Grotius, Hugo

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Grotius, Hugo

Hugo Grotius. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Hugo Grotius.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Hugo Grotius, also known as Huigh de Groot, achieved prominence as a Dutch jurist and statesman and is regarded as the originator of International Law.

Grotius was born April 10, 1583, in Delft, Netherlands. A brilliant student, Grotius attended the University of Leiden, received a law degree at the age of fifteen, and was admitted to the bar and began his legal practice at Delft in 1599. It was at this time that he became interested in international law, and, in 1609, wrote a preliminary piece titled Mare liberum, which advocated freedom of the seas to all countries.

In 1615, Grotius became involved in a religious controversy between two opposing groups, the Remonstrants, Dutch Protestants who abandoned Calvinism to follow the precepts of their leader, Jacobus Arminius, and the Anti-Remonstrants, who adhered to the beliefs of Calvinism. The dispute extended to politics, and when Maurice of Nassau gained control of the government, the Remonstrants lost popular support. Grotius, a supporter of the Remonstrants, was imprisoned in 1619. Two years later he escaped, seeking safety in Paris.

In Paris, Grotius began his legal writing, and, in 1625, produced De jure belli ac pacis, translated as "Concerning the Law of War and Peace." This work is regarded as the first official text of the principles of international law, wherein Grotius maintained that Natural Law is the basis for legislation for countries as well as individuals. He opposed war in all but extreme cases and advocated respect for life and the ownership of property. The main sources for his theories were the Bible and history.

"What the consent of all men makes known as their will is law."
—Hugo Grotius

Grotius spent the remainder of his years in diplomatic and theological endeavors. From 1635 to 1645, he represented Queen Christina of Sweden as her ambassador to France. He pursued his religious interests and wrote several theological works. Grotius died August 28, 1645, in Rostock, Germany.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(126) See HUGO GROTIUS, THE INTRODUCTION TO DUTCH JURISPRUDENCE OF HUGO GROTIUS 27 (Charles Herbert trans., 1845).
In a letter to Hugo Grotius penned in August 1610, the admiral explained that the area around the Johor River estuary was not a suitable location after all:
Hugo Grotius himself later wrote that merchants should suffer no loss simply from having been caught on the wrong side of a line drawn for combatants.
Annet den Haan explores why Giannozzo Manetti believed that a translation into the vernacular can never be a good translation, while Beate Hintzen looks at a series of poems connected to Martin Opitz to bring out the role of Greek within the contact between Latin and vernacular literature, and Guillaume van Gemert follows a treatise of Hugo Grotius from its beginnings as a work of self-apology in a Dutch context through a Latin translation in which the theological content stood front and center to a series of German translations, one of which made its way into the hands of a Swedish general.
As Bown asserts, it is true that the treaty inspired Hugo Grotius to argue, in his Mare Liberum [1609], in favor of freedom of navigation and thus launched a philosophical and legal debate over this issue that continues to the present day.
She traces the various discourses on the relation between the political and natural spheres from the influences of ancient and medieval political thought on early modern writers to the debates between and amongst scholastic Catholic political thinkers, Protestant Aristotelians, and others, highlighting the often radical departures from earlier traditions in the thought of Hugo Grotius and especially Thomas Hobbes.
Hugo Grotius On the Law of War and Peace (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
There is a long tradition pertaining to what we now call humanitarian intervention and the precursors in the legal field go back to Hugo Grotius and Emmerich de Vattel, in philosophy to the works of Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Christian Wolff, John Rawls, and in theology to Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine.