Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

Department Chair or Program Director

Romero, Joe

First Advisor

Joe Romero

Second Advisor

Angela Pitts

Third Advisor

Liane Houghtalin

Major or Concentration



Charles Loyseau (1564-1627) was a French jurist who wrote during the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII – the first two kings of the Bourbon dynasty. Throughout his career, Loyseau wrote several argumentative treatises either contesting royal edicts or supporting royal law against popular dissent. His most influential work was his 1610 publication Traité des ordres et simples dignites. In it, he helped establish a French social structure of three distinct orders: the Clergy, the Nobility, and the so-called Third Estate consisting of the rest of the population. This system later became known as the Ancien Régime after the French Revolution overthrew it and erected the First Republic in the 1790s. Loyseau and his treatises clearly contributed to the longevity of a system that created such tension it erupted until the violent French revolution. However, Loyseau did not come up with his theories completely independently. One of the most important categories of evidence he cites is the available Greek and Roman literature on a variety of topics. Citing passages from the philosophies and histories available to him allows him to make universal claims about the nature of social inequality that helped solidify the position of the Ancien Régime for the next two centuries.