On the Duty of Man and Citizen (II) – Samuel von Pufendorf (1682)

On the Duty of Man and Citizen (II) – Samuel von Pufendorf (1682)


Burgerschap: teksten bron en auteursrechten

On the Natural State of Men

1. We have next to inquire about those duties whose performance is incumbent upon a man, in view of the particular state in which we find him living the common life. And by state I mean in general that condition in which men are understood to be placed, for the exercise of a certain kind of actions. Special rights also generally accompany that state.

2. The state of men is either natural or adventitious. The natural state can be considered under three heads, so far as mere reason lights the way; either in relation to God the Creator, or in relation to individual men, as regards themselves, or as regards other men.

3. Viewed in the first way, the natural state of man is that condition in which he was placed by the Creator, when He willed that man should be an animal superior to all the rest. From this state it follows that man should recognize and worship his Author, and marvel at His works; and also pass his life in a very different manner from the brutes. Hence this state is contrasted with the life and condition of the brutes.

4. In the second way we can consider the natural state of man, if we imagine what his condition would be, if one were left entirely to himself, without any added support from other men, assuming indeed that condition of human nature which is found at present. Certainly it would seem to have been more wretched than that of any wild beast, if we take into account with what weakness man goes forth into this world, to perish at once, but for the help of others; and how rude a life each would lead, if he had nothing more than what he owed to his own strength and ingenuity. On the contrary, it is altogether due to the aid of other men, that out of such feeble-ness we have been able to grow up, that we now enjoy untold comforts, and that we improve mind and body for our own advantage and that of others. And in this sense the natural state is opposed to a life improved by the industry of men.

5. In the third way we consider the natural state of man according as men are understood to be related to each other, merely from that common kinship which results from similarity of nature, before any agreement or act of man, by which one came to be particularly bound to another. In this sense we speak of men as living together in the natural state, if they have no common master, and one is not subject to the other, and they are not known to each other by kindness or injury. In this sense the natural state is opposed to the civil state.

6. Again, the character of this natural state can be considered either as it is represented by a figment, or as it really exists. We have the former, if we conceive that from the beginning a multitude of men came into being at once, without any interdependence, as the story of the Cadmean brothers has it; or else, if we imagine the whole human race as now so broken up, that each man would govern himself apart, and none be bound to any by other bond than similarity of nature. But the state of nature which really exists, has this feature, that one is joined to some men by a special alliance, but with all the others has nothing in common except one’s humanity, and owes them nothing on any other account. Such a condition now exists between different states, and between the citizens of different nations, and formerly it obtained among the scattered patriarchs.

7. For it is clear that the whole human race has never at one and the same time been in the natural state. For those who were horn to our first parents, from whom all mortals draw their origin, as the Holy Scriptures relate, were subject to the paternal authority. Later, however, this natural state did appear among some men. For the first men, in order to fill a world still empty, and to seek a roomier habitation for themselves and their flocks, left the paternal homes, separated in different directions, and nearly every male set up a household for himself. Among their descendants, who scattered in the same way, the special bond of kinship, and the affection springing from it, gradually vanished, and there remained only that community which results from a like nature; until later, when the race had multiplied remarkably, and they had discovered the inconvenience of the isolated life, by degrees the nearest neighbors united to form societies, first smaller, then larger, by the voluntary or enforced union of several of the smaller. Between these communities, as they are joined by no other bond than that of common humanity, the natural state certainly still exists.

8. Now those who live in the natural state have this particular right, that they are subject and responsible to none but God. From which standpoint that state is called natural liberty; by which, unless there has been some previous act of man, everyone is understood to be his own master, and subject to the authority of no man. And from the same standpoint each is accounted equal to every other, and neither is subject to him, nor holds him in subjection to himself. Moreover, since the light of reason has been placed in man, and, by its beams he can guide his actions, it follows that every roan living in natural liberty depends upon no one for the regulation of his conduct; but, in accordance with his own judgment and will, has the power of doing everything that agrees with sound reason. And on account of the common inclination, implanted in all creatures, a man can but endeavor by every means to preserve his body and his life, and to banish what seems to destroy life, and must employ the means to that end. For this reason, and because in the natural state no one has another man as his superior, to whom he has submitted his own will and judgment, therefore in that state every one of his own judgment determines the fitness of means, and whether they conduce to self-preservation or not. For, no matter how much he hears the advice of another, it is none the less in his own power to decide whether he wishes to approve of the other’s advice or not. But that this self-government be rightly conducted, it is required that it be undertaken according to the dictate of right reason and the natural law.

9. However much the natural state allures by the name of freedom and immunity from all subjection, still, until men have united into communities, it has many added disadvantages, whether we imagine all men as existing singly in that state, or consider the situation of the scattered patriarchs. For if you conceive a man who even in adult age is left alone in this world, and without any of the comforts and supports with which the ingenuity of men has made life more civilized and less hard, you will see an animal, naked, dumb, needy, driving away his hunger as best he can by roots and herbs, his thirst by any water he chances upon, the severity of the weather by caves, an animal exposed to the wild beasts, and alarmed when he meets any of them. A life somewhat more civilized was possible among those who lived in scattered families, — a life, however, which could not be compared in any way with civil life, not so much on account of want, which the household, with its limited desires, seems fairly well able to banish, as because security is not fully provided for there. And, to be brief, in the natural state each man is protected by his own powers only, in the community by those of all. In the former no one has a certain reward of his industry; in the latter all have it. In the one there is the rule of passion, war, fear, poverty, ugliness, solitude, barbarism, ignorance, savagery; in the other the rule of reason, peace, security, riches, beauty, society, refinement, knowledge, good will.

10. Moreover in the natural state, if a man does not willingly perform for another what he ought under an agreement, or if he has injured him, or if some controversy arises otherwise, there is no one who by authority can compel the other to perform what he ought, or repair the injury, and can thus settle the quarrel, as in states, where one may implore the aid of a common judge. But because Nature does not permit us to go to war for any cause indifferently, even where one is amply persuaded of the justice of one’s cause, therefore we must first try to see whether the matter can be adjusted in a gentler way, namely, by a friendly discussion between the parties, and by a pure (not conditionate) compromise, that is, an appeal to arbiters. These arbiters should conduct themselves with fairness to both sides, and in giving their decision make no concession to hatred or favor, but regard solely the merits of the case. For this reason a man is not usually taken as arbiter in a case in which there appears to be greater hope of advantage or special distinction for himself from the success of the one side, than from that of the other, and so where it is to his interest that one of them win the case by whatever means. Hence also there should be no agreement or promise between the arbiter and the parties, by virtue of which he may be bound to pronounce in favor of the one. And if the arbiter is” unable to find out what the fact is, either from the common confession of the parties, or definite instruments, or unmistakable arguments and signs, he will be obliged to find it out from the depositions of the witnesses. These may indeed be constrained to tell the truth by the natural law, and generally by the sanctity of an oath, still it would be safest not to admit such persons as are so disposed towards one or the other of the parties that their conscience must struggle as it were with favor, hatred, lust for revenge, and other violent passion, or even some very close he, — motives which not all have firmness enough to conquer. Sometimes, too, quarrels are ended by interposition of common friends, and this is with good reason accounted one of the most sacred duties. But as for the performance, in this state, that is each man’s affair, when the other does not voluntarily fulfill his obligation.

11. Again, although it was the will of Nature herself that there should be a certain kinship between men, and that, by virtue of this, it should be wrong for one to injure another, and — better still — right for every man to spend himself for the advantage of others, nevertheless among those who live together in natural liberty this kinship generally exerts a very feeble force. Hence any man who is not our fellow-citizen, or one with whom we live in the natural state, is to be regarded, not indeed as an enemy, but still as an inconstant friend. The reason for this is that men are not only perfectly able to injure each other, but for various reasons very often willing to do so. For in some cases perversity of nature, or the passion for ruling and possessing superfluities, spurs men on to injure others. Other men, though of modest temper, rush to arms in the desire to preserve themselves, and not to be anticipated by others. Many are matched against each other by desire for the same thing, others by a rivalry of talent. Hence in this state suspicions all but perpetual are rife, as are distrust, the desire to undermine the strength of others, the passion for getting ahead of others, or of strengthening one’s self by the ruin of others. Therefore, as it is the part of the good man to be content with what he has, and not to attack others, nor seek their property, so the cautious man who is devoted to his own welfare, believes all men his friends, with the possibility, however, of presently becoming his enemies, and keeps the peace with all, as something which can presently change into war. For this reason also happy is that state regarded which even in peace thinks of war.

On Conjugal Duties

1. Among the adventitious states, or those in which a man is placed by some previous act of man, the first place belongs to marriage. In itself it is also the first example, we may say, of the social life, and at the same time the nursery of the human race.

2. This much is certain to begin with, that the ardent and mutual propensity of the sexes was ordained by an all-wise Creator, not for the satisfaction of an empty pleasure (for this, if it were the only aim, would have occasioned the greatest filthiness and confusion in the human race), but in order that the life of married persons might be the more agreeable, and that mankind might the more willingly devote itself to the propagation of offspring, and endure the annoyances which attend the begetting and rearing of the same. From which it follows that every use of the genital organs which departs from these purposes is repugnant to the natural law. On this account lust after another species, or the same sex, is forbidden; also any filthy pollutions, and finally all intercourse outside of wedlock, whether by mutual consent, or forced upon the unwilling woman.

3. The obligation to contract marriage can be considered either in respect to the whole human race, or in respect to individuals. The former obligation consists in this, that the propagation of the human species is by no means to be carried on by promiscuous and unregulated intercourse, but must be bounded certainly by conjugal laws, and so conducted by marriage only. For without the latter, a seemly and well-ordered society of men, and the practice of the civil life are unintelligible. As for the individuals, they are bound to enter matrimony when a convenient opportunity therefor offers. This, however, consists not only in age and generative power, but that there be also the possibility of a suitable match, and the means to support a wife and the children to be born, and then that the man be suited to play the role of a paterfamilias. Unless, however, a man has the temperament for a chaste single life, and feels that as a celibate he can accomplish more good for the race or the state, than if he had a wife; especially when no dearth of offspring is to be feared.

4. Between those who are about to enter matrimony there should be, and usually is, an agreement, which in its regular and perfect form consists of these heads: First, because the man (for it is in harmony with the nature of both sexes that the contract begin with him) intends to seek offspring of his very own, not supposititious nor spurious, therefore the woman must give the man her promise that she will give none but himself the use of her person. And in like manner the woman in turn requires the same stipulation of the husband. Next, as nothing is more out of keeping with the nature of the social and civil life, than a wandering and unsettled life, without a definite home and abiding-place for the property; and as the bringing-up of the common offspring is most conveniently carried on when both parents unite their efforts; and since continuous cohabitation involves the greatest amount of pleasure to the well-mated, and thereby the husband can also have more certain knowledge of his wife’s chastity; therefore the wife gives the husband the further promise, that she will dwell with him continuously, and in fact unite with him in closest society of life, and in the same family. And in this we understand that there is contained a mutual promise of such a life together, as the nature of that alliance requires. But it agrees best with the natural condition of both sexes, not only that in marriage the condition of the man should be the better, but also that the husband be the head of the household which he has himself established. From this it follows that in matters relating to marriage and the household the wife is subject to the husband’s direction. Hence also it belongs to the husband to determine the home, and the wife cannot against his will go abroad, or sleep alone. But it does not seem necessary to the essence of matrimony to have such authority as includes the power of life and death, and severe punishment, also the full power of disposing of any property of the wife. This, however, is in some places established by special contracts between the couple, or by the civil laws.

5. Moreover, though it is manifestly repugnant to the natural law that one woman should cohabit with several men at the same time, still, for one man to have two or more wives has been customary in many nations, and formerly even in the Jewish people. Nevertheless, even disregarding the primitive institution of marriage as related in the Holy Scriptures, it is, however, established by right reason alone, that it is far more seemly and advantageous for one man to be content with one woman. And this is what the experience of all the Christian nations that we know of has approved these many centuries.

