“A Poor Imitation of Grotius and Pufendorf?” Biographical Uncertainties and the Laborious Genesis of Vattel’s Droit des gens
This chapter consists of two parts. The first part analyses the biographical entries on Emer de Vattel in publications published in the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and traces the positive and negative judgements of Vattel’s work.
The second part of the chapter delves into the correspondence between Vattel and Jean Formey, in which the long and complex gestation of Vattel’s main work, the Droit des gens (1758), is recorded. Born from an original attempt to render more clearly and accessible Christian Wolff’s complex theory and to diffuse his ideas in France, the Droit des gens evolved into an entirely new and independent work from the Latin treatise by Wolff and found its way into the channels of European and American diplomacy and politics where it became a classic.