Grotius, Hugo []. De Jure Praedae Commentarius. Volume II. Facsimile of the original manuscript in the handwriting of Grotius. Oxford and London: Clarendon Press,

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A teenage intellectual prodigy, he was born in Delft and studied at Leiden University. He was imprisoned for his involvement in the intra- Calvinist disputes of the Dutch Republic , but escaped hidden in a chest of books. Grotius wrote most of his major works in exile in France. Hugo Grotius was a major figure in the fields of philosophy, political theory and law during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

Along with the earlier works of Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili , he laid the foundations for international law , based on natural law in its Protestant side.

Grotius has also contributed significantly to the evolution of the notion of rights. Before him, rights were above all perceived as attached to objects; after him, they are seen as belonging to persons, as the expression of an ability to act or as a means of realizing something.

It is thought that Hugo Grotius was not the first to formulate the international society doctrine, but he was one of the first to define expressly the idea of one society of states, governed not by force or warfare but by actual laws and mutual agreement to enforce those laws.

As Hedley Bull declared in "The idea of international society which Grotius propounded was given concrete expression in the Peace of Westphalia , and Grotius may be considered the intellectual father of this first general peace settlement of modern times. Because of his theological underpinning of free trade, he is also considered an "economic theologist".

Grotius was also a playwright , and poet. His thinking returned to the forefront after the First World War. His father was a man of learning, once having studied with the eminent Justus Lipsius at Leiden , [3] as well as of political distinction. His family was considered Delft patrician as his ancestors played an important role in local government since the thirteenth century.

Jan de Groot, was also translator of Archimedes and friend of Ludolph van Ceulen. He groomed his son from an early age in a traditional humanist and Aristotelian education. It remained a reference for several centuries. In , at the age of 15 years, he accompanied Johan van Oldenbarnevelt to a diplomatic mission in Paris.

In Holland, Grotius earned an appointment as advocate to The Hague in [10] and then as official historiographer for the States of Holland in It was on this date that the Dutch tasked him to write their story to better stand out from Spain; Grotius is indeed contemporary with the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Netherlands.

The Dutch were at war with Spain ; although Portugal was closely allied with Spain, it was not yet at war with the Dutch. The war began when Grotius's cousin captain Jacob van Heemskerk captured a loaded Portuguese carrack merchant ship, Santa Catarina , off present-day Singapore in Not only was the legality of keeping the prize questionable under Dutch statute, but a faction of shareholders mostly Mennonite in the Company also objected to the forceful seizure on moral grounds, and of course, the Portuguese demanded the return of their cargo.

The scandal led to a public judicial hearing and a wider campaign to sway public and international opinion. Grotius sought to ground his defense of the seizure in terms of the natural principles of justice. In this, he had cast a net much wider than the case at hand; his interest was in the source and ground of war's lawfulness in general.

The treatise was never published in full during Grotius' lifetime, perhaps because the court ruling in favor of the Company preempted the need to garner public support. In The Free Sea Mare Liberum , published Grotius formulated the new principle that the sea was international territory and all nations were free to use it for seafaring trade. Grotius, by claiming 'free seas' Freedom of the seas , provided suitable ideological justification for the Dutch breaking up of various trade monopolies through its formidable naval power and then establishing its own monopoly.

It is generally assumed that Grotius first propounded the principle of freedom of the seas , although all countries in the Indian Ocean and other Asian seas accepted the right of unobstructed navigation long before Grotius wrote his De Jure Praedae On the Law of Spoils in the year of Additionally, 16th century Spanish theologian Francisco de Vitoria had postulated the idea of freedom of the seas in a more rudimentary fashion under the principles of jus gentium.

Aided by his continued association with Van Oldenbarnevelt , Grotius made considerable advances in his political career, being retained as Oldenbarnevelt's resident advisor in , Advocate General of the Fisc of Holland , Zeeland and Friesland in , and then as Pensionary of Rotterdam the equivalent of a mayoral office in In he married Maria van Reigersberch , union from which three girls and four boys are born [9] four surviving beyond youth and who would be invaluable in helping him and the family to weather the storm to come.

