Monthly Archives: December 2010

A preview of two sites

When is a new site live: when its makers put a notice on the main page or when they send announcements by e-mail to all and sundry? Or does the life of a new site start when you somehow find it and start visiting it? As it happens I know of two new sites for legal history,, a Dutch site primarily for Dutch legal history, and Storia del diritto medievale e moderno, an Italian website with medieval and modern history as the main subjects. I must have detected the Italian website rather early, because it has now received a new and obviously official name, but also a notice “Under construction”.

Paolo Alvazzi del Frate (Università Roma Tre) has already two blogs on legal history, on French legal history, Storia giuridica francese – Histoire juridique française, and on Italian law in the modern period. Both have recently received a new outlook. One of their salient features are the very useful link collections. Somehow it is logical that Alvazzi del Frate should have taken the initiative for a new site on Italian legal history. Storia del diritto medievale e moderno shows on its start page an image of the inner court of some official institution: a law faculty, a court of justice? The site proposes to publish news and notices on new publications. There will be a section with essays, articles and texts. Space has been allotted to discussions and to an online forum. The link section is already present. Remarkable are the lists with researchers organized into three ranks, ordinary professors, associated professors and researchers. Tanti auguri per questo sito!

The new Dutch site has been developed on behalf of the Foundation for Old Dutch Law which until now had only some basic but useful pages at Maastricht University. Paul Brood and Marie-Charlotte Le Bailly take responsibility for the new website. will devotes space to news (Actualiteit). In fact because news items show up here regularly since more than one month, one can consider this at least for a part as a functioning new website. The section on research (Onderzoek) is most promising: here a bibliography is about to appear. Texts, databases, thematic dossiers and links will be added; the link section is as yet the same as on the old pages. Of course the Foundation for Old Dutch Law is present, too, with all the usual information. You can find here for example a set of links to editions of municipal law books edited by this foundation which have been digitized in the wake of the work for the Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch at Heidelberg. Worth mentioning are the journal Pro Memorie and the ongoing series started in 2000 of guides to legal procedure at several Dutch historical courts. Interesting is also the section Annuarium, a space for personal profiles of researchers.

“Why is the law as it is? How did it develop? Why don’t we know the trial by jury and lay judges as in other countries? Are there traces of old indigenous law in modern law?” Questions at the start page of Posing these and other questions is one of the reasons for doing legal history. On the new site is also the intention expressed of becoming a new exchange platform for Dutch and Belgian researchers. One can only applaud the proposal and wish this new site a very rich future!

Let’s add two news items concerning Dutch and Belgian legal history:


Snow is everywhere

It’s time for the seasonal blog post! Winter in Utrecht has started early this year with lots of snow, therefore just one picture with snow will not do. The two pictures shown here are both connected with law and history. To make things more interesting I more or less turned around to take each picture at the Janskerkhof, the square around the St. John’s Church, in the inner city of Utrecht.

The former Hoofdwacht at the Janskerkhof with a statue of Anne Frank

The blazon on the facade of this seventeenth-century building might look familiar for visitors of this blog. On the page for Dutch legal history I show the blazon of the Province of Utrecht as a part of the United Dutch Provinces with the motto Concordia res parvae crescunt, “Small things grow through unity”. The former Hoofdwacht adjacent to the Janskerk was in the seventeenth century the main guard-house of the city. It now houses the office of the department for postgraduate legal education. During the summer the Utrecht Summer School, too, uses this building as one of its offices. The choir of the  Janskerk housed until 1820 the university library. The bronze statue of Anne Frank was created in 1959 by sculptor Pieter d’Hont (1917-1997). Every Saturday a lovely flower market is held at the Janskerkhof square. No doubt this has inspired the members of a female student association to establish the tradition of laying flowers at the pedestal of the statue whenever one has successfully passed examinations.

Let’s now turn around:

Utrecht Law Library facing the Janskerkhof

One can access the Utrecht Law Library at several entrances. It is remarkable the entrance at the Janskerkhof is not also its main address! The elaborately decorated entrance was built when after 1580 a former Franciscan convent was turned into the seat of the States of Utrecht. Between 1809 and 1811 a tribunal was housed in this building during the French occupation of The Netherlands. In the nineteenth century Utrecht University housed here medical laboratories and its anatomical museum, now housed at the University Museum. The zoological department remained here until 1975. In 1981 the building reopened after extensive restoration to house the Law Library.

