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chapter v 113 chapter v Of States Elective, Successive or Hereditary, and of those called Patrimonial. We have seen in the preceding chapter, that it originally belongs to a nation to confer the supreme authority, and to chuse the person by whom it is to be governed. If it confers the sovereignty on him for his own person only, reserving to itself the right of chusingasuccessor after the sovereign’s death, the state is elective. As soon as the prince is elected according to the laws, he enters into the possession of all the prerogatives which those laws annex to his dignity. It has been debated, whether elective kings and princes are real sovereigns . But he who lays any stress on this circumstance must have only a very confused idea of sovereignty. The manner in which a prince obtains his dignity has nothing to do with determining its nature. Wemust consider, first, whether the nation itself forms an independent society (see chap. I.), and secondly, what is the extent of the power it has intrusted to the prince. Whenever the chief of an independent state really represents his nation, he ought to be considered asa truesovereign(§40), even though his authority should be limited in several respects. When a nation would avoid the troubles which seldom fail to accompany the election of a sovereign, it makes its choice for a long succession of years, by establishing the right of succession, or by renderingthecrown hereditary in a family, according to the order and rules that appear most agreeable to that nation. The name of an Hereditary State or Kingdom is given to that where the successor is appointed by the same law that regulates the successions of individuals. The Successive Kingdom is that where a person succeeds according to a particular fundamental law of the state. Thus the lineal succession, and of males alone, is established in France. The right of succession is not always the primitive establishment of a nation; it may have been introduced by the concession of another sovereign , and even by usurpation. But when it is supported by long pos-§56. Of elective states.§57. Whether elective kings are real sovereigns.§58. Of successive and hereditary states. The origin of the right of succession.§59. Other origins of this right. 114 book i: nations in themselves session, the people are considered as consenting to it; and this tacit consent renders it lawful, though the source be vicious. It rests then on the foundation we have already pointed out,—a foundation that alone is lawful and incapable of being shaken, and to which we must ever revert. The same right, according to Grotius and the generality of writers, may be derived from other sources, as conquest, or the right of a proprietor , who, being master of a country, should invite inhabitants to settle there, and give them lands, on condition of their acknowledging him and his heirs for their sovereigns. But as it is absurd to suppose that a society of men can place themselves in subjection otherwise than with a view to their own safety and welfare, and still more that they can bind their posterity on any other footing, it ultimately amounts to the same thing; and it must still be said that the succession is established by the express will or the tacit consent of the nation, for the welfare and safety of the state. It thus remains an undeniable truth, that in all cases the succession is established or received only with a view to the public welfare and the general safety. If it happened then that the order established in this respect became destructive to the state, the nation would certainly have a right tochangeitby anewlaw.Saluspopulisupremalex,—thesafety of the people is the supreme law; and this law is agreeable to the strictest justice,—the people having united in society only with a view to their safety and greater advantage.* This pretended proprietory right attributed to princes is a chimera produced by an abuse which its supporters would fain make of the laws respecting private inheritances. The state neither is nor can be a patrimony , since the end of patrimony is the advantage of the possessor, * Nimirum, quod publicae salutis causa et communi consensu statutum est, eadem multitudinis voluntate, rebus exigentibus, immutari quid obstat? [[“To be sure, when circumstances demand it, what stands in the way of changing that which has been established for the sake of public safety and by common consent...


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