The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Grotius (de Groot), Hugo (1583–1645)

  • P. G. Stein
Reference work entry


Legal theorist, philosopher and theologian, Grotius was born in Delft on 10 April 1583 and died in Rostock on 28 August 1645. An infant prodigy, Grotius entered the University of Leyden at the age of 11, and at 15 was hailed by Henry IV of France as ‘the miracle of Holland’. Deciding on a legal career, he had become Advocate General of Holland, Zealand and West Friesland by the age of 24. In this period he wrote a treatise on the Law of Prize, of which the part dealing with freedom of the seas (Mare Liberum) was published in 1609. Because of his support for the moderate Arminians against the Calvinists, he was in 1619 imprisoned in Loevestein castle, and while there wrote an introduction to the law of Holland (Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche Rechtsgeleertheyd, published in 1631) and a tract on the truth of the Christian religion, the first of many theological writings. After two years, his wife arranged his escape in a chest ostensibly holding books, and thereafter he lived mainly in France, where he served for ten years as ambassador of Sweden.


Combinations Contract theory Grotius (De Groot), H. Natural law Private property Usury 

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  1. The most convenient modern edition of De iure belli ac pacis is in Classics of International Law Series, Oxford, 1925 (Vol. 1: the Latin text of 1646; Vol. 2: English translation by F.W. Kelsey). General surveys are in W.S.M. Knight, Life and works of Hugo Grotius. London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1925, and E. Dumbauld, Life and writings of Hugo Grotius. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969. Full bibliographies are in the annual volumes of Grotiana (New Series), Assen, Netherlands, 1980 onwards.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. G. Stein
    • 1
  1. 1.