In , he was appointed Pensionary of Rotterdam equivalent of a mayor. However, it was opposed by the English by reason of force and he didn't obtain the return of the boats. In these years a great theological controversy broke out between the chair of theology at Leiden Jacobus Arminius and his followers who are called Arminians or Remonstrants and the strongly Calvinist theologian, Franciscus Gomarus , whose supporters are termed Gomarists or Counter-Remonstrants.

The new peace would move the people's focus to the controversy and Arminius' followers. The controversy expanded when the Remonstrant theologian Conrad Vorstius was appointed to replace Jacobus Arminius as the theology chair at Leiden. Vorstius was soon seen by Counter-Remonstrants as moving beyond the teachings of Arminius into Socinianism and he was accused of teaching irreligion.

On the other side Johannes Wtenbogaert a Remonstrant leader and Johan van Oldenbarnevelt , Grand Pensionary of Holland, had strongly promoted the appointment of Vortius and began to defend their actions.

Gomarus resigned his professorship at Leyden, in protest that Vorstius was not removed. He ordered his books to be publicly burnt in London, Cambridge, and Oxford, and he exerted continual pressure through his ambassador in the Hague, Ralph Winwood, to get the appointment cancelled.

Grotius joined the controversy by defending the civil authorities' power to appoint independently of the wishes of religious authorities whomever they wished to a university's faculty. He did this by writing Ordinum Pietas , "a pamphlet The work is twenty-seven pages long, is "polemical and acrimonious" and only two-thirds of it speaks directly about ecclesiastical politics mainly of synods and offices.

Led by Oldenbarnevelt, the States of Holland took an official position of religious toleration towards Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants.

Grotius, who acted during the controversy first as Attorney General of Holland, and later as a member of the Committee of Counsellors was eventually asked to draft an edict to express the policy of toleration.

The edict put into practice a view that Grotius had been developing in his writings on church and state see Erastianism : that only the basic tenets necessary for undergirding civil order e.

The edict "imposing moderation and toleration on the ministry", was backed up by Grotius with "thirty-one pages of quotations, mainly dealing with the Five Remonstrant Articles. Jacobus Trigland joined Lubberdus in expressing the view that tolerance in matters of doctrine was inadmissible, and in his works Den Recht-gematigden Christen: Ofte vande waere Moderatie and Advys Over een Concept van moderatie [24] Trigland denounced Grotius' stance.

In late , when Middelburg professor Antonius Walaeus published Het Ampt der Kerckendienaren a response to Johannes Wtenbogaert 's Tractaet van 't Ampt ende authoriteit eener hoogher Christelijcke overheid in kerckelijkcke zaken he sent Grotius a copy out of friendship.

This was a work "on the relationship between ecclesiastical and secular government" from the moderate counter-remonstrant viewpoint. The letter was "a general introduction on in tolerance, mainly on the subject of predestination and the sacrament In early Grotius debated the question of giving counter-remonstrants the chance to preach in the Kloosterkerk in The Hague which had been closed.

During this time lawsuits were brought against the States of Holland by counter-remonstrant ministers and riots over the controversy broke out in Amsterdam. As the conflict between civil and religious authorities escalated, in order to maintain civil order Oldenbarnevelt eventually proposed that local authorities be given the power to raise troops the Sharp Resolution of August 4, Such a measure putatively undermined the authority of the Captain-General of the republic, Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange.

During this time Grotius made another attempt to address ecclesiastical politics by completing De Imperio Summarum Potestatum circa Sacra , on "the relations between the religious and secular authorities Grotius had even cherished hopes that publication of this book would turn the tide and bring back peace to church and state".

The conflict between Maurice and the States of Holland, led by Oldenbarnevelt and Grotius, about the Sharp Resolution and Holland's refusal to allow a National Synod, came to a head in July when a majority in the States General authorized Maurice to disband the auxiliary troops in Utrecht.

Grotius went on a mission to the States of Utrecht to stiffen their resistance against this move, but Maurice prevailed. They were tried by a court of delegated judges from the States General.

