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Bodin, Jean (1529/30–96)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S070-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Jean Bodin was one of the great universal scholars of the later Renaissance. Despite political distractions, he made major contributions to historiography and the philosophy of history, economic theory, public law and comparative public policy, the sociology of institutions, as well as to religious philosophy, comparative religion and natural philosophy. Among his most celebrated achievements are his theory of sovereignty, which introduced a new dimension to the study of public law, and his Neoplatonist religion, which opened new perspectives on universalism and religious toleration.

Many of these intellectual positions, moreover, were responses, at least in part, to great political issues of the time. Against doctrines of popular sovereignty and the right of resistance put forward in the course of the religious wars, Bodin sought to show that the king of France was absolute. Against the widespread corruption and laxity that weakened and undermined the monarchy, he argued for administrative reform. And against the party that pressed the king to impose religious uniformity, he cautiously supported religious toleration. In all these respects Bodin’s thought helped to inform the policies of the early Bourbon dynasty esatblished by Henry IV.

Citing this article:
Franklin, Julian H.. Bodin, Jean (1529/30–96), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S070-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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