Sovereignty and Reason of State

Chapter 13 of "The Reception of Bodin" suggests that the new language of modern politics is not founded on reason of state alone, but on a permanent tension between the language of reason of state and the language of sovereignty. It considers, first, the significant position of Bodin, as both the inventor of modern sovereignty theory and a possible source for Botero's reason of state. It then turns towards the period of Cardinal Richelieu's ministry under Louis XIII (1624-42), considering more particularly the relationship between Richelieu's conception of reason of state in his Testament politique and Cardin Le Bret's theorizing of the king's sovereignty in De la souveraineté du roi. What has become of Bodin's sovereignty in De la souveraineté du roi and in the Testament politique? What can explain that the distinction between sovereignty and reason of state is no longer perceived as such during that period? The author shows how the predominance of reason of state in Richelieu's period is in a way opposed by Hobbes in his De Cive, which was published in 1642, the year of Richelieu's death. That is not to say that Hobbes's De Cive can be seen as a direct answer to Richelieu, or that French conceptions of sovereignty, and in particular Bodin's, would supply the proper context for understanding Hobbes's political writings in 1642, when he had been an exile in France for two years, but to show that the tension within modern political language and thought between reason of state and sovereignty has been intellectually productive between Bodin and Hobbes in the French context of late Richelieu's ministry
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