Bodin, Jean

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Bodin, Jean

(zhäN bôdăN`), 1530?–1596, French social and political philosopher. He studied and taught at Toulouse and enjoyed a successful legal career. His most notable book, Six livres de la republique (1576, tr. Six Bookes of the Commonweale, 1606), ranks as a major work of political theory. During the last half of the 16th cent., France was experiencing severe disorders caused by religious disagreements between Roman Catholics and Huguenots (see Religion, Wars ofReligion, Wars of,
1562–98, series of civil wars in France, also known as the Huguenot Wars.

The immediate issue was the French Protestants' struggle for freedom of worship and the right of establishment (see Huguenots).
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). Dismayed by this chaos, Bodin believed that a restoration of order could only be accomplished by religious toleration and the establishment of a fully sovereign monarch. These suggestions aroused a great deal of opposition in his time, but they now establish Bodin as a major theoretical contributor toward the development of the modern nation-state. His assertion that an absolutely sovereign monarch was necessary for a well-ordered state prefigured Hobbes and was an attack on remnants of feudal society. His economic policies concerning taxation and government involvement in trade were also influential.


See studies by J. H. Franklin (1963 and 1973), B. Reynolds (1931, repr. 1969), and J. P. Mayer, ed. (1979).

Bodin, Jean (1529-1596)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

French political philosopher, son of a master tailor, widely influential in Europe when medieval systems were giving way to centralized states. He was born in Angers in 1529 and, at the age of fifteen, entered the Carmelite Order. In 1551 he left the order and went to the University of Toulouse to study civil law. He distinguished himself there as a student and, later, as a teacher. In 1571, he entered the service of François, duke of Alençon and brother to the king. His book, Six Livres de la République (l576), went through ten editions plus a translation into Latin. In it he put forward theories on the power of the people, and in so doing earned the disfavor of the king.

His treatise on Demonology and Witchcraft, De la Demonomanie des Sorciers (Paris, 1580), is the work by which he is best known to occultists. In the book Bodin speaks of methods of diabolic prophesy and communication, of witches journeying through the air to sabbats, of spells to become a werewolf, and of witches copulating with incubi and succubi. He also deals with how to recognize witches and sorcerers. In this he emulates the Malleus Maleficarum of 1486, providing a guide for witch hunters. He describes witches and their actions, speaks of pacts with the devil, and of flying, spell-casting, and black magic.

Bodin felt that the authorities should be harsher with witches, and suggested placing black boxes in churches for people to leave (anonymous) letters of accusation against their neighbors. He advocated accepting evidence from any and all informants, whether true or false, encouraged children to testify against their parents, prescribed torture, and encouraged the use of (false) promises of leniency to generate confessions. He said that a judge should proceed with torture on halfproof, or even just strong presumption.

Bodin aggressively opposed the works of Johann Weyer, his contemporary, who wrote against the burning of witches. He stated that Weyer was a fool to believe that witches and sorcerers were simply people of unsound mind. He said that Weyers books should be burned "for the honor of God."

Bodin, Jean


Born 1530, in Angers; died 1596, in Laon. French political thinker, theoretician of natural law, and jurist.

Bodin studied law in Toulouse and then moved to Paris. In 1576 he was a deputy from the Third Estate to the Estates General, meeting in Blois. In his book A Method for the Easy Study of History (1566) he asserted that society is formed by the social environment and represents the sum total of blood-relationships and economic alliances. Progress is achieved in society, whereas in nature there is merely a cyclical rotation. In his major work, Six Books Concerning a Republic (1576), he introduced the concept of constitutional monarchy and the principle of the indivisibility of state sovereignty by denying the divine origin of a monarch’s authority. He also defended religious tolerance. He acknowledged the people’s right to kill a tyrant. Bodin saw the cause of political revolutions in the inequality of property. In his work An Answer to the Paradoxes of M. Malestroict . . . (1568) he set forth his economic views, defending the necessity for freedom of trade. Bodin had an influence on the formulation of the quantitative theory of money. In his work A Dialogue Between Seven Men (1593, published posthumously) he defended the idea of natural religion.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 3. Page 314.
Istoriia filosofii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1941. Pages 75–77.
Kogan-Bernshtein, F. A. “Ekonomicheskie vzgliady Bodena.” In the collection Srednie veka, issue 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Chauviré, R. Jean Bodin, auteur de la “République.” Paris, 1916.
Kamp, M. E. Die Staatswirtschaftslehre J. Boden. Bonn, 1949.


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