Since a few years large flags and photographs are put on display at the Janskerkhof to attract visitors to all kind of events. This time the outer flags point to the exhibition Treasures from the Forbidden City, featuring mechanical music instruments from Beijing at the National Museum for Mechanical Music Instruments. The flag in the middle alerts you to the yearly chamber music festival led by violinist Janine Jansen. The Janskerkhof was one of the places where composer and carillon player Jacob van Eyck (1590-1657) played on recorder his wonderful variations on all kind of songs, chants and psalms. Music is no newcomer here!

The face of justice

This week the New York Times published an interview with Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, the authors of Representing Justice:Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms (New Haven, Conn., 2010). In 2011 Curtis and Resnik will teach a seminar on legal iconography at Yale University Law School. The library of this law school devotes a set of pages to this seminar in a new “Documents Collection Center” of its website. You can look at the table of contents of the book, look at some of its images, and check out other activities around the seminar. Mike Widener, the curator of the Rare Books Department, has added also a set of images from the library’s rich collections.

In three postings on this blog I have written about legal iconography. A search for online collections concerning this discipline at the crossroads of legal history, art history and social history helped making me more and more curious about it. Until now I have only found a few examples to add to the list on my website which reads as follows:

The names of the databases are given in the original language, if only to show the diversity in terminology. Rechtsikonographie and Rechtsarchäologie, legal iconography and legal archaeology, are related but different fields. Rechtsvisualisierung, the visualization of law, is another term. The use of the word Rechtsaltertümer in an unusual spelling at the special site of the Austrian Academy of Sciences alludes to the nineteenth century editions of Rechtsaltertümer, literally “notices on old law”. This new database combines texts, legal archaeology and legal iconography. The Dutch title could be translated straightforward, so I will not trouble you with Dutch. By the way, the good news about the NCRD database is that the Royal Library plans to relaunch it in 2011 as an open access database. The Italian website brings together illustration taken from book in one particular collection.

The list is still painfully short. The trouble with creating a neat list on this subject are the different forms of the collections. Some collections present indeed only a collection housed at a particular institution, but others bring together illustrations taken from a wide range of sources. The Modena collection focuses on illustrations concerning just one theme found in juridical books in its own holdings, the same theme as Curtis and Resnik. In the German terminology there seems to be a distinction between a Bilddatenbank, an image database, and a Bildarchiv, an image archive: the former points at the actual presentation and search possibilities, the latter at the holdings represented by the collection. Presenting the illustrations stemming from one particular institution, presenting images brought together at a particular institute, archive or library, presenting images on a particular predefined theme, these are rather different approaches which make comparisons difficult.

An image of justice at the former Provincial Court of Utrecht

At the entrance of the former Provincial Court of Utrecht a kind of angel presents the laws given in 1838 by king William I

As for now I have not yet added a list of websites with images about particular themes, such as the history of witchcraft and witch trials or slavery and the slave trade, or collections presenting images of the judiciary or the workings of penal law. For some of these themes it is not only possible but really advisable to devote separate pages with information on other digital collections concerning them. A quick look at the few collections I mention shows that mainly classic themes are present, such as the illustrated manuscripts of the Sachsenspiegel, emblem books and caricatures. I tend to favour the websites of the institutions holding a particular collection. For the drawings by Daumier for example I could even have pointed to a portal on Daumier. One of the reasons behind this choice is my wish to lead visitors of these websites to other collections in the care of these institutions.

Where to find digital collections without using the omnipresent search machine that can seem to substitute further research? Even professional researchers do need some repertories, some of them well known, others an acquired taste. Portals such as MICHAEL, the Europeana portal and Intute belong to the obvious choices. Some libraries have wonderful link collections for particular subjects, but it is difficult to single out one of the world’s major libraries. On my personal list of favorite guides figures Margaret Vale’s The Digital Librarian, not only out of sheer admiration for the vast range of links on almost every subject, but also because of the useful comments. Uncommented link lists present not enough information. Some blogs have proven to be very useful even if one has to read German or Italian. The Archivalia blog of Klaus Graf in Freiburg and his NetBookWiki are very well-informed. The blogs Bibliostoria at Milan and Filosofia & Storia at Pisa often bring additional links. They give every link item its own posting, and you can search for them by category. The University of New Hampshire Library presents on its Digital Collections blog links in a similar way.

