Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Grotius, Hugo

Birth: 10 April 1583
Death: 28 August 1645
  • Patrick BrughEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_556-1


Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) was a Dutch jurist, humanist, and theologian, whose work resonated with and inspired the political and intellectual issues of his time. Born to a family with a history of local governance and academic excellence, Grotius pushed beyond his family’s local political influence to become a diplomat, lawyer, and public intellectual of international prominence. Against the backdrop of escalating political tensions throughout Europe between parties such as Spain and the Netherlands, Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as France and England, Grotius’s writings in law and theology engaged with and broke new ground in debates that would influence the outcome of several political conflicts, from the Dutch Revolt against Spain to the Thirty Years’ War. At the same time, Grotius’s humanistic writings, especially his translations and philological works, are not to be overlooked for their scholarly and aesthetic contributions to European cultural history. This article narrates Grotius’s life and then examines some of his key interventions and legacy in the disciplines of philology, international law, and theology.


Christian Faith Peace Talk United Province Sovereign Nation Dutch Republic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


Edited Collections of Primary Literature

  1. Grotius, Hugo. 1679. Opera omnia theologica, in tres tomos divisa. Ante quidem per partes, nunc autem coniunctim et accuratius edita. Amsterdam: Blaeu; photomechanical reprint Stuttgart – Bad Cannstatt: Friedrich Frommann, 1972.Google Scholar
  2. Grotius, Hugo. 1868. In De jure praedae commentarius, ed. H.G. Hamaker. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  3. Grotius, Hugo. 1919. In De iure belli ac pacis libri tres, ed. P.C. Molhuysen. Leiden: Sijthoff.Google Scholar
  4. Grotius, Hugo. 1925. The law of war and peace. Trans. France Kelsey. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company.Google Scholar
  5. Grotius, Hugo. 1928–2001. Briefwisseling van Hugo Grotius. Edited by P.C. Holhuysen, B.L. Meulenbroek, and H.J.M. Nellen. 17 vols. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  6. Grotius, Hugo. 2001. De imperio summarum potestatum circa sacra. In Studies in the history of Christian thought, vol. 2, ed. Harm-Jan van Dam. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  7. Grotius, Hugo. 2006. Commentary on the law of prize and booty. Edited by Martine Julia van Ittersum, trans. Gwladys L. Williams. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar

Original Publications of Select Primary Literature

  1. Grotius, Hugo. 1508. Tragoedia Christus Patiens. Lugduni Batavorum: Basson [i.e. 1608].Google Scholar
  2. Grotius, Hugo, trans. 1600. Syntagma Arateorum; Opus antiquitatis et astronomiae studiosis utilissimum. Leyden: Raphelengius.Google Scholar
  3. Grotius, Hugo. 1609. Mare liberum sive de jure quod Batavis competit ad Indicana commercial dissertation. Lugundi: Elzevir.Google Scholar
  4. Grotius, Hugo. 1625. De iure belli ac pacis: libri tres; in quibus ius naturae & Gentium: Item iuris publici praecipua explicantur. Paris: Buon.Google Scholar
  5. Grotius, Hugo. 1679. Opera omnia theologica in tres tomos divisa. Amsterdam: Blaeu.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Borschberg, Peter. 1996. ‘De Pace’: Ein unveröffentlichtes Fragment von Hugo Grotius über Krieg und Frieden. Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte Romanistische Abteilung 115: 268–292.Google Scholar
  2. Brett, Annabel. 2002. Natural right and civil community: The civil philosophy of Hugo Grotius. Historical Journal 45(1): 31–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bull, Hedley. 1990. The importance of Grotius in the study of international relations. In Hugo Grotius and international relations, ed. Bull Hedley, Kingsbury Benedict, and Roberts Adam, 65–93. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. de Blois, Matthij. 2011. Blessed [Are] the peacemakers …: Grotius on the just war and Christian pacifism. Grotiana 32: 20–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Edwards, C.S. 1981. Hugo Grotius: The miracle of Holland, a study in political and legal thought. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Forde, Steven. 1998. Hugo Grotius on ethics and war. American Political Science Review 92(3): 639–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Geddert, Jeremy Seth. 2014. Beyond strict justice: Hugo Grotius on punishment and natural right(s). The Review of Politics 76: 559–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haakonssen, Knud. 1985. Hugo Grotius and the history of political thought. Political Theory 13(2): 239–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haakonssen, Knud. 1996. Natural law and moral philosophy: From Grotius to the Scottish enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Haelschner. Grotius, Hugo. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (1879), S. [onlinefassung]. http://www.deutsche-biographie.de/pnd118542702.html. Accessed 3 June 2016.
  11. Heering, Jan Paul. 2004. Hugo Grotius as apologist for the christian religion: A study of his work De veritate religionis Christianae (1640), translated by J.C. Grayson, Studies in the History of Christian Thought, 111. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  12. Lauterpacht, H. 1946. The Grotian tradition in international law. In International law: A contemporary perspective, ed. Richard Falk, Friedrich Kratochwil, and Saul Mendlovitz. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  13. Müller, Edgar. 2009. Hugo Grotius and the thirty years war: An early reception of De iure belli ac pacis. Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis/Revue d’Histoire du Droit/The Legal History Review 77(3–4): 499–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nellen, Henk. 1985. Hugo de Groot (1583–1645): De Loopbaan van een Geleerd Staatsman. Weesp: Heureka.Google Scholar
  15. Nellen, Henk. 2012. Minimal religion, deism and socinianism: On Grotius’s motives for writing De Veritate. Grotiana 33: 25–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nellen, Henk. 2014. Minimal faith and irenic ideals in seventeenth-century scholarly circles: Hugo Grotius as a guardian of Isaac Casaubon’s legacy. Church History and Religious Culture 94: 444–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. O’Donovan, Oliver. 2004. The justice of assignment and subjective rights in Grotius. In Bonds of imperfection: Christian politics, past and present, ed. Oliver O’Donovan and Joan Lockwood O’Donovan. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
  18. Olivecrona, Karl. 1977. Die zwei Schichten im naturrechtlichen Denken. Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 63: 79–103.Google Scholar
  19. Onuma, Yasuaki (ed.). 1993. A normative approach to war: Peace, war, and justice in Hugo Grotius. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Parker, Charles. 2015. In dialogue with the world: Hugo Grotius’s vision of global citizenship and Christian unity. The Journal of Political History 27: 364–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Prior, Charles. 2013. ‘The Highest Powers’: Grotius and the internationalization of church and state. Grotiana 34: 91–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rabkin, Jeremy. 1997. Grotius, vattel and Locke: An older view of liberalism and nationality. Review of Politics 59: 293–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Salter, John. 1999. Sympathy with the poor: Theories of punishment in Hugo Grotius and Adam Smith. History of Political Thought 20(2): 205–224.Google Scholar
  24. Stumpf, Christoph. 2006. The Grotian theology of international law: Hugo Grotius and the moral foundations of international relations, Religion and Society, vol. 44. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tierney, Brian. 2001. The idea of natural rights. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
  26. Tuck, Richard. 1979. Natural rights theories: Their origin and development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tuck, Richard. 1993. Philosophy and government, 1572–1651. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tuck, Richard. 1999. The rights of war and peace: Political thought and the international order from Grotius to Kant. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. van Ittersum, Martine Julia. 2003. Hugo Grotius in context: Van Heemskerck’s capture of the Santa Catarina and its justification in De Jure Praedae (1604–1606). Asian Journal of Social Science 31: 511–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. van Ittersum, Martine Julia. 2006. Profit and principle: Hugo Grotius, natural rights theories and the rise of Dutch power in the East Indies, 1595–1615, Studies in Intellectual History. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  31. van Ittersum, Martine Julia. 2016. Confiscated manuscripts and books: What happened to the personal library and archive of Hugo Grotius following his arrest on charges of high treason in August 1618? Lost Books 46: 362–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weindl, Andrea. 2009. Grotius’s Mare Liberum in the political practice of early-modern Europe. Grotiana 30: 131–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yasuaki, Onuma (ed.). 1993. A normative approach to war: Peace, war, and justice in Hugo Grotius. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Loyola University MarylandBaltimoreUSA