Grotius Collection

H.J.M. Nellen
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Grotius Collection
International law, jurisprudence. The Grotius Collection of the Peace Palace, The Hague

The Peace Palace
In 1914, the Hague publisher Martinus Nijhoff donated to the recently established library of the Peace Palace a collection comprising 55 editions of De Jure Belli ac Pacis (On the Law of War and Peace), the most famous work by the great Dutch humanist and jurist Hugo Grotius (1583-1645). The Peace Palace, built with the support of the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, has been the abode of the Permanent Court of Arbitration since 1913. And because in 1922 it also became home to the Permanent Court of International Justice (known as the International Court of Justice since 1945), the Peace Palace has been able to develop into a widely renowned centre for the study of international law.

De Jure Belli ac Pacis
The gift from Nijhoff was singularly appropriate because De Jure Belli ac Pacis is a milestone in the history of international law. In this work, Grotius lays out his doctrine of natural law as the basis for the justifiable war. For a long period, De Jure Belli ac Pacis was granted such high significance that its author was regarded as the father of international law. The work aroused much interest at the very beginning of the period between the two World Wars because, supported by the influence of jurists such as Cornelis van Vollenhoven (1874-1933), the conviction gained ground that Grotius's body of thought could provide an answer to the question of how to clear away the violence of war and cultivate a lasting peace.

Largest collection in the world
Using the gift from Nijhoff as foundation, subsequent librarians of the Peace Palace have strived to expand the collection: many other works of Grotius were added, or obtained in photocopy-form from other libraries, with the aim of bringing together as complete a corpus as possible. Although a complete body of work will always remain an ideal, their efforts have led to a noteworthy result, namely, that the collection of Grotiana in the library of the Peace Palace is now the largest anywhere in the world. Of the roughly 1,300 editions of works by Grotius, some 1,000 can now be consulted at the Peace Palace.

Jacob ter Meulen
Hence, the Peace Palace can function as a home for research into the life and work of Hugo Grotius. In this respect, Jacob ter Meulen is worthy of special mention. Ter Meulen, librarian at the Peace Palace from 1924 until 1952, has been of immeasurable service to the field of Grotius research. Following years of intensive bibliographical investigation, in 1950 he published, together with his colleague P.J.J. Diermanse, the Bibliographie des écrits imprimés de Hugo Grotius (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff), which contains an exhaustive description of every known edition of Grotius's works. The book is an indispensable work of reference for any serious researcher into the life and work of Grotius. The original and translated editions of the works of Grotius demonstrate how widely his body of thought has been spread by the printed word. The Bibliographie actually offers a clear account of the acceptance of the writer Grotius, in other words, his enduring influence (Nachleben). By 1950, for example, the text (or parts of it) of De Jure Belli ac Pacis was available in approximately 115 editions. The languages of these editions were Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Chinese, as well as the original Latin. Nor have events stood still since then: not only has a reprint of the large, 1939 edition appeared, but three partial translations into Dutch have also seen the light of day. In 1961, Ter Meulen and Diermanse published another edition of Bibliographie des écrits sur Hugo Grotius, imprimés a u XVII siècle (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff), a bibliography that includes all minor seventeenth century literature devoted to Hugo Grotius. This bibliography, too, shows in no uncertain terms that Grotius's book has had an enormous influence and stirred many a pen to life.

Quick access
Anybody who has conducted research into Grotius this century will have realized that it takes increasingly more time and effort to access old editions of the works of Grotius. True, most of these works can be consulted in the important libraries of The Hague (Peace Palace, Royal Library), Leiden (the University Library) and Amsterdam (the Library of the University of Amsterdam), and fine collections of Grotiana are held by the major libraries abroad, nevertheless, intensive study always needs to be done locally, and the opportunities for obtaining full or partial editions as photocopies or on microfilm are limited. So it is probably a particularly fortunate initiative for the field of Grotius research that IDC Publishers is now bringing out the collection of the Peace Palace. This means every researcher will also be able to consult the rarer editions of a work by Grotiuse.

H.J.M. Nellen, Senior Research Fellow of the Constantijn Huygens Institute for Text Editions and Intellectual History, The Hague

The Microfiche collection
For the presentation of the material on microfiche, the bibliography produced by Ter Meulen and Diermanse has been used as the frame of reference. The two bibliographers classified the works of Grotius into nine disciplines:
I. Poetry
II. Philosophy and Science
III. Classical Philology
IV. International Law – Diplomacy – International Politics – International Relations
V. History
VI. Jurisprudence
VII. Political-Religious Treatises
VIII. Theology
IX. Letters

Finding aids
Rendering the material accessible will be based on the numbering system used in the Ter Meulen and Diermanse bibliography, so it should never prove too difficult to determine precisely which edition is being consulted. For a guide to the works of Grotius held at the Peace Palace, the reader should consult A.C. Eyffinger, J.C.M. Willems, H.J.M. Nellen et al., The Grotius Collection at the Peace Palace. A Concise Catalogue, in: Grotiana. N.S. 3 (1982), pp. 79-116. This has also appeared separately (Assen 1983).

Language note
Texts in Latin, Dutch, English, French and German.

This collection includes the sections:
Grotius Titles
International Law Titles

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Grotius Collection - Grotius Titles
Publication Date: 01 Jan 1999
Grotius Collection - International Law Titles
Publication Date: 01 Jan 1999
Grotius Collection - Jurisprudence
Publication Date: 01 Jan 1999
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