Bodin, Jean

Bodin, Jean zhäN bôdăNˈ [key], 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 of). 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).

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