6. And no less does the nature of so close a union show that marriage ought to be perpetual, and not to be terminated, except by the death of one or the other of the couple; unless the clauses of the original marriage contract have been violated by adultery and base desertion. But for incompatibility of character, not having the same effect as base desertion, a separation merely as regards bed and board has been admitted among Christians, without permission to proceed to a second matrimonial engagement. Among the other reasons therefor is this, that facility of divorce may not foster perversity of character; but rather that despair of another match may encourage husbands and wives to an obliging disposition and mutual tolerance. But for violation of the clauses of the marriage contract the injured party only is released from the tie, which is continued in the case of the other, if indeed the injured party shall so wish, and shall deign to be reconciled.

7. Marriage can be contracted lawfully, where the civil law does not prohibit, by any man with any woman, if they have the age and physical condition suitable for marriage, unless some moral impediment prohibits. Morally one is prevented from taking another partner, if one is already joined to a husband or wife.

8. But also a moral impediment to legal matrimony is found in a too close relationship of blood or affinity. On this account, even under the natural law, marriage between ascendants and descendants indefinitely is judged sinful. And other marriages on the transverse line, for instance, with a father’s or mother’s sister, or with a sister, and likewise among relations by marriage, with a step-mother, mother-in-law, step-daughter, — all these are viewed with aversion not only by the divine law, but also by the laws of civilized nations, and the consensus of Christians. For that matter, the civil laws of many peoples have forbidden some remoter degrees, to hedge about, as it were, the more sacred degrees above mentioned, that men may not readily rush in to desecrate them.

9. But, as the civil laws are accustomed to add to other contracts and affairs certain requisites, and if these have not been observed, those are not held valid in the civil court, so it is also with marriage, so long as certain solemnities are anywhere required by the civil laws in the interest of seemliness and good order. Although these are outside of the natural law, still, without them, those who are subject to the civil laws will not contract a legal marriage; or at least such a union will not have the effect of a proper marriage in the state.

10. The duty of the husband is to love the wife, to support, rule, and defend her; of the wife, to love and honor her husband, to be a help to him, not only in the generation and education of children, but also in assuming a part of the domestic cares. On both sides the character of so close a union requires that both be sharers as well in prosperity as in adversity, and that, if any misfortune befalls one of them, this partner be sustained by the other; and not less that they wisely adapt their ways to maintain mutual harmony. Yet in this matter it is rather the part of the wife to yield.

On the Duties of Parents and Children

1. From marriage spring children, over whom paternal authority has been established, — the most ancient and at the same time the most sacred kind of rule, under which children are bound to respect the commands and recognize the superiority of parents.

2. The authority of parents over their children arises from two main causes: first, because the natural law itself, in commanding man to be social, enjoined upon parents the care of their children; and that this might not be neglected, Nature at the same time implanted in them the tenderest affection for their offspring. For the exercise of that care there is needed the power to direct the actions of children for their own welfare, which they do not yet understand themselves, owing to their lack of judgment. And then that authority rests upon the tacit consent also of the offspring. For it is rightly presumed that, if an infant had had the use of reason at the time of its birth, and had seen that it could not save its life without the parents’ care and the authority therewith connected, it would gladly have consented to it, and would in turn have made an agreement with them for a suitable bringing-up. Actually, however, the parents’ authority over their offspring is established when they take up the child and nurture it, and undertake to form it, to the best of their ability, into a fit member of human society.

3. But although the mother contributes no less than the father, to the production of children, and so, physically speaking, the offspring is common to both, we must inquire which of them has the better right to the children. And in this one must make a distinction. For if the child has been born out of wedlock, it will be originally the mother’s, because in this case the father can be known only by the mother’s testimony. Also among those who live in natural liberty and above civil laws, it can be arranged by agreement that the mother, not the father, have the better right. But in states, which were, of course, established by men, inasmuch as marriage contracts regularly begin with the father, and he is the head of the household, the father will have the better right. Consequently though a child naturally owes its mother respect and gratitude, it is nevertheless not bound by the commands of the mother, — those at least which conflict with the just instructions of the father. But upon the death of the father, his right to his offspring, the non-adult at any rate, seems to be acquired by the mother, and, in case she enters a second marriage, by the stepfather, since indeed he succeeds to the responsibility and care of the natural father. And one who undertakes the liberal education of a deserted child or orphan, can of his own right exact filial respect from him.

4. But accurately to understand how great is the power of parents over their children, we must first distinguish between the scattered patriarchs, and those who have entered a community; and then between the power which the father has as such, and what he has as head of his household. Upon the father as such nature has enjoined that he bring up his children well, that they may turn out fit members of human society, up to the time when they are able to look out for themselves. Therefore so much authority is understood to have been granted him, as suffices for this purpose. But it by no means goes so far that parents can destroy their offspring in the mother’s womb, or after birth expose or kill it. For while progeny is called into being out of the substance of parents, the result, however, is to place it in the same human lot as themselves, and to make it capable of suffering an injury even from the parents. Also this power is not thought to extend to exercising the right of life and death on occasion of some offense, but merely so far as moderate chastisement. For this has to do with a tender age, at which crimes so black as to be expiated by death scarcely occur. But should a child persistently spurn all discipline, with no hope of improvement, he can be driven from the paternal home and disowned.

5. Moreover this power, thus narrowly interpreted, can be considered according to the different ages of the children. For in the first years, when the use of reason is still immature, all the children’s actions are subject to the parents’ direction. In this period if any property is transferred by others to the minor, the parent must accept and administer it in place of the son, yet so that the ownership is acquired by the son himself. It is, however, most equitable that the income should fall to the father, until the son comes of age. So, too, whatever gain or profit comes by the labor of the son, is rightly claimed by the father, on whom rests the burden also of nourishing and educating the son.

6. In adult years, when the children have indeed mature judgment, but are still a part of the paternal household, we can distinguish the authority which the father has as father, from that which he has as head of the household. Since the former kind has for its aim the proper education and guidance of the children, it is clear that even adult children ought to follow the authority of parents, as the wiser persons. And he who wishes to be supported out of the paternal property, and in turn to succeed to it, must adjust himself to the circumstances of the father’s household, for the control of the latter is unquestionably in the hands of the father.

7. But the patriarchs, who had not yet entered into communities, wielded in their homes an authority like that of princes. Hence their children too, still remaining in the household, were bound to respect their authority as the highest. But later this household rule, and other rights as well, were limited to suit the needs and proprieties of communities; and in one much of their authority was left to fathers, in another little. Hence we observe that in some states fathers had the right of life and death over their children, to be exercised in case of crime; and that in others the same right was taken away, that parents might not abuse their authority over their children to the detriment of the public good, or to oppress them unjustly; or for fear the tender affection of a parent might conceal vices which would break out into public calamity; or else to avoid imposing upon a father the necessity of pronouncing so stem a sentence.

8. But when a child has clearly departed from the paternal household, and either established a new household of his own, or attached himself to another, the paternal authority is indeed dissolved, but so, however, that the debt of dutifulness and respect always remains, as something founded upon the merits of the parents, which children are never, or very rarely, thought fully to requite. And those merits consist not only in the fact that children owe to parents their lives, the occasion of all blessings, but also because they undertook their laborious and costly education, by which they have molded them into fit members of human society, and often have provided them with the means of passing their lives in comfort and abundance.

9. But, although the obligation to educate their children has been imposed upon parents by nature, this does not prevent the direction of the same from being intrusted to another, if the advantage or need of the child require, with the understanding, however, that the parent reserves to himself the oversight of the person so delegated. Hence also a father has not only the right to intrust the instruction of a son to suitable teachers, but can also give the son in adoption to another, if indeed any advantage is to be thus gained for the son. And if he has no other means of supporting his child, rather than let him die of want, the father can pledge the child, or sell him into a slavery that is endurable, at least subject to re-consideration, when the father shall come into more favorable circumstances, or some relative is willing to ransom the child. But if a parent has inhumanly exposed or cast off a child, whoever shall take up and educate the child, will succeed also to the father’s rights, so that the foster-child owes filial respect to the man who has brought him up.

10. Again, as a father ought not, except for the weightiest reasons, to drive a child from his household, while still needing education and his assistance, so also the child will not go forth from the father’s household except with his permission. But, since it is usually on contracting a marriage that children leave the paternal household, and it is certainly a concern of parents, who is to be united to their children, and by whom they are themselves to have grandchildren, therefore filial duty plainly requires that children in this matter follow the consent of the father, and be not united in marriage against his will. But if children have in fact contracted and consummated a marriage against the parents’ will, it does not seem to be void according to the natural law, especially where they do not wish to burden the father’s household longer, and the match is not otherwise improper. Hence, if such marriages are anywhere accounted void or illegitimate, it is due to the civil laws.

11. The duty of parents consists chiefly in this, that they support their children in comfort, and so shape their body and mind by skillful and wise education, that they become fit and useful members of human and civil society, good, wise, and men of character. Also to introduce them to a suitable and honorable occupation; and, so far as reason and opportunity permit, to establish and promote their fortunes.

12. The children’s duty on the other hand is to honor their parents, that is, to show them respect, not by outward signs alone, but much more in the inward estimation, as authors of their lives and other great benefits; to obey them, serve them to the best of one’s ability, especially when they are weakened by age or want; to undertake nothing of great importance without their counsel and authorization; and finally patiently to bear their peevishness or faults, if any are discovered.

On the Duties of Masters and Servants

1. After the human race had begun to multiply, and it had been discovered how conveniently the affairs of the household can be cared for by the service of others, it soon came to be the practice to admit slaves into the household, to perform the domestic tasks. And it is probable that in the beginning these offered themselves voluntarily, being compelled by want or a sense of their own incapacity; and that they bargained for a perpetual supply of food and other necessaries, and so assigned their services to the master permanently. Then, as wars became widespread, it came to be the custom of many peoples, that those whose lives they had spared after capture in war should be consigned to slavery, together with the offspring which should thereafter be born to them. And yet among many peoples no such slavery is in vogue, but all the domestic tasks are performed by hired servants engaged for a time.

2. Moreover, as there are different degrees of slavery, so also the power of the masters and the lot of the slaves vary. To a servant hired for a time the master owes the wage agreed upon; and the former in turn owes the latter the service agreed upon. And since in this contract the social lot of the master is the better, therefore the servant of this kind also is bound to show his master respect in proportion to his rank; and if he has done his work with ill-will or neglect, he is liable to the master’s correction. This cannot go so far, however, as to inflict by his own authority serious bodily harm, much less death.

3. But in case of the slave who has voluntarily assigned himself to a man in perpetual slavery, the master owes him a constant supply of food and the other things necessary to life; and the slave in turn is bound to perform continual service, whatever the master has prescribed, and to make over faithfully to the master whatever is yielded by his services. In these, however, the master will humanely take account of the slave’s strength and skill, not to exact harshly a labor which exceeds his strength. The slave is also subject to the chastisement of the master, not only to banish carelessness in the performance of his task, but also that his habits may be in harmony with the repute and the peace of the household. However such a slave cannot be sold to another against his will; for he has of his own motion chosen this master, and not another, and it makes a difference to him which he serves. If he has committed a serious crime against one outside the household, he is subject to the punishment of the civil authority, if in a state; if in an isolated household, he can be driven out of it. But where the crime has been committed against the isolated household itself, he can be punished by his master even with extreme measures.

4. But the slaves who had been captured in war have been harshly treated in the beginning by most masters, because something of the anger of an enemy remained in their case, and also they had themselves threatened the worst to us and our property. As soon, however, as mutual confidence has been reached between the victor and the vanquished in such a case, with regard to the slave’s admission to the household, all previous hostility is understood to have been forgiven. And then a master undoubtedly wrongs a slave, acquired even in this way, either if he does not supply the necessaries of life, or if he is unreasonably harsh towards him, and much more so, if he kills him when not guilty of a crime that deserves it.

