GROTIUS, Hugo De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri tres.


The foundation of modern international law
First edition of De Jure Belli ac Pacis by Grotius covered with contemporary finely handwritten erudite Latin notes, preserved in its old binding. « The foundation of modern international law » (PMM, 125).

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Paris, Nicolas Buon, 1625.

4to [245 x 180 mm] of (2) bl.ll., (17) ll., (1) bl.l., 506 pp., (1) bl.l., pp. 553 to 786, (39) ll., small hole in p. 293. With the bl.l. Sss4. Title in red and black. Many old handwritten notes in the text. Bound in full overlapped vellum, decorated flat spine, red edges. Old binding.

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First edition dedicated to the King Louis XIII, « of the foundation of modern international law » (PMM, 125). Ter Meulen & Diermanse, 565.

It was the first attempt to lay down a principle of right, and a basis for society and government, outside Church or Scripture. [It contains] the first expression of the ‘droit naturel’, the natural law which exercised the great political theorists of the eighteenth century, and is the foundation of modern international law”. (PMM)

Published in Paris in 1625, ‘De Jure Belli ac Pacis’ had a considerable impact. Grotius was not the first one to deal with the matter, but his book is so much superior to the ones of his predecessors that it is fair to make start, with him, legal speculation on the laws of war and on international law in general.”

The impact of this work was considerable, both on doctrine and on international practice: many of his opinions on such and such precise points are still today ‘jus receptum’ in the international reports. Heir to the scientific and critical thought from the Renaissance, Grotius is, by this work, at the origin of all the theories of natural law as well as the rationalist concept, from Locke to Rousseau. He directly inspired Vico who called Grotius ‘the jurisconsult of the human kind’; his work is one of the great masterpieces of the 17th century thought, between the Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World by Galileo Galilei and the Discourse on the Method by Descartes.

Ter-Meulen identifies three states of the first edition. Most copies are composed of various elements from the different states since the bookseller required the book to be ready for the Frankfurt fair and therefore made the bookbinders hurry. Thus the present copy includes the errata, which belongs to the 3rd state, but the leaves 487-490 are in the first state. That was also the case of the copy with ex-dono to Lord Herbert of Cherbury sold for £ 101 000 (that is to say approximately 153 000 €) by Christie’s London on June 2nd, 2004. (The spine of the binding of this copy was much restored, the lettering-piece was modern and the binding English).

A precious copy which belonged to a scholar of that time who covered the margins of the volume with finely handwritten Latin notes in black ink. The volume bears at the back of the title-page the stamp of the « Herzogl. Bibliothek Neustrelitz » and the ex libris E. Becker dated 1817. Another handwritten ex libris was cut out in the lower white margin of the title-page.

A very fine copy preserved in its old binding in overlapping vellum.

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