18 Am. J. Int'l L. 246 (1924)
Introduction to the History of International Law

handle is hein.journals/ajil18 and id is 254 raw text is: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF
INTERNATIONAL LAW'
By BARON S. A. KORFF
Professor of Political Science and History, School of Foreign Service,
Georgetown University.
I. THE ANCIENT WORLD
For a long time writers on international law took it for granted that the
subject of their studies was a relatively recent product of modern civiliza-
tion, and that the ancient world did not know any system of international
law. If we go back to the literature of the nineteenth century, we can find a
certain feeling of pride among internationalists that international law was
one of the best fruits of our civilization and that it was a system which dis-
tinguished us from the ancient barbarians. Some of these writers paid
special attention to this question of origins and endeavored to explain why
the ancient world never could have had any international law.2
As time went on, however, and modern historical investigations were
constantly and persistently digging deeper into the past ages, this theory
had to be considerably altered and finally discarded. Many interesting
studies have appeared, some concerning Greece,3 others relating to more
ancient times, but all of them bringing to light a whole mass of material
which confirms the exact opposite point of view, namely, that the ancient
world knew very well the meaning of international relations and was making
use of an elaborate system of institutions, well developed and firmly estab-
lished. The laws of Hammurabi, the excavations and papyri of Egypt, the
tablets of Babylonia and Assyria, etc., brought us an abundance of material,
so that there can be no more doubt on the question. These results may be
summed up in a short sentence: as soon as there developed a cultural center
of a certain level of civilization, a state of some prominence, there grew up
simultaneously relations with the outside world that soon took the shape
' This article is based upon the first of a series of lectures on The Historical Develop-
ment of International Law from the Seventeenth Century, delivered by the author before
the Academy of International Law at The Hague. This lecture was delivered on July 16,
1923, and was the first lecture delivered before the Academy, which was formally opened
in the Peace Palace on July 14, 1923. (See editorial in the October, 1923, number of this
JOUnNAL, Vol. 17, page 746.)-EDiTon.
2 Laurent is probably the most prominent representative of that school of thought. This
point of view was defended also by Th. Martens, on whose famous text book more than one
generation of lawyers based their education.
3 Sir Paul Vinogradoff, Outlines of Historical Jurisprudence, Vol. II.
246

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