Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXVII - Politica
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
XXXVII - Johannes Althusius, Politica 
Politica. An Abridged Translation of Politics Methodically Set Forth and Illustrated with Sacred and Profane Examples, ed. and Trans. Frederick S. Carney. Foreword by Daniel J. Elazar (Indianapolis: 1995 Liberty Fund).
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
§ 1This completes our discussion of the civil administration of the public functions of the realm. We turn now to the civil administration of public and private things of the realm. The civil administration of public things—of which the ownership and usufruct belong to the people—is the process by which the supreme magistrate, serving as curator, guardian, and father, prudently employs and distributes these things in the service of the commonwealth according as the need and utility of the realm require. § 2He receives these things from the people, which remains their owner. Only the management of them has been granted to him by the general mandate of the people or realm. …
§ 10The necessity of disbursing public things of the realm or associated body is twofold. One is the maintenance of the magistrate. The other is the administration of public functions requiring outlays and expenses. § 11Maintenance of the magistrate suitable to his person, office, dignity, and splendor requires expenses for food, fine and distinguished clothes, and for employment of servants and attendants. … § 23The administration of things of the realm is the other reason for making outlays. For expenses are required in the administration of the functions of the realm and in paying salaries and stipends for food, housing, and clothing of ministers, overseers, officers, princes, and others who are necessary to maintain the government of the commonwealth. …
§ 47Although the rule is that the magistrate cannot alienate the goods of the realm by any manner or means, or dispose of them in his will, nevertheless when public necessity and utility require he should be able to alienate them for any of three principal reasons. § 48The first occurs when he has children. For then he can make one of them his heir, and give the remaining children other goods for their possession, but without the latter holding the right of royal power or the right of succession. … § 49The second reason for the alienation of things is war or ransom for himself, or other causes such as dowries in the event of matrimony. § 50The third reason is the necessary defense of the commonwealth for which only the sale of property will avail. … § 51For no other reasons, however, can the magistrate alienate the goods of the commonwealth, especially the cities, towns, and other places of the realm, which he can least of all remove from his imperium and jurisdiction. Nor can he grant to any of them privileges freeing them from obedience. …
§ 98Next is the care of the goods of private men that is entrusted to the magistrate with respect to their protection and defense against violence and injury. § 99Private goods are of three sorts. The first are life and physical safety. The second are honor and reputation. And the third are outward goods. …
Tyranny and Its Remedies
§ 1The nature of just and upright adminitration should be sufficiently clear from the things that we have said. We will now throw light on the opposite of these things, which is tyranny, and will add to this the remedies of tyranny by which the commonwealth is liberated and preserved from so much evil.1 Tyranny is the contrary of just and upright administration. By it the foundations and bonds of universal association are obstinately, persistently, and insanely destroyed and overthrown by the supreme magistrate against his pledged word and declared oath. … § 3A tyrant is therefore one who, violating both word and oath, begins to shake the foundations and unloosen the bonds of the associated body of the commonwealth. A tyrant may be either a monarch or a polyarch that through avarice, pride, or perfidy cruelly overthrows and destroys the most important goods of the commonwealth, such as its peace, virtue, order, law, and nobility. … 2
§ 4When a ruler has failed only in some part of his office or government, however, he is not immediately to be called a tyrant. Regarding such a person one must consider that even the best at some time or other are weak in the performance of their offices, and are not for this reason to be thought of and treated as tyrants, provided the foundations and bonds of the universal association remain safe and unharmed, and are not shaken, assaulted, or upset by vices or faults of princes. Nor is one to be treated as a tyrant who, having already started on the road to tyranny, nevertheless does not obstinately and insanely persist on it.3 For the wicked life of a magistrate does not invalidate his royal authority, just as a marriage is not dissolved by every misdeed committed by one mate against another—unless it is the misdeed of adultery, because this is directly contrary to the nature of marriage. So not every misdeed of a magistrate deprives him of his scepter, but only that in which he, having accepted and then neglected the just rule of administration, acts contrary to the fundamentals and essence of human association, and destroys civil and social life. … 4
§ 5This tyranny, or tyrannical administration of a commonwealth, is twofold. One type of it is concerned with the overthrow and destruction of the fundamental laws of the realm. The other consists in the administration of functions and things of the associated body in a manner that is contrary to piety and justice. § 6The first type of tyranny has two species. One specie occurs when the supreme magistrate violates, changes, or overthrows the fundamental laws of the realm, especially those that concern true religion. Such a tyrant was Athaliah.5 Such also was Philip, king of Spain, who established an administration in Belgium by force and arms against the fundamental laws and hereditary ways of the commonwealth. … § 7The other occurs when he does not maintain faith with the associated body, despises his oath, and breaks up the orders and estates, or impedes them in the performance of their offices. … § 8The second type of tyranny is either general or special. General tyranny stands opposed to the universal association in all things, as when the supreme magistrate like an enemy plunders, perverts, and upsets the church and commonwealth. § 9Likewise, general tyranny occurs when the supreme magistrate exercises absolute power, or the plenitude of power, in his administration, and violates the bonds and shatters the restraints by which human society has been maintained. … § 10Special tyranny stands opposed to certain parts and aspects of just administration. This is to say, it is contrary to the just administration of the functions of the associated body, of its goods, or of the right of private persons. … 6
§ 28 Having become acquainted with the nature of tyranny, we are now to look for the remedy by which it may be opportunely removed. This consists in resistance to and deposition of the tyrant, which remedy has been entrusted to the optimates alone.7§ 29This resistance is the process by which the ephors impede the tyranny of the supreme magistrate by word and deed. And when he is incurable, or the rights (jura)8 of the associated body cannot otherwise be kept sound, well protected, and in good condition, or the commonwealth free from evil, they depose him and cast him out of their midst. …
§ 46In order that the ephors may rightly exercise this right of resistance to a tyrant, it is necessary that they pay attention to the following matters: (1) what optimates or ephors can resist a tyrant and are responsible for doing so, (2) when, (3) in what manner, and (4) how long and how far?
