TYRANNY AND ITS REMEDIES
The nature of just and upright administration should be sufficiently clear from the things that we have said. We will now throw light on the opposite of these things, which is tyranny, and will add to this the remedies of tyranny by which the commonwealth is liberated and preserved from so much evil. Tyranny is the contrary of just and upright administration. By it the foundations and bonds of universal association are obstinately, persistently, and insanely destroyed and overthrown by the supreme magistrate against his pledged word and declared oath.... A tyrant is therefore one who, violating both word and oath, begins to shake the foundations and unloosen the bonds of the associated body of the commonwealth. A tyrant may be either a monarch or a polyarch that through avarice, pride, or perfidy cruelly overthrows and destroys the most important goods of the commonwealth, such as its peace, virtue, order, law, and nobility....
When a ruler has failed only in some part of his office or government, however, he is not immediately to be called a tyrant. Regarding such a person one must consider that even the best at some time or other are weak in the performance of their offices, and are not for this reason to be thought of and treated as tyrants, provided the foundations and bonds of the universal association remain safe and unharmed, and are not shaken, assaulted, or upset by vices or faults of princes. Nor is one to be treated as a tyrant who, having already started on the road to tyranny, nevertheless does not obstinately and insanely persist on it. For the wicked life of a magistrate does not invalidate his royal authority, just as a marriage is not dissolved by every misdeed committed by one mate against another unless it is the misdeed of adultery, because this is directly contrary to the nature of marriage. So not every misdeed of a magistrate deprives him of his sceptre, but only that in which he, having accepted and then neglected the just rule of administration, acts contrary to the fundamentals and essence of human association, and destroys civil and social life....
This tyranny, or tyrannical administration of a commonwealth, is twofold. One type of it is concerned with the overthrow and destruction of the fundamental laws of the realm. The other consists in the administration of functions and things of the associated body in a manner that is contrary to piety and justice. The first type of tyranny has two species. One specie occurs when the supreme magistrate violates, changes, or overthrows the fundamental laws of the realm, especially those that concern true religion. Such a tyrant was Athaliah. Such also was Philip, king of Spain, who established an administration in Belgium by force and arms against the fundamental laws and hereditary ways of the commonwealth.... The other occurs when he does not maintain faith with the associated body, despises his oath, and breaks up the orders and estates, or impedes them in the performance of their offices.... The second type of tyranny is either general or special. General tyranny stands opposed to the universal association in all things, as when the supreme magistrate like an enemy plunders, perverts, and upsets the church and commonwealth. Likewise, general tyranny occurs when the supreme magistrate exercises absolute power, or the plenitude of power, in his administration, and violates the bonds and shatters the restraints by which human society has been maintained.... Special tyranny stands opposed to certain parts and aspects of just administration. This is to say, it is contrary to the just administration of the functions of the associated body, of its goods, or of the right of private persons....
Having become acquainted with the nature of tyranny, we are now to look for the remedy by which it may be opportunely removed. This consists in resistance to and deposition of the tyrant, which remedy has been entrusted to the optimates alone. This resistance is the process by which the ephors impede the tyranny of the supreme magistrate by word and deed. And when he is incurable, or the rights (jura) of the associated body cannot otherwise be kept sound, well-protected, and in good condition, or the commonwealth free from evil, they depose him and cast him out of their midst....
In order that the ephors may rightly exercise this right of resistance to a tyrant, it is necessary that they pay attention to the following matters: (1) what optimates or ephors can resist a tyrant and are responsible for doing so, (2) when, (3) in what manner, and (4) how long and how far?
Concerning the first matter, the optimates of the realm both collectively and individually can and should resist tyranny to the best of their ability. For since they have the right of creating the magistrate by the consent and command of the people, they also receive the power of judging and deposing him.... Subjects and citizens who love their country and resist a tyrant, and want the commonwealth and its rights to be safe and sound, should join themselves to a resisting ephor or optimate. Those who refuse to help the resisting ephor with their strength, money, and counsel are considered enemies and deserters.
Therefore, each and all ought to move quickly against a tyrant as against a common fire, and eagerly carry water, scale the walls, and confine the flame so that the entire commonwealth does not burn. Above all they ought to do this when a tyrant is engaged in the actual act of tyranny.
Special ephors are obligated to defend only that part of the realm whose care and safety have been entrusted to them. But they certainly ought not to abandon the subjects and region over which they preside, unless they first have attempted all legitimate courses of action, and have given them up as hopeless....
What is to be done collectively by the estates or ephors of the realm is not permitted to one of them when the others do not consent. That is to say, one of the ephors may not take imperium away from the magistrate, declare him to be a private person, kill him, resist him beyond the boundaries of this ephor's own territory or of the region assigned to this ephor, or persecute him. For what concerns the whole cannot be exercised by individuals separately and by themselves when the rest or the largest part of them disagree. However, it shall be permitted one part of the realm, or individual ephors or estates of the realm, to withdraw from subjection to the tyranny of their magistrate and to defend themselves....
