Hugo Grotius

A Lifelong Struggle for Peace in Church and State, 1583 – 1645

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) is the most famous humanist scholar of the Dutch Golden Age. He wrote influential works on the laws of war and peace, Dutch history and the unification of the churches. His plea for a freedom of the seas in Mare liberum offered the Dutch East India Company a ready justification for the establishment of a trading empire in the East Indies. As far as his daily duties left him any spare time, he penned confidential, learned and beautifully-written letters. This voluminous correspondence offers a trove of information on Grotius’ life and works, and forms the basis of his newest biography which sketches a life caught in a fierce struggle for peace in Church and State.
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Biographical Note

Henk Nellen (1949) is staff member of the Huygens Institute (The Hague) and teaches Early Modern History of Ideas at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. He has co-edited the last five volumes of Hugo Grotius’ correspondence, bringing this almost century-long undertaking to completion in 2001.

Review Quotes

AWARDS

The Dutch version of this biography, Hugo de Groot, een leven in strijd om de vrede (Amsterdam: 2007) was awarded two literary prizes: the ‘Litteraire Witte Prijs’ by Sociëteit de Witte (The Hague) in 2008 and the ‘Henriëtte de Beaufort Prijs’ by the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (Leiden) in 2010.

‘As a comprehensive study of the extensive life records of one of the major figures of late humanist intellectual, political and religious culture, it sets a daunting benchmark. […] this book […] can already be ranked alongside the best studies of the seventeenth-century republic of letters, and selections from it would serve as an outstanding introduction to late humanism for advanced undergraduates or graduate students.’
Nicholas Hardy (Trinity College), in: Journal of early modern history 20 (2016), pp 497-499.

‘this book is the standard that any future studies of Grotius must consult’
Keith D. Stanglin (Austin Graduate School of Theology), in: Church History and Religious Culture 96 (2016), pp. 208-209.

‘Nellen gives us a comprehensive and detailed biography of this complex and important figure. Originally published in Dutch, this English translation makes Grotius’s ideas and writings accessible and explicable to a wider audience. In particular, Nellen superbly explains the substance of the religious disputes that absorbed Protestants across Europe in the seventeenth century and elucidates their political dimensions both in the Netherlands and internationally. […] Anyone researching Grotius, Grotian ideas, and the early history of the Netherlands will find this an immensely useful work. Readers in other fields, principally the history of seventeenth-century religious conflicts in Europe and early modern political theory, will also find this a valuable source of information.’
Deborah Baumgold (University of Oregon), in: Renaissance Quarterly 69, No.1 (2016), pp. 315-316.

Table of contents

Preface ... xiii
List of Illustrations ... xvi
Notes on the Illustrations ... xx

1 INTRODUCTION ... 1
Hugo de Groot: A World-Famous Scholar ... 1
A Biography ... 2
Some Main Lines: A Troubled Triangular Relationship ... 7
Terminology ... 13

2 CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH (1583-99) ... 14
Ancestry ... 14
Grotius’ Earliest Childhood ... 24
Grotius as a Student ... 33
The French Journey (1598) ... 44

3 ON THE WAY TO ADULTHOOD (1599-1607) ... 53
Scholarly Activities, Relations with Johan van Oldenbarnevelt ... 53
Leiden Friends: Heinsius, Meursius and Baudius ... 61
Grotius and Simon Stevin ... 67
‘De republica emendanda’ ... 71
Advocate in The Hague; Relations with Johannes Wtenbogaert ... 73
The Bankruptcy of Jan de Groot ... 82
Family Life ... 88

4 ADVOCATE-FISCAL (1607-13) ... 91
De iure praedae as a Step towards the Advocate-Fiscalship ... 91
Grotius as Advocate-Fiscal ... 94
Maria van Reigersberch ... 97
Peace or Truce? ... 102
Mare liberum and De antiquitate ... 106
Administrative Duties ... 112
Relationship with the Stadholder Maurice ... 116
A Poem for Hendrik Delmanhorst ... 118
Leiden Friends: Scaliger, Baudius and Heinsius ... 120

5 A BUDDING POLITICIAN (1609-13) ... 124
The Troubles of the Truce Years ... 124
The Death of Jacobus Arminius ... 127
Johannes Wtenbogaert ... 133
Conradus Vorstius ... 136
Meletius ... 137
Leiden Friends: Petrus Bertius and Petrus Cunaeus ... 143
Political Complications (1611–13) ... 147
The English Journey (1613) ... 149
Discussions with the King and Other Great Men at the English Court ... 155
Return ... 162

6 PENSIONARY OF ROTTERDAM (1613-16) ... 165
The Pensionary’s Office as a Turning Point ... 165
The Appointment ... 167
Rotterdam ... 168
Family Life ... 170
Ordinum pietas ... 171
The Aftermath ... 177
Three Letters from 1614 ... 191
Political Career ... 199

