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.

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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. The classics of international law; no.

Publications of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prize law. Booty International law 3. War, Maritime International law. In the early morning hours of February 25, , the Dutch captain Jacob van Heemskerck attacked the Portuguese merchantman Santa Catarina in the Strait of Singapore and obtained its peaceful surrender by nightfall.

His prize was a rich one indeed. When the carrack and its cargo were auctioned in Amsterdam in the autumn of , the gross proceeds amounted to more than three million Dutch guilders—approximately three hundred thousand pounds sterling.

Piracy was nothing new in Asian waters, of course. For centuries it had been the occupation of choice of the inhabitants of the Riau Archipelago, south of the Strait of Singapore. Van Heemskerck, on the other hand, lacked any such authorization to prey on the Portuguese merchant marine. His voyage to the East Indies was supposed to be a peaceful trading venture. The directors of the United Amsterdam Company had explicitly prohibited the use of force, except in cases of self-defense or for the reparation of any damages sustained.

Even if the Dutch Admiralty Board had authorized him to attack Portuguese shipping, the validity of such a privateering commission would have been highly questionable in international law. The northern Netherlands were in a state of rebellion against their rightful overlord, the king of Spain and Portugal, and achieved de jure independence only in It was up to a young and ambitious Dutch lawyer, Hugo Grotius — , to sort Edition: current; Page: [ xiv ] out these problems in his first major work on natural law and natural rights theory, De Jure Praedae Commentarius Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty.

Grotius did not produce any significant legal scholarship prior to the writing of De Jure Praedae. He had been trained in the liberal arts at the University of Leiden, where he was tutored in classical rhetoric, philology, and philosophy by the likes of Joseph Justus Scaliger, the greatest Protestant intellectual of his generation.

Born into a patrician family in the town of Delft, Grotius could not pursue the studia humanitatis to the exclusion of more practical considerations. In the latter capacity, he became a member of the provincial government, the Estates of Holland, and, in , of the Estates General, the federal government of the Dutch Republic. He was put on trial for sedition in and banned to the castle of Loevestein. Two years of reflection and study at Loevestein turned Grotius into the finest legal scholar of his age.

He died in the German port of Rostock at the age of sixty-two, an embittered exile and, like so many of his countrymen, the hapless victim of a shipwreck.

The directors realized, however, that it would take more than a verdict to win widespread support for their cause, both in domestic and international politics. It was imperative to placate Henry IV of France and James I of England, for example, who had recently made peace with the king of Spain and Portugal but who might be induced to back the Dutch diplomatically over their attacks on the Iberian colonial empire.

Grotius had no intention of producing an objective historical account. Instead, he was eager to comply with the criteria of forensic rhetoric as defined by the orators of ancient Rome. Like Cicero and Quintilian, he considered it sufficient to present some, but not all, of the facts of the case. Yet he carefully refrained from any kind of willful distortion of the evidence at hand. In lawyerlike fashion, he decided to furnish material proof of Portuguese culpability in order to win his case in the court of public opinion.

English translations are included in appendix I below. The first half of the manuscript contains the introduction, followed by nine chapters of legal principles, the so-called Dogmatica de Jure Praedae.

The sovereign, free Edition: current; Page: [ xviii ] individual was indeed the starting point of his political and legal philosophy. Yet Grotius should not be considered a proponent of democratic government and inalienable individual rights in a twenty-first-century sense of the word. He argued, for example, that human beings could become slaves of their own volition, in which case their total subjection to the will of others constituted a valid contract.

In addition, he strenuously denied that the Dutch war of independence — had originated in a popular revolt against Philip II of Spain and Portugal. He was the first to introduce the notion of subjective rights—man was born a sovereign and free individual who could execute his own right—and used it to defend the establishment of a Dutch empire of trade in the East and West Indies.

He boldly argued in chapter thirteen of De Jure Praedae that Van Heemskerck had acted as the agent of a sovereign and independent Dutch state, which could order indiscriminate attacks on Iberian shipping as part of its public war against Philip III of Spain and Portugal. Yet his argument in chapter twelve of De Jure Praedae was more radical still: a trading company might legitimately engage in a private war against other merchants, or even against the agents of a sovereign state, in order to enforce the natural law, which mandated freedom of trade and navigation.

Edition: current; Page: [ xix ] Granted that the United Provinces had an ambiguous status in international politics, its inhabitants were nonetheless entitled to freedom of trade and navigation, a right innate to all free peoples, which they could enforce themselves in the absence of an independent and effective judge. Since the right to self-defense made private individuals judges and executioners in their own cause, a company of merchants like the VOC must, under certain circumstances, also qualify as a full-fledged actor in international politics.

When confronted by Portuguese harassment and intimidation, the VOC had every right to take up arms in order to safeguard its trade with Asian princes and peoples. Civil magistrates could not be expected to call the Portuguese to account on the high seas, or in countries where judicial systems were either weak or nonexistent.

Hence it fell to the VOC to enforce freedom of trade and navigation in the East Indies and to punish Portuguese transgressions of the natural law by means of a just war. Once it was established that Van Heemskerck had engaged in a just war, Grotius could simply cite the law of war to show that he was entitled to reparations for injuries sustained by himself, his employers, and the Dutch Republic.

Grotius admitted that the Portuguese had never harmed Van Heemskerck in his own person or made any attempts on his crew, cargo, and fleet.

