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  • Author or Editor: Emile Simpson x
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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.

In: Grotiana
In: Grotiana
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Abstract

This chapter considers how Hugo Grotius’ (1583–1645) account of the state of nature represented a move, in legal terms at least, to urbanise the extra-civil condition, as opposed to drawing a sharp divide between nature and the city. The model of urbanisation was that of the Roman city. Grotius’ account of the state of nature is best understood as a state of natural liberty, but as one in which it was nonetheless possible to subject others to servitude, and even to slavery. Once subjected in the state of nature, a person, or a whole people, became legally invisible. In this way, the state of natural liberty remained, at least on its visible surface, an account of free people, and free peoples. This account of the state of natural liberty provided Grotius with a means to account for empire that would inform the later development of international law.

In: The State of Nature: Histories of an Idea