§ 47Concerning the first matter, the optimates of the realm9 both collectively and individually can and should resist tyranny to the best of their ability. For since they have the right of creating the magistrate by the consent and command of the people, they also receive the power of judging and deposing him. … 10§ 48Subjects and citizens who love their country and resist a tyrant, and want the commonwealth and its rights to be safe and sound, should join themselves to a resisting ephor or optimate. § 49Those who refuse to help the resisting ephor with their strength, money, and counsel are considered enemies and deserters. Therefore, each and all ought to move quickly against a tyrant as against a common fire, and eagerly carry water, scale the walls, and confine the flame so that the entire commonwealth does not burn. Above all they ought to do this when a tyrant is engaged in the actual act of tyranny.11
§ 50Special ephors are obligated to defend only that part of the realm whose care and safety have been entrusted to them. § 51But they certainly ought not to abandon the subjects and region over which they preside, unless they first have attempted all legitimate courses of action, and have given them up as hopeless. …
§ 53What is to be done collectively by the estates or ephors of the realm is not permitted to one of them when the others do not consent. That is to say, one of the ephors may not take imperium away from the magistrate, declare him to be a private person, kill him, resist him beyond the boundaries of this ephor’s own territory or of the region assigned to this ephor, or persecute him. For what concerns the whole cannot be exercised by individuals separately and by themselves when the rest or the largest part of them disagree. However, it shall be permitted one part of the realm, or individual ephors or estates of the realm, to withdraw from subjection to the tyranny of their magistrate and to defend themselves. …
§ 55It should be observed, nevertheless, that even one ephor is required to drive from the entire realm the tyranny of an enemy and someone without title (tyrannus absque titulo) who wishes to force himself into the position of a legitimate magistrate when he is not one. A single ephor is expected to defend the associated body of which he is a member against force and injury. … So Holland, Zeeland, Frisia, Gelderland, and other confederates defended the remaining estates and orders of the Belgium provinces against the force and tyranny of Spain. But those writers are wrong who assign to the Roman pontiff the power of deposing kings and emperors.12
§ 56We turn now to the second matter, or when a tyrannical magistrate may be resisted. This involves three aspects: when tyranny proper— which pertains to a tyrant by practice (tyrannus exercito)—is to be publicly acknowledged, when it is to be considered firmly entrenched, and what to do when other remedies are to no avail. … § 57To make such tyranny publicly acknowledged and recognized it is necessary that the optimates of the realm call a council and assemble a general meeting of all orders of the people, and that they therein undertake to examine and judge the activities and deeds of the tyrant. If there are no ephors, then public defenders and deliverers should be constituted ad hoc by the people itself. … § 58Tyranny is said to be firmly entrenched when the magistrate, having been admonished often by the optimates without effect or correction in the performance of his office, still does not cease from tyranny but instead persists in it, so that he can do anything at all with impunity. § 59Remedies other than deposition for curbing and coercing tyranny should first be attempted time and again until they prove to be without effect, in order that the remedy not become more dangerous than the malady itself. For not only should the permissible be explored, but also the expedient. § 60On the other hand, when there is danger in delay, when evil increases and gathers strength, one may resist immediately and confront the tyrant courageously in order that through delay the malady not become more difficult or even impossible to cure.
§ 61Third, the manner of resisting one who has entered upon tyranny is by defensive, not offensive means, namely by action within the boundaries of the territory assigned to the resisting ephor. § 62The tyrant is to be resisted, I say, by words and deeds: by words when he by words only violates the worship of God and assaults the rights and foundations of the commonwealth: by force and arms when by military might and outward force he exercises tyranny, or has so progressed in it that without armed force such tyranny cannot be restrained, confined, or driven out. In the latter event, it is permitted to enlist an army from among the inhabitants, confederates, friends, and others, just as against an enemy of the fatherland and realm. … 13
§ 63Fourth, he is to be resisted so long as tyranny endures, and so far as he assails or acts contrary to the declared covenant. He should be resisted until the commonwealth is restored to its original condition. And to this end the optimates can remove such a person from office, deprive him of his entrusted administration, and, if they cannot defend themselves against force by any other means, even kill him, and substitute another in his place.