5. With regard to slaves who were carried off into that condition by force in war, and those also who are purchased, it is the accepted practice that they can be transferred, like our other possessions, to anyone we please, and sold like chattels. Hence even the body of the slave is understood to belong to the master. Here, however, humanity bids us never forget that a slave is a man for all that; and so to treat him by no means as we do our other possessions, which we can use, abuse, and destroy at our discretion. And when one decides to dispose of such a slave, he should not be deliberately or undeservedly assigned to those under whom an inhuman treatment will await him.

6. Finally it is also the generally accepted custom, that offspring born of slave parents should share their servile estate, and belong as a slave to the mother’s owner. It is defended by this argument: that it is right for the fruit of the body to belong to him who owns the body. Also because such offspring would clearly not have been born, if the owner had exercised the right of war upon the parent. And also, since the parent has nothing of her own, she has no way left her to support such offspring except out of the master’s property. Therefore, since the master provides nourishment for a child of this kind long before its service can be useful, and the subsequent services do not generally much exceed the cost of nourishment at the time, it will not be permissible to escape from slavery against the master’s will. But it is manifest that, as such slaves born in the home come into slavery through no fault of their own, there is no pretext for treating them more harshly than the lot of perpetual hirelings admits.

On the Impelling Cause for the Establishment of a State

1. Although there is scarcely any pleasure and advantage which it seems cannot be obtained by the duties and situations so far enumerated, it remains for us to investigate the question, why men nevertheless, not content with those little first societies, have established the great societies which go by the names of states. For it is from these foundations that we must deduce the reason for the duties which attend the civil status of men.

2. Here then it is not enough to say that man is by Nature herself drawn into civil society, so that without it he cannot and will not live. For surely it is evident that man is an animal of the kind that loves itself and its interest to the utmost degree. When, therefore, he voluntarily seeks civil society, it must be that he has had regard to some utility which he will derive from it for himself. And though, outside of society with his kind, man would have been much the most miserable of creatures, still the natural desires and necessities of man could have been abundantly satisfied through the first communities, and the duties performed out of humanity or by agreement. Hence it cannot at once be inferred from man’s sociability that his nature does tend exactly to civil society.

3. This will be clearer, if we consider what condition arises among men from the establishment of states; what is required, if one is to be truly called a political animal, that is, a good citizen; and finally what in man’s nature is found to conflict with the character of the civil life.

4. The man who becomes a citizen suffers a loss of natural liberty, and subjects himself to an authority which includes the right of life and death, — an authority at whose command one must do many things from which one would otherwise shrink, and must leave undone many things which one greatly desired to do. And then many actions must be referred to the good of society, which often conflicts with the good of individuals. And yet, by tendencies already inborn, man does not incline to be subject to anyone, but to do everything at his own pleasure, and to favor his own interest in all things.

5. We call a man a truly political animal, that is, a good citizen, if he promptly obeys the commands of the rulers, if he strives with all his might for the public good, and willingly subordinates thereto his private good, or rather if he thinks nothing good for himself, unless it is likewise good for the state too; and finally if he shows himself accommodating to the other citizens. Yet few men’s natures are found to be of themselves adapted to this end. The majority are restrained somehow by the fear of punishment. Many remain all their lives bad citizens and non-political animals.

6. Finally, no animal is fiercer or more untameable than man, and more prone to vices capable of disturbing the peace of society. For, besides the craving for food and love, to which the brutes too are commonly addicted, man is troubled by many vices unknown to the brutes, for example, the insatiable desire for things superfluous and that worst of evils, ambition. There is also the too long-lived memory of injuries, and the burning for revenge, still increasing after a long interval. And then the infinite variety of inclinations and appetites, and every man’s obstinacy in exalting his own fancy. Also the fact that man delights in such mad cruelty to his own kind, that the majority of the woes to which man’s lot in life is exposed proceed from man himself.

7. Therefore the genuine and principal reason why the patriarchs, abandoning their natural liberty, took to founding states, was that they might fortify themselves against the evils which threaten man from man. For, after God, man can most help man, and has no less power for harm. And they are right in their judgment of the malice of men and its remedy, who have accepted as a proverb the saying, that, if there were no courts, one man would devour another. But after men had been brought through their communities into such order that they could be safe from mutual injuries, the natural result was that they enjoyed more richly those advantages which can come to men from other men; for example, that they were imbued from childhood with more friendly habits, and discovered and cultivated various arts, by which human life was made rich and comfortable.

8. The reason for founding a state will become still clearer, if we consider that other means of restraining the malice of men would not have sufficed. For although the natural law commands men to abstain from inflicting any injury, still respect for that law cannot insure to men the ability to live quite safely in natural liberty. For although there may be men or so quiet a temper that, even with impunity assured, they would not injure others; and also other men who somehow check their desires from the fear of an evil that will result; still there is, on the other hand, a great multitude of those to whom every right is worthless, whenever the hope of gain has enticed them, or confidence in their own strength or shrewdness, by which they hope to be able to repel or elude those whom they have injured. There is no one who does not strive to protect himself against such persons, if he loves his own safety; and that protection cannot be had more conveniently than by the help of states. For in spite of the fact that some may have given a mutual pledge to help each other, still, unless there be something to unite their judgments, and firmly bind their wills to carry out the pledge, it is vain for one to promise himself unfailing aid from the others.

9. Lastly, although the natural law sufficiently teaches men that those who inflict injury upon others will not go unpunished, nevertheless neither fear of the Divinity nor the sting of conscience is found to have strength to control the malice of all sorts of men. For with many, through defect of training and habit, the force of reason grows deaf as it were. The result is that they aim at things present only, indifferent to the future, and are moved only by what strikes upon the senses. But since divine vengeance commonly walks with slow foot, for that reason wicked men are given an opportunity to attribute the evils which befall the impious to other causes; especially since they often see wicked men in possession of abundance in those things by which the crowd measures felicity. And then the goads of conscience, which precede the crime, seem less strong than those which follow it, when the deed can no longer be undone. But to check evil desires, the prompt remedy, and one well adapted to human nature, is found in states.

On the Internal Structure of States

1. Our next task is to investigate the manner in which states have been erected, and how their internal structure is held together. In this investigation it is first evident that, to meet the dangers which threaten individuals from the perversity of men, it was impossible for some place, or arms, or brutes, to furnish a more convenient and effective protection than could other men. But since their power is not carried to distant objects, it was necessary that those by whom that end was to be attained should join together.

2. And it is not less certain that the agreement of two or three cannot afford that sort of security against other men. For it is easy for so many to conspire to overpower these few, that they can insure for themselves a perfectly certain victory over the others; and the hope of success and impunity will give them confidence for the attack. Therefore, to this end it is necessary for a considerable mass of men to join together, that the addition of a few to the numbers of the enemy may not be of appreciable moment in helping them to victory.

3. Among the many who unite with this end in view, there must be agreement in regard to the employment of means suited to that same end. For even many will accomplish nothing, if they are not agreed among themselves, but are divided in opinion and have different aims. Or, they may for a time agree, under the impulse of some emotion, and yet presently they will go in different directions, with the usual changeableness of man’s nature and inclinations. And although they promise by general agreement that they will employ their powers for the common defense, still, even in this way, the multitude is not sufficiently safeguarded for any length of time. But something further must be added, that those who have once consented together for peace and mutual aid in the interest of the common good, may be prevented from disagreeing again later, when their own private good seems to clash with the public.

4. But in human nature two faults in particular are found, which hinder many persons, who are their own masters and independent of each other, from long agreeing for some common end. One is the diversity of inclinations and of judgment, in distinguishing what is most useful for that end; and with this is joined in many cases dullness in discerning which proposal of several is more advantageous, and also obstinacy, in defending with tooth and nail what has once somehow caught one’s fancy. The second fault is indifference and reluctance to do the useful thing of one’s own motion, when there is no necessity, to compel the recalcitrant to do their duty willy-nilly. The former fault is counteracted by permanently uniting the wills of all; the latter, if there is constituted some authority, which can inflict upon those who resist the common advantage, some immediate and sensible punishment.

5. The wills of many men can be united in no other way, than if each subjects his will to the will of one man, or one council, so that henceforth, whatever such an one shall will concerning things necessary to the common security, must be accounted the will of all, collectively and singly.

6. Moreover, a power, such as must be feared by all, can likewise be constituted among a multitude of men in no other way than if all, collectively and singly, have bound themselves to employ their powers in the way he shall prescribe, to whom they have all resigned the direction of their powers. But when a union both of wills and powers has been brought about, then at last a multitude of men is quickened into the strongest of bodies, a state.

7. Again, for a state to coalesce regularly, two compacts and one decree are necessary. For first of all, when the many men, who are thought of as established in natural liberty, gather to form a state, they individually enter into a joint agreement, that they are ready to enter into a permanent community, and to manage the business of their safety and security by common counsel and guidance, in a word, that they mutually desire to become fellow-citizens. They must all together and singly agree to this compact; and a man who shall not do so, remains outside the state that is to be.

8. After this compact a decree must be made, stating what form of government is to be introduced. For until they have settled this point, nothing that makes for the common safety can be steadily carried out.

9. After the decree concerning the form of government, another compact is needed, when the person, or persons, upon whom the government of the nascent state is conferred are established in authority. By this compact these bind themselves to take care of the common security and safety, the rest to yield them their obedience; and by it also all subject their own wills to the will of that person or persons, and at the same time make over to him, or to them, the use and employment of their powers for the common defense. And only when this compact has been duly executed, does a perfect and regular state come into being.

10. A state thus constituted is conceived as a single person, and distinguished and differentiated from all individual men by a single name; and it has its own peculiar rights and its possessions, which neither individuals, nor many persons, nor in fact all together, can claim for themselves, except him who has the highest authority, that is, to whom the rule of the state has been entrusted. Hence a state is defined as a composite moral person, whose will, intertwined and united by virtue of the compacts of the many, is regarded as the will of all, so that it can use the powers and resources of all for the common peace and security.

11. But the will of a state, as the source of public acts, declares itself either through one man, or one council, according as the chief authority has been conferred upon him or them. Where the government of the state is in the hands of one man, the state is understood to will whatever that man shall please (it is presupposed that he is in his right mind), in regard to matters concerning the end for which states exist.

12. But where the government of a state has been conferred upon a council, consisting of a number of men, each one of whom retains his natural will, the will of the state is regularly understood to be that upon which a majority of the men composing the council have agreed; unless it has been expressly determined what fraction of the council must be in agreement, in order to represent the will of the whole body. But when two rival proposals are evenly matched, nothing will be done, but the case will remain as before. As between several rival proposals, that one will prevail which has more votes than its rivals singly; provided the number voting for it is that which, according to public enactments, can otherwise represent the will of the whole body.

13. The state being thus constituted, the central authority, according as it is one man, or one council of the few, or of all, is called a monarch, a senate, or a free people. The rest are styled subjects, or citizens, understanding the latter term in its wider sense. There are some, however, who, in a narrower sense, usually call only those citizens, who by their union and consent formed the state in the first place, or else their successors, namely, the heads of households. Moreover, citizens are either original or adopted. The former are those who were present in the beginning at the birth of the state, or their descendants. These it is the custom also to call indigenous. The adopted citizens are those who from without join themselves to a state already constituted, with the purpose of planting the seat of their fortunes there. As for those who sojourn in the state, merely to tarry for a time, though subject just so long to its authority, they are still not regarded as citizens, but are called strangers or immigrants.

