On the Power of the Supreme Authority over Property in the State

1. Where citizens have had their property bestowed upon them by the rulers, it is for the latter to deride what rights the former have over the property. In the same way, such property as citizens have acquired completely by their own industry, or in some other way, is subject to three principal rights, resulting from the nature of states, necessary for their purpose, and belonging to the rulers.

2. The first right consists in this, that the rulers can prescribe laws for the citizens, with regard to the use of their property, in conformity with the interest of the state, or concerning the amount and quality of their possessions, as also the method of transfer to others, and other matters of the kind.

3. The second right consists in this, that the ruler can take away a small part of their property, under the name of tribute or taxes. For, since the life and fortunes of the citizens must be defended by the state, the citizens must contribute the means from which the expenses necessary to that end may be met. Hence he is very shameless who wishes to enjoy the protection and advantage of the state, and yet to contribute no services or property to its maintenance. And yet in this matter wise rulers with good reason adapt themselves to the querulous nature of the crowd, and endeavor to bring about the collection of taxes as imperceptibly as possible, especially by observing equality, and by exacting moderate and assorted taxes, rather than large and uniform ones.

4. The third right is that of eminent domain, consisting in this, that, when urgent necessity of the state demands, any subject's property which the immediate situation especially requires, can be seized and applied to public purposes, even if the property far exceeds the proportion which he was bound to contribute to the expenses of the state. But for this reason the excess ought to be refunded to that citizen from the public treasury, or by contribution of the other citizens, so far as possible.

5. Besides these three rights, there are in many states special public properties, which are called the patrimony of the state or kingdom. And in some places this is divided into patrimony of the prince and that of the state, or the royal [fiscus] and the state treasury [aerarium]. The former of these is designed to support the king and his household, the latter for the public needs of the kingdom. Of the first the king has the usufruct, and can at his own discretion dispose of the income derived from it. For the second he performs the part of an administrator, and is obliged to apply it to the uses for which it was designed. He cannot alienate either, except with the consent of the people.

6. Much less, however, can he who does not have a kingdom as his patrimony, alienate the whole kingdom, or a part of it, unless the consent of the people is given, and in the latter case the separate consent of the part to be alienated. So also when the situation is reversed, a member cannot break itself off from the state against the will of the latter, unless by the might of a foreign foe it is reduced to such a condition that it cannot be saved in any other way.

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