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.1
DonahueCharles. ‘Ius in the Subjective Sense in Roman Law: Reflections on Villey and Tierney’ in A Ennio Cortese ed. by MaffeiItalo Birocchi DomenicoCaravaleMarioConteEmanuele and PetronioUgoRome: Il Cigno Edizioni2001 pp. 506–35.
KoskenniemiMartti. ‘International Law and the Emergence of Mercantile Capitalism: Grotius to Smith‘ in The Roots of International Law / Les Fondements Du Droit International: Liber Amicorum Peter Haggenmacher ed. by DupuyPierre-Marie and ChetailVincent. Leiden: Brill2013 pp. 3–37.