Van Oldenbarnevelt was sentenced to death and was beheaded in Grotius was sentenced to life imprisonment and transferred to Loevestein Castle. From his imprisonment in Loevestein, Grotius made a written justification of his position "as to my views on the power of the Christian [civil] authorities in ecclesiastical matters, I refer to my In , with the help of his wife and his maidservant, Elsje van Houwening , Grotius managed to escape the castle in a book chest and fled to Paris.

In the Netherlands today, he is mainly famous for this daring escape. Both the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the museum Het Prinsenhof in Delft claim to have the original book chest in their collection.

It was there in France that Grotius completed his most famous philosophical works. Grotius then fled to Paris , where the authorities granted him an annual royal pension.

While in Paris, Grotius set about rendering into Latin prose a work which he had originally written as Dutch verse in prison, providing rudimentary yet systematic arguments for the truth of Christianity. The Dutch poem, Bewijs van den waren Godsdienst , was published in , the Latin treatise in , under the title De veritate religionis Christianae. In he tried to return to Holland, but the authorities remained hostile to him. He moved to Hamburg in But as early as , the Swedes - a European superpower - sent him to Paris as ambassador.

He remained ten years in this position where he had the mission to negotiate for Sweden the end of the Thirty Years War. During this period, he had been interested in the unity of Christians and published many texts that will be grouped under the title of Opera Omnia Theologica. Grotius also developed a particular view of the atonement of Christ known as the " Governmental " or "Moral government" theory. He theorized that Jesus' sacrificial death occurred in order for the Father to forgive while still maintaining his just rule over the universe.

This idea, further developed by theologians such as John Miley , became one of the prominent views of the atonement in Methodist Arminianism. Living in the times of the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Netherlands and the Thirty Years' War between Catholic and Protestant European nations Catholic France being in the otherwise Protestant camp , it is not surprising that Grotius was deeply concerned with matters of conflicts between nations and religions.

His most lasting work, begun in prison and published during his exile in Paris, was a monumental effort to restrain such conflicts on the basis of a broad moral consensus. Grotius wrote:. Fully convinced Throughout the Christian world I observed a lack of restraint in relation to war, such as even barbarous races should be ashamed of; I observed that men rush to arms for slight causes, or no cause at all, and that when arms have once been taken up there is no longer any respect for law, divine or human; it is as if, in accordance with a general decree, frenzy had openly been let loose for the committing of all crimes.

The treatise advances a system of principles of natural law, which are held to be binding on all people and nations regardless of local custom. The work is divided into three books:. Grotius' concept of natural law had a strong impact on the philosophical and theological debates and political developments of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Among those he influenced were Samuel Pufendorf and John Locke , and by way of these philosophers his thinking became part of the cultural background of the Glorious Revolution in England and the American Revolution. Therefore, his concept of natural law had a theological foundation. They were useful in interpreting the content of natural law. Both Biblical revelation and natural law originated in God and could therefore not contradict each other.

Many exiled Remonstrants began to return to the Netherlands after the death of Prince Maurice in when toleration was granted to them. In they were allowed complete freedom to build and run churches and schools and to live anywhere in Holland. The Remonstrants guided by Johannes Wtenbogaert set up a presbyterial organization. They established a theological seminary at Amsterdam where Grotius came to teach alongside Episcopius , van Limborch , de Courcelles , and Leclerc.

In Grotius was given the opportunity to serve as Sweden 's ambassador to France. Axel Oxenstierna , regent of the successor of the recently deceased Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus , was keen to have Grotius in his employ. Grotius accepted the offer and took up diplomatic residence in Paris, which remained his home until he was released from his post in


Online Library of Liberty

This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc. Williams published in by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Reproduced by permission. Map of the Far East on pp. Used by permission. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.


Hugo Grotius

Grotius was deeply involved in Dutch politics. In the early 17th century the united kingdom of Spain and Portugal claimed a monopoly on trade with the East Indies. In , after a Dutch admiral seized the Portuguese vessel Santa Catarina , the Dutch East India Company asked Grotius to produce a work legally defending that action on the ground that, by claiming a monopoly on the right of trade, Spain-Portugal had deprived the Dutch of their natural trading rights. Mare Liberum was widely circulated and often reprinted.


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