In fact the categorization – on blogs also the tagging – is crucial in determining your search results. The websites and databases supported by major institutes and maintained by skilled staff where one can search using keywords or – even better – a thesaurus, yield the best results. The simple creation of a blog and dedicating a post with judicious tagging to each link item makes it in principle easy to follow this road. Sooner or later my link lists will have to be put into a database or presented as blog postings with enriched information in order to make them more valuable. The past months I have become more and more aware that I have only started on a path that can become a road. The search for image collections continues!

Free at last

By chance I noticed that the images in iconographical database of the former Dutch NCRD at the Royal Library are now available in open access. It can be viewed at the Memory of the Netherlands portal. Perhaps I missed a message about the launch of this digital collection with over 10,000 images, but I guess this good work has been done silently!

Beyond the text

For me December 11, 2010 could have been a celebration day, the first anniversary of this blog. However, legal historians might remember there is another time measure in customary law, just a bit longer than one year. After a year and a day it is great to look back to the start of this blog. December 2009 saw a healthy start with a nice number of postings. I was not surprised that I could not maintain the stream of news I published in that month, but somehow I succeeded in posting at least a few items almost every month. This is far below the average number of blog items on other blogs, but this is also due to the start of

Until now customary law has scarcely figured on this blog. For this posting I had in mind looking at the other end of the legal sphere. In the field of private law codifications tried to furnish among many other things more certainty than unwritten law and customs. Constitutions seem the very embodiment of guaranties for the rule of law in the public sphere. Searching for and editing old constitutions is a specific task for legal historians, but also lawyers searching for the present law have to be attentive to older versions of constitutions.

Many web guides for constitutional law point to websites presenting constitutions in force today. One of the best known sites with this aim is the Constitution Finder at the University of Richmond School of Law. This site has the advantage of not only containing links to (English versions of) constitutions, for some countries it even provides information about drafts or amendments. This website is maintained by law students. The list of National Constitutions of the Constitutional Society is of course impressive, and the gesture to create and indicate different formats is most welcome. I can sympathize with the makers of this site when I noticed that a rather large number of links does not function because of changed web addresses, a perennial concern for any webmaster. Relying on just one website is seldom possible and in fact not wise to do.

For Dutch history it is good to know that not only the constitution of 1848 is important, but also other versions to be found at the site for lawgiving in the Low Countries. The Institute for Dutch History in The Hague has digitized materials for the constitutions of 1815, and also the series of constitutions during the Batavian Republic (1796-1806) because one has also to be aware of the sources concerning the concept for the constitution of 1798. The Institute for Dutch History presents an online research guide for the Batavian-French period (1795-1813).

When comparing constitutions you have to cross national and linguistic frontiers. In my search for websites with constitutions it would not do to look only at texts in English. The German website Verfassungen der Welt is a portal to historical constitutions from Germany, Austria and Schweiz, and modern constitutions from Europe and worldwide in German translation. A project for international constitutional law at the University of Bern offers also overviews of the main event in constitutional history of the nations involved. The Archivio delle Costituzioni Storiche of the Dipertimento di Studi Giuridiche, Università di Torino, brings texts in English, French or Italian translation. The Université de Perpignan has a fine digithèque with many constitutions, often with their historical forerunners and useful weblinks, and also a nice list of major treaties. I have waited to mention The Rise of Modern Constitutionalism, 1776-1849,  a site with facsimiles of constitutions, because one can encounter more at this website only when you enter it from a subscribing library. This situation can help reminding you at least of the fact one cannot read and study constitutions in isolation. An example that has impressed me much is the creation and interpretation of the modern Japanese constitution which cannot be understood properly without bearing in mind the impact of the American constitution and American constitutional thought.

