Jean Bodin's Law of Nations

Political Theology, Volume 21 (2020)

19 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Ryan Mitchell

Ryan Mitchell

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 28, 2020


This article examines Jean Bodin as a theorist of “international” law avant la lettre. By contrast with the near-contemporaries more often considered as early pioneers of the emerging law of nations, Bodin’s work depicts legal order beyond the individual polity only obliquely. However, key facets of his description of sovereign authority and the state, and especially of the natural law framework in which he situated them, had major implications for the legal relations among peoples. While Bodin did not make it a project to explicitly formulate any new doctrine of the law of nations, his thought implies the possibility and necessity of a rational legal order among sovereign states, and has inspired subsequent developments in the field.

Keywords: Bodin, sovereignty, international law, theology, natural law

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Ryan, Jean Bodin's Law of Nations (July 28, 2020). Political Theology, Volume 21 (2020), Available at SSRN:

Ryan Mitchell (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law ( email )

6/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
Shatin, New Territories
Hong Kong, Sha Tin
Hong Kong

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