It should be observed, nevertheless, that even one ephor is required to drive from the entire realm the tyranny of an enemy and someone without title (tyrannus absque titulo) who wishes to force himself into the position of a legitimate magistrate when he is not one. A single ephor is expected to defend the associated body of which he is a member against force and injury.... So Holland, Zeeland, Frisia, Gelderland, and other confederates defended the remaining estates and orders of the Belgium provinces against the force and tyranny of Spain. But those writers are wrong who assign to the Roman pontiff the power of deposing kings and emperors.
We turn now to the second matter, or when a tyrannical magistrate may be resisted. This involves three aspects: when tyranny proper which pertains to a tyrant by practice (tyrannus exercito) is to be publicly acknowledged, when it is to be considered firmly entrenched, and what to do when other remedies are to no avail.... To make such tyranny publicly acknowledged and recognized it is necessary that the optimates of the realm call a council and assemble a general meeting of all orders of the people, and that they therein undertake to examine and judge the activities and deeds of the tyrant. If there are no ephors, then public defenders and deliverers should be constituted ad hoc by the people itself.... Tyranny is said to be firmly entrenched when the magistrate, having been admonished often by the optimates without effect or correction in the performance of his office, still does not cease from tyranny but instead persists in it, so that he can do anything at all with impunity. Remedies other than deposition for curbing and coercing tyranny should first be attempted time and again until they prove to be without effect, in order that the remedy not become more dangerous than the malady itself. For not only should the permissible be explored, but also the expedient. On the other hand, when there is danger in delay, when evil increases and gathers strength, one may resist immediately and confront the tyrant courageously in order that through delay the malady not become more difficult or even impossible to cure.
Third, the manner of resisting one who has entered upon tyranny is by defensive, not offensive means, namely, by action within the boundaries of the territory assigned to the resisting ephor. The tyrant is to be resisted, I say, by words and deeds: by words when he by words only violates the worship of God and assaults the rights and foundations of the commonwealth: by force and arms when by military might and outward force he exercises tyranny, or has so progressed in it that without armed force such tyranny cannot be restrained, confined, or driven out. In the latter event, it is permitted to enlist an army from among the inhabitants, confederates, friends, and others, just as against an enemy of the fatherland and realm....
Fourth, he is to be resisted so long as tyranny endures, and so far as he assails or acts contrary to the declared covenant. He should be resisted until the commonwealth is restored to its original condition.
And to this end the optimates can remove such a person from office, deprive him of his entrusted administration, and, if they cannot defend themselves against force by any other means, even kill him, and substitute another in his place.
If an oppressed commonwealth, however, should solemnly consent to a change in its laws, and he who was a tyrant without title should receive the title, there should no longer be resistance to this legitimate magistrate....
What, then, is to be decided about private subjects from among the people? For the position we have thus far taken about the ephors applies only to public persons. It plainly does not apply to private persons when the magistrate is a tyrant by practice because they do not have the use and right of the sword (usus et jus gladii), nor may they employ this right.... This is to be understood, however, in such a manner that these private persons are not forced to be servants of tyranny, or to do anything that is contrary to God. Under these circumstances they should flee to another place so that they avoid obedience not by resisting, but by fleeing. Nevertheless, when manifest force is applied by the magistrate to private persons, then in case of the need to defend their lives resistance is permitted to them. For in this case private persons are armed against the magistrate who lays violent hands upon them by the natural law (jus naturale) and the arrangements constituting kings.
Accordingly, such private persons may do nothing by their private authority against their supreme magistrate, but rather shall await the command of one of the optimates before they come forth with support and arms to correct a tyrant by practice. But when a tyrant without title invades the realm, each and every optimate and private person who loves his fatherland can and should resist, even by his private authority without awaiting the command of another....
It is not to be thought that by attributing such power to the ephors the right and power of the supreme magistrate is thereby diminished. Rather it is augmented and confirmed by the ephors' power. The reason is that he who might otherwise be undone by his own fault and negligence is upheld by a strength not his own and thereby delivered from ruin. For it pertains to the power and duty of ephors to see that the imperium and administration of the supreme magistrate is established according to justice and the norm of laws, and that he does not depart from what is called true and legitimate administration. Were he to do so his administration would be nothing other than a plundering, or the conspiracy of a band of robbers and evil men. Even God is not thought to be less powerful because he is intrinsically unable to sin. Nor do we think someone is less healthy because he is attended by medical doctors who dissuade him from intemperance, forbid him from eating harmful foods, and even purge his body from time to time when it needs cleansing. Whom should we consider to be his true friends: these medical doctors who care for his health, or those flatterers who obtrude everything harmful and unhealthy upon him?
