Johannes Althusius, Politica

I’ve been reading Johannes Althusius, Politica – a text originally published in 1603. I’ve become more and more convinced that there are some really important works between Bodin and Botero and the more familiar 17th century thinkers of Grotius, Hobbes, Filmer and Locke. I’ve already mentioned Richard Hooker here, and a case could be made for Lipsius or Bacon, or some of the works attributed to Walter Ralegh. Althusius is very interesting, especially for the fundamental, yet semi-casual, way he uses the vocabulary of territorium. By this I mean that the terms have fundamental importance, but he doesn’t seem to be going out of his way to clarify their meaning: it’s as if they are obvious. From the 1614 edition:

We now turn to the province, which contains within its territory [territorii] many villages, towns, outposts, and cities united under the communion and administration of one law [jus]. It is also called a region, district, diocese, or community. I identify the territory of a province [territorium provinciae] as whatever is encompassed by the limits or boundaries [fines & terminus] within which its laws are exercised (VI, 1-2).

This is not a particularly common phrasing before this moment. In one fundamental passage, on the notion of territorio regni, he makes reference to, among other texts, Andreae Knichen, De sublimi et regio territorii iure synoptica tractatio, from 1600. That’s been in my ‘to read’ list for ages, and the British Library has it in his Opera. That’s probably where I will go next.

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