Ciceronian Jurisprudence and the Law of Nations

Author: Dymond, Jeffrey
Title: Ciceronian Jurisprudence and the Law of Nations
Review/Collection: The Historical Journal (Cambridge)
Year edition: 2023
Pages: 1–20
Keywords: Droit - Diritto - Law, Héritage - Fortuna - Legacy
Description: At the turn of the seventeenth century, jurists such as Alberico Gentili (1552–1608) and Hugo Grotius (1583–1645), began to advance a novel account of the law of nations (ius gentium) as a law that binds a world of sovereign states. That they would produce such a theory is surprising, however, considering that sovereign states were neither the dominant form of political organization at the time, nor did conventional medieval jurisprudence treat them as the normative standard. This article traces this evolution to a broader transformation in legal interpretation. In an effort to put Roman law on a more rational foundation, jurists such as François Connan (1508–51) and Hugues Doneau (1527–91) connected the origin of law to the unfolding of a certain account of human sociability, with the result that a conception of the state as an autonomous body acquired a normative status within their version of the global legal order. It then argues that we should see Gentili’s work on the ius gentium as part of this tradition. In so doing, the article demonstrates how the innovations of a particular school of legal interpretation, by combining Roman law with a distinctive social theory, contributed to making the sovereign state the legal norm.
Author initials: Dymond 2023