Jean Bodin şi conceptul de suveranitate statală



Colegiul Naţional „Avram Iancu” Brad

Cuvinte cheie: suveranitate, criza umanismului, războaie religioase, absolutism, stat de drept

Keywords: sovereingnty, humanism crisis, religious wars, absolutism, rule of law

Scrierile lui Jean Bodin (1530-1596) reflectă perioada declinului Renaşterii definită prin contestarea moştenirii umanismului, ambianţă intelectuală în care derapajele raţiunii au determinat prăbuşirea imaginii vechii lumi. În anarhia creată în Franţa de luptele dintre catolici şi protestanţi, cărturarul menţionat va promova obiectivele „politicilor”, contribuţia sa la modernizarea teoriei statului constând în formularea pentru întâia oară a doctrinei suveranităţii. Puterea publică este înzestrată cu autoritatea supremă, dată de puterea a emite legi. Regimul politic al „monarhiei drepte” propus de Bodin nu este lipsit de contradicţii, pledoaria pentru redarea prestigiului monarhiei, contrastând cu înclinaţia spre constituţionalism. Din această opoziţie a rezultat dubla imagine a lui Bodin – de exponent al absolutismului şi de apărător al vechiului edificiu legislativ.

Jean Bodin and the Concept of State Sovereignty


Jean Bodin’s intellectual portrait becomes understandable and clear if it is connected to the atmosphere of the era when the message of humanism met the characteristics of the crisis, the modern times dealt with. The defining feature of spirituality in the Western Europe in the XVI-th century consists in the offensive of the skepticism and stoicism over the optimism based on the philosophy of the Platonism; the so-called infallibility of reason resulting in the denial of any truth, including those contained in the religious dogmas.

The scholar had studied law, carrying on his activity at the level of the local parliaments, structures that helped the monarch to find out about the people’s wishes and needs. In the context of the religious wars, Bodin shared the political program, referring to the reconstruction of the unity of the state and the stature of the monarchy, even at the cost of maintaining the religious pluralism. In order to achieve the stated aims, these intellectuals with moderate views had the role of mediators between the Catholics and the Protestants, continuing Chancellor Micher de L’Hopital’s work, who had introduced the concept of civil tolerance. Moreover, they supported the idea of the state that should not interfere in finding a quick solution to end the crisis between the Churches.

Bodin’s role to the modern theory of the state lies in expressing the doctrine of sovereignty that he presents in the work „Six livres de la République”, published in 1577. The French humanist detached himself from Aristotle both through separating the state from the form of Government and through a more flexible attitude in classifying the political regimes. The fundamental prerogative of the sovereign states consists in the ability to lay down laws and make exceptional resolutions in critical situations, the public power is absolute, indivisible and timeless. Rethinking the institution of royalty meant forsaking the concept of a patrimonial state, the monarch being, in the new circumstances, the holder but not the owner of sovereignty.

The most appropriate form of government is „the legitimate monarchy”, a political regime in which the king’s power is limited by the legal obligation to obey the natural law and “the fundamental laws” of the kingdom, Bodin reviving the medieval distinction between king and tyrant. The absence of the positive law, referring to guaranteeing the individual’s freedom as well as reporting to God as the unique court of the acts done by the king are the arguments used by the experts in law, when Bodin was considered a theoretician of absolutism. There were interpretations that have highlighted his efforts to defend the rule of law, the law guiding the monarch’s decisions.

In the work entitled „Methodus ad facile historianum cognitionem”, published in 1566, Bodin is preoccupied with identifying the origins of the public and private law beyond the borders of his country.

Resorting to the individual’s will and the ideal of liberty in explaining the human actions shows distance from the traditional approach in which the supernatural factor and the philosophers’ digressions were present. History had to broaden its investigation area, surpassing the restricted field of analyzing only the events with a politico-military character. Due to valuing certain elements such as common laws, climate or landscape in highlighting the particular features of the peoples, Bodin is considered Montesquieu’s forerunner.

The inconsistencies in Bodin’s work seized on by the professors studying the history of political philosophy are the result of the opposition between his desire to emphasize the need of a strong reign due to the historical facts and the desiderate to restrict the monarch’s power by making reference to terms of Roman law, such as „leges imperi”.

The circumstances related to the fights of the confessional factions in France were not the only factors that led to the genesis of the concept of the sovereign state, there was also the development of the relations between the church and the state in the XVI-th century. The attempt of the Protestant Reformation aimed at imposing the total authority of the centennial leaders in the detriment of the jurisdiction of the Pope in their own countries.

Another aspect of Bodin’s political modernity refers to establishing the bases of the theory of natural law. Thus, within the sovereign state, the king has the entire legislative power, refusing to share it with the ecclesiastical systems but the legal laws were the materialization of the God’s commandments. Furthermore, the French scholar joined the civil law to the natural law, making the connection between the Middle Ages and the modern era in the field of legal thinking.

Unlike the Continent, where Bodin’s treaty about the republic would be one of the main sources of political absolutism in the XVI-the century England – hostile to the idea of sovereignty – Henri de Bacton’s principle regarding the omnipotence of the law compared to the king could still be identified.

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