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'Concerning the Indies': Ius Naturale, Privateers, Pirates and Anti-Systemic Movements

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Chapter Summary

There is no generally accepted explanation as to why Grotius published Mare Liberum anonymously. The most likely explanation lies with Grotius' shadowy relationship with Oldenbarnevelt and the extreme factionalism centered upon the VOC at this time. Within the emergent 'privatized' international regime, it would be the Corporate Sovereign of the VOC and not the 'public' Dutch State that would effect the final disposition of Indigenous peoples. The author argues that the interpretative key to Mare Liberum, if not the entirety of the 'juvenilia' is Grotius' fluctuating political relationship with Oldenbarnevelt and the convoluted double game he played as mouthpiece for contending factions. Herein we witness the 'dangerous' migration from political to military to criminal organisation, an outstanding sixteenth-century example of the convergence between wars of national liberation and trans-national 'black markets.

Keywords: anti-systemic movements; corporate sovereign; Indian Ocean World System; ius naturale; Mare Liberum; pirates; privateers



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