local authority exists only by permission from the higher sovereign Not only do I think this is a bad idea, but it seems to me simply unhistorical, downright mythical, as the centralized sovereign authorities in places like England and France in fact arrived quite late on the scene, long after many of the regional and local authorities I don't know; perhaps Bodin's argument could be theoretically true without being historically true, but it was hard to tell from these selections Indeed, at many points, his theory seemed to consist of interesting assertions, which I could accept as an interesting hypothetical model of political authority, but which never offered any compelling reason to accept them as true and normative Indeed, the standard authorities that other political treatises of the period appeal toScripture and natural lawseemed to play very little role in his account, at least in the chapters presented here. A seminal text on the topic of sovereignty, this edition brings together some of the most informative aspects of Bodin's much larger original text Considering the signs and sources of sovereignty Bodin takes us through a consideration of where political legitimacy comes from the perspective of a 16th Century French monarchist Excellent provocation for thought.

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