This book was written during a period of civil and religious upheaval in mid-16th century France, is a Renaissance humanist's formulation of a philosophy of history. It deals with broad, universal questions of historical interpretation against a background of the particular problem of the nature of government in France. The concept of sovereignty is central to Bodin's political thought, and from this concept he builds an analysis of the origin of the state, and classification of states, and the causes of the rise and fall of empires. Bodin's philosophical system explores the relationship of man to nature, to the nation, and to the cosmic powers working through the elements. A mixture of rationalism, superstition, and pseudo-science, the system attempts to describe the workings of history in terms of human, natural, and divine law, and to reconcile them with the theories of Renaissance Platonism and Pythagorean numbers. The treatise illustrates the move away from an authoritarian to a natural interpretation of history and is a major document of the transitional period between medieval and the modern age.
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