Sovereignty, Property and Empire: Early Modern English Contexts
Theoretical Inquiries in Law , 2017
This Article is based on a larger work that seeks to map the uses of different legal vocabularies... more This Article is based on a larger work that seeks to map the uses of different legal vocabularies by ambitious European legal and political thinkers in the period of c. 1300-1800 in order to defend, explain and organize the exercise of power outside the domestic commonwealth. The Article examines the ways in which English legal languages (civil law, common law, natural law, jus gentium) were used to think about, propagate and defend English transatlantic expansion. For most of that time, in their relations public and private power remained closely interwoven. The pluralism of English law also contributed to the appearance of arguments from property and sovereignty in different configurations so that it is often hard to figure out which precise connotation is being made. The uses also varied significantly from Continental practices. I am above all interested in the imperial or colonial significance of these arguments. The point that emerges here is that by 1800, a conception of British Empire had arisen where the exercise of sovereign power was clearly derivative from and supplementary to claims about private property.
Edited by Martti Koskenniemi, Academy Professor and Director, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki, Walter Rech, Postdoctoral Researcher, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki, and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca, Doctoral Researcher, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki
Martti Koskenniemi is Academy Professor and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki, a Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School, and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has held visiting professorships at New York University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Utrecht, Columbia University, the University of São Paulo, the University of Toronto, and the Universities of Paris I, II, X and XVI. He was a member of the Finnish diplomatic service from 1978 to 1994 and of the International Law Commission (UN) from 2002 to 2006. His publications include From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument (1989), The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001), The Politics of International Law (2011), and The Cambridge Companion to International Law (2012, co-edited with Professor James Crawford).
Manuel Jiménez Fonseca is a doctoral researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. His research interests include the historical relationship between international law and nature, development, and social movements. His publications include 'The Colonization of American Nature and the Early Developments of International Law' Journal of the History of International Law (2010) 12:189
Walter Rech is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. His research interests are located in the history and theory of international law and international politics. His publications include Enemies of Mankind: Vattel's Theory of Collective Security (2013)
Manuel Jiménez Fonseca