THE ‘history of ideologies’ is now very much the vogue since Professor Quentin Skinner's fine study on The foundations of modern political thought. Whether or not one agrees with all aspects of his interpretation of Bodin—and Dr Parker might argue that it fails to draw out sufficiently the moral philosopher inside the jurist, while Professor Rose might prefer to stress the Judaizing tendencies of the theorist as a central preoccupation—it is a testament to the decisive impact made by Skinner on the history of political thought that no-one has challenged his new and radical approach. It is no part of the purpose of this paper to do so. Indeed, an understanding both of Bodin's predecessors and of the ideological conflict of the 1570s which influenced the drafting of the Six bookes of a commonweale (the title given to the République by its first English translator, Richard Knolles) is fundamental before any appreciation of the theorist can be made free from distortion. It is no use at all asserting that Bodin started from scratch, even on the issue of sovereignty, where he made his most original contribution. Bodin himself minimized his originality, basing his commentary on the powers historically enjoyed by French kings. The French king had traditionally regarded his authority as that of princeps legibus solutus, as an absolute ruler above the law. If the French king had been unable to do those things described by Bodin, in the view of that author, ‘il n'estoit pas Prince souverain’. Bodin also noted the contribution of the canon lawyers of the Middle Ages to the development of his political theory and remarked that Pope Innocent IV was he who best understood the nature of sovereignty.