How can websites help you interpreting old constitutions, determining their ancestry and putting clauses and paragraphs into relief? The Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics is almost too famous. For Spanish history the site of the Biblioteca de Historia Constitucional Francisco Martínez Merina at the Universidad de Oviedo present a digital library with works on constitutional law, with also Spanish translations of foreign constitutions. I have to add here the Biblioteca Virtual Constitución 1812, a digital library which presents the Spanish constitution of 1812, and also the deliberations of the Córtes since 1810. Precious services are provided by the website for The Founders’ Constitution, a digitized and searchable version of the 1987 book by Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner. The five volumes of their study contain a wealth of documents which are not only important for the history of the constitution of the United States of America. The site was created by the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund which presents in its Online Library of Liberty also a substantial number of books concerning constitutional history.

Only comparing one constitution with another constitution is just the beginning. Its impact on legal institutions and legal life can be very different. Think only of the vast difference between a legal system in which laws can be reviewed in the light of a constitution, where a supreme court deals with law suits involving the constitution, and a legal system in countries with a constitution where this is not provided for in some way or another.  All this should not hold you from getting acquainted with or revisiting these online resources and make them useful for your research or your curiosity.

Universal and utopian

This year I have spent quite some time searching the internet both for information for my postings and for the pages of my website At some turns I felt the clear temptation to use the main gateways to online information. In particular when dealing with digital libraries the presence of WorldCat, the Open Library and the World Digital Library seemed an invitation to refer people for once and forever to these endeavours which aim so much wider and higher than my efforts. However, when I tried to use these websites most times I returned empty-handed. With only 1350 items the World Digital Library still has many empty shelves, even if one has to applaud the fact that all continents and major regions of the world are represented. Many months ago a notice by archivist Eric Hennekam on his Dutch archive forum made me smile about such heroic efforts. It makes one aware of the many obstacles faced by the pioneers behind these projects with a claim to completeness or worldwide coverage, and of the fact that the 21st century is not the first century to witness similar proposals. Through the centuries lawyers, too, have left their footprints on this trail.

The Mundaneum

Logo MundaneumHennekam pointed to the history of the Mundaneum at Mons, about which institution The New Yorker had published in June 2008 an article by Alex Wright, “The Web Time Forgot“. The Internet Archive has stored the documentary All Knowledge of the World (Alle kennis van de wereld) by the Dutch VPRO television from 1998 about the creator of the Mundaneum, Paul Otlet (1868-1944). Wright tells the story with more skill than I have at my disposal, so I will only give a summary. Otlet was a Belgian bibliographer who created the Universal Decimal Classification. He worked together with the Belgian politician and pacifist Henri la Fontaine (1854-1943) who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1913 for his Bureau International de la Paix. La Fontaine teached international law at the Université Libre at Bruxelles. In 1895 Otlet and La Fontaine founded the “Institut International de Bibliographie”. Otlet did not only devise a new classification system, but used it at his institute and envisaged powering it with a mechanical system to link information. Many million library records survive and eventually the project became too vast. In 1934 Otlet published his major bibliographical work, the Traité de documentation presenting his vision of reading library books at home using a kind of telescope. The card collection was housed at several addresses before the remains – some six kilometers of files – arrived at Mons after the Second World War. Today the Mundaneum offers shelter to archives on feminism, pacifism and anarchism.

Were Otlet and Fontaine the first people to create such projects? The nickname of an early multivolume collection of juridical treatises, the series called Primum [-Decimum] volumen tractatuum doctorum iuris published in Lyon in 1535 was “Oceanus iuris”, “The Ocean of Law”. At Jena the Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbiblothek has created a digital edition of this edition in ten volumes from its “Historische Bestände“. The Bibliotheca Universalis (1545) of Konrad Gessner – online at the Universitat de Valencia – can claim to be the first early modern attempt at universal bibliography. More early editions books of works by this Swiss scholar have been digitized for E-Rara. The Lyon 1549 edition of the Tractatus Universi Iuris counts seventeen volumes, and the better known version printed between 1584 and 1586 at Venice has 27 volumes with four volumes for the indices. Gaetano Colli has used his book about this edition of the Tractatus Universi Iuris to create an online database to assist the search for treatises by particular authors or on special subjects in this collection. The copy at Harvard Law School of the Venice edition of the Tractatus universi iuris has been digitized.

