Grotius and English Charters

In: Grotiana
View More View Less
  • 1 Rutgers University (Emeritus)

When examined collectively the trade and colonization charters that Tudor and Stuart monarchs issued demonstrate a developing English conception of world order based on trade monopolies and not on ecclesiastical premises or on the Grotian notion of freedom of the seas. There were therefore three early modern conceptions of how an international order might be created, not one, all of which affected European trade with the Americas and Asia. They all began with the assumption that the discovery of the several new worlds required developing rules of engagement to reduce if not to eliminate conflict among the European nations engaged in overseas exploration, settlement, and trade. As Koen Stapelbroek has pointed out, understanding the role of legal notions in the actual historical creation and gradually evolving function of a new kind of commercial-political entity, requires a distinctly non-doctrinal focus.’

  • 1

    Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Adventure of the Silver Blaze’, The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes (Secaucus, nj: Castle, nd), pp. 185–200, at p. 197.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3

    C. G. Roelofsen, ‘Grotius and the International Politics of the Seventeenth Century’, in Hugo Grotius and International Relations, ed. Hedley Bull, Benedict Kingsbury, and Adam Roberts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), pp. 95–131, at pp. 111, 114–116. The most extensive treatment of these meetings is: The Colonial Conferences between England and The Netherlands in 1613 and 1615, 2 vols. ed. G. N. Clark and W. J. M. van Eysinga (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1940, 1951).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12

    Newcomb, Pagans in the Promised Land, p. 125. In fact, the papal position was that the indigenous infidel peoples that the European encountered did legitimately possess the lands they occupied: see James Muldoon, ‘John Wyclif and the Rights of the Infidels: The Requerimiento Re-examined’, The Americas 36(1980), 301–316, esp. 311–316: reprinted in Muldoon, Canon Law, the Expansion, no. vi.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27

    Letters Patent to John Cabot (1496) Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions, i, pp. 46–47 at p. 46. The language of the charter makes no claim that infidels have no right to hold their lands or that the English will acquire such lands by conquest.

  • 35

    Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, iii, p. 103.

  • 36

    Ibid., p. 104.

  • 37

    Ibid., p. 107.

  • 38

    Ibid., p. 105.

  • 39

    Ibid., pp. 109–110. The reference to rivers, creeks, and so on is an interesting extension of the claim to have access by sea not only to the coast but to the interior of any land by waters connected to the sea as well. The same language is found in all of the charters ­discussed here with the exception of John Cabot’s. For the importance of this claim: see Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 44–45, 57. On the claims to have a monopoly of the Baltic trade: see Klein, p. 411.

  • 40

    Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, iii, pp. 110–111.

  • 41

    Ken MacMillan, Sovereignty and Possession in the English New World (Cambridge: ­Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 80.

  • 42

    Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, iii, p. 106.

  • 45

    Ibid., vol. 1, p. 50.

  • 46

    Ibid., vol. 1, p. 50.

  • 47

    Haye, ‘Voyage of Sir Humphrey Gilbert’, pp. 234–235.

  • 49

    MacMillan, Sovereignty and Possession, p. 195.

  • 50

    Haye, pp. 241–242.

  • 51

    Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh, 1584, in Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions, i, pp. 53–57 at p. 54.

  • 54

    Levant Company, p. 32.

  • 55

    Ibid., p. 33. On the importance of English trade with Venice: see Maria Fusaro, Political Economies of Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Decline of Venice and the Rise of England 1450–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

  • 56

    Levant Company, p. 36.

  • 57

    Ibid., p. 38.

  • 58

    Ibid., p. 42.

  • 60

    Newfoundland Company, pp. 52–53.

  • 61

    Ibid., p. 53.

  • 62

    Ibid., p. 53.

  • 64

    Newfoundland Company, p. 54.

  • 65

    Ibid., pp. 55–56.

  • 66

    Ibid., pp. 57–58.

  • 67

    Ibid., pp. 58–59.

  • 68

    Ibid., pp. 61–62.

  • 71

    Ibid., p. 100.

  • 72

    Ibid., p. 103; P. E. H. Hair and Robin Law, ‘The English in Western Africa to 1700’ in: The ­Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. 1, The Origins of Empire: British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, ed. by Nicholas Canny and Alaine Low (­Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 241–263 at p. 251.

  • 73

    African Company, p. 103.

  • 74

    J. H. Parry, The Discovery of the Sea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), pp. 104, 119; Benton, Search for Sovereignty, p. 45.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 75

    African Company, p. 103.

  • 76

    Ibid., p. 104.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 96 44 0
Full Text Views 169 7 1
PDF Downloads 17 6 1