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Emile Simpson

In this article I set out Hugo Grotius’s account of sovereign entities in the De Iure Belli ac Pacis (The Rights of War and Peace, 1625). In so doing, I seek to challenge a claim not uncommonly encountered in the recent historiography of the work, namely, that Grotius had no account of the state therein. In challenging that claim, I will make a further claim that while Grotius did have an account of the state, it was only one of two forms of sovereign entity, the other being the patrimonial kingdom. While this last claim is occasionally encountered in terms of a distinction between forms of government, I go further, on the basis that the distinction identifies a fundamental conceptual difference between free and unfree nations, which speaks not only to the form of government, but to the nature of the sovereign entity itself. Furthermore, it is my contention that through the patrimonial kingdom, Grotius was able to account for empire.1

Felix Waldmann

The following article presents the text and translation of an unpublished letter to Grotius from Edward Herbert (1582?–1648), Lord Cherbury. The letter pertains to Cherbury’s The expedition to the Isle of Rhé or Expeditio in Ream Insulam – his manuscript account of the duke of Buckingham’s abortive siege of the Isle of Ré in July–October 1627.

Michael Hein


This article examines the origins, differentiation, and migration of constitutional entrenchment clauses from the beginning of modern constitutionalism until today. It is based on a broad understanding of ‘entrenchment clauses,’ covering all constitutional provisions that make amendments either to certain parts of a constitution or under certain circumstances more difficult to achieve than ‘normal’ amendments or even impossible, i.e., legally inadmissible. In particular, the article answers three questions: (1) When, and in which contexts, did the different types of constitutional entrenchment clauses emerge? (2) How have these types spread globally? (3) Which constitutional subjects do such clauses protect, and thus, which main functions do they aim to fulfill? The article is based on the new and unique Constitutional Entrenchment Clauses Dataset (CECD), which comprises 860 written national constitutions worldwide from 1776 until the end of 2015.

Patent and innovation during the Industrial Revolution in England

Reflections on Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795)

Deming Liu


The article explores the role of patent or lack thereof in Josiah Wedgwood’s business. It first discusses the motive behind his opposition of extension of Richard Champion’s patent and then delves into his defence of his own patent in the dispute with the alleged infringer. It aims to show the incongruence of words and deeds of a tradesman with respect to patents; more importantly, it sets out to demonstrate that the claim of patent as an incentivising measure does not bear out as far as Wedgwood is concerned; rather, it is lack of patent protection that facilitates innovation in his pottery business.

‘Strasbourg was something new, it was an adventure’

A history of the Belgian cases before the European Court of Human Rights in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s

Laurens Lavrysen


In recent years, a burgeoning literature has focused on the history of human rights in general and the history of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in particular. In order to understand how the ECHR gradually managed to gain authority in diverse national settings, it is necessary to complement transnational historical perspectives with studies of national reception histories. The present article approaches the history of the ECHR in Belgium by focusing on the history of the Belgian cases in Strasbourg, which have played an important role in contributing to the ‘discovery’ of the ECHR in the Belgian legal system. On the basis of interviews with actors involved in the early cases against Belgium, it was possible to determine their position in the Belgian legal landscape as well as their motivations and aspirations in going to Strasbourg. Moreover, these interviews allowed gaining insight into the circumstances out of which litigation against Belgium arose.