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.
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
(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
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
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.