14. However, what has been laid down with regard to the origin of states does not prevent us from saying with good reason, that civil authority is from God. For it is His will that the natural law be observed by all men; and in fact, after the race had multiplied, life would have come to be so barbarous, as to leave scarcely any place for the natural law, whereas its observance is greatly promoted by the establishment of states. In view of all this, and since he who orders an end is understood to order also the means necessary to the end, God too, through the medium of reason’s mandate, is understood antecedently to have enjoined upon the now numerous human race to establish states, which are animated, so to speak, by their highest authority. Their order also He expressly approves in the Holy Scriptures, and confirms its sacredness by special laws, and testifies that all this is peculiarly His care.

On the Functions of the Supreme Authority

1. What are the functions of the supreme authority, and in what ways its force exerts itself in states, can be clearly deduced from the nature and end of the latter.

2. In a state all have submitted their will to the will of the rulers, in regard to the things that make for the safety of the state, as the citizens are willing to do whatever the rulers desire. To make this possible it is necessary for the latter to make known to the former what is their will in such matters. They do this, then, not only by mandates addressed to individuals, concerning particular affairs, but also by general regulations, from which everyone may for all time be certain in regard to things to be done or left undone. By these also is usually denned what ought to be regarded as a man’s own, and what another’s; what is to be held lawful or unlawful in that state, what honorable or dishonorable; what part of his natural freedom each one retains, or how each should adapt the enjoyment of his rights to the peace of the state; and finally what each has the right to exact of the other, and in what manner. For it is of the utmost importance to the fair name and peace of a state to have all these things clearly defined.

3. Moreover, it is the chief end of states, that by mutual agreement and help men should be safe from the losses and injuries which their fellow-men can, and usually do, inflict. To obtain this from the men with whom we unite to form the same community, it is not enough for them to agree to abstain from injuries, nor for the mere will of a superior to be made known to the citizens. But there is need of the fear of punishment, and of the power to enforce it. And the punishment, if it is to suffice for our purpose, must be so regulated that violation of the law is manifestly a greater hardship than the observance; and thus that the severity of the penalty outweigh the pleasure or profit received, or hoped for, from the injury. For, of two evils, men can only choose the less. There may indeed be many men who are not restrained from doing injury by a threatened penalty, but this is to be counted among the exceptional cases, which human conditions do not allow us altogether to avoid.

4. Furthermore, controversies very often arise in regard to the right application of the laws to single acts, and, if a violation of law is claimed, many points are encountered which have to be carefully weighed. Consequently, that peace may be maintained among the citizens, it is the duty of the supreme authority to hear and decide the suits of its citizens, to examine the acts of individuals, which are charged with being contrary to law, and to pronounce and execute a sentence in conformity with the laws.

5. But, in order that those who have united to form a state, may be safe against outsiders, it is the duty of the supreme authority to assemble, unite and arm, such a number of citizens, or hire such a number of substitutes, as shall seem needful for the common defense, in view of the uncertain numbers and strength of the enemy; and again to make peace, when that shall be expedient. And the interests both of war and peace are served by treaties, that the advantages of different states may be better shared with each other, and also a stronger enemy may be repelled by united forces, or reduced to order. Hence it belongs also to the supreme authority to enter into treaties that will serve both situations, and to bind all the subjects to the observance of the same; also to turn to the account of the state all advantages flowing therefrom.

6. Again, the affairs of a large state, whether in time of war or of peace, cannot be administered by one man, without ministers and magistrates. Consequently the supreme authority must appoint men in its place to examine the controversies of citizens, to discover the intentions of neighbors, command soldiers, collect and disburse the resources of the state, and finally to look out for the interest of the state everywhere. And the possessor of supreme authority has the power and the obligation of compelling these men to do their duty, and of demanding an account of what they have done.

7. And inasmuch as the affairs of a state cannot be carried on either in war or peace without expense, it is the duty of the supreme authority to compel the citizens to meet the same. And this is done in various ways; for instance, the citizens may set aside for these needs some part of the property or income of the country they occupy; or individual citizens may contribute out of their own possessions, and at the same time give their services when necessary; or customs duties may be imposed upon wares imported or exported (the former, however, being a burden chiefly to the citizens, the latter to foreigners); or a suitable fraction may be taken from the price of commodities which are consumed.

8. Finally, since the actions of men are controlled by their several opinions, and most men are in the habit of judging things in accordance with their habit, or as they see the matter is commonly judged; and since very few can by their own ability distinguish truth and honor, it is expedient for the state that it resound with such teachings, publicly taught, as are in harmony with the proper end and need of states, and, at the same time, that the citizens’ minds be imbued with them from boyhood. Hence it is the duty of the supreme authority to appoint men to give such instruction publicly.

9. These functions of the supreme authority are, moreover, so connected by nature, that, if the form of the state is to remain regular, they must, all together and singly, belong root and branch to one man. For if one or two of them are quite lacking, the government will be defective, and unfitted to accomplish the purpose of the state. But if, on the other hand, they are divided, so that some belong root and branch to one man and the rest to another, an irregular state, lacking in coherence, necessarily results.

On the Forms of Government

1. The supreme authority usually produces different forms or government, according as it is found in the possession of a single man, of a council consisting of a few, or of one including all.

2. And the forms of government are either regular or irregular. The former are found where the supreme authority is so concentrated in a single entity, that, from a single will, it is conveyed to every part and concern of the state, without division and separation. Where this is not found, the form of government will be irregular.

3. Of the regular state there are three forms: first, when the supreme authority is in the hands of one man, and is called monarchy; second, when the supreme authority is in the hands of a council composed of selected citizens only, and is called aristocracy; third, when the supreme authority is in the hands of a council composed of all the heads of households, and is called democracy. In the first the possessor of power is called a monarch, in the second the nobles, in the third the people.

4. In all these forms the power is indeed the same. But monarchy has this conspicuous advantage over the other forms, that there deliberation and decision, that is, the actual exercise of government, do not demand the naming of times and places, but can take place anywhere and at any time, so that the monarch has always the power immediately to perform acts of government. But for a decision of nobles and people, who are not one natural person, they must come together at a fixed place and time, and there deliberate and decide in regard to public affairs. For otherwise the will of senate and people, which results from the unanimous opinions of a majority, cannot be learned.

5. But, as with other rights, so also with the supreme authority, it happens in one place to be well administered, in another ill and unwisely. Hence some states are called healthy, others unhealthy and corrupt. Yet it is unnecessary to invent special forms, or species, of state, in view of such maladies. As for the maladies, however, which afflict states, some are connected with persons, others with the state itself. Hence some are called personal defects, others constitutional.

6. Personal defects in a monarchy are these: if he who occupies the throne is devoid of the arts of reigning, and unconcerned, or insufficiently concerned, for the state, and prostitutes it to be rent asunder by the ambition or avarice of unworthy ministers; or if he is dreaded for his cruelty and proneness to anger; if, even without necessity, he delights in exposing the state to danger; if by extravagance or unwise largesses he dissipates the resources gathered to meet the expenses of the state; if he unreasonably accumulates money extorted from the citizens; if he is insulting and unjust, or has any other faults by which one gains the name of a bad prince.

7. Personal defects in an aristocracy are these: if by intrigue and base arts a way into the senate is open to wicked or incompetent men, while their betters are excluded; if the nobles are divided by factions; if they try to abuse the commons as if slaves, and to increase their private patrimony by appropriating the possessions of the state.

8. Personal defects in a democracy are these: if incompetent and turbulent men are in the habit of defending their opinions turbulently and rudely; if great talents, not dangerous to the state, are suppressed; if, because of fickleness, laws are made and unmade at random, and things approved are soon without reason disapproved; if low-bred and incompetent men are set over the administration of affairs.

9. Personal defects applying to any kind of state are: if those upon whom the administration is incumbent perform their duty negligently or basely; and if citizens, who have no distinction left them but that of obedience, champ the bit.

10. But it is a constitutional defect when the laws or institutions of a state are not adapted to the genius of the people or of the country; or where these dispose the citizens to internal discord, or to incur the righteous indignation of their neighbors; or if they make the citizens incapable of performing the functions necessary to the preservation of the state; for example, if, owing to the laws, they can only lapse into an unwarlike sloth, or be unfitted to endure peace; or if the fundamental laws are so ordered that, because of them, public affairs cannot be transacted except slowly or with difficulty.

11. To such unhealthy states many apply special names also, calling a defective monarchy tyranny, a defective government of the few, oligarchy, a defective popular government, ochlocracy. Yet it frequently happens that many men in using these terms do not express so much a malady of the state, as their own feeling or displeasure with the present regime, or the rulers. For, if a man dislikes a king or a monarchy, he commonly calls even a lawful and good prince tyrant or despot, especially when he enforces the laws strictly. So too the man who grieves at his exclusion from the senate, while thinking himself in no way inferior to the other senators, contemptuously and enviously calls them oligarchs, that is, a few persons who, though in no way superior to the rest, still exercise authority over their equals or betters, not without arrogance. Finally, haughty men, and those who dislike popular equality, seeing that in a democracy all have equal right to vote on a public question, whereas in every state the common people is the most numerous, call that an ochlocracy, that is, a state where the common herd is in power, and no privilege is left to uncommon men, such as they reckon themselves.

12. An irregular state is one in which that union, in which the essence of the community consists, is not so perfectly found, and that not by reason of a malady or defect inherent in the administration, but under such conditions that that form of government has by public law or custom been established as legitimate. But, since the varieties of aberration from a standard can be infinite, it is also impossible to establish certain definite species of irregular forms of government. The character, however, of such a form can be plainly understood from one or two examples. For instance, if in a republic the senate and people should both have an equal authority to carry on public business, neither being responsible to the other. Or, if in a kingdom the power of the nobles should so increase that henceforth they are subordinate to the king only as inferior colleagues.

13. We speak of systems of states where several perfect states are so connected by some special bond, that their several powers can be regarded as substantially the powers of one state. And systems arise chiefly in two ways; by a common king, or by a treaty.

14. A system arises through a common king, when several separate kingdoms have one and the same king as the result of an agreement, or by virtue of a marriage, an inheritance, or a victory, with the reservation, however, that they do not form one kingdom, but are separately administered by their common king according to the fundamental laws of each kingdom.

15. Another species of system appears when several neighboring states are connected by perpetual treaty in such a way that certain functions of the supreme authority, having especially to do with defense against outsiders, are to be exercised only with the consent of all, while the liberty and independence of the several states in other matters remains intact.

The Characteristics of Civil Authority

1. Every authority by which an entire state is ruled, in any form of government, has this quality, that it is supreme, that is, not dependent in its exercise upon any man as a superior, but operating according to its own judgment and discretion, so that its acts cannot be nullified by any man as a superior.

2. It follows then that the same supreme authority is anupeuqunos [anupeuthunos unaccountable], in other words, not bound so to render account to any human being, that, if that person did not approve the account, it would for that reason be liable to human penalties or constraint, proceeding as it were from a superior.

3. Connected with this is the fact that the same supreme authority is superior to human and civil laws as such, and thus not directly bound by them. For those laws are dependent upon the supreme authority in origin as well as in duration. Hence it is impossible for it to be bound by them, since it would otherwise be superior to itself. And yet, when the possessor of supreme authority has by a law enjoined certain obligations upon the citizens, and the matter applies to himself as well, it is proper, and helpful in lending authority to the law, for him to comply willingly with the same himself.

4. Lastly, the supreme authority has a special sanctity, so that not only is it wrong to resist its legitimate commands, but also the citizens must patiently bear with ifs severity, just as the peevishness of parents is borne by good children. And even when it has threatened the most cruel injuries, individuals will seek their safety in flight, or endure any amount of misfortune, rather than draw the sword against one who is indeed harsh, but still the father of his country.

5. Moreover, the supreme authority, especially in monarchies and aristocracies, is in some eases found to be absolute, in others limited. Absolute authority is said to belong to the monarch who can administer it according to his own judgment, not according to the norm of definite and permanent statutes, but as the present exigency seems to demand; and who thus provides for the safety of the state at his own discretion, according as its circumstances require.

