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7 Sovereignty, Obedience and Absolutism

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Chapter Summary

The interdict crisis inspired political writers to redefine the relations between temporal and spiritual power. The religious controversies of the sixteenth century gave rise to political theories, which were at once disinterested in theological matters and critical of the clergy's claim to temporal power. The first prominent theorist of sovereignty in the early-modern period was Jean Bodin. Despite the fact that Bodin's magnum opus was titled Six livres de la république, it was not a treatise on the republican form of government. In certain ways Sarpi went much further than Bodin in his support for absolutism. Insistence on obedience and rejection of all forms of resistance were some of the key characteristics of absolutism. These principles became central topics of political discourse all around late sixteenth-century Europe. Soon after the deposition of Mary Stuart in 1567, for example, a vivid discussion on the legitimacy of resistance took place in Scotland.

Keywords: absolutism; interdict crisis; Jean Bodin; political theories; Sarpi; sixteenth-century Europe; spiritual power; temporal power



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