One of the estates, or one part of the realm, can abandon the remaining body to which it belonged and choose for itself a separate ruler or a new form of commonwealth when the public and manifest welfare of this entire part altogether requires it, or when fundamental laws of the country are not observed by the magistrate but are obstinately and outrageously violated, or when the true worship and disclosed command of God clearly require and demand that this be done. And then this part of the realm can defend by force and arms its new form and status against the other parts of the realm from which it withdrew. Thus the Israelites broke loose from the house and imperium of David and founded their own realm.... Thus also subjects can withdraw their support from a magistrate who does not defend them when he should, and can justly have recourse to another prince and submit themselves to him. Or if a magistrate refuses to administer justice, they can resist him and refuse to pay taxes.
Albert Gentili has recently disapproved of this position concerning the power of the ephors against a tyrannical magistrate, as William Barclay and Giovanni Beccaria also do. But they have been persuaded by the most trivial reasons, indeed I would even say no reasons. It should also be noted that Henning Arnisaeus has a different viewpoint from mine concerning the marks of tyranny. The chief reason that Gentili employs is this. The paternal right and imperium are not to be taken away from a father, much less is force to be inflicted upon him. And therefore not upon the prince either. But I say that there are cases in which this is permitted, especially when some precept of the first table of the Decalogue requires it. For the precepts of the second table are inferior to the precepts of the first table, as examples indicate. And as Christ says, 'whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me'. The prince is called by analogy the father of his country because he ought to embrace his subjects with equal affection. However, analogy proves nothing but only illustrates, as the logicians teach. Whence an argument entered upon from analogy is said to be defective. Whoever is a father is such by nature. A magistrate is not a father by nature, but only by election and inauguration. A father supports his children. A prince does not support his subjects, but is supported by them. And he collects treasures not for his subjects, but for himself.
And we do not say that a tyrannical prince is immediately to be killed, but that resistance is to be made against his force and injury. In one instance only can he justly be killed, namely, when his tyranny has been publicly acknowledged and is incurable: when he madly scorns all laws, brings about the ruin and destruction of the realm, overthrows civil society among men so far as he is able, and rages violently: and when there are no other remedies available. When a mad and foolish parent cannot manage his own responsibilities properly, his son can be assigned as trustee. And a parent who abuses his paternal power can be rightfully deprived of it. Whence Andreas Gail and Fernando Vasquez assert the same thing about an intermediate magistrate who abuses his jurisdiction. Subjects abandoned by their prince who does not defend them when he should can have recourse to another prince....
The Jesuit Beccaria proceeds further and denies that there are any orders or optimates. I think we have sufficiently refuted this opinion already by rational arguments and by sacred and profane examples.... But the philosopher and theologian Bartholomew Keckerman acknowledges optimates and ephors, or estates, only in the more imperfect principality, and does not recognize them in the more perfect and distinguished principality. But in my judgment this is wrong because of previously stated reasons and examples of the best polities, especially of the Jewish polity constituted as it was by God. For we should not fashion a Platonic commonwealth and polity, or the Utopia that Sir Thomas More invents, but only a commonwealth as in this ocean of human affairs can be adapted to the weakness of our nature.
Furthermore, who permitted the fullest power of ruling, which is called absolute, to be conceded to the king in such a more perfect state? We have said that absolute power is tyrannical. It would follow from this that no power would be left to the associated political body, and that the power of doing and managing those things that we have attributed to the ephors would be taken away from it. But if we nevertheless declare that power has been left to the associated body, then it is necessary that we also grant to it the exercise and capability of acting. Why give authority (jus) to someone to whom the use of it is denied? Clearly, whoever wishes law to be superior to the king, and the king to be subjected to law, or as we have plainly said, whoever considers justice and God himself to be the supreme lord, must also grant to the associated body those things that we have attributed to the ephors....
1. [This chapter on tyranny was not part of the 1603 edition. On the other hand, Althusius' Dicaelogicae (1618) contains a chapter (I, 113) entitled 'The Abuse of Public Power' that is in part a discussion of tyranny and its punishment.]
2. Thus Jacob Middendorf describes it. Quaestiones politicae, 16.
3. See the arguments of II Samuel 11; 24; I Kings 11; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV, 20, 24 ff.; Francis Zoannet, De tripartitione defensionis, III, num. 1-3; Jerome Gigas, De crimine laesae majestatis, I, quest. 56, 10.
4. See Peter Ribadeneira, Religion and the Virtues of the Prince, II, 9; Peter Gregory, De republica, IX, 12; William Rose, De justa reipublicae christianae auctoritate, 1, 6.
