Vattel in the Republic of Genoa: Between Theory and Practice
This chapter reconstructs the reception of Vattel’s Droit des Gens in the Republic of Genoa during the second half of the Eighteenth century. It considers the diffusion of the work from an unusual perspective. Instead of focusing on a debate between jurists, this chapter deals with the traces that the Droit des gens left in the everyday operations of Genoese magistratures. The chapter focuses especially on the neutrality proclamation of 1779 and the accompanying law that represents first Genoese attempt that helped to transform customary neutrality into an internationally accepted written norm. This law was inspired by one of the hallmarks of Vattel’s thinking, the identification of the legitimacy of small states to claim the exercise of sovereign autonomy on the international scene. The analysis of the Genoese case is compared with the Tuscan declaration of neutrality of the same year, where the usage of the Droit des gens was altogether more direct, full and self-conscious.