The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DURING ANTIQUITY AND THE MIDDLE AGES

16. International Law impossible before the Rise of the Modern European State System. -- The history of International Law is essentially a history of the law governing the members of the modern International Community of States in their relations with one another. Inasmuch as the observance of well-established rules and customs of the Law of Nations implies the existence of an International Community of States based upon a general recognition of the fundamental principles of territorial sovereignty and equality of independent States in respect to legal rights and obligations; such a law (in the strict and full sense of this term) could not possibly have been developed prior to the rise of the modern European State System, at the close of the Middle Ages or during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries of our era. Nevertheless, we are by no means without evidence, even during Antiquity and the Middle Ages, of the observance in intercommunity intercourse of certain rules and customs, mainly with a religious sanction. This was especially the case in Greece, where there were developed rules and customs of intermunicipal law which, in many respects, bear a truly remarkable resemblance to our modern system of international jurisprudence.

17. The International Relations of Antiquity. -- The international relations of the Ancient World have been represented by historians as almost wholly based upon force, and the nations of antiquity are usually described as living in a state either of almost complete isolation or of perpetual warfare with one another. But recent studies and researches, based largely upon archæological discoveries, have demonstrated that such was by no means invariably the case; and that the older conception of the interstate and intertribal life of antiquity, as either non-existent or as

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