Other early lawyers tried to create comprehensive surveys of all fields of law. Giovanni Nevizzano published a Index librorum omnium qui in vtroque iure hinc inde eduntur (Venice 1525; online in Vienna at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek), a generation later superseded by Giovanni Baptista Ziletti and his Index librorum omnium nomina complectens, in utroque iure tam pontificio quam caesareo (Venice 1559), better known as the Index librorum omnium iuris tam pontificii quam caesarei (Venice 1566), an edition digitized at the Göttingen Digitalisierungszentrum. Among their successors are for instance Agostino Fontana with his Amphitheatrum legale (4 volumes, Parma 1688-1694; reprint Turin 1961; online at the University of Michigan, Hathi Trust Digital Library) and Martinus Lipenius with the Bibliotheca realis iuridica first published in 1679. The Leipzig 1757 edition – online at Polib, the digital library of the universities of Lille – has been reprinted in 1970. The 1775 and 1789 supplements are online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library, and now also the edition 1679. It should not surprise you that I have not yet found a digital version of all works mentioned here. Please do not hesitate to share your knowledge if you know more!

A most remarkable digitization project is to be found at the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence for the multi volume manuscript called Mare Magnum, a universal bibliography created at the beginning of the eighteenth century by Francesco Marucelli. This manuscript was never printed, but can now be consulted online. In the last century John Gilissen and a team of legal historians working with him edited a bibliographical project with a less ambitious title, Introduction bibliographique à l’histoire du droit et à l’ethnologie juridique (6 vol. in 8 parts, Bruxelles 1963-1988).

I would like to finish this posting by bringing you to a digital library at the Université de Poitiers called Les premiers socialismes, a new project with both modern studies on the first French socialists such as Fourier and Saint-Simon and works by them. Socialist utopism was an important current in the nineteenth century. The links selection on this site could bring you to the Familistère de Guise, a housing and factory project near St. Quentin, on its website characterized as a realized utopia.

Clearly some people will keep trying to realize utopian projects. Modern technology certainly offers some of the means to create also virtual utopias. The internet realizes to a large extent even more than visionaries like Jules Verne could dream of or describe. These days it is clear that bringing digital information on an unprecedented worldwide scale is not just the dream of scholars or journalists, but a major fact in private lives and public life. Politics and law are touched by it and try to influence it. A legal history of Internet is not a fancy book title anymore.

A postscript

On March 17, 2011, Mike Widener, curator of the Rare Book Room of the Lilian Goldman Law Library of Yale University, wrote a blog post showing the frontispiece of the Jena 1743 edition of Burkhard Gotthelf von Struve’s Bibliotheca iuris selecta, another legal bibliography. Of Struve’s work several reprints and enlarged editions exist. Many works by Struve have been digitized in Halle, Dresden and Munich. Using the OPAC Plus catalogue at Munich you can now find seven (!) digitized editions of Struve’s Bibliotheca iuris selecta, Jena 1703, 1710, 1714, 1720, 1725, 1743 and finally the 1756 edition. The Jena 1725 edition has also been digitized now at Dresden.

Nevizzano’s work was first published with the title Inventarium librorum in utroque iure hactenus impressorum (Venetiis 1522). The 1525 edition was prepared by Luis Gomez. Both editions are very rare. In 2016 Nathan Dorn wrote a post about Nevizzano’s books at In Custodia Legis, ‘List Makers and the Law in Renaissance Europe’. He noted also an edition of Nevizzano’s work edited by Johann Fichard (Basel 1539).

The Mundaneum and new technology

In 2015 the Mundaneum digitized the books of Paul Otlet, but it had already been digitized at a private website about Otlet. Part of the archival records can be viewed online in its digital archives, part of the Google Cultural Institute. In fact there are now eight virtual exhibits. The Mundaneum partnered with this firm also for a virtual exhibition À la génèse de la société de l’information (also available in English and Dutch). The Mundaneum has a website which you can view in French, Dutch, or English. You can read Otlet’s Traité de documentation (1934) on the French Wikisource portal. The institute is active on social media, and in 2015 an app has been launched. Children can enjoy the tablet game Mundaneum-Web 1895.

A rare edition of Grotius

On November 23, 2010, the Peace Palace Library in The Hague announced the acquisition of a copy of the very rare first Paris 1625 edition of De iure belli ac pacis libri tres by Hugo Grotius. This library has probably the largest and richest collection of Grotius editions in the world. The online exhibition for the centenary in 2004 gives a vivid introduction to the Peace Palace library. The announcement states that until now the only known copy of the Paris 1625 edition was at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Almost a year ago my first blog postings were on Hugo Grotius, and it seemed not bad to look at Grotius again. My aim here is mainly to bring some information together. In 2009 the Yale Law Library held an exhibition on Grotius’ Mare liberum. The Royal Library at The Hague created an online edition of Mare Liberum with both a digital version of the first edition from 1609 and a transcription. Robert Feenstra and Jeroen Vervliet published a new Latin-English edition, Hugo Grotius Mare Liberum 1609-2009 (Leiden 2009). Arthur Eyffinger published a Dutch translation with the Latin text, De vrije zee. Een uiteenzetting over het recht van de Nederlanders om handel te drijven in Oost-Indië (The Hague 2009), and an essay on Grotius and the 1609 truce between the Dutch Republic and Spain, Oorlog, vrede of bestand? 1609 gezien door de ogen van Hugo de Groot (The Hague 2009), with in an appendix translations of several documents.

The Peace Palace Library (PPL) has won a Dutch award for the best digital library of 2010. The PPL uses not only RSS-feeds on its site, but has also a Flickr image collection and a collection of digitized books reachable for subscribers through its own custom developed link system, and these are just a few of the services for library users. As library of the International Court of Justice the PPL participates in The Hague Justice Portal also by virtue of the The Hague Academy of International Law. The PPL presents an online research guide for Grotius, interestingly in the format of a Wikipedia page. In my search for digital libraries with collections on legal history I hoped the PPL would have its own collection of digitized old books, preferably in an open access version, but this is not the case.

No doubt the Digital Library for Dutch Literature (DBNL) has one of the largest online collection of digitized and scanned texts by Hugo Grotius, including the critical edition of De iure belli ac pacis by B.J.A. de Kanter-Hettinga Tromp (Leiden 1939; reprint Aalen 1993). Among the legal texts is the Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche rechts-geleerdheid, Grotius’ introduction to Dutch law and jurisprudence, written between 1619 and 1621 and first published in 1631. The scans are from the 1910 edition by S.J. Fockema Andreae, not from the 1965 edition with the additions and corrections from Grotius’ own copy of the 1636 edition now at Lund. Apart from being a lawyer, philosopher and theologian, Grotius was also a renown poet, a historian and a most active writer of letters. This correspondence can be found here, too. The Huygens Instituut of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW) has created a searchable database for Grotius’ correspondence. The PPL research guide for Grotius mentions a link to a new edition of De iure praedae (The law of booty, 1603) at the KNAW site for datasets, but this dataset has not yet arrived. You can find Grotius’ manuscript with a transcription as work in progress of a colloborative edition at the TextLaboratorium. It is great to have this beside the 2005 translation of De iure praedae by Martine Julia van Ittersum at The Online Library of Liberty. The 1868 edition of the Latin text by H.G. Hamaker is available online thanks to the services of the University of Michigan at the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Is there somewhere on Internet a digital version of an old edition of De iure belli ac pacis? The first port of call is The Philological Museum, the initiative of Dana F. Sutton (University of California at Irvine) for a survey of digital editions of texts in Neo-Latin, lists three digital versions of editions printed in Paris in 1625 of De iure belli ac pacis, one at Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, one at the Posner Memorial Collection of the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries in Pittsburgh, and one at Kyushu University, Fukuoka. In their Bibliographie des écrits imprimés de Hugo Grotius (The Hague 1950) Jacob ter Meulen and P.J.J. Diermanse listed at no. 565 three different versions of the first edition. The digitized books in Paris, Pittsburgh and Fukuoka are copies of version 565iii. The PPL has acquired a copy of no. 565i. Other digitized Grotius editions can be found for instance using the catalog of the Hathi Trust Digital Library, an initiative of several American scientific libraries, and the OPACplus of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. In particular the Europeana portal points to the rich collections for Grotius at Munich. It surprised me very much one cannot trace these digitized old editions at the Digitale Sammlungen. Clearly some tuning is needed between the two sites at Munich.