§ 64If an oppressed commonwealth, however, should solemnly consent to a change in its laws, and he who was a tyrant without title should receive the title, there should no longer be resistance to this legitimate magistrate. … 14
§ 65What, then, is to be decided about private subjects from among the people? For the position we have thus far taken about the ephors applies only to public persons. It plainly does not apply to private persons when the magistrate is a tyrant by practice because they do not have the use and right of the sword (usus et jus gladii), nor may they employ this right. … § 67This is to be understood, however, in such a manner that these private persons are not forced to be servants of tyranny, or to do anything that is contrary to God. Under these circumstances they should flee to another place so that they avoid obedience not by resisting, but by fleeing.15 Nevertheless, when manifest force is applied by the magistrate to private persons, then in case of the need to defend their lives resistance is permitted to them. For in this case private persons are armed against the magistrate who lays violent hands upon them by the natural law (jus naturale) and the arrangements constituting kings.
Accordingly such private persons may do nothing by their private authority against their supreme magistrate, but rather shall await the command of one of the optimates before they come forth with support and arms to correct a tyrant by practice. § 68But when a tyrant without title invades the realm, each and every optimate and private person who loves his fatherland can and should resist, even by his private authority without awaiting the command of another. …
§ 71It is not to be thought that by attributing such power to the ephors the right and power of the supreme magistrate is thereby diminished. Rather it is augmented and confirmed by the ephors’ power. The reason is that he who might otherwise be undone by his own fault and negligence is upheld by a strength not his own and thereby delivered from ruin. § 72For it pertains to the power and duty of ephors to see that the imperium and administration of the supreme magistrate is established according to justice and the norm of laws, and that he does not depart from what is called true and legitimate administration. Were he to do so his administration would be nothing other than a plundering, or the conspiracy of a band of robbers and evil men.16 Even God is not thought to be less powerful because he is intrinsically unable to sin. Nor do we think someone is less healthy because he is attended by medical doctors who dissuade him from intemperance, forbid him from eating harmful foods, and even purge his body from time to time when it needs cleansing. Whom should we consider to be his true friends: these medical doctors who care for his health, or those flatterers who obtrude everything harmful and unhealthy upon him?
§ 76One of the estates,17 or one part of the realm, can abandon the remaining body to which it belonged and choose for itself a separate ruler or a new form of commonwealth when the public and manifest welfare of this entire part altogether requires it, or when fundamental laws of the country are not observed by the magistrate but are obstinately and outrageously violated, or when the true worship and disclosed command of God clearly require and demand that this be done. And then this part of the realm can defend by force and arms its new form and status against the other parts of the realm from which it withdrew. Thus the Israelites broke loose from the house and imperium of David and founded their own realm. … 18 Thus also subjects can withdraw their support from a magistrate who does not defend them when he should, and can justly have recourse to another prince19 and submit themselves to him.20 Or if a magistrate refuses to administer justice, they can resist him and refuse to pay taxes.21
§ 77Alberico Gentili has recently disapproved of this position concerning the power of the ephors against a tyrannical magistrate,22 as William Barclay23 and Giovanni Beccaria24 also do. But they have been persuaded by the most trivial reasons, indeed I would even say no reasons. It should also be noted that Henning Arnisaeus has a different viewpoint from mine concerning the marks of tyranny.25 The chief reason that Gentili employs is this. The paternal right and imperium are not to be taken away from a father, much less is force to be inflicted upon him. And therefore not upon the prince either. But I say that there are cases in which this is permitted,26 especially when some precept of the first table of the Decalogue requires it. § 78For the precepts of the second table are inferior to the precepts of the first table, as examples indicate.27 And as Christ says, “whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” 28 The prince is called by analogy the father of his country because he ought to embrace his subjects with equal affection. However, analogy proves nothing but only illustrates, as the logicians teach. Whence an argument entered upon from analogy is said to be defective. Whoever is a father is such by nature. A magistrate is not a father by nature, but only by election and inauguration. A father supports his children. A prince does not support his subjects, but is supported by them. And he collects treasures not for his subjects, but for himself.
And we do not say that a tyrannical prince is immediately to be killed, but that resistance is to be made against his force and injury. In one instance only can he justly be killed, namely, when his tyranny has been publicly acknowledged and is incurable: when he madly scorns all laws, brings about the ruin and destruction of the realm, overthrows civil society among men so far as he is able, and rages violently: and when there are no other remedies available. When a mad and foolish parent cannot manage his own responsibilities properly, his son can be assigned as trustee.29 And a parent who abuses his paternal power can be rightfully deprived of it.30 Whence Andreas Gail31 and Fernando Vásquez32 assert the same thing about an intermediate magistrate who abuses his jurisdiction. Subjects abandoned by their prince who does not defend them when he should can have recourse to another prince. … 33
§ 112The Jesuit Beccaria proceeds further and denies that there are any orders or optimates.34 I think we have sufficiently refuted this opinion already by rational arguments and by sacred and profane examples. … 35§ 123But the philosopher and theologian Bartholomaeus Keckermann acknowledges optimates and ephors, or estates, only in the more imperfect principality, and does not recognize them in the more perfect and distinguished principality.36 But in my judgment this is wrong because of previously stated reasons and examples of the best polities, especially of the Jewish polity constituted as it was by God. For we should not fashion a Platonic commonwealth and polity, or the Utopia that Sir Thomas More invents,37 but only a commonwealth as in this ocean of human affairs can be adapted to the weakness of our nature.
