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Chapter 5 - Sovereign Men and Subjugated Women

The Invention of a Tradition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2019

Anna Becker
Affiliation:
Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
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Summary

In this chapter we turn to Bodin’s political, moral, and legal analysis of the conjugal relationship. Bodin thought that the conjugal relationship was the most important of the three governmental relationships in the household. The gender relationship in marriage determined the roots and the nature of sovereignty. The conjugal relationship was central to understanding Bodin’s notion of power, and especially the power of the sovereign. It linked Bodin’s arguments about the relationship of family and commonwealth, which we have discussed earlier, directly to his notion of absolute sovereignty. But, for his theory to be congruent, Bodin needed a wife who was always subjected to her husband, and we shall see that he had to attack the tradition we have studied earlier, thereby considerably bending Roman legal argument and inventing a tradition of female subjection. We will see that contemporaries picked up on this, and we will study a forceful response to Bodin by Antonio Montecatini.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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