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41 Grotiana (n.s.) 1 (2020)

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                       GROTIANA  41 (2020) 1-12

                                                              G ROTIANA
BRILL                                                          brill.com/grot



Hugo Grotius's Views on Consent, Contract and the

Christian Commonwealth - Introductory Remarks


        Wim  Decock
        KU Leuven/ULiege, Belgium
        wim.decock@kuleuven.be



In textbooks on international law, Grotius's De iure belli ac pacis is frequently
cited as proof of the Protestant origins of international law. Reaching back
to Enlightenment  commentaries  on  Grotius, this claim was reinforced at the
threshold of the twentieth century and  has prospered ever since, thanks to
Hamilton  Vreeland Jr.'s influential biography designating Grotius as the 'father
of the modern  science of international law'.1 Not unlike Weber's account of
the 'Protestant origins of capitalism', this claim has developed into a grand
narrative about the 'Protestant origins of modern international law' that has
become  popular not only among  jurists, but also historians, philosophers and
political scientists. Yet, this claim must be nuanced,2 and against the back-
ground  of growing confessional rivalry between Protestants and Catholics at
the turn of the twentieth century, it has also been subject to criticism. Catho-
lic jurists trying to vindicate the importance of their own tradition have de-
veloped a  counter-narrative. James Brown Scott, the American  'dean of in-
ternational law', played a crucial role in this endeavor. He emphasized the
fundamental  contribution  to the rise of modern natural and  international
law by  Catholic te6logos-juristas, notably Francisco de Vitoria and Francis-
co Suarez.3 Scott's endeavor, however, was born not  out of mere academic


1  H. Vreeland Jr., Hugo Grotius: The Father of the Modern Science of International Law (New
   York: Oxford University Press, 1917).
2  M. Becker, Kriegsrecht imfruhneuzeitlichen Protestantismus. Fine Untersuchung zum Beitrag
   lutherischer und reformierter Theologen, Juristen und anderer GelehrterzurKriegsrechtslitera-
   tur im 16. und 17.Jahrhundert (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017).
3  Conservative forces in the Spanish-speaking world had an obvious interest in promoting this
   view, see I. de la Rasilla del Moral, In the Shadow of Vitoria: A History of InternationalLaw in
   Spain (1770-1953) (Leiden/Boston: Brill/Nijhoff, 2018), pp. 154f. See also W. Decock and C. Birr,
   Recht und Moral in der Scholastik der Fruhen Neuzeit 1500-1750 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016),
   pp. 77-78.


© KONINKLIJKE BRILL NV, LEIDEN, 2020 1 DOI:10.1163/18760759-04101001

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