Vitoria, Gentili, Bodin: Sovereignty and the Law of Nations

Peter Schröder

in The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599875
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595813 | DOI:
Vitoria, Gentili, Bodin: Sovereignty and the Law of Nations

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This chapter begins by contrasting Gentili with the thought of Francisco de Vitoria. In doing so it focuses on Gentili's De iure belli libri tres as well as his De legationibus libri tres and the two works by Vitoria, the Relectio de Indiis and De Indi Relectio Posterior, sive de iure belli. The first part of this chapter thus discusses Vitoria's theory and shows that it necessarily differs from Gentili's views at a fundamental level, precisely because Vitoria's argument is a theological one and hence concerns itself little with jurisprudence but rather with theology, sin, and morality. A brief elaboration of Vitoria's position shows the extent to which Gentili breaks new ground through a juridical and political approach which eliminates the medieval notion of bellum iustum and instead introduces the concept of a iustus hostis. The second part of the chapter argues that Gentili's focus on the laws of war and his complementary treatise on embassies provide a purely political theory which first takes seriously the implications of Bodin's rigorous theory of sovereignty, and secondly attempts — similarly to Bodin's endeavour in the context of inner-state relations at the height of the French civil and religious wars — to do away with religious disputes as an additional undermining factor of inter-state relations with its potentially devastating consequences. The chapter concludes by discussing where to place Gentili in the history of early modern political thought of international relations.

Keywords: Alberico Gentili; Francisco de Vitoria; laws of war; Bodin; sovereignty; international relations

Chapter.  13859 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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