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The connection between sovereignty and law is fundamental for both domestic (internal sovereignty) and the international (external sovereignty) purposes. As the dominant forms of government have evolved over time, so has the way in which we think about sovereignty. Consideration of the historical evolution of the concept of sovereignty offers insight into how we think of sovereignty today. A term that was born to represent the relationship between the governor and the governed has become a term that is used to represent the relationships between and among states in the global legal order. This article traces the history of the term “sovereignty”, and suggests how it might best be used in twenty-first century legal parlance, concluding with the concept of the “vulnerable sovereign,” a notion rather different from the omnipotent religious sovereign of the Universitas Christiana, and even of the post-Reformation absolutist approach to “sovereign” kings. The idea of the vulnerable sovereign suggests that we revisit the original role of sovereignty as describing the relationship between the governor and the governed, and consider how that relationship overlaps with, and necessarily influences, both relations among states in international law and relations between states and persons in international law.