Introduction to The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations (Straumann & Kingsbury eds. 2010)

Introduction: Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations

Benedict Kingsbury & Benjamin Straumann

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Where did the writers of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries seek the legal maxims and methods, the principles governing treaties or embassies or jurisdiction or property, and the broader ideas of justice in the inception, fighting, and conclusion of war, which they built into a law of nations of enduring importance? To a considerable extent, they looked to Roman law, Roman debates about the justifications of Rome’s wars and imperial expansion, and a rich tradition of ius naturae and ius gentium deriving from Greco-Roman and early Christian sources. This book brings together a set of fresh perspectives exploring the significance and implications of the use made of Roman legal concepts, and of Roman just war theory and imperial practice, by early modern European writers who shaped lasting approaches to natural law and the law of nations.