Jean Domat, a French juror and legal scholar during the reign of Louis XIV, wrote a text defending Absolute Monarchy called On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy in 1697. This text has been largely overlooked in historical analysis. It lays out a justification of Absolute Monarchy, describing it as a system following natural order, as laid out by God himself.
My presentation will look at how Domat’s personal philosophy and beliefs affected his arguments, as well as how he was writing as a royally appointed juror, owing his position to King Louis XIV himself. As a mechanistic Deist, Domat followed a very specific philosophy. His view of the world was very ordered, and everything followed a natural hierarchy. God serves as the head of all things, but appoints a sovereign to act as the earthly head on his direct behalf. Working under Louis XIV, Domat certainly knew that such a defense of his powers would prove to be well accepted. In fact, Louis XIV was so pleased with the defense that he arranged for Domat to have a pension, in essence funding his future publications.
Written during the height of Absolute Monarchy, a close examination of On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy in the context of Domat’s surroundings can lend to a better understanding of contemporary understandings of their system of governance.
Chris Scholtens, ’09 Webster City, IA
Sponsor: Ionut, Epurescu-Pascovici