6. But one man’s judgment is not immune from error, and his will, especially in the midst of such liberty, is easily bent in the worse direction. Hence it has seemed wise to same nations to circumscribe the exercise of his authority by certain limits. And this was done when, upon conferring the throne, they bound the king to certain laws concerning the administration of the functions of government. And whenever matters came up affecting the general interest, and incapable of being decided in advance, it was their will that these things should not be undertaken, except with the foreknowledge and consent of the people, or after their representatives had been called together in an assembly, that less occasion might be given the king to turn away from the welfare of the kingdom.

7. Finally, in kingdoms we often meet with a distinction in the method of holding the royal power — a method which is not found to be uniform in all cases. For some kings are said to hold their kingdom as a patrimony, so that, at their caprice they can divide it, alienate and transfer it to anyone they please. This is particularly the case with those who have gained a kingdom for themselves by arms, and have acquired a people of their own. But the other kings, who have been chosen by the will of the people, although they have the highest right to exercise authority, are nevertheless unable to divide the kingdom at their pleasure, to alienate or transfer it. On the contrary, they are bound to follow the fundamental law, or established practice of the nation, in handing on the kingdom to their successors; and for this reason some compare them in a way with usufructuaries.


On the Methods of Acquiring Authority, Especially Monarchical

1. Although consent of the subjects is required for the establishment of any kind of legitimate authority, this is not everywhere obtained in the same way. For sometimes a people is compelled by the violence of war to consent to the authority of the victor; and again the citizens voluntarily give their consent to the appointment of a prince.

2. The violent method of acquiring authority is usually called seizure, that is, when one, sustained by a just cause for the war, and by the favor of strength in arms, and of fortune, so far reduces a nation that they are compelled henceforth to submit to his authority. And the legitimate title to his authority is derived not only from the fact that the victor, had he wished to take advantage of the rigors of war, could have deprived the vanquished of life altogether, and so gains additional credit for clemency, in permitting them to take the lesser evil; but also from the fact that the adversary, in going to war with one whom he had himself previously injured, and to whom he had refused to give fair satisfaction, exposes all his fortunes to the hazard of war, so that already he tacitly agreed in advance to any condition which the issue of the war is to assign to him.

3. But a kingdom is acquired by the voluntary consent of a people through the medium of an election, by which the nation to be established, or already established, voluntarily designates a certain man, as being, in its judgment, capable of authority. And when he has been notified of the decree of the people, and has accepted, and the people have promised their obedience, authority is conferred upon him.

4. Election in an already constituted state, if it follows the death of a former king, is usually preceded by an interregnum. Although in this the state falls back into the imperfect form, when the citizens are bound together merely by their first compact, still the latter gains much strength from the name of the country and the common feeling for it, and the fact that the property of most of the citizens is attached to that place. And these facts constrain the good citizens to keep the peace with one another voluntarily for a time, and to endeavor all the more promptly to restore the full authority. But it is of great assistance, in avoiding the disadvantages apt to arise from an interregnum, if men are named in advance, in whose hands shall rest the administration of the state during a vacancy of the throne.

5. But in some countries, on the death of each monarch, a new election is held. In others the kingdom is conferred upon another man, with the understanding that it is to pass by succession to others without the intervention of a new election. Such right of succession is established either by the will of the king himself, or by that of the people.

6. Kings who hold their kingdom as a patrimony, can dispose as they please in regard to the succession; and their disposition will be respected, just as is the last will of private individuals, especially in the case of one who founded or acquired the kingdom. In so doing it will be permitted, if one so choose, to divide the kingdom among several children, daughters even being not excluded; or even to name as heir an adopted son, or a natural son, or one who is connected with the king by no tie of blood at all.

7. When, however, a king of this sort has made no special disposition in regard to the succession, it is presumed in the first place, that he did not by any means wish his kingdom to expire with himself, but that, on account of the ordinary human affection, it should devolve in any case upon his children. It is further assumed that he wished the monarchical form to be maintained after his death, as the form he had himself approved by his example; also that the kingdom should remain undivided, since division involves the sundering both of the kingdom and of the royal family; further, that, among those of the same degree, the male should be preferred to the female, the first-born to those born later; and finally that, if children are lacking, the kingdom should devolve upon the nearest blood relation.

8. But in such kingdoms as were in the beginning established by the free will of the people, the order of succession depends originally upon the will of that same people. And if they, in conferring upon the king his authority, have also given him the right to appoint his successor, the man of his choice will succeed him. Where this has not been done, the people are understood to have reserved that right to themselves. And if the people have been pleased to confer a kingdom with hereditary rights upon an elected king, they have either made the order of succession like that of ordinary inheritances, so far as the welfare of the kingdom permits, or have modified it in some particular way.

9. When the people have simply bidden the king to hold the kingdom with hereditary rights, and have added no particulars, it was indeed their will that the kingdom should devolve after the manner of private inheritances, but not without some modification. For the welfare of states requires that succession to a throne should differ from private inheritances substantially in these respects: (1) the kingdom must be indivisible; (2) the succession should be confined to those who are descended from the first king; (3) only those born in accordance with the laws of the country shall succeed, excluding not only bastards, but also adoptive heirs; (4) in the same degree, males shall be preferred to females, though older; (5) the successor should recognize the fact that the kingdom is a gift of the people, not of his predecessor.

10. But as inextricable controversies could easily arise, as to which of two members of the reigning family was most nearly related to the late king, when they were far removed from the founder of the house, for this reason many nations have introduced the lineal succession. It consists in this, that each draw, as it were, a perpendicular line, following his descent from the founder of the reigning family; and that members of the family be called to the throne, according as their line takes precedence over the others. And there is no passing from one line to another, so long as anyone of the former line survives, in spite of the fact that there may be someone who is very closely related, and in a nearer degree, to the deceased king.

11. The commonest forms of lineal succession are the cognate and the agnate. In the former women are not excluded, but postponed to men in the same line, with a return to them, however, if there is a failure of males of a preferred or equal degree. The latter form, on the other hand, forever excludes women and their children, even males.

12. In case a controversy should arise in regard to the succession in a patrimonial kingdom, it will be best to take the matter before arbitrators among the royal family. If the succession has been determined by will of the people, a declaration of the people will remove the uncertainty.

On the Duty of Rulers

1. What precepts make up the duty of rulers, is clearly deduced from the character and end of states, and from a consideration of the functions of the supreme authority.

2. Here it is above all required that rulers themselves diligently learn all that tends to a complete knowledge of that duty; since no one can perform creditably what he has not learned thoroughly. Hence the prince must put aside those pursuits which do not make for this end. He must restrict pleasures, delights and empty employments, in so far as they interfere with that end. Accordingly he must also admit to his intimacy men of sense, skilled in affairs; while flatterers, triflers, and those who have learned only useless accomplishments, must be kept at a distance. But, in order to know how rightly to apply the general precepts of statecraft, he must himself learn as intimately as possible the condition of his state, and the character of the subject people. Furthermore, he must devote himself especially to those virtues whose practice is most conspicuous in so arduous an office, and adapt his habits to the dignity of such eminence.

3. The general law of rulers is this: the welfare of the people is the supreme law. For authority was conferred upon them, with the intention that the end for which states have been established, should thereby be insured. Hence they ought also to believe that nothing is to their private advantage, if it is not also to the advantage of the state.

4. For the internal tranquillity of states it is necessary that the wills of the citizens be controlled and guided, as is expedient for the welfare of the state. Hence it is the duty of rulers not only to prescribe laws suited to that end, but also so to confirm the public education, that the citizens shall accept legal prescription not so much from fear of punishment as by habit. It contributes to this end also, to take care that Christian doctrine, in its pure and unmixed form, shall nourish in the state, and that in the public schools such teachings be imparted, as are in conformity with the purpose of states.

5. It is expedient for the same purpose to have plain and clear laws in writing, concerning matters of the most common occurrence among the citizens. There must not, however, be more provisions of the civil laws than conduce to the good of the state and its citizens. For, in regard to what they ought to do, or leave undone, men more usually deliberate in the light of natural reason than by knowledge of the law. Hence, if there are more laws than can be readily retained in memory, and they forbid things which reason does not in itself prohibit, in ignorance and without any evil intent, people must necessarily stumble upon the laws, as upon a snare. Thus an unnecessary inconvenience is caused the citizens by the rulers, which is contrary to the purpose of states.

6. But since it is in vain that laws are passed, if the rulers allow them to be violated with impunity, it is accordingly their duty to have charge of the execution of the same; to see to it that every man gets his rights without tedious delays, evasions and vexations; to inflict penalties according to the gravity of each offense, and the intention and ill-will of the transgressor; and not to bestow pardon without a sufficient reason; since it is unjust and most productive of irritation among the citizens, other things being equal, to treat differently those who have deserved the same treatment.

7. Again, just as nothing must be forbidden under a penalty, if not to the advantage of the state, penalties too must be regulated, so that they are in proportion to that object, and also that the citizens may not suffer more than the state gains. For the rest, if penalties are to accomplish their aim, it is clear that they must be made just so serious, that their seventy outweighs the gain and pleasure which can be derived from the act forbidden by the law.

8. Moreover, inasmuch as the purpose with which men united to form a community was to insure security from injuries inflicted by others, it is the duty of rulers to prevent citizens from injuring each other, and this with a severity proportioned to the increased opportunities for injury afforded by their living constantly together. And the differences of class and rank must not go so far that the stronger can at their pleasure insult the weaker. Moreover, it conflicts with the aim of the supreme authority, if citizens avenge by private violence the wrongs they fancy have been done them.

9. Furthermore, although a single prince is not equal to the task of carrying on directly all the business of a large state, so that of necessity ministers must be called to share his cares, nevertheless, just as the latter borrow all their authority from the ruler, so the responsibility for their doings, both good and bad, still remains his in the end. For this reason, and because affairs are conducted well or ill, according to the character of the ministers, rulers are bound to employ in the service of the state honest and capable men, and from time to time to inquire into their acts, and finally to reward or punish them, according as they are found to have done their part, in order that the rest may understand that public business is to be conducted with no less fidelity and diligence than private. So also, in view of the fact that wicked men are lured to the commission of crime by hope of impunity, which they find easiest of attainment where judges are open to corruption, it is the duty of rulers severely to punish such judges, as promoters of crimes, by which the security of the citizens is destroyed. Moreover, though the ordinary conduct of affairs is to be intrusted to ministers, the rulers will nevertheless never refuse to lend an ear patiently to the complaints and desires of the citizens.

10. Since citizens are not bound to bear tributes and other burdens, except in so far as these are necessary to meet the expenses of the state in peace and war, it will therefore be the duty of the rulers in this connection not to exact more than the necessities, or conspicuous advantage, of the state require, and, so far as possible, to regulate the burdens so that the citizens shall be injured as little as possible by them. Also the burdens must be distributed in due proportion, and no immunities conceded to some citizens, to the loss and oppression of the rest. And the revenue yielded must be spent for the needs of the state, not dissipated in luxury, largesses, superfluous display, or vanities. Finally, care must be taken that appropriations correspond to income, and in case the latter is insufficient, the remedy must be found in economy, the unnecessary expenses being cut down.

11. Rulers are not indeed bound to support their subjects, except that charity commands a special care of those who, because of some undeserved misfortune, are unable to sustain themselves. However, since the funds necessary to the maintenance of the state are to be gathered from the property of the citizens, and the strength of a state consists also in the courage and the riches of its citizens, rulers must, therefore, see to it, so far as in them lies, that the property of the citizens increases. It makes for this end if the citizens are encouraged to get the largest possible return from the land and its waters; to apply their industry to the materials produced in their country, and not to purchase from others the labor they can conveniently perform themselves. And this is brought about, if the mechanic arts are fostered. It is of the greatest importance also to cultivate trade, and, in maritime countries, navigation. And not only must indolence be proscribed, but the citizens must also be recalled to economy by sumptuary laws, forbidding superfluous expenses, especially those which transfer the wealth of the citizens to foreigners. However, the example of the rulers is more effectual in this matter than any laws.