Furthermore, who permitted the fullest power of ruling, which is called absolute, to be conceded to the king in such a more perfect state? We have said that absolute power is tyrannical.38 It would follow from this that no power would be left to the associated political body, and that the power of doing and managing those things that we have attributed to the ephors would be taken away from it. But if we nevertheless declare that power has been left to the associated body, then it is necessary that we also grant to it the exercise and capability of acting. Why give authority (jus) to someone to whom the use of it is denied? Clearly whoever wishes law to be superior to the king, and the king to be subjected to law, or as we have plainly said, whoever considers justice and God himself to be the supreme lord, must also grant to the associated body those things that we have attributed to the ephors. …
Types of Supreme Magistrate
§ 1We have completed our discussion of the constituting of the supreme magistrate, and of his administration and office. We turn now to the types of supreme magistrate. One is monarchic, and the other is polyarchic. … § 6The nature of monarchy is that the command and power of one person administers the commonwealth. This power, which does not depend upon the will of another, is the supreme power in the strict sense. By it one person has the right of ruling the rest both corporately and individually. Other rulers, who under him guide the particular parts of the commonwealth assigned to them, depend upon him and are, as it were, his officials through whom he as the monarch carries out his mandates.
§ 7There are some who maintain that the monarch can decide about weightier matters, such as war, peace, and other arduous business, without consulting the counselors, ephors, and optimates of the realm.1 Others deny this, and are of the opinion that the optimates are to be consulted in such matters, without whose consent nothing pertaining to these activities is to be decided, established, and promulgated.2 I prefer this latter opinion, as is evident from the things I have said above. … 3
§ 8But, you may ask, how can a government be called a monarchy when the power of the monarch is not absolute and free, when it is understood to be confined within certain prescribed limits and to be able to do nothing against the laws and the will of ephors and universal councils of the realm? Obviously liberty, as the jurists say, is to be defined as the natural faculty by which each person is permitted to do what he wishes unless something is prohibited by force or law. Even the emperor acknowledges himself to be bound by laws.4 For this reason our authority depends upon the authority of law. And indeed it is better for imperium to submit its dominion to laws. Thus, for an emperor to be unable and forbidden to do wicked and prohibited things does not take away from his power or his liberty, but defines the ends and deeds in which his true power and liberty consist. For it is not the property of imperium that it is able to rule in any manner whatever, nor is it the property of power that it can do anything whatever, but only what agrees with nature and right reason. So God is not able to lie, as the Apostle Paul said,5 nor can he make two different things, such as light and darkness, exist at the same time in the same place. He is not for this reason less omnipotent. Nor is the king said to be impotent because he cannot ascend into the heavens, touch the skies with his hand, move mountains, or empty the ocean. Therefore, the supreme power of the monarch will consist in what is circumscribed by justice, laws, and right reason (jus, leges, et recta ratio), not in unrestrained and unbridled action against nature and reason.6 It is therefore appropriate to reason and nature that the covenants and laws of the realm to which the king has sworn be upheld, and that the consent of counselors and optimates be obtained in ardous matters. …
§ 9The types of commonwealth are to be determined by the more pre-eminent, prevalent, and predominate part, just as in the constitutions and temperaments of man. For although those who are either sanguine or phlegmatic or choleric or melancholy can be lacking in none of the four temperaments (humores) without risk of life, it nevertheless happens that each man is characterized by one of these temperaments more than by the others. Whence from the predominating and more powerful temperament a man is called sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholy.7 In a similar way the commonwealth can also be compared to the human body so far as the types of its administration are concerned. § 10For what administration of a commonwealth can exist or endure that lacks either intermediate magistrates or estates or counselors or a definite head? Moreover, the estates, as I have said, represent the aristocratic element, the councils the democratic, and the head—whether it be one person or many in the place of one—the monarchic. This is similar to the human body in which the head has the likeness of the ruling king, the heart with its five external senses has the likeness of the estates, and the remaining members of the body together have the likeness of the entire people or populace. These intermediate magistrates frequently depend immediately upon the people when it predominates, in which case the people prescribes the principles of their administration, and constitutes and dismisses them. In this event the government is called a democracy. § 11Sometimes they are dependent immediately upon one person who predominates. Whence it is called a monarchy. At other times they are dependent upon one, two, three, or four who predominate, and for this reason the government is called an aristocracy. …
§ 13If you further ask what is the democratic element in monarchy and aristocracy, I respond that in both it is the assemblies of the realm in which the people has reserved to itself the right to vote (jus sufragii). § 14On the other hand, if you ask what is the aristocratic element in democracy and monarchy, I respond that it is the estates of the realm and the intermediate magistrates. Monarchy is represented in aristocracy and democracy by the concord and consensus of those who rule in which many voices are accounted as one voice and will. Without this common will aristocracy and democracy cannot endure; they immediately disappear and are transformed into other types of administration. § 15Since these things are so, as we affirm, every type of commonwealth is mixed, just as the constitution of man, as we have said, is combined from four temperaments. For what is monarchic in a commonwealth conserves and restrains in office what is aristocratic and democratic; and what is aristocratic and democratic checks and restrains in office what is monarchic. This arrangement is best, and is more likely to endure. § 16Remedies are thus brought forth for various faults and vices to which single types of commonwealths in themselves are subject. This happens no less than in the human body where a choleric disposition is mitigated by a phlegmatic one, and a sanguine disposition is restrained by a melancholy one. Thus one bodily disposition may be the preservation of another, and vices arising from excess and from deficiency may correct each other. It is evident that a polity is to be judged best that combines the qualities of kingship, aristocracy, and democracy.
