Jean Bodin’s Life and Works

Jean Bodin’s Life and Works

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

French lawyer and political philosopher. He is an advocate of absolutism.

He was born in a town near Angers in France, the son of a tailor. He died in the city of Laon in June 1596. After completing his primary education at the monastery, he entered the Carmelite sect at the age of 15-16. Three years later, he was sent to Paris to complete his studies. There he learned Greek and Hebrew. In 1551, he began his law studies at the University of Toulouse. He then stayed in this city as a lecturer for ten years. He left his teaching career in 1561 and returned to Paris to work and continued his profession in the service of the king. He devoted most of his work to legal studies, especially to the history of law.

In 1571, he entered the service of the king’s brother, the Duke of Alençon, François. This new environment gave him the opportunity to meet the leading administrators and diplomats of the age. By entering this circle, Bodin also stepped into political life. In 1576 he entered the General Assembly of Blois as Vermandois’ representative. Bodin was the representative of the bourgeoisie in this assembly, where representatives of the aristocracy, clergy and the bourgeoisie gathered separately. He defended the wishes of this group in all his works, speeches and writings. He made efforts to end the oppression against Protestants and to treat them more tolerantly. Meanwhile, he went to England for a short time, where he became familiar with British political institutions and customs. After the death of the Duke of Alençon in 1583, Bodin, who retreated to the city of Laon and started to work as a prosecutor, died of the plague.

Bodin has worked in the fields of applied law, theoretical law, state and political philosophy, and economics. He stayed out of the religious and sectarian conflicts of his age and defended the view that the essence of all religions is the same. Because of this attitude, St. He came face to face with death at the Barthele-my Condemnation, and was later expelled from the Catholic League. His interest in issues such as witchcraft and astrology (ilm-i nücûm) also had an impact on his expulsion from the Catholic Union.

The characteristic of Bodin’s legal research and writing stems from his use of the historian method. In his book, Methodus ad Facilem Historiarum Cognitionem (“The Method of Understanding History Easily”), published in 1566, he tried to determine the general and universal principles of law, based on historical data and findings. Another source of his writings was direct observations. For example, he considered the British days as a period of observation that fed his thoughts on the necessity of royal authority. Thus, Bodin became one of the pioneers of observational political science.


Methodus ad facilem historiarum cognitionem
Economic thought: the Reply to Malestroit
Les Six livres de la République
De la démonomanie des sorciers (Of the Demon-mania of the Sorcerers)

Oratio de Instituenda in Republica Juventa-te, 1559, (“Reflections on Educational Institutions in the Young Republic”); Methodus ad Facilem Historiarum Cognitionem, 1566, (“The Historical Easy Method”); Discours sur les Causes de L’extreme cherte qui est aujourd’hui en France, 1574, (“Reflections on the Causes of Exorbitant Expensiveness in France Today”); Relation de ce qui s’estpasse en l’Assemblee dit Tiers-Eıat en France en 1576, 1576 (“The Story of What Happened in the Assembly of the People’s Layer in France in 1576”); Demonomania des Sorciers, 1580, (“The Demonicism of Sorcerers”); Colloquium Heptaplomeres de Abditis Rerum Sublimium Arcanis, 1588, (“Advice on Hiding Mysterious Information”); Universale Naturae Theatrun, 1596, (“The Universal Nature of Theatre”); Les Six Livres de la Republique, (d.p.), 1756, (“Six Books of the Republic”).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook