University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Declared War according to Hugo Grotius: Lawful but Immoral and Sinful

Declared War according to Hugo Grotius: Lawful but Immoral and Sinful

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Declarations of war characterised the opening of warfare in Europe until the twentieth century. Today we regard this practice to belong to an age of warmongers and militarists. These conflicting views on declarations of war are already reflected in Hugo Grotius’ famous treatise on the law of war, the De Jure Belli ac Pacis, first published in 1625. Grotius, a Dutch scholar (1583-1645), held that a sovereign nation may lawfully declare and wage war against another nation, for instance in pursuit of territorial aggrandizement. At the same time, he considered such a war immoral and sinful. My talk will briefly discuss the two rival traditions to which these conflicting views belong and explain the synthesis that Grotius sought to establish between human law on the one hand and morality and divine law on the other.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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