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The Free Sea of Hugo Grotius

The researcher in this paper chose Hugo Grotius as a Jurist to present about his part of work in Jurisprudence. Hugo Grotius was also known as Huig de Groot, was a Dutch Jurist. He born on 10 April 1855 in Delft, Holland, Dutch Republic during Dutch Revolt. Hugo was the child of Jan de Groot and Alida van Overschie. He is from Natural Law school. A prodigious learner, Hugo entered the University of Leiden when he was just eleven years old. At age sixteen he published his first book known as ‘Late Antique’ a work on several liberal arts. In 1601 he appointed as historiographer for the states of Holland and in 1607 he became the Advocate general of the Fisc of Holland, Zeeland and Friesland & then as Pensionary of Rotterdam in 1613. Grotius laid the foundations of International Law, based on natural law. It is thought that he was not the first to formulate the international society doctrine, but he was one of the first to define expressly the idea of one society of states, governed not by force or warfare but by actual laws and mutual agreement to enforce those laws. He wrote books on Human Rights, Philosophy, Natural Law, Law of War and Peace and International Law. One of the famous work of the jurist was De Indis and Mare Liberum which was a long , theory-laden treatise that he provisionally entitled on the Indies in 1605-06. The researcher herein this paper starts with the information about entire life of Hugo Grotius, will deal with his view on natural law, De Indis and Mare Liberum and the first chapter of The Free Sea. At the end of this paper, the researcher will give reviews on the concerned jurist and his contribution.

Hugo Grotius was registered as a lawyer in the Netherland when only 16 years old. In 1601, he became involved in international law litigation, maritime law to be precise. A Dutch ship seized a Portuguese ship and kept it. At the time, much of maritime law concerned legalized piracy with ships regularly capturing each other-later known as prize law. The title of his work: the law of the prize. Even in England, lords and their captains, such as Walter Raleigh, committed acts of piracy under the auspices of laws known as prize law.

But circa 1600, Grotius had occasion to pause on this phenomena intellectually and his writings initiated an international rethinking of this policy of legal piracy, and the consequences to trade and passenger traffic, even as new worlds were opening up and markets for travel and transport. In the result, he published Mare Liberum (Free Ocean) in 1609 arguing that the ocean belonged to no one state all were free to use it for trade or passenger traffic. Though self-taught as a lawyer, his reputation as an advocate and adviser was growing, along with his political influence.

Hugo Grotius was a Dutch Jurist. He born on 10 April 1583. He was also known as Huig de Groot. Along with earlier works of Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili, Grotius laid the foundations for international law, based on Natural law. He was the father of International Law. A teenage intellectual prodigy, he was imprisoned for his involvement in the intra-Calvinist disputes of the Dutch Republic, but escaped hidden a chest of books. He wrote most of his major works in exile in France.

In 1608, Grotius married Maria van Reigerberch. Along with the earlier works of Francisco de Vitoria ans Alberico Gentili, Grotius laid the foundation for international law, based on natural law.One of the many remarkable features of Grotius fabric of legal writing is the thorough use and reference other jurists, living or dead, as he drew from an electric mix of sources including Roman law, ancient Greek law and domestic civil law. Not everybody agreed with his theories. By contrast England claimed sovereignty over the waters that surrounded the British Islands.

Meanwhile, Grotius earned further promotions within the judicial and government apparatus of the Dutch state. By 1613, he was an active politician and he was again called upon to resolve a dispute over the ever-pressing religious demands upon the organs of state, and vice-versa. Grotius’ theory was to separate the two except to the extent to maintain peace and order. As far as esoteric religious rituals went, though, he proposed that the defence or protection of these be left to the church and not the state. But these were bold suggestions for a still deeply religious population.

Natural Law:
In 1618, Grotius was arrested when a political group adverse to his ideas took power. He narrowly avoided the gallows, instead, on May 18, 1619, receiving a sentence of life imprisonment in Loevestein Castle. This led to Grotius’ famous prison escape when, in 1621, he hid in a box and was secreted out of jail. He quickly left the country and resurfaced in Paris, for an exile that would last the rest of his life. Louis XIII took him into his royal court and gave him a pension, allowing Grotius to resume his intellectual work. He took, first , to religious themes but he could not avoid noticing and commenting on the state of seemingly perpetual war between one and another European states. In 1625, he published : De jure belli ac pacis, translated as The Law of War and Peace. It was a brave foray into what has become known as Natural Law, an attempt to articulate a body of law as natural to man; as inherent human society when left to its own devices – a law that was obvious from the nature of things, and not as interpreted within alleged divine revelations of religion, or the man-made dictates of government.

The Free See:
Few works of such brevity can have caused arguments of such global extent and striking longevity as Hugo Grotius’s Mare Liberum(The Free Sea). The book first appeared in Leiden as a pocket-sized quarto volume from the famous publishing house of Elzevier in the spring of 1609.

This original occasion for the composition of the text that would later comprise Mare Liberum had been the major international dispute occasioned by the Dutch seizure of a Portuguese vessel in the Straits of Singapore in February 1603. On that occasion, the Dutch captain Jakob van Heemskerck had captured the carrack Sta. Catarina, which was carrying a fabulously wealthy cargo of trade goods. When its contents were sold in Amsterdam, they grossed more than three million guilders, a sum equivalent to just less than the annual revenue of the English government at the time and more than double the capital of the English East India Company.

