This article deals with the doctrine of diplomatic immunity elaborated by the French jurist and humanist Pierre Ayrault (1536–1601). After a brief outline of the debate on diplomatic immunity from the end of the Middle Ages to the middle of the sixteenth century, the article focuses on Ayrault’s discussion of the topic in the works he published between 1563 and 1588, and points to some important changes that occurred in the way in which the figure of the ambassador was conceived at that time. These changes offer us a number of elements which could lead to a better understanding of the transition from the medieval to the early-modern conceptions of diplomacy and ius gentium.
Lucas de Penna’s commentary on the Tres Libri Codicis – and, in particular, that commentary’s section on the part de legationibus – documents how late-Medieval civil law scholarship contributed to work out the status of ambassadors. Although De Penna’s text has been overlooked in legal historiography and studies on Medieval diplomacy, the author’s specific approach was at the time unique in late-Medieval legal scholarship, both in terms of method and content, and anticipated in many ways essential themes of early-modern scholarship on the status of diplomats.
This chapter outlines a history of the concept of ius gentium. It is intended to serve as a contribution to the intellectual history of international law, from Late Antiquity to Early Modern Times. The historical role played by the concept in the framing of international law is not easy to evaluate, as the oldest traces of Roman ‘public international law’, in the sense of law regulating relations between polities, are actually found within ius fetiale. It is, in fact, difficult to arrive at a clear understanding of ius gentium in the history of Ancient and Medieval legal thought, due to a semantic stratification dating back to Roman Antiquity: on the one hand, a fundamental ambiguity exists in the relationship between ius naturale and ius gentium (as in Gaius’ definition, Dig. 1.1.9, possibly under Ciceronian influence) – on the other, the latter, first classified as a branch of the ius privatum (Ulpian, Dig. 22.214.171.124), was later understood as including public law institutes (Hermogenian, Dig. 1.1.5) and even institutes mainly relating to foreign relations (Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae V.6 = Decretum c. 9, d. 1). The simple juxtaposition of these definitions within Justinian’s compilation and Gratian’s Decretum raised several theoretical issues for Medieval jurists, and generated a significant scholarly debate. Firstly, following Dig. 1.1.4 and Dig. 1.1.5, glossators argued that ius naturale and ius gentium – not, as would be claimed by later jurists, Roman law as a whole – formed the ius commune. Secondly, commentaries on Dig. 1.1.5 analysed the various legal institutes listed within the passage, focusing particularly on dominium and obligations. Thirdly, both jurists and theologians elaborated extensively upon the connections between ius gentium and ius naturale: they first drew a distinction between ius naturale primaevum and secundarium, and then reformulated this distinction in such a way that ius gentium itself was split into ius gentium primaevum and secundarium. Many words were to be expended on this distinction until well into Early Modern Times, in the course of a discussion which recent scholarship has studied in depth. This chapter, however, will focus less on this doctrinal debate during the the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries than on the transformation undergone by ius gentium as it developed into a ius inter gentes specifically regulating relations between political communities. Special attention will be paid to diplomatic theory, which has proven to be a particularly interesting field within which to fully evaluate the slow emergence of the state as the only legitimate subject of international law.
La formation diplomatique est une des questions majeures abordées dans les écrits sur l’ambassadeur et l’art de négocier de l’époque moderne. Dès la fin du XVIe siècle, le modèle du « parfait ambassadeur », qui plongeait ses racines dans la culture humaniste, est soumis à une critique serrée visant une redéfinition du statut politique et culturel de l’ambassadeur. Au fil du XVIIe siècle et du début du XVIIIe, on assiste à la formulation de programmes de formation plus spécifiques, centrés sur la connaissance de la documentation diplomatique et de l’histoire moderne, conçue comme une source du ius gentium. Cette réflexion, menée parfois en polémique ouverte avec la mauvaise formation des ambassadeurs, va jouer un rôle important à l’égard de la ‘professionnalisation’ de l’ambassadeur à l’époque moderne.