7 AN INTELLECTUAL IN A TIME OF REVOLUTION (1616-18) ... 209
Political and Scholarly Activities ... 209
Adolphus Venator, A Hunter for the Truth ... 216
Hubbub in The Hague ... 220
Troublesome Missions: Oudewater and After ... 222
De satisfactione ... 232
De imperio circa sacra ... 239
English Connections ... 244
French Policy ... 249
The Approach of the National Synod ... 251
The Denouement ... 255

8 TRIAL AND IMPRISONMENT (1618-21) ... 264
The Road to Arrest ... 264
Arrest and Imprisonment ... 268
The Trial ... 272
Loevestein ... 293
A Brother’s Services ... 298
The Escape ... 302

9 EXILE (1621-25) ... 313
Paris, A Refuge in a Turbulent World ... 313
Family Life ... 315
Grotius and the French Political Authorities ... 323
Developments in French Calvinism ... 330
Remonstrants in Exile ... 332
Disquisitio an pelagiana sint ... 335
Verantwoordingh ... 340
Grotius and Charenton ... 353
Introduction to the Learned World of Paris. The Cabinet Dupuy ... 355
The ‘fratres tergemini’ ... 363
De iure belli ac pacis ... 367

10 EXILE (1625-31) ... 380
The Change of Power in 1625 ... 380
Financial Uncertainties ... 387
Negotiations ... 392
Maria and Nicolaes van Reigersberch as Grotius’ Advocates ... 398
Exile in Practice. Grotius’ View of France ... 403
Contacts with French Arminians ... 409
A Troubled Relationship: Grotius and Daniel Heinsius ... 412
A New Friendship: Grotius and Claude Saumaise ... 416
An Old Friend: Johannes Wtenbogaert ... 418
De veritate and other Scholarly Publications ... 422
Plans for Return ... 437

11 INTERMEZZO IN HOLLAND (1631-32) ... 443
Unexpected Return ... 443
Amsterdam’s Hospitality ... 452

12 PASSING THROUGH HAMBURG: HESITATIONS AND UNCERTAINTIES (1632-34) ... 463
Hamburg: A Harbour of Refuge ... 463
Negotiations with Sweden ... 471
The Journey to Paris ... 477
Sophompaneas ... 478

13 FRICTION BETWEEN OFFICE, SCHOLARSHIP AND RELIGION: THE FIRST YEARS OF THE PARIS EMBASSY (1635-40) ... 486
Entree ... 486
Family Life ... 488
Grotius and John Selden ... 494
Learned Contacts ... 499
Philology: The Study of Antiquity in All Its Aspects ... 502
Grotius, Heinsius and Saumaise ... 506
The Question of Interest ... 514
Grotius and the Church of Charenton ... 517
Grotius and His Domestic Chaplain Brandan Daetri ... 524
Grotius and Socinianism ... 529
Nicolaes van Reigersberch in Debate with André Rivet ... 536

14 TOWARDS A FINAL BREACH WITH HOLLAND (1635-40) ... 541
The Diplomatic Task ... 541
The General Political Situation ... 544
Grotius’ Diplomatic Reporting ... 548
Grotius’ Relations with French Political Leaders ... 551
Grotius, William Laud and John Scudamore ... 556
Grotius and Peter Abel Schmalz ... 559
A Spoiled Relationship: Grotius and the Republic ... 563
Willem de Groot, Aspirant Pensionary ... 571
Reigersberch, Grotius and Petter Spiring Silvercrona ... 580
Once Again: The Relationship with Holland ... 586
Activities as a Publicist ... 587

15 DIPLOMACY AND EXEGESIS: THE PARIS EMBASSY (1640-44) ... 592
A New Address 592
The Cinq-Mars Affair and the Contacts with the Cabinet Dupuy 598
Grotius and the ‘Réunion des Eglises’ 602
De Antichristo 608
Printers in France and Holland 618
Grotius’ Exegesis 629
The Path to Rome 643
Grotius’ Position in the Learned World: A Homeless Intellectual 657

16 A DISAPPOINTED DIPLOMAT (1640-43) ... 661
Politics and Protocol ... 661
Hazards of the Embassy ... 669
The Swedish-Danish War ... 675
Controversy with Johan de Laet ... 683
A Brittle Friendship: Grotius and Claude Saumaise ... 690
A Long-drawn-out Controversy: Grotius and André Rivet ... 699
Contacts with the Vossii and Wtenbogaert ... 710
Final Verdict on the Paris Years ... 714
Departure from Paris ... 716
A Grass Widow ... 718

17 SWEDISH JOURNEY AND DEATH (1645) ... 720
Journey to the Republic ... 720
Grotius in Sweden ... 722
Departure from Sweden and Death at Rostock ... 725

18 ABUSE AND HONOUR ... 737
Posthumous Controversies ... 737
Grotius’ Influence in Later Centuries ... 750

19 EPILOGUE ... 759

BIBLIOGRAPHY ... 765
Manuscripts ... 765
Printed Sources, Reference Works, Abbreviations ... 765
Secondary Literature ... 776

Index of Personal Names and Works Written by Grotius ... 807

Illustration Section (colour)

Readership

All those interested in seventeenth-century history of politics, religion and scholarly life.

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