The Age of Grotius

Authored by: Edward Keene

Routledge Handbook of International Law

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415418768
eBook ISBN: 9780203884621
Adobe ISBN: 9781134113095


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This chapter is organised around two themes. First, it examines the changing discourse of international legal thought during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After a brief summary of the traditional narrative of the emergence of Grotian doctrines within the context of the “Westphalian system”, particular attention is paid to the ways in which more recent scholarship has opened up new chronological, geographical and philosophical perspectives on the transition from medieval to modern doctrines. The second theme concerns the comparatively neglected issue of the evolution of the international legal profession. Changes in legal education are discussed here, especially the impact of new humanist approaches and the growing focus on training in national institutes of law rather than the medieval ius commune. In this context, the chapter also discusses the professional roles that lawyers played in aspects of the conduct of international relations such as diplomacy. The changing requirements of the latter help to explain the emergence of a new genre of legal scholarship devoted to the historical analysis of treaties, which profoundly influenced the development of positivist doctrines towards the end of the eighteenth century.

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