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Robert Feenstra

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Hugo Grotius Mare Liberum 1609-2009

Original Latin Text and English Translation

Robert Feenstra

The quadricentenary of Hugo Grotius’ Mare liberum (1609-2009) offered the opportunity to publish a reliable critical edition – combined with a revised English translation – of Grotius’ first publication in the field of international law.
Starting from a comparison with the autographic manuscript, Robert Feenstra undertook a verification of the text of the first and only authorised edition – in particular of the numerous marginal references – resulting in many corrections and further annotations. In his ‘Editor’s Introduction’, he explains the history of the later editions of the Latin text and the translations of Mare liberum. Jeroen Vervliet’s ‘General Introduction’ aims at providing a better understanding of the circumstances in which Hugo Grotius wrote this work; it elucidates the legal argument used by Grotius, and the reaction of his contemporary opponents.
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Robert Feenstra

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Robert Feenstra

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Robert Feenstra

Abstract

In my recent study on Henricus Brunonis de Piro1 I already announced the publication of further research on three manuscripts of the Aberdeen University Library - nos. 195, 196 and 197 - which contain lectures on civil law by professors of Louvain University in the 1430s. These manuscripts once formed part of the private collection of Bishop William Elphinstone, founder of the University of Aberdeen. He had inherited this part of the collection from his father, also named William, who was a law student at Louvain from 1431 to 1433. My attention was drawn to these documents by Dr. Leslie Macfarlane of the Department of History of the University of Aberdeen when I was lecturing at this university in 1959 on the invitation of Professor Peter Stein. One year earlier, in 1958, Dr. Macfarlane had published a very useful description of the Elphinstone collection2; as to our three manuscripts he had made an effort to find out some details about the Louvain law professors mentioned by Elphinstone but a number of questions remained open. I promised to have a closer look at the texts and to show their importance for our knowledge of civil law studies at Louvain in this period. With the help of my then Ghent colleague Egied Strubbe, who immediately showed a great interest in the subject, a full set of copies of the manuscripts3 was put at my disposal and I started my research. Provisional results were presented in guest lectures at Belgian and British universities as early as 1960-19614 and I returned to the matter on various