Vincent Cabot, however, asserts that a state is called mixed when the king has one kind of supreme power, the senate another, and the people still another.8 Indeed, he calls it mixed when they have the same power, but not over the same things, as when the people has responsibility over the citizens and the senate over aliens. It will also be a mixed state, he says, if the king, senate, and people have the same power over the same things. Likewise it is mixed when the laws are made by the decision of the king, senate, and people; when the king, senate, and people rule at the same time; or when the senate or people alone can do nothing without the king. But I do not approve of these mixtures. Nor does use and practice admit them, except so far as the people in electing a king or supreme magistrate have reserved certain power to themselves. … 9§ 18 For it is the nature of the rights of sovereignty that whoever has one of them is considered to have the others necessarily, for he cannot have the use of one of them unless the others are also granted to him. For they are connected and unitary. It is therefore necessary that their exercise belong to one and not to many at the same time, except that the many by mutual consent and concord can act as if they were one in the administration of these rights. For one realm cannot have two kings, as one earth cannot have two suns. And two supreme powers or imperia cannot exist at the same time. …
§ 23Bartholomaeus Keckermann has a somewhat different view from mine on the mixed constitution and order of the commonwealth.10 He does not rightly understand what he calls my opinion of the mixed state. For it is evident from the preceding things and from my entire political teaching that there is no type of magistrate that is immune from mixture. I do not recognize in this political association any pure and simple state. Because of the weakness of human nature such a state could not endure for long or be well suited for social life. Therefore, as water without some mixture of earth would be tasteless and devoid of nourishment, so such simple and imaginary states as the Platonic and Utopian polities would be useless for social life. Nor has my opinion ever been different: what is the optimum, and what is the measure of everything else, ought to be the beginning of the discussion. I have attempted to advance from the things that are more general and better known, by which everything that follows receives illumination, to less well known particulars, and finally to the most special matters of all, which so depend upon the things that have gone before that without them they cannot be understood. For the law of method requires this procedure. …
§ 30Monarchy is thought by many persons to be better and more useful than the other kinds of magistrate.11 The reasons they give are principally the following: (1) Authority in one man is more conspicuous, and at the same time engenders more respect and love, than in a multitude. (2) Monarchy is more agreeable to nature in that one creature always dominates and rules the others of its kind, just as one soul rules the body, and one God the world. (3) This government is more readily adapted both for acquiring advice and for carrying it out without divulging secrets. (4) This state is not as readily subject by its nature to change and confusion. Whence history indicates that republics have not endured as long as monarchies. (5) Monarchy is older, for it dates from the beginning of the human race.12 (6) God used this form in the government of his people.13 (7) One man can better and more easily turn the rudder on a boat than can many. (8) Monarchy follows the example of wise peoples. (9) There are many disadvantages of other forms of commonwealth, and to the extent that they possess real advantages they have the likeness of a monarchy, or else approach closely to it. For no one, as Christ testifies, can serve two masters, much less many masters. § 31Nor can anyone easily satisfy the judgment and will of many. Nevertheless, this monarchical form of the commonwealth is greatly infested by plots and snares that are very often planned and carried out by subjects against their monarch.14
§ 32A polyarchic supreme magistrate is one in which those who are furnished by the subjects with equal or the same supreme imperium rule and administer the rights of sovereignty. That is to say, the succession of administration is communicated among a number of persons. … § 45This polyarchic magistracy can be either aristocratic or democratic. § 46It is aristocratic when to a few noble or wealthy optimates, or to certain others, are given jointly and indivisibly the supreme imperium over the remaining subjects both individually and corporately, as well as the use of the rights of sovereignty. § 47The nature of aristocracy requires that the power and right of ruling belong jointly, indivisibly, and continuously to a number of partners equally, and that this form of government be protected by special laws against monarchy and democracy. …
§ 57The state or magistrate is democratic when certain persons selected alternately and successively from the people for definite periods of time rule all the others both individually and corporately in the name of the associated body of the realm, or of all the inhabitants thereof. Thus they exercise the rights of sovereignty and supreme power according to the votes of the entire people gathered by centurial divisions, by tribes, or by curia. … § 61The nature of democracy requires that there be liberty and equality of honors, which consist in these things: that the citizens alternately rule and obey, that there be equal rights for all, and that there be an alternation of private and public life so that all rule in particular matters and individuals obey in all matters. … § 62It is also necessary that democracy by its nature enjoy special and pre-eminent arrangements by which it is protected against monarchy and aristocracy. …
§ 83And these are the things about political art (ars)15 that I have thought ought to be discussed. I cannot be persuaded to treat separately, as other political scientists do, the causes that lead to the destruction of the association or the overthrow of the commonwealth. For as a straight line shows up a crooked one, and virtue casts light on vice, so also an association rightly and legitimately constituted is an indicator of vice, corruption, and evil. Nevertheless, I do not judge it to be alien to political art that vices contrary to each type of association be explained and subjoined as inferences thereto, and that precepts are illustrated by them, as I have done in appropriate places. But to propose precepts about the vices, defects, and faults of association, or about symbiotic evil, is altogether alien to that political art we profess. Were this not so, political art would be twofold, one part pertaining to symbiotic good and the other to symbiotic evil. And these two parts would have two ends each contrary to each other. The logicians and methodists discuss this matter more fully.
