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Open Access Offering hospitality to strangers: Hugo Grotius’s draft regulations for the Jews


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Offering hospitality to strangers: Hugo Grotius’s draft regulations for the Jews


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image of Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis / Revue d'Histoire du Droit / The Legal History Review

In 1615, the States of Holland and West-Vriesland commissioned Hugo Grotius to draft a set of legal regulations for the Jews in their province. This article analyzes Grotius’s draft, entitled Remonstrance. It examines how Grotius understood and justified the rights of Jews and to what extent his approach was novel. More particularly, it shows how Grotius developed the concept of a natural duty to offer hospitality to strangers to advocate admission and toleration of Jews. He borrowed this concept from the sixteenth-century jurist and theologian Francisco de Vitoria, who had used it to justify the Spanish colonization of the Americas. While Vitoria had suggested that the Indians had violated their natural duty to offer hospitality to strangers by refusing to admit the Spanish merchants to their lands, Grotius argued that the provinces of Holland and West-Vriesland had a natural duty to offer hospitality to the Jews who had been expelled from their communities for religious reasons. Unlike Vitoria, Grotius recognized the natural duty to offer hospitality to strangers as the natural foundation of the right to asylum, which applied irrespective of religion. This enabled him to argue that these Jews, as religious exiles, had to be admitted to the provinces of Holland and West-Vriesland, and granted particular rights, including the freedom of (private) worship.


Affiliations: 1: Professor of Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam
 m.dewilde@uva.nl


10.1163/15718190-08534P01
/content/journals/10.1163/15718190-08534p01
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In 1615, the States of Holland and West-Vriesland commissioned Hugo Grotius to draft a set of legal regulations for the Jews in their province. This article analyzes Grotius’s draft, entitled Remonstrance. It examines how Grotius understood and justified the rights of Jews and to what extent his approach was novel. More particularly, it shows how Grotius developed the concept of a natural duty to offer hospitality to strangers to advocate admission and toleration of Jews. He borrowed this concept from the sixteenth-century jurist and theologian Francisco de Vitoria, who had used it to justify the Spanish colonization of the Americas. While Vitoria had suggested that the Indians had violated their natural duty to offer hospitality to strangers by refusing to admit the Spanish merchants to their lands, Grotius argued that the provinces of Holland and West-Vriesland had a natural duty to offer hospitality to the Jews who had been expelled from their communities for religious reasons. Unlike Vitoria, Grotius recognized the natural duty to offer hospitality to strangers as the natural foundation of the right to asylum, which applied irrespective of religion. This enabled him to argue that these Jews, as religious exiles, had to be admitted to the provinces of Holland and West-Vriesland, and granted particular rights, including the freedom of (private) worship.


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/content/journals/10.1163/15718190-08534p01
2017-12-14
2018-11-18

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