restricted access Chapter XVI - Of various Conventions made during the Course of the War
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618 book iii: of war by the ravages of war, as likewise to take care of a family whose head and support has lost his life in the service of the state. There are many debts which are considered as sacred by the man who knows his duty, although they do not afford any ground of action against him.* chapter xvi Of various Conventions made during the Course of the War. War would become too cruel and destructive, were all intercourse between enemies absolutely broken off. According to the observation of Grotius,† there still subsists a friendly intercourse in war, as Virgil‡ and Tacitus§ haveexpressedit.Theoccurrencesandeventsof warlayenemies under the necessity of entering into various conventions. As we have already treated in general of the observance of faith between enemies, it is unnecessary for us in this place to prove the obligation of faithfully acting up to those conventions made in war: it therefore only remains * It is in general the indispensable duty of every sovereign to adopt the most efficacious measures for the protection of his subjects engaged in war, in order thatthey may suffer by it as little as possible,—instead of voluntarily exposing them to greater evils. During the wars in the Netherlands, Philip the Second prohibited the release or exchange of prisoners of war. He forbade the peasants, under pain of death, to pay any contributions with a view to purchase an immunity from pillage and conflagration ; and, under the same penalty, prohibited the use of safe-guards and protections . In opposition to this barbarous ordinance, the states-general adopted measures fraught with consummate wisdom. They published an edict, in which, after havingdescribedthedestructiveconsequencesof theSpanishbarbarity,theyexhorted the Flemings to attend to their own preservation, and threatened to retaliate on all who should obey the cruel ordinance of Philip. By such conduct they put an end to the dreadful proceedings to which it had given birth. [[Note added in 1773/1797 editions.]] † Lib iii. cap. xxi. §1 [[Law of War and Peace]]. ‡ —— Belli commercia Turnus Sustulit ista prior. Aen. x. 532. [[“Such trafficking in war Turnus first put away.”]]§ Ann. lib. xiv. cap. 33.§233. Truce and suspension of arms. chapter xvi 619 to explain the nature of them. Sometimes it is agreed to suspend hostilities for a certain time; and if this convention be made but for a very short period, or only regards some particular place, it is called a cessation or suspension of arms. Such are those conventions made for thepurpose of burying the dead after an assault or a battle, and for a parley, or a conference between the generals of the hostile armies. If the agreement be for a more considerable length of time, and especially if general, it is more particularly distinguished by the appellation of a truce.Manypeople use both expressions indiscriminately. The truce or suspension of arms does not terminate the war; it only suspends its operations. A truce is either partial or general. By the former, hostilities are suspended only in certain places, as between a town and the army besieging it. By the latter, they are to cease generally, and in all places, between the belligerent powers. Partial truces may also admit of a distinction with respect to acts of hostility, or to persons; that is to say, the parties may agree to abstain from certain acts of hostility during a limited time, or two armies may mutually conclude a truce or suspension of arms without regard to any particular place. A general truce, made for many years, differs from a peace in little else than in leaving the question which was the original ground of the war, still undecided. When two nations are weary of hostilities, and yet cannot agree on the point which constitutes the subject of their dispute, they generally have recourse to this kind of agreement. Thus, instead of peace, long truces only have usually been made between the Christians and the Turks,—sometimes from a false spiritof religion,atother times because neither party were willing to acknowledge the other as lawful owners of their respective possessions. It is necessary to the validity of an agreement, that it be made by one who possesses competent powers. Every thing done in war is done by the authority of the sovereign, who alone has the right both of undertaking the war, and directing its operations (§4). But from the impossibility of executing every thing by himself, he must necessarily communicate part of his power to his ministers...


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Subject Headings

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