About the Impossibility of Absolute State Sovereignty: The Middle Ages

  • Jorge Emilio NúñezEmail author


State sovereignty is often thought to be and seen as absolute, unlimited. We have seen that there is no such a thing as absolute State sovereignty. Indeed, I maintained in the first article of this series that absolute or unlimited sovereignty is impossible because all sovereignty is necessarily underpinned by its conditions of possibility. The present paper has two main parts. Firstly, I will introduce two different kinds of agents: (a) individuals; and (b) States. The aim is to show that these two entities that are in principle dissimilar have certain characteristics in common in what has to do with their relation with supreme authority. Secondly, I will demonstrate that ‘sovereignty’ was not absolute at individual level in the Middle Ages. Therefore, we will better understand how the mediaeval use of the term ‘sovereignty’ has formed our current views on the matter. That is because it is in the Middle Ages when the ancient notions that were used at the level of the individual start their anthropomorphisation into larger societal organisations.


State sovereignty Absolute sovereignty Limited sovereignty Unlimited sovereignty 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Law SchoolManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

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