The late-sixteenth, seventeenth, and early-eighteenth centuries in Europe are sometimes described as the age of absolutism. In many European countries, the power of the state - typically governed by a king - grew at the expense of regional and individual liberties. In France, for example, royal power had fallen to a low point in the late sixteenth century during a period of religious civil wars between Catholics and Huguenots, but then began to rise sharply under Henry IV , under Louis XIII and his chief minister Cardinal Richelieu, and especially under Louis XIV.
One of the most famous and influential theorists of absolutism was Jean Bodin. After receiving a good education in classical languages and literature, he studied law, and became a successful lawyer, judge, and advisor to members of the royal family. People like Bodin who put political before religious considerations were called politiques (a word closely connected with the English terms "politic" and "politics”). It is possible that Bodin personally came to believe in a religion that contained Islamic and especially Jewish elements, as well as Christian ones, and that he wrote a book called the Colloquium of the Seven in which he develops his diverse and syncretistic ideas. The Colloquium was attributed to Bodin and circulated in manuscript in the seventeenth century, and published as his in the nineteenth, but his authorship has recently been questioned. Though Bodin supported religious toleration, he strongly advocated the persecution of witches, and wrote a lengthy book on witchcraft. Bodin's major political work was the Six Books of the Commonweal, which was published in French in 1576 - at the time of the religious wars - and in a Latin translation (by Bodin himself) ten years later when the religious wars were still going on.
Especially important for the later development of political theory was Bodin central doctrine - of unlimited and indivisible sovereignty. According to this...