Daniel LeeNov 24, 2021
The Right of Sovereignty
Jean Bodin on the Sovereign State and the Law of Nations
Oxford University Press 2021
Sovereignty is the vital organizing principle of modern international law. Daniel Lee's book The Right of Sovereignty: Jean Bodin on the Sovereign State and the Law of Nations (Oxford UP, 2021) examines the origins of that principle in the legal and political thought of its most influential theorist, Jean Bodin (1529/30-1596). As the author argues in this study, Bodin's most lasting theoretical contribution was his thesis that sovereignty must be conceptualized as an indivisible bundle of legal rights constitutive of statehood. While these uniform 'rights of sovereignty' licensed all states to exercise numerous exclusive powers, including the absolute power to 'absolve' and release its citizens from legal duties, they were ultimately derived from, and therefore limited by, the law of nations. The book explores Bodin's creative synthesis of classical sources in philosophy, history, and the medieval legal science of Roman and canon law in crafting the rules governing state-centric politics.
The Right of Sovereignty is the first book in English on Bodin's legal and political theory to be published in nearly a half-century and surveys themes overlooked in modern Bodin scholarship: empire, war, conquest, slavery, citizenship, commerce, territory, refugees, and treaty obligations. It will interest specialists in political theory and the history of modern political thought, as well as legal history, the philosophy of law, and international law.
Tejas Parasher is Junior Research Fellow in Political Thought and Intellectual History at King’s College, University of Cambridge.