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ix introduction Life of Vattel Emer1 de Vattel’s Le droit des gens. Ou Principes de la loi naturelle, applique ́s à la conduite & aux affaires des nations & des souverains (The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns) (1758) was the most important book on the law of nations in the eighteenth century. It was in great measure thanks to this work that the practical and theoretical influenceof natural jurisprudence was extended down through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Indeed, it was Vattel who was cited as a major source of contemporary wisdom on questions of international law in the American Revolution and even by opponents of revolution, such as Cardinal Consalvi, at the Congress of Vienna. Emer de Vattel was born at Couvet, in Neuchâtel, a principalityruled by the kings of Prussia, on April 25, 1714, as the youngest son of David Vattel and Marie de Montmollin.2 His father, ennobled in 1727 by the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm I, was a Protestant clergyman and head of the local congregation of ministers; his motherwasthedaughter 1. Vattel was christened “Emer.” Modern authors have mistakenly given him a German name, “Emerich.” 2. The most authoritative biography of Vattel is still E. Béguelin, “En souvenir de Vattel,” in Recueil de travaux offert par la Faculté de Droit de l’Université de Neucha ̂tel à la Société Suisse des Juristes à l’occasiondesaréunionàNeuchâtel,15–17septembre 1929, 35–176; in English, the most informative account is A. de Lapradelle’s introduction to the Carnegie edition of The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law, iii–lix. For a concise summary, see also S. Beaulac, “Emer de Vattel and the Externalization of Sovereignty,” Journal of the History of International Law 5 (2003): 237–92; especially pp. 242–47. x introduction of the principality’s ambassador to the Prussiancourt.From1728to1730 Vattel was enrolled as a student of the humanities at the University of Basel, where he seems to have attended courses on Samuel Pufendorf given by the Huguenot minister Pierre Roques. In 1733 he went to Geneva to pursue theological and metaphysical studies; one of his teachers was Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, and it was under Burlamaqui’s tutelage that Vattel first studied in detail the principles of natural law and the law of nations. Little is known of the following years, but in 1740 and 1741 Vattel wrote a series of essays, several of which appeared in Switzerland ’s leading literary journal, the Neuchâtel-based Journal Helvétique .3 The same year also saw his lengthy defense of the philosophy of Leibniz against the accusation of atheism made by the Lausanne professor of philosophy and mathematics Jean-Pierre de Crousaz.4 Vattel’s Défense, which he dedicated to Friedrich II (“the Great”), earned him an invitation from the French ambassador in Berlin to come to the court of the prince whose subject he was by birth. However, he failedtoobtain a diplomatic position and, pressed by financial difficulties, in 1743 he moved to Dresden, where he was promised employment by Count Brühl, first minister of Elector Friedrich August II of Saxony (who as August III was also the elective king of Poland). Vattel spent the next three years in Neuchâtel, writing essays and studying the works of the 3. Vattel, “Apologie de la médisance”; “Essai sur l’utilité du jeu”; and “Relation d’un jugement rendu sur le Mont Olympe” appeared in the October and December 1740 issues of the Journal Helvétique. In 1741 Vattel wrote a number of essays explaining the relation between self-love and friendship, in which he put forward some of the arguments later developed in his discussion of the foundation of obligation: “Lettre à Mademoiselle deM . . . sur lessentimensdélicats,généreuxetdésintéressés”; “Lettre sur la nature de l’amour”; and “Sur la différence de l’amour et de l’amitié.” They were included in the Pièces diverses (see note 5) and Le loisir philosophique (see note 6). 4. Vattel, Défense du système leibnitzien contre les objections et imputations de Mr de Crousaz, contenues dans l’Examen de l’Essai sur l’homme de Mr Pope. Ou l’on a joint la Réponse aux objections de Mr Roques, contenues dans le Journal Helvétique, par Mr Emer de Vattel (Leyde: Jean Luzac, 1741). See S. Zurbuchen, “Die schweizerische Debatte...


Subject Headings

  • International law.
  • War (International law).
  • Natural law.
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