§ 84Nor can I here approve the opinion of Bartholomaeus Keckermann16 and Philip Hoenonius,17 who think that in politics the types of supreme magistrate are first to be taught, then the mixed state constituted from the three types that we have discussed, and only then the provinces and cities. This conflicts with the law of method. For it cannot be denied that provinces are constituted from villages and cities, and commonwealths and realms from provinces. Therefore, just as the cause by its nature precedes the effect and is more perceptible, and just as the simple or primary precedes in order what has been composed or derived from it, so also villages, cities, and provinces precede realms and are prior to them. For this is the order and progression of nature, that the conjugal relationship, or the domestic association of man and wife, is called the beginning and foundation of human society. From it are then produced the associations of various blood relations and in-laws. From them in turn come the sodalities and collegia, out of the union of which arises the composite body that we call a village, town, or city. And these symbiotic associations as the first to develop can subsist by themselves even without a province or realm. However, as long as they are not united in the associated and symbiotic universal body of a province, commonwealth, or realm, they are deprived of many of the advantages and necessary supports of life. It is necessary, therefore, that the doctrine of the symbiotic life of families, kinship associations, collegia, cities, and provinces precede the doctrine of the realm or universal symbiotic association that arises from the former associations and is composed of them. In practice, however, all these associations are to be joined together for the common welfare of the symbiotes both individually and corporately. For the public association cannot exist without the private and domestic association. Both are necessary and useful in order that we may live advantageously. …
§ 85I do not think that special doctrine is necessary for the particular political state, although other modern writers disagree. For although political art is general, it always and everywhere agrees with and can be accommodated to every particular and special place, time, and people. This is so even though various and separate realms often use laws of their own differing from those of others in some matters. What else are the dukedom, principate, lordship, dynasty, county, landgraviate, mark, and the like, or what else can they be, except provinces, members, orders, and estates of the realm to which they belong? Even if they sometimes use laws that are peculiar to them and differ legitimately from those of the rest of the realm, they are still provinces of the realm. 18
§ 86Nor have I wanted to define the political types so far as their establishment, increase, extension, and conservation are concerned. The same principles apply to the establishment, increase, extension, and conservation of polities. For the commonwealth is conserved and extended by the same arts by which it is constituted, as our definition of politcs sufficiently explains.19
Collation of This Translation with the 1614 Edition
Latin titles are chapter headings of the 1614 edition. Roman numerals refer to chapters, arabic numerals to the numbered sections into which Althusius divided his chapters. Three dots indicate untranslated material within the numbered section they precede and/or follow. However, deletions by the translator of mere references to other writings are not so designated. A section number sometimes will be repeated to indicate additional translated material following a deletion within that numbered section (e.g., §46 …; §46 … in The Family in the collation below). Semicolons indicate the end of segments of the Latin text that have been selected for translation according to the objectives set forth in the Translator’s Introduction, namely, “to retain in Althusius’ own words the complete basic structure of his political thought as it finds expression in the Politica, and furthermore to include the chief arguments by which he clarified his position in relation to those of his contemporaries” .
The Writings of Johannes Althusius
Editio quinta, correcta et epitome ac brevi anacephalaeosi Dicaeologicae aucta. Herborn: From the press of the heirs of Christophorus Corvinus, 1623.
[Fifth edition, corrected and augmented by an extract and a short summary of the main points of a Theory of Justice.]
Civilis Conversationis Libri Duo
Editio quinta. Herborn in Nassovia, 1654.
2nd Edition. Edited by Erik Wolf. Deutsches Rechtsdenken, no. 3. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1948.
In Quellenbuch zur Geschichte der deutschen Rechtswissenschaft. Edited by Erik Wolf. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1950.
“Politik als Einigung der natürlichen Lebensgemeinschaften.” In Die Politische Wissenschaft, edited by Carl Joachim Friedrich. Orbis Academicus Sec. I, Vol. 8. Freiburg and Munich: Karl Alber, 1961. [Selections following the partial translation by Erik Wolf (see his 1st edition, Grundbegriffe der Politik, above).]
