"How Wondrously Moses Goes Along With the House of Orange!" Hugo Grotius' 'De Republica Emendanda' in the Context of the Dutch Revolt

Arthur Eyffinger

Abstract: Hugo Grotius’ early political career spanned the decade which led up to the constitutional crisis of the young Dutch Republic in 1618, and was in fact cut short by this dramatic event. In the tract here under consideration, which dates from well before that day, the young genius takes stock of the essential shortcomings of the prevailing Dutch constitution and first addresses the never-abating rivalries and inveterate provincialism – so inherent to aristocratic republicanism – which two decades later were to unsettle the precarious balance. ‘De Republica Emendanda’ stands out as a first token of young Grotius’ acute political awareness and, in terms of methodology, of his essentially humanist approach to political studies. More than this, the tract attests to the paramount role reserved for the Hebrew tradition as the paradigm model of the Calvinist Dutch commonwealth.

Biography: Arthur Eyffinger (1947) holds a PhD in classics from Amsterdam University (1981). From 1970–1985 he was a research fellow of the Grotius Institute of the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; subsequently, he became head librarian of the International Court of Justice of the UN in The Hague. Upon his retirement in 2002, he launched Judicap, a center for publications and presentations in the domains of international law and peace studies. Dr. Eyffinger is a cofounder of the Grotiana Foundation (1980) and published extensively on the life and works of Hugo Grotius, on Dutch seventeenth-century issues, and on the history of internationalism and the international courts in The Hague. Among his current projects are a biography of the Russian internationalist F.F. Martens and an edition of Latin poetry by Hugo Grotius on behalf of the Huygens Institute in The Hague.

Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 2005 - sample issue) pp. 79-109