Hugo Grotius

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Hugo Grotius

Hugo Grotius (Huig de Groot, or Hugo de Groot; 10th April 1583 - 28th August 1645) worked as a jurist in the Dutch Republic and laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. He was also a philosopher, playwright, poet, and influential thinker.

In his book Mare Liberum (Free Seas) he formulated the new principle that the sea was international territory and all nations were free to use it for seafaring trade. England, competing fiercely with the Dutch for domination of world trade, opposed this idea and claimed sovereignty over the waters around the British Isles.

(The dispute would later have important economic implications. The Dutch Republic supported the idea of free trade (even though it imposed a trade monopoly on nutmeg and cloves in the Moluccas). England adopted the Act of Navigation (1651), forbidding any goods from entering England except on English ships. The Act subsequently led to the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652 - 1654).)

Grotius supported the States General of The Netherlands in its conflict with the stadtholder, Prince Maurice of Nassau, son of William of Orange. He was arrested by Maurice in 1618, together with Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. Van Oldenbarnevelt was executed, and Grotius was sentenced to life imprisonment in Loevestein castle. In 1621, he managed to escape the castle in a book chest, and fled to Paris. In the Netherlands, 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.

Grotius lived in the times of the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Netherlands and the Thirty Years' War between Catholic and Protestant European nations; it is not surprising that he was deeply concerned with matters of conflicts between nations and religions. Himself a Calvinist, he was a moderate who had many contacts with Catholics and hoped for a reunification of the Christian churches. In 1625 he published his book De jure belli ac pacis libri tres (Of laws of war and peace) where he presented his theory of just war and argued that all nations are bound by the principles of natural law.

Grotius wrote a book defending Christianity, called De veritate religionis Christianae (published 1660), which was translated into Arabic, Persian and Chinese by Edward Pococke for use in missionary work in the East. In the book, Grotius 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 the dominant view in Arminianism and Methodism.

Both Edward Gibbon and Thomas Carlyle have exposed some pious lies ( in Grotius' book, which were omitted from the Arabic text by Pococke, although kept in the Latin one.

The Peace Palace Library in The Hague holds the Grotius Collection, which has a large number of books by and about Hugo Grotius. The collection was based on a donation from Martinus Nijhoff of 55 editions of De jure belli ac pacis libri tres.

The American Society of International Law has been holding an annual series of Grotius Lectures since 1999.


  • De republica emendanda (To improve the Dutch republic) - 1601
  • Parallelon rerumpublicarum (Comparison of constitutions) - 1602
  • De iure praedae (On the right of the goal), including Mare liberum (The Free Seas) - 1604
  • De antiquitate reipublicae Batavicae (The antiquity of Dutch republic) - 1610
  • Ordinum pietas (The piety of the States) - 1613
  • Defensio fidei catholicae de satisfaction (Defense of the Christian faith)- 1617
  • De iure belli ac pacis (On the laws of war and peace) - 1625
  • De veritate religionis Christianae (On the truth of the Christian religion) - 1627
  • Inleydinge tot de Hollantsche rechtsgeleertheit (Introduction to Dutch law) - 1631
  • Via ad pacem ecclesiasticam (The way to religious peace) - 1642
  • De imperio summarum potestatum circa sacra (On the power of sovereigns concerning religious affairs) - 1647
  • De fato (On destiny) - 1648
  • Annales et historiae de rebus Belgicis (Annals and history of the Netherlands) - 1657

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External links

es:Hugo Grocio lv:Hugo Grocijs nl:Hugo de Groot ja:フーゴー・グローティウス pl:Hugo Grocjusz sv:Hugo Grotius uk:Гуго Гроций


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