Huig de Groot Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The Dutch jurist, statesman, philologist, Latin poet and dramatist, and historian Hugo Grotius (GROH-shee-uhs), or Huig de Groot, was born in Delft in 1583. His father was an important citizen of the town, a former mayor, an official of the University of Leiden, and a friend of many scholars and humanists. Grotius was an exceptionally bright child, and at the age of eleven he entered the University of Leiden, where he was imbued with a strongly religious conscience and where he studied under such famous teachers as Joseph Scaliger.{$S[A]Groot, Huig de;Grotius, Hugo}

At the age of fifteen, Grotius accompanied a diplomatic mission to France. There, his intelligence and tact impressed the king himself. On his way back to Holland, he took a doctor of laws degree at Orleans. Before he was twenty, he was an important attorney in The Hague, was intimate with the great, and was appointed official historiographer to the States of Holland. In 1601, he wrote his Latin tragedy The Adamus Exul, which many consider to be the best dramatic treatment of the biblical story of Adam’s banishment from Eden.

In about 1604-1606, Grotius wrote Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty (which was not published until 1868) for the Dutch East India Company to help them justify the seizure of several Portuguese ships in the Far East. In this document, he maintained that the seas were open and free to all nations—a theme he developed at greater...

(The entire section is 548 words.)