Writing today this posting about Hugo Grotius served for me also as a kind of test case for the use of digital libraries and digital library portals. The portals do not only offer a more or less rough indication of existing materials but present often also important things. When discussing Grotius’ view it matters urgently which old printed version, translation or critical edition one uses. Sometimes Grotius’ opinions were more known in a translated form, as for example Jean de Barbeyrac’s translation of De iure belli ac pacis. The information in the bibliography by Ter Meulen and Diermanse and the succinct guide to the Grotius’ editions at the PPL is therefore very helpful in determining whether to use the first version near at hand in your town or on Internet, or to be more diligent. Even in this posting which offers just a note on Grotius a succinct table of the main texts mentioned and their versions might be useful:

De iure belli ac pacis

  • the third version of the Paris 1625 edition is available online at Gallica and at Pittsburgh
  • several other old editions are available online at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • the 1939 critical edition is online at the DBNL
  • the Online Library of Liberty presents both the 1814/1901 translation by Arthur Campbell and the translation by Richard Tuck (2005)
  • only the prolegomena and first book have been translated into Dutch, available online at the DBNL

Mare Liberum

  • the 1609 edition has been digitized alongside a modern Dutch translation at the Dutch Royal Library
  • the Leiden 1633 edition is available online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library and also at the SOMNI collection of the Universitat de Valencia
  • the 1916 translation by Magoffin – together with the Latin text – is available online at the Online Library of Liberty, as is Richard Hakluyt’s translation
  • the 1609 edition is available in print with an English translation and a facsimile (Feenstra and Vervliet 2009)
  • the 1609 edition has been translated into Dutch (Eyffinger 2009)

De iure praedae

  • photographs of the manuscript Leiden, University Library, BPL 917, are online at TextLaboratorium with a transcription
  • the 1868 edition by Hamaker is online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • the English translation by Martine Julia van Ittersum is present at the Online Library of Liberty
  • Onno Damsté translated the text into Dutch: Verhandeling over het recht op buit (Leiden 1934)

Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche rechts-geleerdheid

  • the second impression ‘s-Graven-haghe, 1631 is online at the Digital Special Collections of Utrecht University Library
  • the 1910 critical edition is available at the DBNL and the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • the 1965 critical edition is only available in printed form

The Index Translationum of the UNESCO did not bring me to an English version of the Inleidinge, but it mentions translations into several languages of other works. The guide to the PPL’s Grotius collection mentions several English translations of the Inleidinge.

An addendum: when revisiting the online exhibit on Grotius of the Yale Law Library Rare Book Room I noticed several titles mentioned here, too, with digitized title pages. Yale’s copy of the Mare Liberum edition Leiden 1633 is available in electronic form at Yale’s intranet, as is the copy at Harvard at their intranet. Obviously it is not quite feasible to have library cards or subscriptions to all these fine library services, and therefore I focused here on electronic resources in open access.

A postscript

A digitized copy of an early Dutch translation of Grotius’ Mare Liberum, entitled Vrye zeevaert, ofte bewiis van ‘t recht (..) (Leiden-Amsterdam 1614), can be viewed online in the Digital Special Collections of Utrecht University Library. Selections from De iure belli ac pacis have been translated into Dutch and commented on by Arthur Eyffinger and B.P. Vermeulen, Hugo de Groot, Denken over oorlog en vrede (Baarn 1991; Geschiedenis van de wijsbegeerte in Nederland, vol. 8). The Peace Palace Library has created a slideshow concerning editions of De iure belli ac pacis.

A facsimile of the French translation of De iure belli ac pacis by Jean Barbeyrac (Amsterdam 1724) has been published recently: Hugo Grotius, Le droit de la guerre et de la paix (2 vol., Caen 2011).