Cum gratia et privilegia Caesaris Majestatis. On sale at the press of Christophorus Corvinus, 1618.
[With the gratitude and privileges of His Imperial Majesty.]
Editio secunda priori correction. On sale in Frankfurt at the press of the Heirs of Christophorus Corvinus, 1649.
[Second edition, more accurate than the former one.]
Reprint of the edition printed in Frankfurt am Main in 1649. Aalen: Scientia Publisher, 1967.
Documentary Collections Edited by Althusius
Printed in Emden by Joachim Mennen, official printer, 1656.
This book was set in Bembo, a typeface adapted from one designed by Francesco da Bologna and first used by the great Venetian printer-publisher Aldus Manutius in 1499 for an edition of Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. It was named for Cardinal Bembo, who was the patron of Aldus Manutius. Although this contemporary version of the face is much regularized, it still retains the feeling of Venetian Old Style in its calligraphic weighting of the rounded letters, its lack of contrast in line weight, and its small internal spaces.
The book is printed on paper that is acid-free and meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanance of Paper for Printed Library Materials, Z39.48, 1992 (archival)
editorial services by bookscraft, inc., indianapolis, indiana
design by betty binns, brooklyn, new york
composition by weimer graphics, inc., indianapolis, indiana
printed and bound by edwards brothers, inc., ann arbor, michigan
[16 ] [ See especially Chapters V, VIII, XVIII.]
[1 ] [This chapter on tyranny was not part of the 1603 edition. On the other hand, Althusius’ Dicaeologica (1617) contains a chapter (I, 113) entitled “The Abuse of Public Power” that is in part a discussion of tyranny and its punishment.]
[2 ] Thus Jacob Middendorf describes it. Quaestiones politicae, 16.
[3 ]See the arguments of II Samuel 11; 24; I Kings 11; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV, 20, 24 ff.; Francis Zoannet, De tripartitione defensionis, III, num. 1–3; Jerome Gigas, De crimine laesae majestatis, I, quest. 56, 10.
[4 ]See Peter Ribadeneria, Religion and the Virtues of the Prince, II, 9; Petrus Gregorius, De republica, IX, 12; William Rose, De justa reipublicae christianae auctoritate, 1, 6.
[5 ] 11 Kings 11:2; II Chronicles 23.
[6 ] [The just administration of these public functions, public goods, and private rights has been described by Althusius in Chapters XXVIII–XXXVII on ecclesiastical and secular administration. Because special tyranny is simply the abuse of one or more of these three administrative areas, Althusius’ detailed discussion of it is here omitted. One point only should be noted, namely that Althusius does not consider a tyrant without title (tyrannus absque titulo) to be a tyrant at all, but only a private citizen who is an enemy of the realm. The reason is that such a person never rightfullly became its supreme magistrate. Only a tyrant by practice (tyrannus exercitio) is a true tyrant.]
[7 ] As we have said in Chapter XVIII above.
[8 ] [laws.]
[9 ] [i.e., those optimates or ephors who have a responsibility for the whole realm as distinguished from special optimates and ephors whose responsibility is limited to that part or territory of the realm assigned to them.]
[10 ] Zachary Ursinus, Dispositiones, II, 44 and ult.; [Theodore Beza], Concerning the Rights of Rulers; Petrus Gregorius, De republica, XXVI, 5–7; Juan de Mariana, The King and His Education, I, 6 f.; Francis Zoannet, De tripartitione defensionis, III, num. 28; Lambert Daneau, Politices christianae, VI; Otto Cassman, Doctrinae et vitae politicae, 10; Code X, 53, 2; Institutes I, 25, 6; Digest L, 4, 11, 3.
[11 ] Junius Brutus, Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, quest. 3.
[12 ]See Petrus Gregorius, De republica, XXVI, 5–7; Marsilius of Padua, The Defender of the Peace; Lupold of Bebenberg, De jure regni et imperii. [Gregorius affirms, while Marsilius and Lupold deny, a papal power of deposing rulers.]
[13 ]See Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings, VI, 3; Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses, II, 20; Justus Lipsius, Politicorum sive civilis doctrinae, V, 9 f.; Henrik Rantzau, Commentarius bellicus, I, 11.
[14 ] [Note the unannounced switches in the discussion from a tyrant by practice to a tyrant without title, and then back to a tyrant by practice in the next paragraph.]
[15 ]See Matthew 23; II Chronicles 2:13 f. So David fleeing from the tyranny of Saul is known to have withdrawn into the mountains. And Christ fled into Egypt because of Herod’s tyranny. Petrus Gregorius, De republica, XXVI, 6 f.; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV, 20, 23; Francis Zoannet, De tripartitione defensionis, III, 114 ff.; Junius Brutus, Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, quest. 3.
[16 ] Augustine, The City of God, IV, 4.
[17 ] [ optimates This word has generally been rendered as “optimates” in this translation, but “estates” would seem to be closer to Althusius’ meaning in this particular instance.]
[18 ] 1 Kings 12.
[19 ] Alberico Gentili, De jure belli, I, 23.
[20 ] Tiberius Decianus, Tractatus criminalis, VII, 49, 29.
