Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


The domains of the Roman emperors were anciently inalienable — it was the sacred domain. The barbarians came and rendered it altogether inalienable. The same thing happened to the imperial Greek domain.

After the re-establishment of the Roman Empire in Germany, the sacred domain was declared inalienable by the priests, although there remains not at present a crown’s worth of territory to alienate.

All the kings of Europe, who affect to imitate the emperors, have had their inalienable domain. Francis I., having effected his liberty by the cession of Burgundy, could find no other expedient to preserve it, than a state declaration, that Burgundy was inalienable; and was so fortunate as to violate both his honor and the treaty with impunity. According to this jurisprudence, every king may acquire the dominions of another, while incapable of losing any of his own. So that, in the end, each would be possessed of the property of somebody else. The kings of France and England possess very little special domain: their genuine and more effective domain is the purses of their subjects.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01