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Part I Histories, Ch.3 Transformations of Natural Law: Germany 1648–1815

Martti Koskenniemi

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 July 2024

Responsibility of international organizations — Customary international law — General principles of international law — Relationship of international law & host state law — Sources of international law

This chapter examines the transformation of ideas about international power that took place in the idiom of natural law between 1648 and 1815, a key period of early Western modernity. Pressed in part by external events and in part by developments in the relations between the Holy Roman Empire’s constituent units, university jurists switched between abstract justification of the imperial structure and deliberating the technical merits of alternative legislative policies. These debates had an immediate relevance to how German jurists conceived jus gentium (the law of nations) and why they would finally discuss it under the title of ‘public law of Europe’. Thus, the transformations of natural law in the period 1648–1815 constructed and delimited the ways in which what is settled in the international world and what is open for political contestation was to be conceived up to the present.

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