This article reconstructs Jacob van Heemskerck's second voyage to the East Indies and his capture of the Portuguese merchantman
on 25 February 1603. It incorporates important new archival evidence like Van Heemskerck's letter to the directors of the Dutch East India Company of 27 August 1603, and the original text of the verdict of the Amsterdam Admiralty Court, which confiscated the
on 4 September 1604. It has long been known that the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) wrote
De Jure Praedae
in defense of the ship's seizure and at the explicit request of the directors of the Dutch East India Company. Historians have failed to recognise, however, that Grotius' conceptualisation of natural rights and natural law in
De Jure Praedae
is based to a large extent on Van Heemskerck's own justification of privateering. A key notion of Grotius' rights theories - the individual's right to punish transgressors of the natural law in the absence of an independent and effective judge - follows logically from Van Heemskerck's reasoned decision to assault the
in revenge for Portuguese mistreatment of Dutch merchants in the East Indies. As shown by recent work in international relations theory - notably Edward Keene's
Beyond the Anarchical Society: Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics
(Keene, 2002) - the natural law and natural rights theories that Grotius formulated in
De Jure Praedae
cannot be divorced from Dutch imperialism and colonialism in the early modern period.
This article reconstructs the printing history of Hugo Grotius's Mare liberum (The Free Sea, 1609). It examines the political circumstances which prompted the pamphlet's publication, but then seemed to conspire against it, and relates these to Grotius's revision of chapter 12 of Ms. BPL 917 in Leiden University Library, the one surviving copy of De iure praedae (The Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty, 1604-1608). While preparing chapter 12 for the press, he made a serious effort to tone down its bellicose rhetoric, erasing, for example, all references to the Spanish claims to the Americas. His aim was to placate the French envoy Pierre Jeannin and his own political patron Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the driving forces behind the negotiations for the Twelve Years' Truce (1609-1621). In the context of these negotiations, Grotius was at pains to downplay his radical rights theories. The subjective right of punishment only received a mention in the conclusion of Mare liberum, for example. Yet a discarded outline for the pamphlet's preface shows that the argument of De iure praedae remained uppermost in his mind, witness the outline's denunciation of the 'poisonings, perfidy and crimes of the Portuguese'. Both De iure praedae and Mare liberum had been commissioned by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) for the express purpose of influencing political developments in its favour. Yet neither treatise had the impact originally intended by Grotius and the VOC directors. Ironically, these occasional writings became classics of international law instead.