Jean Bodin

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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.


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