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).

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2 thoughts on “A rare edition of Grotius

  1. Edward Gordon

    Very interesting information. You may also wish to know that substantial collections of first or early hard-back editions exist at a number of institutional libraries here in the US, including, of course, Harvard and the LoC, as well as in a few private collections, (including my own).

    Reply
    1. rechtsgeschiedenis Post author

      Thank you for your comment. The search in my posting was not so much about copies of first editions but about indicating the presence in digital libraries. In fact I did use the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands of the Royal Library in The Hague – see http://picarta.pica.nl/DB=3.11/ – to check for holdings in Dutch libraries of first editions of Grotius. Several Dutch libraries have a copy of the first edition of Grotius Inleiding tot de Hollandsche rechts-geleerdheyd (1631). I mentioned the Hathi Trust Digital Library, and I could have added that this initiative stems from a consortium of American scientific libraries, among them Princeton University Library.

      Reply

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