How did Jean Bodin's philosophy reflect the time and place where he lived?
Like most of the philosophers of absolutism (Thomas Hobbes being the other very famous example) Jean Bodin lived in a time of extreme social and political strife. He witnessed the French wars of religion in the sixteenth century, a bitter civil war between French Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants) that undoubtedly convinced him that a powerful sovereign was necessary to keep order within a kingdom. Bodin emphasized the importance of a unitary sovereign, embodying all the powers of the state. The sovereign power was essentially beholden only to God and to the natural rights, especially property rights, of the people over whom he ruled. Bodin was actually quite liberal and progressive. He was opposed to slavery, and the struggle between religious factions also certainly shaped his views on religious tolerance, which were highly pragmatic and modern (except for the fact that he endorsed the persecution of witches). He also provided a prescient explanation for the inflation that gripped Europe in the sixteenth century, arguing that it was caused among other things by the influx of massive amounts of precious metals from the mines of Central and South America. But on the issue of government, he believed, after witnessing the horrors of civil war, that a powerful unified monarchy with virtually absolute power was essential to the maintenance of order, without which liberties were meaningless.