The Rights of War and Peace establishes a system of international law based on the concept of natural law. Natural law, as Grotius describes it, is law that applies to all people, regardless of country or nationality. This law establishes concepts like "justifiable war" and "natural justice." Grotius discusses situations under which countries should go to war, and then further explains the proper way in which wars should be prosecuted. There are, he says, certain rules in warfare that must be observed, regardless of whether the parties involved have signed any specific agreement to do so. Philosophy and law students, as well as those with an interest in international politics, will be amazed at how modern many of Grotius's ideas seem and intrigued by this foray into international law that still has repercussions in the world today. HUGO GROTIUS (1583-1645) was born in the city of Delft in the Dutch Republic. Astoundingly intelligent, he entered the University of Leiden at age eleven and graduated at age fifteen. He was a philosopher and Christian apologist now remembered for his work in establishing a philosophical basis for international law.
Reprint of the sole edition of this translation. In this momentous work Grotius describes the situations in which war is a valid tool of law enforcement and outlines the principles of armed combat. Though based on Christian natural law, Grotius advanced the novel argument that his system would still be valid if it lacked a divine basis. In this regard he pointed to the future by moving international law in a secular direction. This edition was abridged by removing most of the quotations from "ancient historians, orators, philosophers, and poets," which are identified in footnotes. As Whewell states in the preface, they tended to "confuse the subject, obscure the reasoning, and weary the reader." By removing them he enhanced clarity and reduced the bulk of the work by "more than a half" (vi). Hugo Grotius [1583-1645], generally acknowledged as the founder of international law, was an influential Dutch jurist, philosopher and theologian. Originally published in 1625, De Jure Belli ac Pacis (On the Law of War and Peace, translated by Whewell as On the Rights of War and Peace) is widely considered to be the first modern treatise on international law. William Whewell [1794-1866] wrote on numerous subjects and is known for the breadth of his endeavors, and his influence on the philosophy of science. He was one of the founding members and an early president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Royal Society, president of the Geological Society, and longtime Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
A classic treatise on international maritime law. Originally published: New York: Oxford University Press, 1916. xv, (xiv-xv, 79 pp. paged in duplicate (158 pp.)), 81-83 pp. (total 182 pp.) A translation of Grotius's Mare Liberum, with Latin and English on facing pages. This groundbreaking work was commissioned by the Dutch East India Company to dispute the monopoly on East Indian trade routes claimed by the Portuguese. It argues that the seas are international territory open to all nations, thus rejecting the idea that any area of the seas could belong to a country. An instant classic, it received a great deal of attention when it was published in 1609. Perhaps the most important reply is John Selden's Mare Clausum (1635), which defends British claims to sovereignty over the coastal waters of the British Isles.
“On The Law of War and Peace” was translated into many languages, and most law schools adopted it as the basis of the right of nations. Princes and statesmen consulted the book, and just as Alexander the Great always had a copy of Homer's 'Iliad,’ so the great Gustavus Adolphus always had with him a copy of Grotius’ work, to remind himself that even the most successful general must respect some laws. Grotius’ strength lies in his moderation and in the fact that he quotes copiously from the best authorities to fortify his views .