This book examines the development of the theory and practice of constitutionalism, defined as a political system in which the coercive power of the state is controlled through a pluralistic distribution of political power. It explores the main venues of constitutional practice in ancient Athens, Republican Rome, Renaissance Venice, the Dutch Republic, seventeenth-century England, and eighteenth-century America.
From its beginning in Polybius' interpretation of the classical concept of "mixed government," the author traces the theory of constitutionalism through its late medieval appearance in the Conciliar Movement of church reform and in the Huguenot defense of minority rights. After noting its suppression with the emergence of the nation-state and the Bodinian doctrine of "sovereignty," the author describes how constitutionalism was revived in the English conflict between king and Parliament in the early Stuart era, and how it has developed since then into the modern concept of constitutional democracy.
Scott Gordon is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and of the History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Professsor Emeritus of Economics at Queen's University, Canada.
Preface Introduction 1. The Doctrine of Sovereignty The Classical Doctrine of Sovereignty The People as Sovereign Parliament as Sovereign Critics of Sovereignty 2. Athenian Democracy Constitutional Development The Athenian Political System The Theory of the Athenian Constitution The Doctrine of Mixed Government The Constitutional Totalitarianism of Sparta 3. The Roman Republic The Development of the Republic, and Its Fall The Political System of the Republic Theoretical Interpretation of the Republican System 4. Countervailance Theory in Medieval Law, Catholic Ecclesiology, and Huguenot Political Theory Canon Law and Roman Law Catholic Ecclesiology and the Conciliar Movement The Huguenot Political Theorists 5. The Republic of Venice Venice and Europe The Venetian System of Government Venetian Constitutionalism Church and State The Myth of Venice Venice, Mixed Government, and Jean Bodin 6. The Dutch Republic The Golden Age of the Dutch Republic The Political History of the Republic, 1566-1814 The Republican Political System Dutch Political Theory 7. The Development of Constitutional Government and Countervailance Theory in Seventeenth-Century England Religious Toleration and Civic Freedom The Roles of Parliament "Mixed Government" and the Countervailance Model The Early Stuart Era From the Civil War to the Revolution of 1688 The Provenance of English Countervailance Theory The Eighteenth Century, and Montesquieu 8. American Constitutionalism The Political Theory of the American Revolution The State Constitutions The National Constitution The Bill of Rights and the Judiciary A Note on Provenance 9. Modern Britain Archaic Remnants: The Monarchy and the House of Lords The House of Commons and the Cabinet The Bureaucracy The Judiciary Unofficial Political Institutions: Pressure Groups Epilogue References Index