Grotius, Hugo, the Latinized name of Huig de Groot (1583–1645), a Dutch jurist and statesman. He is generally regarded as the founder of international law. His influential De Jure Belli et Pacis (“On the Law of War and Peace”) was published in 1625. In it he argued that natural law should govern relations between nations, and urged that wars be conducted in a more humane fashion. He also wrote Latin poems and plays, and books of history and theology.
Grotius was a successful diplomat and lawyer. At the age of 15 he was a member of a diplomatic mission to France. He began practicing law at 16, and eventually was appointed to public office. Grotius, a liberal Protestant, became involved in religious disputes in the Netherlands and was arrested in 1618. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but escaped in 1621 and went to Paris. He returned to the Netherlands in 1631, but, fearing arrest, soon fled to Germany. He offered his services to the Swedish government and was Swedish ambassador to France, 1634–44.