5. II Kings 11: 2; II Chronicles 23.
6. [The just administration of these public functions, public goods, and private rights has been described by Althusius in Chapters XXVIII-XXXVII on ecclesiastical and secular administration. Because special tyranny is simply the abuse of one or more of these three administrative areas, Althusius' detailed discussion of it is here omitted. One point only should be noted, namely, that Althusius does not consider a tyrant without title (tyrannus absque titulo) to be a tyrant at all, but only a private citizen who is an enemy of the realm. The reason is that such a person never rightfully became its supreme magistrate. Only a tyrant by practice (tyrannus exercitio) is a true tyrant.]
7. As we have said in Chapter XVIII above.
9. [i.e., those optimates or ephors who have a responsibility for the whole realm as distinguished from special optimates and ephors whose responsibility is limited to that part or territory of the realm assigned to them.]
10. Zachary Ursinus, Dispositiones, II, 44 and ult.; [Theodore Beza], Concerning the Rights of Rulers; Peter Gregory, De republica, XXVI, 5-7; Jaun Mariana, The King and His Education, I, 6 f.; Francis Zoannet, De tripartitione defensionis, III, num. 28; Lambert Daneau, Politices christianae, VI; Otto Cassman, Doctrinae et vitae politicae, 10; Code X, 53, 2; Institutes I, 25, 6; Digest L, 4, 11, 3.
11. Junius Brutus, Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, quest. 3.
12. See Peter Gregory, De republica, XXVI, 5-7; Marsilius of Padua, The Defender of the Peace; Lupold of Bebenberg, De jure regni et Imperii. [Gregory affirms, while Marsilius and Lupold deny, a papal power of deposing rulers.]
13. See Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings, VI, 3; Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses, II, 20; Justus Lipsius, Politicorum sive civilis doctrinae, V, 9 f.; Henrik Rantzau, Commentarius bellicus, I, 11.
14. [Note the unannounced switches in the discussion from a tyrant by practice to a tyrant without title, and then back to a tyrant by practice in the next paragraph.]
15. See Matthew 23; II Chronicles 2: 13 f. So David fleeing from the tyranny of Saul is known to have withdrawn into the mountains. And Christ fled into Egypt because of Herod's tyranny. Peter Gregory, De republica, XXVI, 6 f.; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV, 20, 23; Francis Zoannet, De tripartitione defensionis, III, 114 ff.; Junius Brutus, Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, quest. 3.
16. Augustine, The City of God, IV, 4.
17. [optimates. This word has generally been rendered as 'optimates' in this translation, but 'estates' would seem to be closer to Althusius' meaning in this particular instance.]
18. I Kings 12.
19. Albert Gentili, De jure belli, I, 23.
20. Tiberius Decianus, Tractatus criminalis, VII, 49, 29.
21. Lucas de Penna, Super tres libros codicis (Code I, 10); Andrea Alciati, Commentaria (Code I, 2, 5); Tiberius Decianus, Tractatus criminalis,VII, 49, 27 f.
22. De absoluta regis potestate.
23. The Kingdom and the Regal Power, III, 6. [The lengthy answers Althusius gives later in this chapter to Barclay's arguments against ephors will be omitted in this translation because they duplicate extensive material already included in chapter XVIII.]
24. Refutatio cujusdam libelli sine autore, cui titulus est De jure magistratuum in subditos. [The anonymous book Beccaria attempted to refute was actually by Theodore Beza, and is referred to elsewhere in this translation.]
25. [De jure majestatis. Althusius neither elaborates upon nor responds to Arnisaeus' viewpoint.]
26. See Digest XI, 7, 35; Exodus 23.
27. Luke 9: 3, 24 f., 59 ff.; I Kings 21: 10 ff.; Mark 9: 42 ff.; Matthew 5: 18, 29; 9: 13; 10: 37; 13: 5, 11; Acts 5: 29; I Samuel 19: 17 f.; Hosea 6: 6.
28. Matthew 10: 37.
29. Digest XXVII, 10, 1 f.
30. Code VIII, 51; Digest I, 6, 2; Institutes I, 8.
31. Practicarum observationum, I, obs. 17.
32. Illustrium controversiarum, I, 8.
33. Albert Gentili, De jure belli, I, 23; Tiberius Decianus, Tractatus criminalis, VII, 49, 28 f.; Lucas de Penna, Super tres libros codicis (Code I, 10, 1).
34. [Refutatio cujusdam libelli sine autore, aut titulus est de jure magistratuum in subditos.]
35. Chapter XVIII above. [Althusius' restatement here of some of the arguments contained in that chapter are omitted from this translation.]
36. [Systema disciplinae politicae.]
38. We have support from Diego Covarruvias, Variarum resolutionum, III, 6, 8; Arius Pinellus, De rescindenda venditione, I, 2, 25 f.; Friedrich Pruckmann, De regalibus, 3.