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The Roman Foundations of the Law of NationsAlberico Gentili and the Justice of Empire$
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Benedict Kingsbury and Benjamin Straumann

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599875

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599875.001.0001

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Alberico Gentili’s Doctrine of Defensive War and its Impact on Seventeenth-Century Normative Views

Alberico Gentili’s Doctrine of Defensive War and its Impact on Seventeenth-Century Normative Views

Chapter:
(p.187) 10 Alberico Gentili’s Doctrine of Defensive War and its Impact on Seventeenth-Century Normative Views
Source:
The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations
Author(s):

Pärtel Piirimäe

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599875.003.0010

This chapter begins by sketching the development of views on defensive war from the formulation of the Christian doctrine until Gentili's day. It then looks at the impact of Gentili's doctrine on 17th-century normative views on warfare, drawing on two different kinds of sources. First, it proceeds in a more conventional manner, studying the theoretical treatises that dealt with the issue of the laws of war. Secondly, it investigates whether and to what extent the views expressed in theoretical tracts were reflected in actual state practice. Specifically, a specific body of source material is used — namely the declarations, manifestos, and pamphlets — which justify states' actions to European audiences. Such propagandistic texts, rather than inventing new theoretical arguments, appeal to normative principles that are held by their authors as universally valid. Therefore they are a rather good indication of whether specific theoretical innovations — such as those of Gentili — had acquired any validity in the eyes of contemporaries.

Keywords:   defensive warfare, Christian doctrine, laws of war, state action, propaganda

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