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Savages, Romans, and DespotsThinking about Others from Montaigne to Herder$
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Robert Launay

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226575254

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226575421.001.0001

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Climactic Harmonies: Bodin

Climactic Harmonies: Bodin

(p.52) Four Climactic Harmonies: Bodin
Savages, Romans, and Despots

Robert Launay

University of Chicago Press

Sixteenth century historians and jurists in France elaborated a position of legal relativism as a means of asserting independence from canons of Roman law and the domination of the Roman Catholic Church. Drawing on the premise that different peoples required different laws and political institutions, Jean Bodin elaborated a comparative scheme, based on Hippocrates, and Aristotle’s theories of the effect of climate upon the body’s humors. Those who lived in hot, cold, and temperate climates had different dispositions, with denizens of temperate climates best suited to rule. Large parts of Europe were outside the temperate zone, which also included Turkey, Persia, and China. Cold climates were associated with the development of the body as opposed to the mind, as opposed to hot climates, including Morocco and Abyssinia, praised for their religiosity. Bodin also wrote a long dialogue between partisans of different religions, promoting an ideal of religious harmony rather than the exclusive domination of any single religion.

Keywords:   Jean Bodin, France, sixteenth century, relativism, Hippocrates, Aristotle, climate, religion

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