Hugo Grotius’ Conception of the StateJune 27, 2021
Grotius was appointed financial adviser to the Dutch government in 1607 and ambassador to England in 1613. The purpose of his second mission was the regulation of trade relations between the two countries.
There, Grotius also discussed matters of religion with King James I and tried to convince him of Christian unity. In the turmoil that was looming in his country, the Dutch governor-general sided with the Arminian van Oldenbarnevelt against the strict Calvinist Prince Maurice. The community, which opposed the governor, also advocated regional autonomy. In 1618, when the Prince had both leaders of this community arrested, van Oldenbarnevelt was sentenced to death and Grotius to life imprisonment.
During these years in a castle in Loevestein, Grotius published a book of poetry in which he defended the idea of Christian unity. The work was translated into Latin and 12 other languages under the title De veritate religionis Cbristianae (“On the Reality of the Christian Religion”) in 1627. With the help of his wife, he escaped to Antwerp and from there to Paris, hiding in a book chest on March 22, 1621. King XIII. He was welcomed with warm interest by the elite circles of France, especially Louis. However, due to being a Calvinist, he did not obtain a professorship. His life in exile, which was spent in financial difficulties, came to an end with the death of Prince Maurice in 1631. However, returning to his country, Grotius saw that the old environment had not changed and was faced with the fear of being arrested again, and moved to Hamburg in 1632.
In this city, which was the focus of Swedish-French relations, he met the Swedish chancellor and, at his suggestion, became Sweden’s ambassador to Paris in 1635. He was taken back from the embassy in 1644 and summoned to Sweden by Queen Christina, but the embassy was not returned. He did not accept the proposal for membership of the State Council and left Sweden to go to Paris. Although his ship sank off the coast of Pomerania, Grotius survived.
Communities formed by people in accordance with their appetitus socialis may include various social institutions. The state is one of these institutions. Therefore, it cannot establish a decisive dominance over the others. According to Grotius, there are three basic types of social institutions: the international community, the state, and private societies. Each of these is autonomous. These can also be examined in two main sections: Those based on a certain management rule (such as industrial establishments, the state), and those based on mutual agreement and cooperation (such as international society, family). In the first, the laws are determined according to the rule of domination and submission within the subordinate-superior relationship. The second is open to a type of law based on mutual declaration of will, as it envisages an egalitarian order. Each social institution has its own law. The international community is governed by ius latius patens, the state is governed by ius naile, and private societies are governed by ius arctius. It is accepted that Grotius started the era of pluralism of legal orders with these views.
According to Grotius, states do not create the law of nations, it arises from traditional practices and treaties. In accordance with natural law, a king’s covenant in his lifetime must be considered valid and enforced after he dies, until a new one is made. Freedom of the seas is one of the fundamental principles of international law. After one of the Dutch East India Company ships was seized by the Portuguese, Grotius, who sought a solution to the problem as the representative of the company, wrote a work defending the freedom of the seas.
Grotius argues that wars can only be justified within the framework of established rules in interstate relations. According to him, wars waged for reasons such as the right to legal defense, the rectification of injustice, and the deprivation of natural rights should be considered justified.
It has been claimed by some thinkers that Grotius used science as a tool for politics. It is stated that while developing his views, he prioritizes the interests of his country, the Netherlands. In contrast, Grotius’ leadership in shaping the law of nations is indisputable. His thoughts on natural law, appetitus socialis, had a profound effect on his successors and caused controversy among social contract theorists.
State Design Based on the Law of Nature by Hugo Grotius
Another thinker who lived at the end of the Renaissance period and at the beginning of the New Age and who based the state on natural law is the Dutch Hugo Grotius (1583-1645).
Grotius makes a distinction between natural law (ius naturale) and positive (imposed) law (ius civile) in his work On the Law of War and Peace. Positive law is the law that man himself has put in history. This law is a law that can be understood according to the conditions of the time and place in which it was enacted. Natural law, on the other hand, is the law that is in the intelligent essence of man and therefore does not change over history, time and place. Natural law includes the rights that humans have just because they are human. Therefore, natural law has priority and superiority over positive law. While positive law can be grasped historically, natural law can only be grasped with philosophy, since it is a command of reason (Gökberk 2008, p. 187). Grotius