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(2) Treaties ordinarily take precedence of customary international law in determining the rights of signatories, but when derogating from rights of nonsignatories under customary international law, or from rights of signatories recognized by that law since the conclusion of the treaty, they will generally be interpreted in harmony with it.
(3) Where two treaties are in conflict, courts will generally give precedence to the earlier if the signatories are different; to the later if they are the same.
It thus appears that states do not enjoy unlimited freedom of contract, but limitations imposed by both their own prior acts and customary international law may be enforced through the action of national and international courts.
QUINCY WRIGHT. ]
The heroic siege of Leiden had been history for eight years, the world-famous university of that name was still in its infancy, when there came into the world the man who was destined to become the foremost scholar, theologian, lawyer, statesman, and diplomatist of his age, and a poet and historian by no means insignificant. Huig or Hugo de Groot, named after his grandfather, and better known by the Latinized form of the name, Grotius, was born in Delft on Easter Sunday, the 10th of April, 1583, at a time when all of Europe was overshadowed with black clouds of massacre, assassination and war. Indeed, the outlook for the future was no more bright, for the Thirty Years' War, called the last of the religious wars of Europe, was coming with the sureness of fate.
Behind the boy spread a long line of illustrious ancestors, all of whom had been actively engaged in the service of the state, his father having been many times elected Burgomaster of Delft, and having served as one of the Curators of the University of Leiden as well as Councillor of State. We are told that the name de Groot the Great had been given to his ancestors in recognition and appreciation of lives spent in unselfish service of the country. Yet the shade of the family tree seems to have held forth no allurements to the son, who was entitled to the protection of its branches. From his boyhood, a boyhood endowed with the precocity of genius, he labored to prepare himself for the arduous tasks which loomed ahead. Mind and body alike were subjugated to his will.
Before the boy was seven years of age he was deep in the study of Latin and Greek, and we have preserved to us verses in these languages written by the Grotius of eight years. At the age of eleven he entered the University of Leiden, then in its nineteenth year, taking part in two public debates at the age of fourteen and graduating the same year. Already the mind of Grotius had turned toward international
events, and when, in 1598, Count Justin of Nassau and Grand Pensionary Barneveld left Holland to confer with Henry IV of France regarding the contemplated French-Spanish treaty, Hugo Grotius, a lad of fifteen years, accompanied them. The remarkable feature of this visit to France, during which Grotius took the degree of Doctor of Laws at the University of Orleans, is that the boy should have been able to withstand the flattering offers of the Court of France.
Saved by his sober judgment from this alluring life, Grotius returned to Holland to practice law. Undoubtedly it was his will alone which kept him at this work, for we have positive proof in his letters that the practice was distasteful to him. It robbed him, he said, of precious time he would have spent in studying and writing. Yet, in spite of his active work as a lawyer in The Hague, this young man found time to produce, in the winter of 1604–1605, the De Jure Praedae, the twelfth chapter of which was published in 1609 under the title of Mare Liberum.
From the time he entered the practice of law until 1621 Grotius' life was closely interwoven with the history of his country. He held the office of Attorney General of Holland, Zeeland, and West Friesland and became Pensionary of Rotterdam. When the great GomaristArminian controversy arose he threw himself, with Barneveld and others, on the side of the latter, though always working to enlighten the people in the distinction between a true religious controversy and theological quibbling. And when this theological controversy entered as a wedge. into the political breach already there, we find Grotius defending the constitution against the incursions of Prince Maurice.
As to the result, suffice it to say that he was arrested and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment in the ancient fortress of Loevestein, with all his estates and property confiscated. On March 22, 1621, he escaped in the now famous book-chest and fled to Antwerp, thence proceeding to Paris. In this city Grotius passed the greater part of fourteen years, studying and writing upon the problems of the world of that day. It was in Paris, 1625, that the De Jure Belli ac Pacis, one of the greatest works of all time, first saw the darkness of those troublous years.