[21 ] Lucas de Penna, Super tres libros codicis (Code I, 10); Andrea Alciati, Commentaria (Code I, 2, 5); Tiberius Decianus, Tractatus criminalis, VII, 49, 27 f.
[22 ]De absoluta regis potestate.
[23 ]The Kingdom and the Regal Power, III, 6. [The lengthy answers Althusius gives later in this chapter to Barclay’s arguments against ephors will be omitted in this translation because they duplicate extensive material already included in chapter XVIII.]
[24 ]Refutatio cujusdam libelli sine autore, cui titulus est De jure magistratuum in subditos. [The anonymous book Beccaria attempted to refute was actually by Theodore Beza, and is referred to elsewhere in this translation.]
[25 ] [ De jure majestatis. Althusius neither elaborates upon nor responds to Arnisaeus’ viewpoint.]
[26 ]See Digest XI, 7, 35; Exodus 23.
[27 ] Luke 9:3, 24 f., 59 ff.; I Kings 21:10 ff.; Mark 9:42 ff.; Matthew 5:18, 29; 9:13; 10:37; 13:5, 11; Acts 5:29; I Samuel 19:17 f.; Hosea 6:6.
[28 ] Matthew 10:37.
[29 ] Digest XXVII, 10, 1 f.
[30 ] Code VIII, 51; Digest I, 6, 2; Institutes I, 8.
[31 ]Practicarum observationum, I, obs. 17.
[32 ]Illustrium controversiarum, I, 8.
[33 ] Alberico Gentili, De jure belli, I, 23; Tiberius Decianus, Tractatus criminalis, VII, 49, 28 f.; Lucas de Penna, Super tres libros codicis (Code I, 10, 1).
[34 ] [ Refutatio cujusdam libelli sine autore, cui titulus est De jure magistratuum in subditos. ]
[35 ] Chapter XVIII above. [Althusius’ restatement here of some of the arguments contained in that chapter are omitted from this translation.]
[36 ] [ Systema disciplinae politicae. ]
[38 ] We have support from Diego Covarruvias, Variarum resolutionum, III, 6, 8; Arius Pinellus, De rescindenda venditione, I, 2, 25 f.; Friedrich Pruckmann, De regalibus, 3.
[1 ] William Barclay, The Kingdom and the Regal Power, III, 4.
[2 ] [Fernando Vásquez, Illustrium controversiarum, I, 23; Friedrich Pruckmann, De regalibus, 4, 7; 18, 64; 33, 20; Digest XXVIII, 4, 3; Code I, 2, 5; I, 14, 8; IV, 13, 5; VI, 37, 10.
[3 ] Chapters XVIII, XXVII, and XXXII.
[4 ] Code I, 14, 4.
[5 ] [Does Althusius have Hebrews 6:18, which is non-Pauline, in mind?]
[6 ]See Fernando Vásquez, Illustrium controversiarum, I, 15; I, 26, 22; I, 45; Diego Covarruvias, Variarum resolutionum, III, 6, 8; Arius Pinellus, De rescindenda venditione, 1, 2, 25 f.; Bartolus, Commentarii (Digest IV, 4, 38), where he says “Great is Caesar, but greater is reason and truth”; Friedrich Pruckmann, De regalibus, 3.
[7 ] [This is an allusion to an old physiology in which four fluids (humores)—blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black bile)—were understood to enter the body and determine by their relative proportions therein the health and disposition (humor, pl. humores) of the person.]
[8 ]Variarum juris, II, 4.
[9 ]See Chapter XIX above for the mixture that I have considered to be the best. This kind is thought to have existed in the Spartan commonwealth. See Niels Krag, De republica Lacedaemoniorum, 4; Caspar Contarini, De republica Venetorum, I; Laelius Zecchus, De principe, I, 4; Hermann Kirchner, Respublica, disp. 3, 7.
[10 ]Systema disciplinae politicae, II, 4.
[11 ] Petrus Gregorius, De republica, V, 3 f.; Jean Bodin, The Commonweale, VI, 4; Melchior Junius, Politicarum quaestionum, I, quest. 4; Jacob Simanca, De republica, III, 2 f.; Sir Thomas More, Utopia, I, 2; Justus Lipsius, Politicorum sive civilis doctrinae, II, 2; Aristotle, Politics, 1310a 39–1313a 17.
[12 ] Genesis, 11 f.
[13 ] Numbers 11; 16; Exodus 18; 24; Joshua 1; Deuteronomy 17.
[14 ] Aristotle, Politica, 1310a 39–1313a 17; Melchior Junius, Politicarum quaestionum, I, quest. 4; Philip Beroald, De optimo statu; Francesco Patrizi, De regno, I, tit. 3; Jean Bodin, The Commonweale, II, 2; Vincent Castellani, De officio regis, I, 1; Matthew Scholasticus, De vero et christiano principe, I, 5.
[15 ] [science.]
[16 ] [ Systema disciplinae politicae. ]
[17 ] [ Disputationum politicarum. ]
[18 ] As we have said above in Chapter VIII.
[19 ] Chapter I.