Popular Sovereignty in Early Modern Constitutional Thought

ISBN : 9780198824237

Daniel Lee
384 Pages
154 x 233 mm
Pub date
Aug 2018
Oxford Constitutional Theory
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Popular sovereignty - the doctrine that the public powers of state originate in a concessive grant of power from "the people" - is the cardinal doctrine of modern constitutional theory, placing full constitutional authority in the people at large, rather than in the hands of judges, kings, or a political elite. This book explores the intellectual origins of this influential doctrine and investigates its chief source in late medieval and early modern thought - the legal science of Roman law. Long regarded the principal source for modern legal reasoning, Roman law had a profound impact on the major architects of popular sovereignty such as Francois Hotman, Jean Bodin, and Hugo Grotius. Adopting the juridical language of obligations, property, and personality as well as the classical model of the Roman constitution, these jurists crafted a uniform theory that located the right of sovereignty in the people at large as the legal owners of state authority. In recovering the origins of popular sovereignty, the book demonstrates the importance of the Roman law as a chief source of modern constitutional thought.


Introduction: Popular Sovereignty, Constitutionalism, and the Civil Law
1 The Lex Regia: The Theory of Popular Sovereignty in the Roman Law Tradition
2 The Medieval Law of Peoples
3 Roman Law and the Renaissance State: Dominium, Jurisdiction, and the Humanist Theory of Princely Authority
4 Popular Resistance and Popular Sovereignty: Roman Law and the Monarchomach Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty
5 The Roman Law Foundations of Bodin's Early Doctrine of Sovereignty
6 Jean Bodin, Popular Sovereignty, and Constitutional Government
7 Popular Sovereignty, Civil Association, and the Respublica: Johannes Althusius and the German Publicists
8 Popular Liberty, Princely Government, and the Roman Law in Hugo Grotius' De Jure Belli ac Pacis
9 Popular Sovereignty and the Civil Law in Stuart Constitutional Thought

About the author: 

Daniel Lee is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and specializes in political theory, the history of political thought, and jurisprudence. His research concerns the reception of Roman law in later medieval and early modern political thought and its influence on modern doctrines of sovereignty and rights, especially in the legal and political thought of Jean Bodin, Hugo Grotius, and Thomas Hobbes.

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