In the meantime the Thirty Years' War had descended upon Europe, and the armies had overrun and devastated its fields and
towns. Gustavus Adolphus had entered the contest, to defeat the great Wallenstein at Lützen, November 16, 1632, but to die upon that field. To this brave Swedish king the learning of Grotius had stood out as a star of the first magnitude, and, sometime before his death, he had given orders that, should he die before he could carry out the plan himself, Grotius should be employed in the service of Sweden. Accordingly, Oxenstiern, the High Chancellor of Sweden, and Grotius met at Frankfort-on-the-Main in May, 1634. Together they traveled to Mainz, and there the exiled Hollander was appointed Counselor to the Queen of Sweden and her Ambassador to the Court of France.
Setting out from Mainz on the 8th of January, 1635, when the roads were frozen and muddy in turn, Grotius was forced to make extensive detours in order to avoid encountering parties of the enemy. His progress was, therefore, necessarily slow, and he arrived at Metz on the 25th of January, much later than he expected and suffering from a severe cold. Five days later he wrote to Oxenstiern that he hoped to be able to leave Metz in a few days, and that he was suffering more in mind than in body, because of his restless desire to be again on his journey. His departure took place on the 2d of February, and on the 7th he passed through Meaux on the way to St. Denis. Arriving at this place, where his friend, Francis de Thou, hearing of his presence, hastened to meet him, he was compelled to tarry for some time because of the delay of the French Court in appointing a day for his formal reception. The cause of this delay is not altogether certain; but, judging by the questions asked by Count Brulon on February 23, as to who had sent him into France and as to the nature of Oxenstiern's powers, it is to be inferred that the Court of France hesitated to recognize an ambassador not appointed by the Queen. In fact, it was not until the 28th of January, 1636, that the appointment given by Oxenstiern was ratified by the five Regents of the Kingdom in the name of young Queen Christina.
Nevertheless, on Friday the 2d of March, 1635, Grotius made his public entry into Paris, attended by Marshal d'Estrées and Count
1 Cattenburgh's Vervolg der Historie van het leven des heeren Huig de Groot — Bk. I, p. 10.
2 Burigny's Vie de Grotius, I, pp. 217–218. Ep. 364, p. 132.
* Cattenburgh's Vervolg, Bk. II, pp. 60-61.
Brulon, the latter acting in the place of Marshal St. Luc, who was ill. They came in the coaches of the King and Queen to escort the Ambassador into the city, and the coaches of the Venetian, Swiss and Mantuan Ministers were also in the procession, together with those of the German Powers allied to Sweden. The princes of the blood did not send their coaches, since they were not in Paris, Gaston, Duke of Orleans, being at Angers, the Prince de Condé at Rouen, and the Count de Soissons at Senlis with the Court.5
On the 6th of March Grotius was conducted to the Court, sitting at Senlis, by the Duke de Mercaur, later Duke de Vendome and Cardinal, whom Grotius calls the most learned of all princes. At the reception the King's guards were under arms, and the King spoke so graciously to him that Grotius began to hope that he might be successful in his mission. By all the princes and their wives the Ambassador was equally well received, and, on March 8th, he sent Queen Christina news of his entry and of his audience with the King. It seems, however, that Paaw, the Ambassador of Holland to France, was somewhat embarrassed, being in doubt as to how he should treat his former countryman; but the instructions which were sent to him at his request directed him to act toward Grotius as he would toward any other minister of a Power friendly to Holland.
With Richelieu the business was more serious. There were undoubtedly occasions when the Cardinal could ill afford to be overcordial, and, before he granted Grotius an interview, he desired to learn the nature of the latter's instructions regarding the treaty lately made between France and the German Princes, with which the Swedes had been dissatisfied. Following the battle of Nördlingen, in 1634, James Laefler and Philip Strect were sent by the Protestant Princes and States of the Circles and the Electoral Provinces of Franconia, Suabia, and the Rhine, to Paris to solicit the aid of France in the war against Austria. They accepted an offer by the Cardinal of 500,000 livres and 6000 foot in six weeks, the force of foot to be increased to 12,000 when France should, with the aid of the Allies, have obtained possession of Benfeld; but they failed to stipulate that France should
5 Burigny's Vie de Grotius, I, pp. 221–222. 6 Ibid., p. 223; Ep. 339, p. 851. 7 Ep. 367, p. 134.
8 Burigny's Vie de Grotius, I, p. 222.