Yet chapter eleven of De Jure Praedae was proof that Portuguese harassment and intimidation of the natives had materially damaged Dutch prospects for trade in Monsoon Asia. If the dismal fate of Ambon and Ternate was not sufficient reason to engage the Estado da India, the execution of seventeen Dutch sailors in the Portuguese port of Macao in November should certainly qualify as a casus belli.

They had committed no crime except to unwittingly enter the harbor of Macao. Their execution was a blatant injustice, which Van Heemskerck could not ignore in his capacity as agent of the Dutch government and servant of the United Amsterdam Company. Predictably, Grotius concluded that his Edition: current; Page: [ xx ] capture of the Santa Catarina had been justified in order to obtain damages on behalf of his employer and the Estates General. They show that Van Heemskerck had already interpreted his commission as authorizing the use of force for the purpose of safeguarding Dutch trade in the East Indies and obtaining damages for the United Amsterdam Company.

Yet it was Grotius who turned this hotchpotch of legal grounds into a seamless whole by means of a radical redefinition of natural law and natural rights. Grotius must have realized that it was not opportune to publish a defense of Dutch privateering in the East Indies on the eve of peace and truce negotiations between the United Provinces and Philip III of Spain and Portugal.

Yet he continued to feel a strong commitment to the VOC. In March , he drafted a petition for the VOC directors, for example, wherein he asked the Estates General to forgo its legal share of all booty taken in the East Indies 20 percent out of consideration for the great expenses incurred by the company in fighting Edition: current; Page: [ xxi ] the Portuguese.

The manuscript was purchased by Leiden University Library. One of its humanities graduates, H. Hamaker —92 , published the first Latin edition of De Jure Praedae in His text was the basis for the English translation that Gwladys L. Williams prepared for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the middle of the twentieth century. The words and phrases that Grotius wrote in capital letters for purposes of emphasis are printed in italic type in the body of the text.

The position of the folio numbers in the text approximates that of the folios in the manuscript. They should not be considered the equivalent of modern page breaks, however. Williams was frequently obliged to reverse the Latin word order of the manuscript in order to produce a flowing English translation. Any unavoidable departure from this rule is marked with a numbered footnote.

Oddly enough, Williams referred to the page numbers, instead of the folio numbers, of the collotype reproduction of the manuscript, which she consulted for her translation. This has been left unchanged. Footnotes that start with lowercase letters a, b, c, etc. Unlike the Carnegie edition, where Edition: current; Page: [ xxv ] they appear in the left and right margins, these references are placed at the bottom of the page in the current edition.

Many of these cross-references are of a general nature: they relate not so much to a particular article or conclusion cited by Grotius as to the argument that follows or precedes the passage indicated in his marginal annotation. Walter H. Where no edition is mentioned, the work in question was not available in the United States at the time that Walter Zeydel compiled his index. The titles of the more familiar works are given in English; others retain their Latin form.

Four modest changes have been made in the author and subject indexes as compared with the Carnegie edition. The present publication omits these notations because changes in pagination make them no longer accurate. Zeydel put multiple works by one author in alphabetical order on the basis of the first letter of the first noun of the Latin book titles.

This order has been adjusted to conform with the standard letter-by-letter alphabetization of the indexes in the Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics series. In addition, the author and subject indexes have been silently corrected to reflect the most recent historical scholarship, and, where possible, floruit or birth and death dates have been provided for important authors and historical figures. The material from the introduction and from appendixes I and II has been integrated into both indexes: existing entries have been amplified for this purpose, and new ones have been created when necessary.

All of the original page references given in the Carnegie indexes have been preserved Edition: current; Page: [ xxvi ] and translated into the corresponding page numbers for the Liberty Fund edition. However, the reader should be aware that the Carnegie references are sometimes more oblique than what the modern reader might expect. The present publication improves upon the Carnegie edition of De Jure Praedae in various ways.

It comprises two sets of appendixes of important archival and printed documents, all in English translation, which place De Jure Praedae in its historical context.

There is a detailed bibliography for the new introduction and appendixes I and II. Since the present volume does not reproduce the introduction and note on the text of the Carnegie edition, footnotes and index entries that refer to these matters have been omitted as well. It contains a wide variety of texts, which range from the verdict of the Amsterdam Admiralty Court, declaring the Santa Catarina good prize, to an intercepted letter of the Bishop of Malacca, urging Philip II of Spain and Portugal to take drastic action against Dutch interlopers in Asia Portuguesa.

The present text is partly based on a new transcription of the original sources. Appendix II is a mixture of archival and printed documents, some of which were discovered only a few years ago in the Dutch national archives in The Hague.

Van Heemskerck urged his employers, for example, Edition: current; Page: [ xxvii ] to establish a rendezvous near the Strait of Singapore and oust the Portuguese from the lucrative trade between the Indian subcontinent and the Far East.

I would like to thank Knud Haakonssen for his invitation to contribute this volume to the series Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics and for his invaluable advice and support at every stage of the editorial process. David Armitage encouraged me to make my doctoral research on De Jure Praedae available to a wider audience. He assisted my editorial efforts in various ways and put his own edition of Mare Liberum at my disposal even before it appeared in print.

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Chapter Three: Why Was De Jure Praedae Written?

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.


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. De Jure Praedae. Info Print Cite.


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