A prize of such magnitude generated an equally prominent debate about the legitimacy of the Dutch capture of a Portuguese vessel in the distant seas of the East Indies. The twenty-one year-old Grotius was drafted to supply a defence of the VOC’s position that the ship had been taken as booty in a just war: As he recalled later, the universal laws of war and Prize (universi belli praedaeque jura), and the story of the dire and cruel deeds perpetrated by the Portuguese upon our fellow-countrymen, and many other things pertaining to this subject.

Its discovery revealed that Mare Liberum was substantially identical to the twelfth chapter of the work usually referred to by Grotius himself as De rebus Indicis5 (On the Affairs of the Indies), though better known by the title given to it by the first editor, De jure Praedae Commentarius (Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty).

Thirteen Chapters of The Free Sea:
The Free Sea, a Disputation concerning the Right which the Hollanders Ought to Have to the India. In the book “The Free Sea” Hugo Grotius talks about thirteen chapters of the disputation. They are namely,
(i) That by the law of the nations any man may sail freely to whomsoever.
(ii) That the Portugals have no right of dominion over those Indians by title of invention unto whom the Hollanders do sail.
(iii) That the Portugals have no right of dominion over the Indians by title of the Pope’s gift
(iv)That the Portugals have no right of dominion over the Indians by title of war.
(v) That the sea to the Indians or the right of sailing thither is not proper to the Portugals by title of possession.
(vi) That the sea or right of sailing belongeth not properly to the Portugals by the Pope’s donation.
(vii) That the sea or right of sailing is not proper to the Portugals by title of prescription or custom.
(viii) That by the law of nations traffic is free with all.
(ix) That merchandise or trading with the Indians is not proper to the Portugals by title of possession.
(x) That traffic with the Indians is not proper to the Portugals by title of the Pope’s gift.
(xi) That traffic with the Indians is not proper to the Portugals by right of prescription or customs.
(xii) That the Portugals incline not to equity in forbidding trade.
(xiii) That the right of the Indian trade is to be retained of the Hollanders both by peace, truce and war.

By the law of nations navigations is free for any to whomsoever:
Our purpose is shortly and clearly to demonstrate that it is lawful for the Hollanders, that is the subjects of the confederate states of the Low Countries, to sail to the Indians as they do and entertain traffic with them. We will lay this certain rule of the law of nations as the foundation, the reason where of is clear and immutable: that it is lawful for any nation to go any other and to trade with it.

Now it cometh to pass that one nation should supply the want of another by the appoint of divine justice, that thereby that which is brought forth anywhere might seem to be bred with all; therefore we hear poets speaking,and so forth.

This Seneca thinketh the greatest benefit of nature, that even by the wind she hath mingled nations scattered in regard of place and hath so divide all her goods into countries that mortal men must needs traffic among themselves8. This right therefore, equally appertaineth to all nations, which the most famous lawyers enlarge so far that they deny any commonwealth or price to be able wholly to forbid others to come unto their subjects and trade with them.

We also know that wars began for this cause, as with the Mararensians against the Athenians, and the Bononians againsts the Venetians, and that these also were just causes of war to the Castukuabs against the Americans, and more probable than the rest. Victoria also thinketh it a just cause of war if they should be forbidden to go on pilgrimage and to live with them; if they were denied from the participation of those things which by the law of nations or customs are common; if, finally, they were not admitted to traffic.

The like whereof is that which we read in the history of Moses, and Augustine thereupon: that the Israelites made just war against the Amorites because a harmless passage was senied which by the most just law of human society ought to have been open to them. And for this cause Hercules made war with the King of the Orchomenians, the Grecians under Agamemnon with the King of the Mysians, as if naturally ways and passage should be free,15 and the Romans in Tacitus are accused of the Germans because they barred the conference and resort of the nations and shut up rivers and earth and heaven itself after a certain manner. Nor did any title against the Saracens in times past please the Christians better than that they were stopped by them from entering into the land of Jewry.

It followeth upon this opinion that the Portugals, although they had been lords of those countries whither the Hollanders go, yet they should do wrong if they stopped the passage and trade of the Hollanders.

“ Anyone wanting an accessible introduction to that epochal argument, to the genesis of modern theories of property and sovereignty, or to Grotius’s political theory could do no better than begin with his compact classic, Mare Liberum.” - David Armitage

Grotius possessed a reputation as one of Europe’s most precocious and penetrating humanist scholars. Though self-taught as a lawyer, his reputation as an advocate and adviser was growing, along with his political influence. By publishing Mare Liberum, he was displaying the literary, rhetorical, and philosophical talents that had won him his burgeoning fame and respect, and he was also intervening in two political debates of pivotal significance for his own country.

Although the arena of dispute was local, the implications of Mare Liberum’s arguments were global. Mare Liberum was taken by the English and the Scots as an assault on their fishing rights in the North Sea and by the Spanish as an attack on the foundations of their overseas empire. The immediate context for the publishing of Mare Liberum was the process of negotiating a truce between the Dutch and the Spanish to end the decade of contention that had begun with the Dutch revolt of the late sixteenth century.

Mare Liberum is a really a remarkable work of Hugo Grotius.

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