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de Vattel: The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law (1758)


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“Vattel was a noted Swiss jurist who was born in 1714 and died in 1767. LeDroit des Gens is certainly a work of the first magnitude. It modernized the whole theory and business of International Law, brought it out of the study into the field, the mart, the council chamber, and the palace. The law of nations was no longer a mystery. One of its most brilliant, practical exponents became its popularizer. He did, indeed, much for nations, for he imposed upon them theories of moral rational development up to which it became, in a sense, necessary for them to live.” C. Phillipson. Emerich de Vattel. MacDonnell: 504.

Translated from the original French into English by Joseph Chitty, Esq. Based on the edition printed by T. & J.W. Johnson & Co. (Philadelphia), 1883. All footnotes are included and spelling has been modernized. Books 1-4, 482 pages, 68 chapters, with chapter bookmarks. Available in .pdf and .prc file formats for reading on your PC, e-reader, tablet or smart phone. This is a fully digital edition of this work – it is not a hard copy publication or facsimile edition. This electronic edition © Copyright 2003, 2005 Lonang Institute.  Click here to view this book in its entirety.

“There certainly exists a natural law of nations, since the obligations of the law of nature are no less binding on states, on men united in political society, than on individuals. But, to acquire an exact knowledge of that law, it is not sufficient to know what the law of nature prescribes to the individuals of the human race. * * * Hence, it follows, that the natural law of nations is a particular science, consisting in a just and rational application of the law of nature to the affairs and conduct of nations or sovereigns. All treatises, therefore, in which the law of nations is blended and confounded with the ordinary law of nature, are incapable of conveying a distinct idea, or a substantial knowledge of the sacred law of nations.”    E. de Vattel, from The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law.

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