12. Moreover, the soundness and internal strength of states is brought about by the union of the citizens, and the more carefully the latter is maintained, the greater is the effectiveness with which the power of the authority is distributed through the whole body of the state Therefore, it is incumbent upon rulers to see to it that factions do not arise in the state; that some citizens are not linked together by special compacts; and that they are not all, or a part of them, on whatever pretext, sacred or profane, more dependent on any other man, whether within or without the state, than upon their lawful prince; and that they do not imagine that more protection for themselves is found in any one than in him.

13. Finally, since the international condition of states is a peace that is quite untrustworthy, it is the duty of rulers to take care that the courage of the citizens and their skill in arms are fostered, and all the things needed to repel an attack made ready in time — fortified places, arms, soldiers, and money, the sinews of action. But, even assuming a just cause for war, no one is to be deliberately attacked, unless a very safe opportunity favors, and the circumstances of the state easily permit. To the same end, the plans and undertakings of neighbors must be carefully ascertained and watched; and friendships and alliances must be contracted with prudence.

On Civil Laws in Particular

1. It remains for us to consider also the functions of the supreme authority in particular and the points that are to be especially observed in regard to them. In this the first place belongs to the civil laws, which are the decrees of the civil ruler, by which it is enjoined upon the citizens what they ought to do in the civil life, and what they should leave undone.

2. Now they are called civil laws chiefly for two reasons, either as regards their authority or their origin. In the former sense, the term civil laws can be applied to all laws according to which justice is administered in the civil court, from whatever source they draw their origin. In the latter sense, we call those laws civil, which proceeded in the first place from the will of the supreme civil authority, and have to do with those matters which have not been defined by the natural and divine law, but make for the particular advantage of individual states.

3. But the civil laws should ordain nothing which is not for the good of the state. And so it is of great importance to the order and tranquillity of the civil life, that the natural law should be well observed by the citizens. Hence it is incumbent upon the rulers to give to that law the force and effectiveness of civil law. For in most men we find such depravity, that neither the evident utility of the natural law, nor the fear of the Divinity, is enough to restrain it. Therefore, by bestowing upon natural laws the force of civil laws, the supreme authority has the power to cause the uprightness of the civil life to be somehow maintained.

4. And the force of the civil laws consists in this, that a penal sanction is added to the precepts in regard to doing or leaving undone; in other words, that there is a definition of the penalty which, in the court of the state will await the man who has failed to do what was to be done or has done what should have been left undone. Natural laws, lacking this penal sanction, are violated with impunity in the human court, punishment being reserved, however, by the divine tribunal.

5. Furthermore, because the character of the civil life does not permit that each man exact by his own violence whatever he thinks is due him, for that reason the civil laws at this point too come to the aid of the natural law, in affording an action for obligations under that law, by virtue of which action the obligations can be enforced in a civil court, with the assistance of a magistrate. Whatever has failed to be thus confirmed by civil laws, cannot be exacted against the will of the other party, but depends solely upon the honor and conscience of the debtors. It is the custom, however, of the civil laws to furnish an action particularly for those obligations which have been contracted between men by express agreements. For the others, resting upon some undefined duty of the natural law, they have generally refused an action, that the better men might have opportunity to practice their virtue, and that they might gain high praise, if they appeared to have done well without compulsion. Often, too, the matter did not seem so important that the judge should be troubled about it.

6. Again, since many precepts of the natural law are indefinite, their application being left to the discretion of every man, the civil law, with a view to the order and tranquillity of the state, is accustomed to assign to such actions their time, manner, place, and persons, also to determine other circumstances, and at times to encourage men by rewards to undertake them. Also, if there is any obscurity in the natural law, it belongs to the civil law to explain it. And this explanation the citizens are bound to follow in practice, in spite of the fact that their own private opinion may perhaps take a different direction.

7. Moreover, since by the natural law, many acts have been left to the judgment and discretion of the individual, but in a state peace and public order require that these acts be regulated in a uniform manner, the civil laws for that reason usually prescribe for acts and matters of this kind a certain form, as is the case in last wills, in contracts, and many others. For the same reason also civil laws are in the habit of circumscribing the exercise of those rights which a man has naturally.

8. To the civil laws, in so far as they do not openly conflict with the divine law, the citizens owe obedience, not from mere dread of punishment, but from an intrinsic obligation, confirmed by the natural law itself; for among its precepts is this also, that one must obey lawful rulers.

9. Finally, citizens are bound to obey particular commands of their rulers, no less than the general laws. In this, however, we must notice whether the ruler commands the citizen to do something, as an act belonging to the citizen, or bids him undertake the mere execution of an act, which must belong properly to the ruler. For in the latter case, necessity being imposed by the ruler, a citizen can without sin on his own part do something whereby the ruler himself commits a sin. But a citizen cannot rightly commit in his own name a sin repugnant to the natural and divine law. Hence it follows that, if a citizen, by command of the ruler, bears arms, even in unjust war, he does not sin. But, if a man, by command of the same ruler, condemns an innocent person, bears false witness, or slanders another, he certainly does sin. For a citizen serves as a soldier in the name of the state, but judges, testifies, and accuses in his own name.

On the Power of Life and Death

1. Power over the lives of the citizens belongs to the supreme civil authority in two ways, indirectly and directly. The former is for the defense of the state, the latter to check crimes.

2. For, since the violence of foreigners must often be repelled by violence, or our rights must be obtained from them by force, the supreme authority certainly may compel its citizens to carry this out, in which case there is no intention that the citizens shall lose their lives, but they are merely exposed to the danger of death. And that in such dangers the citizens may be able to conduct themselves with energy and skill, the supreme authority is bound to train and prepare them. Moreover, no citizen may render himself incapable of military service, from fear of that danger. And the enrolled soldier will by no means desert his assigned post out of fear, but rather will fight to the last breath; unless he knows it to be the will of the ruler, that he preserve his life, rather than the position; or else, in case the place is not worth so much to the state as the lives of those citizens.

3. On the other hand, the supreme authority can take the lives of citizens directly on account of flagrant crimes, and as a punishment, which, however, falls upon the man’s other possessions also. And at this point we must make some general explanations of the nature of punishment.

4. Punishment then is an evil that one suffers, inflicted for an evil that one has caused; in other words, a vexatious evil imposed upon a man by authority and forcibly, in view of a previous offense. For although certain acts may often be imposed upon a man as a punishment, the point, however, is that they are laborious and vexatious to the doer, and that, while he is acting, a certain suffering is thereby imposed upon him. Moreover, punishment must be inflicted upon unwilling subjects, because otherwise it would not accomplish its purpose, which is to deter men from wrongdoing by its severity. And this effect does not belong to the things that one willingly accepts. Finally the character of a punishment does not attach to evils which come to one in war or battle, while resisting, since they are not ordered by authority; nor to those which a man suffers unjustly, since they do not come to one in view of a previous offense.

5. But although natural liberty has this effect, that one who is in that state and has no superior but God, is liable to the divine punishments only, with the introduction of authority among men, the safety of communities has assigned to rulers this further power, that they themselves restrain the wickedness of their subjects by executing punishment, so that the larger number may be able to live in mutual security.

6. Again, although there appears to be no injustice in letting the evil-doer suffer evil, nevertheless in human punishments we have not merely to consider what evil has been committed, but also what advantage can be derived from the punishment. Thus also punishments are by no means to be inflicted, with the intent to let the injured party gloat, and take pleasure in the pain and punishment of him who did the injury. For this pleasure is dearly inhuman and contrary to sociability.

7. The real purpose of human punishments is the prevention of wrongs and injuries; and this is achieved, either if the wrongdoer is reformed, or others by his example, so that they do not desire to do wrong in the future, or else if the wrong-doer is so restrained that he cannot henceforth injure anyone. Which can also be stated in these terms: in punishment regard is had to the interest either of the wrong-doer, or of him who would have gained, if the wrong had not been done, and who has thus been injured by the wrong deed; or for the interest of all without distinction.

8. In the first place, then, in inflicting punishment regard is had to the interest of the wrong-doer, when his spirit is reformed by the pain of punishment, and the desire to do wrong quenched by the same means. This kind of punishment is in many states left to heads of households, to exercise over their domestics. But one is evidently not permitted to go so far as a death-penalty, for that one object, since the dead man cannot be reformed.

9. And then there is involved in punishment the interest of the injured party, that for the future he may suffer nothing similar from the same man or others. The former object is attained if the wrong-doer is destroyed, or else, if, without prejudice to his life, the power to injure is taken from him; or if by his punishment he learns not to offend. The latter object may be attained by open and public punishment, with ceremony suited to inspire terror in others.

10. Finally, in punishment the interest of all is sought, when the aim, namely, is to prevent the man who has injured one, from going on to injure others, or that, frightened by his example, the rest may abstain from similar crimes. And this is attained in the same way as above.

11. If, then, we proceed to consider both the ends of punishment and the condition of the human race, it is evident that not all sins are of such a character that it is at all proper for them to be punished in a human court. Hence we exempt from human punishment acts that are merely inward, that is, the pleasurable thought of some sin, greed, desire, intention without effect, even if they should come to the knowledge of others by a subsequent confession. For, as harm comes to no one from such an inward motion, it is not to the advantage of anyone either, that a man be punished for the same.

12. It would also be excessively harsh to subject to human punishments those very small lapses which, in the present state of human nature, it is not given us to escape, no matter how great the attention one endeavors to bestow upon them.

13. Moreover, many acts are unnoticed by human laws, on account of the peace of the state, or for other reasons; for example, in case a good act will be more conspicuous, if it does not seem to have been undertaken with any regard to a penalty; or where it is not worth while to trouble the judges, or if the question is most difficult to decide, or a really inveterate evil cannot be removed without a convulsion in the state.

14. Finally, it is necessary to exempt also from human punishment the vices of mind, resulting from the common corruption of mankind, and so numerous that there would be no subjects left, if you should wish to punish those faults with severe penalties, so long as they have not broken out in wicked acts; for example, there are ambition, avarice, inhumanity, ingratitude, hypocrisy, envy, arrogance, anger, animosity and the like.

15. However, if some offenses worthy of human punishment have been committed, it is not always necessary for a punishment to be exacted. It sometimes happens, in fact, that pardon for their offense can properly be given to the culprits. This, however, should not be done without serious reasons. Among such are these: if the ends of punishment in a certain case do not seem necessary, or if pardon is likely to produce a greater advantage than is punishment, or if the ends of punishment can be better attained in some other way. Also, in case the guilty party alleges, as worthy of special reward, his own great services to the state, or those of his relatives; or if he is recommended by some other distinction, as. for instance, by a rare art; or if it is hoped that the offense will be wiped out by noble deeds; especially where ignorance in some form, though not altogether without blame, has been involved, or if the particular reason for the law has ceased to apply to the act in question. Often, too, pardon must be granted on account of the number of the guilty, that the state may not be depopulated by punishments.

16. But the seriousness of offenses is estimated from the object upon which it was committed, according as that is accounted noble and valuable; also from the effect, according as a great loss or a small one results for the state; and finally from the wickedness of the intent, which is gathered from various indications; for example, if the man could easily have resisted the reasons by which he was impelled to sin; or if, in addition to the general, there was also some particular, reason which should have deterred him from wrongdoing; or where peculiar circumstances aggravate the deed; or if a man has a disposition capable of resisting the wiles of wicked men. Moreover, we usually consider whether a man was the first to do wrong, or seduced by the example of others, whether once, or oftener, and after advice has been spent in vain.

