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Les six livres de la république.
Paris, Chez Iacques du Puys, 1577. Folio. Bound in a nice 18th century half calf with marbled paper over boards. Single gilt lines and gilt title to spine. Top corner of front board bumped and a small tear to upper front hinge and lower back hinge, otherwise very nice. Repair to one leaf (a ii), otherwise Internally very nice and clean. Old owner's inscription to title-page. Large title-woodcut. Woodcut initials and vignettes. (8), (765 - paginated 1-519 + 552-797 - pp. 519 and 552 being recto and verso of the same leaf, i.e. nothing missing), (1), (54, - Table des matieres) pp.. The rare second edition of Bodin's seminal main work, in which "sovereignty" is defined and treated extensively for the first time. "Bodin's "statement of sovereignty" is the first systematic one in modern European philosophy, and thus deserves a landmark status." (SEP). The work is also the first to coin the term "Political Science"; it occupies a central place in European political thought and immensely influenced all thinkers on the subject throughout centuries. "... for the next three centuries the political thought of the West will be preoccupied with these ideas, with a new theory of the State and with the concept of Sovereignty." (Catlin, A History of the Political Philosophers, 1950, p. 207).The extremely scarce first edition, first issue of the "Six Books of the Republic" appeared in 1576 and bears this date on the title-page, a second issue of the first edition also appeared, like this second edition bearing the year 1577 on the title-page. All three appeared in Paris and were published by Du Puys. The work immediately became very popular, and numerous editions appeared already in the 16th century. Later in 1577 an unauthorized edition of the work appeared, printed in Geneva; in 1583 seven editions seem to have appeared. The early folio-editions are all scarce. The French lawyer and political philosopher, Jean Bodin (1530-1596) wrote his main work, "Les six livres de la république" during the French Wars of Religion, when French Catholics and Protestants were fighting each other. He sees that the only real way to hold a community together and solve conflicts like the ones going on at the time is by establishing a supreme authority. There must be a ruling power which is unrestricted, but at the same time, it cannot be a power that is free to disregard all laws. Inspired by Aristotle's "Politics", Bodin now solves the problem of order though the definition of a concept that unites the rulers and the ruled in one body politic, one unitary political society, that is placed above any other human law and that defines human law; he can now define the concept of sovereignty without having to allow a ruler to neglect otherwise present laws and regulations. The sovereign body is necessarily unrestricted; it is bound by natural and divine law, but no human law can touch it or contest it; within its territory, it is the single authority. Bodin's Sovereign also has the power to legislate, and thus, he not only overrules the common law that had been prevailing in most sovereign states, he has also created a theoretical foundation for monarchy. With this seminal work, the single most important political work of the French Renaissance, the work that came to influence all Western political thought for centuries, Bodin had earned himself the reputation of being the founder of the science of the state. "The "Six Books of the Republic" went through many editions in the author's lifetime and after, and had an immense influence all over Europe. It is, in effect, the first modern attempt to create a complete system of political science. Its basis was the "Politics" of Aristotle, and it was through Bodin that Aristotle's work came to exercise influence on modern political thinking which has made him the father of modern democracy. Bodin was not content merely to reproduce his master, however; he added considerably from his own experience. Although like most sixteenth-century writers he approved of absolute government, he demanded its control by constitutional laws, in which respect he foreshadowed the development during the seventeenth century of the "social contract". Thus Bodin was the first to set out clearly the argument round which most political discussion centred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that law is merely an expression of the sovereign will, but that where this reposes in an absolute monarch, it must be mitigated by a customary or natural law. When the lawgiver's law becomes unjust, it ceases to be valid and must be resisted." (Printing and the Mind of Man p. 58).Adams B2234; Brunet I:1025; Graesse I:460; PMM 94(a) (first issue, 1576)
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Last Found On: 2012-12-24           Check availability:      Antikvariat    


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