Hugo Grotius

Hugo Grotius (grō´shəs), 1583–1645, Dutch jurist and humanist, whose Dutch name appears as Huigh de Groot. He studied at the Univ. of Leiden and became a lawyer when 15 years old. In Dutch political affairs Grotius supported Oldenbarneveldt against Maurice of Nassau. After Maurice gained power he had Grotius condemned (1619) to prison for life, but Grotius made a daring escape in 1621 and fled to Paris. There, expanding certain views he had earlier recorded but had never published, he wrote De jure belli ac pacis [concerning the law of war and peace] (1625, definitive ed. 1631), usually considered the first definitive text on international law. In it Grotius contended that natural law prescribes rules of conduct for nations as well as for private individuals. He derived much of the specific content of international law from the Bible and from classical history. Although he did not condemn war as an instrument of national policy, he maintained that it was criminal to wage war except for certain causes. Much of his book is an attempt to make the conditions of warfare more humane by inducing respect for private persons and their property. Grotius returned briefly to Holland in 1631, but was forced to flee in 1632. From 1635 to 1645 he represented Sweden at the French court. Although generally regarded as the founder of international law, Grotius was indebted for much of his work to earlier scholars, especially Gentili. Grotius was also a leading student of theology and biblical criticism, and he wrote an authoritative account of contemporary Dutch political affairs.

See study by E. Durnbauld (1969).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hugo Grotius: Selected full-text books and articles

Readings in Political Philosophy By Francis William Coker Macmillan, 1938 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Readings from De Jure Belli ac Pacis" by Hugo Grotius begins on p. 403
Hugo Grotius and International Relations By Hedley Bull; Benedict Kingsbury; Adam Roberts Clarendon Press, 1992
FREE! Seven Great Statesmen in the Warfare of Humanity with Unreason By Andrew Dickson White The Century Co., 1910
Librarian’s tip: "Grotius" begins on p. 53
History of Political Philosophy By Leo Strauss; Joseph Cropsey Rand McNally, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "Hugo Grotius 1583-1645" begins on p. 344
Traditions of War: Occupation, Resistance, and the Law By Karma Nabulsi Oxford University, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Enigma of the Middle Way: Grotius and the Grotian Tradition on War"
Hugo Grotius, East India Trade and the King of Johor By Borschberg, Peter Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 30, No. 2, September 1999
FREE! The Equality of States in International Law By Edwin Dewitt Dickinson Harvard University Press, 1920
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "The Principle of State Equality in the System of Grotius"
Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy By Jon Miller; Brad Inwood Cambridge University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Stoics, Grotius, and Spinoza on Moral Deliberation"
The End of World Order: Essays on Normative International Relations By Richard Falk Holmes & Meier, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Grotian Quest"
Political Theories of International Relations: From Thucydides to the Present By David Boucher Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Constraining the Causes and Conduct of War: Aquinas, Vitoria, Gentili, and Grotius"
A History of Political Theory By George H. Sabine Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1961 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Grotius: Natural Law" begins on p. 420
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