17. The kind of punishment, however, and the precise amount to be inflicted for each offense, it rests with the supreme civil authority to define. And it should in this matter have only the advantage of the state before its eyes. Hence it is possible and a frequent occurrence for the same penalty to be imposed for two unequal offenses. For the equality which judges are instructed to observe with regard to defendants, is understood to concern defendants who have committed the same kind of offense, in so far as an offense punished in the one case ought not, without the weightiest reason, to be condoned in the other. But although man ought, so far as possible, to be more merciful toward man, sometimes, however, the welfare of the state and security of the citizens require that penalties be aggravated; for example, if there is need of a more heroic remedy against increasing vices; or when an offense is most destructive to the state. But in general, with regard to the scale of penalties, care must be taken that they be sufficient to repress that desire by which men are carried into the crime for which the penalties are established. Also severer penalties must not be exacted than have been defined by law, unless very extreme circumstances aggravate the deed.

18. But the same penalty does not affect all equally, and thus does not produce the same effect upon all in repressing the desire to do wrong. Therefore, both in the general assignment of penalties, and in the application of them to individuals, regard must be had to the person of the delinquent himself, and those qualities of his which may increase or dimmish his sense of punishment; for example, age, sex, rank, wealth, strength, and the like.

19. Again, just as no one can have a penalty properly so-called visited upon him in a human court for another man’s offense, so, in case wrong has been done by some society, he who did not consent thereto will not be bound thereby. And hence from such dissenter nothing can be taken away which he did not acquire on account and by virtue of the society. Yet in general when a society is punished, even the innocent usually suffer loss. Moreover, the offenses of societies expire when no one survives any longer of those by whose consent and cooperation the misdeed was committed.

20. It happens frequently, however, that the crime of one man furnishes an occasion whereby a disadvantage comes to others, or a benefit previously hoped for is intercepted. Thus, in case the property of parents is confiscated on account of a crime, even innocent children are reduced to poverty. And when the defendant flees, his security is compelled to pay the fine, not because of guilt, but because he voluntarily pledged himself in such a contingency.

On Reputation

1. Reputation in general is the value of persons in the common life, according to which value they are capable of being placed on an equality with other persons, or compared with them, and either preferred or postponed to them.

2. It is divided into the simple and the intensive. Both are considered with reference to those who live in natural liberty, or to those who live together in the civil state.

3. Simple reputation, as between those who live in natural liberty, consists principally in this, that a man show himself, and be regarded as one with whom men can deal as with a good man, and as one who is ready to live with others according to the precept of the natural law.

4. And this reputation is maintained intact, so long as a man has not yet violated the natural law as regards others by some wicked or flagrant deed, knowingly and purposely, with malice aforethought. Hence also, one is naturally accounted a good man until the contrary is proved.

5. Reputation of this kind is diminished by flagrant deeds maliciously perpetrated against the natural law, — deeds which cause the need of greater circumspection, if one is to deal with such a person. This stain, however, can be wiped out, by making a voluntary reparation of the damage caused, and by giving proof of serious repentance.

6. It is likewise utterly destroyed by a manner and mode of life aimed directly at the promiscuous hurting of others, and at making profit out of the evident injury of others. So long as men of this type are unwilling to come to their senses, they can be treated as common enemies by all whom their malice can in any way touch. Yet these men can recover their reputation, when they have refunded the damages, or obtained pardon, and giving up a vicious mode of life, have entered upon one that is honorable.

7. Simple reputation, in the case of those who live in states, means that a man has not been declared a vicious member of the state, in accordance with its laws and customs, and that he is considered of some account.

8. It is lost in a state, cither because of one’s condition alone, or on account of crime. The former kind of loss takes place in two ways: when that condition naturally involves no shame, or else when it is connected with vice, or at least that assumption. The first of these occurs in some states, where slaves are of no account; the second obtains with regard to panders, harlots, and the like, who indeed enjoy the common defense, so long as they are officially tolerated in the state, but are to be excluded from the company of honorable men. This also happens to some who are occupied with things loathsome or vile, though not naturally vicious.

9. By crime, on the other hand, reputation is clearly lost, when according to the civil laws, and for a certain crime, a man is branded with infamy, and this whether he is further punished with death, and his memory thus branded, or he is expelled from the state, or retained in the state, as an infamous and rotten member.

10. It is plain, moreover, that simple reputation, or natural honor, cannot be taken away from a man by the mere will of the rulers. For this in no way makes for the advantage of the state, and so can by no means be understood as a power bestowed upon the rulers. Thus also a man who executes the orders of the state, in the capacity of a mere minister, cannot, it seems, contract real infamy.

11. Intensive reputation is that by virtue of which persons, otherwise equal as regards the simple reputation, are preferred to one another, according as one, more than another, possesses those qualities by which others are prompted to render honor. And honor is, properly, the expression of our judgment of another’s superiority.

12. This intensive reputation can be considered with reference to those who live in natural liberty, or to the citizens of the same state. We must next weigh its bases, and in fact according as these produce a mere fitness to expect honor from others, or a right strictly so-called, by which the honor can be claimed from others as one’s due.

13. The bases of intensive reputation in general are all those things which involve conspicuous perfection and superiority, or are thought to prove the same, the effect of this superiority being in harmony with the purpose of the natural law, or of states. Examples are perspicacity of mind, and the ability to learn various sciences and arts, a keen judgment in administering affairs, a mind strong and unshaken from without, superior to temptations and alarms, eloquence, beauty and dexterity of body, the blessings of fortune, and above all remarkable achievements.

14. All of these, however, produce merely an imperfect right, that is, a fitness to receive honor and respect from others. Hence, if a man refuses it to others, in spite even of their high merits, he does no injury, but is merely in bad repute for his churlishness and rudeness. But a perfect right to receive honor from another, or the outward signs of it, is derived either from the authority which one has over the other, or from an agreement entered into with him on this point, or from a law made or approved by their common master.

15. But as for princes and whole nations, they usually defend their preeminence and precedence, by alleging chiefly the antiquity of the kingdom and the family, the size and wealth of their subject territory, and their power, also the nature of the power by which the king possesses the authority in his kingdom, and the splendor of his title. All of these, however, do not in themselves produce a perfect right to precedence over other kings and nations, unless this has been acquired by agreement or concession on their part.

16. Among citizens, on the other hand, it is the duty of the ruler to designate grades of dignity. In this, however, he rightly regards each man’s superiority and fitness to serve the state. And whatever rank he has assigned to a citizen, the latter has a right to defend against his fellow-citizens, and he is no less bound to rest content with it himself.

On the Power of the Supreme Authority over Property in the State

1. Where citizens have had their property bestowed upon them by the rulers, it is for the latter to deride what rights the former have over the property. In the same way, such property as citizens have acquired completely by their own industry, or in some other way, is subject to three principal rights, resulting from the nature of states, necessary for their purpose, and belonging to the rulers.

2. The first right consists in this, that the rulers can prescribe laws for the citizens, with regard to the use of their property, in conformity with the interest of the state, or concerning the amount and quality of their possessions, as also the method of transfer to others, and other matters of the kind.

3. The second right consists in this, that the ruler can take away a small part of their property, under the name of tribute or taxes. For, since the life and fortunes of the citizens must be defended by the state, the citizens must contribute the means from which the expenses necessary to that end may be met. Hence he is very shameless who wishes to enjoy the protection and advantage of the state, and yet to contribute no services or property to its maintenance. And yet in this matter wise rulers with good reason adapt themselves to the querulous nature of the crowd, and endeavor to bring about the collection of taxes as imperceptibly as possible, especially by observing equality, and by exacting moderate and assorted taxes, rather than large and uniform ones.

4. The third right is that of eminent domain, consisting in this, that, when urgent necessity of the state demands, any subject’s property which the immediate situation especially requires, can be seized and applied to public purposes, even if the property far exceeds the proportion which he was bound to contribute to the expenses of the state. But for this reason the excess ought to be refunded to that citizen from the public treasury, or by contribution of the other citizens, so far as possible.

5. Besides these three rights, there are in many states special public properties, which are called the patrimony of the state or kingdom. And in some places this is divided into patrimony of the prince and that of the state, or the royal [fiscus] and the state treasury [aerarium]. The former of these is designed to support the king and his household, the latter for the public needs of the kingdom. Of the first the king has the usufruct, and can at his own discretion dispose of the income derived from it. For the second he performs the part of an administrator, and is obliged to apply it to the uses for which it was designed. He cannot alienate either, except with the consent of the people.

6. Much less, however, can he who does not have a kingdom as his patrimony, alienate the whole kingdom, or a part of it, unless the consent of the people is given, and in the latter case the separate consent of the part to be alienated. So also when the situation is reversed, a member cannot break itself off from the state against the will of the latter, unless by the might of a foreign foe it is reduced to such a condition that it cannot be saved in any other way.

On War and Peace

1. It accords most closely with the natural law, if men are at peace with one another, voluntarily performing their obligations; in fact peace itself is a state peculiar to man, as distinguished from the brutes. Yet at times, even for man himself, war is permitted, and sometimes necessary; when, namely, owing to another’s malice, we are unable to preserve our possessions, or gain our rights, without employing force. Even in this case. however, prudence and humanity persuade us not to resort to arms, if more harm than good will result for us and ours from the avenging of our wrongs.

2. The just causes for which war can be undertaken reduce themselves to these: that we may preserve and protect ourselves and our belongings against the unjust invasion of others; or that we may assert our claim to what is owed us by others who refuse to pay; or to obtain reparations for an injury already inflicted, or a guarantee for the future. A war waged for the first cause is called defensive, if for the other causes, offensive.

3. And yet when one thinks he has been injured, there must be no instant recourse to arms, especially when there is still some doubt about the right or the fact. But we must try to see whether the matter can be settled in a friendly way, for example, by arranging a conference of the parties, by appealing to arbitrators, or intrusting the case to the decision of the lot. These methods are especially to be tried by the nation making the demand: since an advantage certainly attends possession with some sort of tide.

4. Moreover, the unjust causes of war are either openly such, or they admit some color [of a pretext], however pale. The former are referred chiefly to two heads, avarice and ambition, the passion, that is, for possession, or for rule. The latter are various, as, for example, fear prompted by the wealth and power of a neighbor, an advantage not based upon right, the desire to gain better lands, the refusal of what we have earned by some good quality as such, the stupidity of the possessor, the desire of extinguishing a right lawfully acquired by the other party, if it seems rather irksome to us, and so forth.

5. Again, the most appropriate mode of action in war is force and terror; but it is nevertheless permitted to use trickery and ruses against an enemy, provided there as no breach of faith. Hence it is permissible to deceive an enemy by a pretended speech, or fictitious reports, but not at all by promises or agreements.

6. As for the force employed in war against the enemy and his property, we should distinguish between what an enemy can suffer without injustice, and what we cannot bring to bear against him, without violating humanity. For he who has declared himself our enemy, inasmuch as this involves the express threat to bring the worst of evils upon us, by that very act, so far as in him lies, gives us a free hand against himself, without restriction. Humanity, however, commands that, so far as the clash of arms permits, we do not inflict more mischief upon the enemy than defense, or the vindication of our right, and security for the future, require.

7. War is classified as formal and informal. For the first it is required that it be waged on both sides by authority of him who has the supreme power, and that a declaration shall have preceded. A war not declared, or waged against private citizens, is informal. To this class belong also civil wars.

8. The right of making war in a state belongs to him who has the supreme authority. Hence, to engage in war without permission given by the ruler, exceeds the authority of a magistrate, even in case he infers that the supreme power, if consulted, would decide to wage war here and now. But all who are placed with military forces in charge of some province or fortified place are understood, from the purpose of their office, to be also instructed to repel by any means an attacking enemy from the places intrusted to them. They may not, however, rashly transfer the war to hostile territory.

