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Sovereignty is the vital organizing principle of modern international law. This book 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.
On the author:
Daniel Lee is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in political theory, the history of political thought, and jurisprudence. He is the author of Popular Sovereignty in Early Modern Constitutional Thought (OUP, 2016) and A Division of the Whole Law (forthcoming with OUP).