Abbildungen der Seite


The greatest opposition to the feudalism of the Middle Ages was found in the commercial classes. The interests of the commercial and military classes have always clashed in every age and in every nation. The constant warfare essential to the latter class is destructive of the business of the former. Trade between nations requires some system by which the relations between different countries can be regulated. It is therefore not surprising that the commercial cities of Italy and the cities of the Hanseatic League appear as pioneers in the movement for the betterment of the unsatisfactory state of international relations.

Among the earliest branches of international law to receive attention was that relative to commerce on the sea. During the Middle Ages a number of codes or systems of rules on this subject were developed.

"The so-called Amalfitan Tables seem to have been the sea law of the latter part of the eleventh century. The much more detailed Consolato del Mare, of doubtful origin, between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries derived some of its principles from the eleventh century code. The consolato was recognized by maritime powers as generally binding, and made possible wide commercial intercourse. Many of its principles have stood to the present day, though touching such questions as the mutual rights of neutrals and belligerents on the sea in time of war. As the consolato formed the code of Southern Europe, the laws of Oleron formed the maritime code for Western Europe, and were compiled the latter part of the twelfth century, whether by Richard I, or by his mother, Queen Eleanor, is a disputed question.

These laws are based in large measure on the other existing systems. The Laws of Wisby, dating from about 1288, supplemented the laws of Oleron, and formed the fundamental law of maritime courts of the Baltic nations. The Hanseatic League, in 1590, compiled a system of marine law, Jus Hanseaticum Maritimum, based on the codes of Europe and Northern Europe. The maritime law of Europe was practically unchanged for nearly a hundred years, when systematized in 1673 under Louis XIV. Similar to the maritime codes are the 'Customs of Amsterdam,' the 'Law of Antwerp,' and the 'Guidon de la Mar.'" 1

The crusades, by the increased intercourse between nations which it occasioned, did much to increase international commerce, and thus to increase the necessity for proper regulations of this species of com

merce. SECTION 15.




In the modern historical period the idea of the common superior has been disregarded, and the underlying theory of international intercourse has become that of the "balance of power." The efforts of the diplomatists of this period is to prevent the undue increase of power by any rival country. To increase the power of one's own country, or to prevent the increase of the power of another country, are the causes of the almost constant series of wars throughout this period.

The national unity of England, France, and Spain had been secured by the close of the fifteenth century, but Italy and Germany remained in a divided and chaotic condition, which rendered them a prey to

1 Wilson and Tucker on Interna

tional Law, pp. 17–18.

their united neighbors. The invasion of Italy by Charles VIII of France, in 1494, marks the beginning of the Italian wars, which furnish the most convenient beginning to the period of modern history, at least from the standpoint of the study of international law.


Two years before the event just referred to, Columbus had discovered America, and this greatly increased the territorial area of the application of the international law. The history of international law had formerly been exclusively confined to the continent of Europe, but the opening of the New World by European colonists extended the scope of these principles over this territory. Many of the wars of this period originated or were closely concerned with the possession of territory in America.


An important impetus was given to the development of the science of international law by the work of the Congress of Westphalia, which succeeded in bringing the destructive Thirty Year War to a close in 1648. In addition to their work in this respect, the status of the various countries of Europe was largely regulated, and a definite system was adopted for the conduct of diplomatic relations. From this time on, the various large international congresses have been one of the most important sources from which the principles of international law have been drawn.2 GENERAL CHARACTER OF INTERNATIONAL LAW DURING THIS PERIOD.


The principles of international law were extremely fluctuating during this period. The period of history

See some good general history for an account

of these various international congresses.

now under discussion was the period of the greatest contest between absolutism and liberalism in government, and it was also a period of contest between liberal and illiberal views as to international relations.


The recent period in the history of international law may be taken to have begun with the Declaration of Paris in 1856. The characteristic of this period has been the constant movement towards a more liberal policy of international relations. The reforms of this period will be shown in the following chapters.




In general the objects of the principles of international law are the various independent nations or states of the world. Individuals are concerned, in general, only in relation to their status as citizens of some particular country.

"It is true that occasionally individuals are interested in the questions raised, and are sometimes even the cause of international complications, perhaps of war, but it is not as individuals that public international law interferes in their behalf or condemns them. It is because individuals necessarily form a constituent part of every State, parts of which the nation as a whole is made up; and as no injury can be inflicted on one part of the body or by one member without the participation of the whole, so no member of the body politic can be injured without damage to the material interests, the dignity, and the honor of the whole. It is because of this blow to or by the State that public international law interferes in such matters.” 1



Mr. Davis, in his recent work on International Law, thus describes a sovereign state:

"A sovereign state may, therefore, be defined as one which retains and exercises in their entirety its essential attributes of sovereignty, which has parted with none of them, but retains them all unimpaired.

' Minor on Conflict of Laws, Sec. 2.

« ZurückWeiter »