Grotius’s Memory Honoured


In November 2010, the Peace Palace Library acquired a copy of Hugo Grotius's seminal study on the law of war, De iure belli ac pacis, Paris, Nicolas Buon, 1625. The purchase represents the very rare first state (issue or printing) of the first edition, item no. 565, I in the well-known bibliography of Grotius's works by Jacob Ter Meulen and P.J.J. Diermanse.

Blog by Henk Nellen

These well-known Grotius bibliographers identified three states in the first edition. They concluded that the first edition consists of three groups of copies, to be distinguished according to changes that were made during the print run. Of those three states the Peace Palace Library purchased a copy that represents the first state. This is an almost unique or at least a very rare copy, because among the books that have been identified as copies of the 1625 edition, only the copy previously owned by the English scholar John Selden (1584-1654) and now preserved in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and another copy in the University Library of Salzburg are representatives of this state. The acquisition of this great work was made possible with the support of several funds.

The booklet is an adapted version of a speech held by Professor Henk Nellen in the Peace Palace on 21 February 2011, when the copy of De iure belli ac pacis was presented to the public. After a short survey of the genesis, printing history and early reception, the booklet goes into the differences between the three states of the first edition and their significance for the interpretation of Grotius's work. A provisional checklist of copies of the first edition in public libraries is added in an appendix.

Since 1980, Henk Nellen (1949) has been a staff member of the Grotius Institute and the (Constantijn) Huygens Institute editing the five last volumes of the correspondence of Hugo Grotius. In addition, he has conducted research into other topics in the history of the seventeenth-century scolarly world. In april 2007, he completed a biography of Hugo Grotius: Hugo de Groot. Een leven in strijd om de vrede, Amsterdam, Uitgeverij Balans, 2007. Currently, he holds a chair for the History of Ideas in the Early-Modern Period at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Dept. of History, by way of the Dr. C. Louise Thijssen-Schoute Foundation.

Acquisition of De iure belli ac pacis, Paris, Nicolas Buon, 1625, was made possible with the generous support of:

  • Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen: Admiraal van Kinsbergenfonds, Dorus Rijkers Fonds, Directie der Oostersche Handel en Reederijen, Vereeniging "De Prins Hendrik Stichting"sedert 1874, Vaderlands Fonds ter Aanmoediging van 's Lands Zeedienst 
  • Dr. Hendrik Muller’s Vaderlandsch Fonds
  • M.A.O.C. Gravin van Bylandt Stichting
  • BRILL Publishers
  • Studiefonds Rechtsgeschiedenis Mr Joseph Winkel
  • Van der Mandele Stichting
  • Carnegie-Stichting Vredespaleis