9. But whereas one living in natural liberty can be attacked in war only for injuries which he has himself inflicted, in a state the ruler is often attacked by war, or the whole state is attacked, even though he was not responsible for the injury. But if this is to be rightly done, the injury must have been in some way transferred to him. And rulers of states share in the injuries done by their former citizens, or by those who have recently taken refuge among them, if the rulers have suffered the acts, or afford shelter. Suffering an act becomes culpable, only in case one knows the wrong is being done, and has the power to prevent. But the ruler of a state is assumed to know what is openly and frequently done by the citizens. Ability to prevent is always presumed, unless the lack of it is plainly proved. But the right to make war upon a ruler who receives and protects a guilty person fleeing to him, merely to escape punishment, results rather from a particular agreement between neighbors and allies, than from some common obligation, except in case the fugitive while he is among us plans acts of hostility against the state which he has abandoned.

10. There is also an established custom among nations that in payment for a debt incurred by the state, or in which the state has involved itself by maladministration of justice, the property of individual citizens is held, to this extent, that foreigners to whom the debt is owed, can lay hands upon such property, if found among them. However, a restitution to the citizens who have had their property taken away in this manner, should be arranged by those who contracted the debt. Such executions are usually called reprisals, and they are frequently the prelude to wars.

11. War can be waged not only by anyone for himself, but also on behalf of another. But for this to be rightly done, requires a just cause on the part of him for whom the war is waged, and on the part of his helper a satisfactory reason, in view of which, and for the other’s defense, he can carry on hostilities against a third. But among those for whom we not only can, but also must, take up arms, there are in the first place our subjects, not only collectively, but also singly; provided it is clear that the state will not be involved in greater evils in consequence. Next come allies, if this was included in the treaty with them. These, however, yield precedence to our citizens, when they have need of help at the same time. And, furthermore, a just cause of war is presupposed in their case, and a certain prudence in undertaking the war. Then come friends, even though no express promise has been made to them. Finally, when there is no other reason, common descent alone may be a sufficient ground for our going to the defense of one who is unjustly oppressed, and implores our aid, if we can conveniently do so.

12. License in war goes so far that, although in killing, devastating and plundering a man may have overstepped the limits of humanity, still in the general opinion of nations he is not regarded as infamous, and a man whom good men should avoid. Nevertheless the more civilized nations despise certain methods of injuring an enemy; for example, using poison, or bribing the citizens and soldiers of another state to slay their rulers.

13. Movable property is understood to have been captured in war only after it is safe from the enemy’s pursuit; immovable property, when we hold it under such circumstances that we have the power to keep the enemy at a distance. And yet, in order to extinguish completely the former owner’s right to recover such property, it is necessary for him to renounce all claim by a subsequent agreement. For otherwise, what was acquired by force, may be taken away again by force. But just as soldiers fight under authority of the state, so what they take from the enemy, as properly acquired for the state, not for the soldiers. Yet it is everywhere customary to leave movable property, especially of small value, to the soldiers who have taken it; and this is connived at, or it takes the place of a reward, or sometimes of pay; or it is to tempt such as may be willing to sell their blood when there is no compulsion. But when captured property is again wrested from the enemy, the immovable things return to their former owners, and the movable should do likewise. But among most nations these too are given up to the soldiers as booty.

14. Finally, authority also is acquired in war, as well over individuals as over whole peoples that have been conquered. But to make this legitimate, and binding upon the consciences of the subjects, the vanquished must have given their word to the victors, and the latter must have laid aside their hostile attitude and temper towards the former.

15. Warlike acts are suspended by truces, that is, a convention by which, for a time, although the state of war and the quarrel out of which the war arose still remain, they must abstain from warlike acts of offense; and when the truce has expired, unless peace has meanwhile been restored, they return to hostilities without a fresh declaration.

16. Truces can, moreover, be divided into two kinds: one when the armies come to a halt on their expedition, and warlike preparations are continued by both sides, — a truce which is generally made for a short time only; the other, under which warlike preparations are terminated on both sides. These can be entered into for a considerable length of time, and usually are; they also have the appearance of a complete peace, and sometimes are called by that name, with the addition of a definite time. For otherwise, as a rule, every peace is perpetual, that is, it permanently extinguishes the controversies on account of which the war was begun. But the so-called tacit truces involve no obligation; in that case the parties both remain quiet at their discretion, and can proceed again to warlike acts, whenever they please.

17. But war ceases entirely when peace has been ratified by the rulers of both sides. Although it rests with the parties to the negotiations to define the terms and conditions of peace, they must be faithfully executed at the time agreed upon, and must be observed. In confirmation thereof, besides the customary oath, and giving of hostages, others, especially those present at the negotiations, often guarantee the observance of the peace, promising their aid, if one party is injured by the other in defiance of the terms of peace.

On Alliances

1. Times of war and times of peace are equally served by alliances, or agreements entered into by the rulers on both sides. As regards their subject matter, they may be divided into those which are made with a view to the mutual performance of some duty already enjoined by the natural law; and those which add something over and above the natural law, or at least give a certain precision to those duties, in case they seem indefinite.

2. To the former class belong alliances in which the agreement concerns the mere exercise of simple humanity, or abstention from injury. Here too belong those by which a mere friendship is confirmed, without the performance of anything in particular; or those by which the right of hospitality or trade is sanctioned, in so far as it is already required by the natural law.

3. In the latter class, alliances are either equal or unequal. The former of these are such as are the same for both parties, that is, when the promises of both sides are not only equal, absolutely, or in due proportion to their resources, but also on a basis of equality, so that neither party is in an inferior position as compared with the other, or subject to the other.

4. Alliances are unequal when the respective performances are unequal, or else when one party is in an inferior position. And unequal performances are promised, either by the ally of higher rank, or by the lower. The former happens when the more powerful promises assistance to the other, without any stipulation in return, or promises on a larger scale than the other. The second case occurs, if the inferior ally is bound to perform more than he receives from the other.

5. Of the requirements exacted of an inferior ally, some involve a diminution of his sovereignty; for example, if it has been agreed that the inferior ally is not to exercise a certain function of his sovereignty, except with the consent of the superior. Some requirements, however, do not diminish sovereignty, although they bring with them some temporary burden, that is, one which can be disposed of once and for all; for instance, in case one party is bound by a treaty of peace to pay the soldiers of the other, to make good the expenses of war, to pay a certain sum of money, to raze walls, give hostages, surrender ships and arms, and so forth. Even permanent burdens do not in all cases diminish sovereignty. Examples are: the requirement that one side have the same friends and enemies as the other, while the obligation is not reciprocal; or the prohibition to build walls at certain places, or to take certain voyages, and so on. Also, if one of the allies is bound to show polite deference to the majesty of the other, or to pay him a certain amount of reverence, and to acquiesce modestly in his derision.

6. Again, both equal and unequal alliances are commonly contracted for various reasons. Of the latter those which aim at some permanent combination of several states produce the closest form of alliance. But most frequent are those which concern help to be furnished in defensive or offensive warfare, or the regulation of commerce.

7. There is also a well-known division of alliances into the real and the personal. The latter are entered into with a king in reference to his own person, and expire with his death. The former are contracted not so much with reference to the king or rulers of the people as such, as in the interest of that state or kingdom; and they endure even when their authors are dead.

8. Connected with alliances are overtures, the proper term for agreements entered into by a minister of the supreme power in regard to matters of its concern, but without its instructions. The ruler is not indeed bound by these, except after he has ratified them; but if the minister has absolutely contracted, and ratification has not followed, he must see how he can satisfy those who, relying upon his word, have been deceived by agreements that are null and void.

On the Duties of Citizens

1. The duty of citizens is either general or particular. The former arises from the common obligation, by virtue of which they are subject to the civil authority. The latter arises from a particular office and function, which has been laid upon individuals by the supreme authority.

2. The general duty of citizens has regard to the rulers of the state, or to the entire state, or to their fellow-citizens.

3. To the rulers of the state a citizen owes respect, loyalty and obedience. This implies that one acquiesce in the present regime, and have no thoughts of revolution; that one refrain from attaching himself to any other, or admiring and respecting him; that one have a good and honorable opinion of the rulers and their acts, and express himself accordingly.

4. A good citizen’s duty towards the whole state is to have nothing dearer than its welfare and safety, to offer his life, property, and fortunes freely for its preservation; to exert all the strength of his mind and industry to add to its fame and promote its interests.

5. As regards his fellow-citizens, it is the duty of the citizen to live friendly and peaceably with them, to show himself obliging and good-natured, and not to make trouble by peevishness or obstinacy ; not to envy the advantages of the others, or to deprive them of the same.

6. Particular duties either permeate the whole state, or they concern themselves with a part merely. In regard to all of these there is this general precept: a man should not seek or undertake any duty in the state, for which he knows that he is unfit.

7. Those who by their counsel assist the rulers of states, should turn the eye of their mind to every part of it; whatever shall seem to the interest of the state, they must declare with skill and fidelity, without bias or unworthy motives; in all their counsels they must have the welfare of the state as their aim, not their own wealth of power: they are not to humor the evil inclinations of princes by flattery; but to abstain from factions and unlawful gatherings; not to conceal anything that ought to be said, not to reveal anything that should be kept in confidence; to show themselves inaccessible to corruption by foreigners; not to postpone public business for private business or pleasures.

8. Those who are publicly appointed to perform the rites of religion must do so with dignity and attention, set forth true dogmas concerning the worship of God, show themselves to the people a conspicuous example of their own teaching, and not rob their office of dignity, their teaching of weight, by moral depravity.

9. Those who are publicly commanded to instil knowledge of various kinds into the minds of the citizens, must teach nothing false or pernicious; but so impart the truth that their hearers may assent, not from the mere habit of the lecture-room, so much as because they have perceived the substantial reasons therefor. They must avoid all teachings tending to disturb civil society, and hold all human knowledge vain, if no advantage flows from it for the life of man and citizen.

10. Those in charge of the administration of justice must give easy access to all, and protect the common people from oppression on the part of the more powerful. They must render the same justice to the poor and lowly, as to the powerful and influential; and not drag suits out beyond what is necessary. They should abstain from corruption, use diligence in the hearing of cases, set aside every passion that corrupts honest judgment; and in doing right they should fear no one.

11. Those intrusted with the command of the army are to train the soldiers with diligence and in due time, and strengthen them to endure the hardships of the service; they must keep military discipline intact; they are not rashly to expose the soldiers to slaughter by the enemy, but to provide grain and pay as promptly as they can, and not make away with any of it. They must see that the soldiers are always loyal to the state, and must never gain their favor against the state.

12. Soldiers on their part are to be content with their pay, to abstain from plundering and annoying the peasants, to undergo hardships for the defense of the state willingly and actively, not to invite dangers recklessly, nor avoid them through cowardice, to show bravery against the enemy, not against their comrades, to defend manfully the post assigned, to prefer an honorable death to a shameful flight and life.

13. Those whose services the state employs in foreign countries, should be careful and circumspect, skilled in distinguishing the unreal from the real, the true from the fictitious, very tenacious of secrets, persistent in the interest of their state as against corruption in any form.

14. Those who have charge of gathering or disbursing the resources of the state must avoid all needless harshness, and not add any burden for their own profit, or out of petulance or ill-will. They are not to retain any public moneys, and must satisfy without unnecessary delay the creditors of the state.

15. The duration of the citizens’ particular duty is, so long as they fill the office from which the duty springs; and when they leave the same, the latter too expires. In the same way the general duty lasts as long as they are citizens. But they cease to be citizens, if they leave with the express or tacit consent of the state, and fix the abiding-place of their fortunes elsewhere; or if for some crime they are exiled and deprived of the right of citizenship; or if they have been overpowered by the enemy, and compelled to submit to the rule of the victor.


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