Vattel’s System for Subjects in International Law, and the Establishment of Norway as a Nation in 1814

  • Gert-Fredrik MaltEmail author


This chapter presents Vattel’s system of concepts for subjects in international law, including sovereigns, peoples, states, nations and powers. Against a common view, “État” and “Nation” are shown not to be equivalent concepts. The concepts play different roles in Vattel’s system of international law—as related to different sub-systems of norms: natural law, positive international law and political international law, with different descriptive and normative implications. The development and use of the concepts in the decades after Vattel up to around 1814–1815 is explained. Lastly, they are shown as factors in the process resulting in the establishment of Norway as a (semi-)independent state and nation in 1814.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OsloNorway

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