The first edition of Hugo Grotius’s De iure belli ac pacis was published in Paris by Nicolas Buon in 1625. An unauthorised second edition appeared in Frankfurt a year later, from the reputable Wechel press. After Grotius made hundreds of changes to the first and second states of the first edition, and failed to convince the publisher Nicolas Buon of the merits of printing yet another edition of the book, the Wechels’s release of a new edition sought to capitalise on the high demand for the text, as copies had sold out in Central Europe by the summer of 1625. In this preliminary report on the 1626 edition, using online and card catalogues, we have located 59 surviving copies. We examined thirteen copies in person, and another three fully digitised copies online, and on the basis of this small sample we have been able to draw a number of conclusions. We hope that this research note on preliminary results will generate interest in this unduly neglected edition, and that readers will kindly bring further copies to our attention.
Hugo Grotius’s best-known work, De iure belli ac pacis, appeared in 1625 in Paris with the author’s approval. A second unauthorised version was published in 1626 in Frankfurt. In 1631 the Amsterdam publisher, Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571–1638), issued the third edition, this one authorised by the author – and this edition featured nearly a thousand revisions by Grotius. The purpose of this report is to analyse the context behind the publication of this third edition and the copies’ provenance records. Using online and card catalogues, we have located 154 copies. We examined 52 copies in person, and another three fully digitised copies online. We hope that this research note on preliminary results will generate greater interest in this unduly neglected edition, and that readers will kindly bring further copies to our attention.
This article provides new information on the publication history of the first edition of the text that, according to many scholars, laid the ground for the growth of international law: Hugo Grotius’s De iure belli ac pacis. Drawing on the preliminary findings of the Grotius Census Project at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the following pages shed light on the first three states of the typescript, the sources that Grotius had access to in France while drafting the book, and the early circulation of the 1625 edition, published by Nicolas Buon in Paris. The goal of this publication is to disseminate updated information on the printing history of this key text in the history of legal and political thought, and to invite readers to come forward with more information about the location of the remaining copies of the text, in order to advance our understanding of the rise of international law around the world.