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Hugo Grotius

March 17, 2015

The Hugo Grotius display is the first in a series of library displays in which we will be providing little-known information about famous legal figures.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) is widely known as “the father of international law,” but he was also imprisoned for his anti-Calvinist writings in 1619. After 20 months of his imprisonment, during which he was allowed shipments of books and linens from home, his wife arranged for his escape by boring holes in the book trunk and hiding him in it. Because the guards were so accustomed to her frequent visits, they stopped inspecting the trunk, and Grotius fairly easily made his escape.

Among the items displayed is the very rare, original 1619 trial court sentencing document, The sentence of eternal imprisonment pronounced against Hugo Grotius in the extraordinary trial for laesa maiestas, Rotterdam, May 18, 1619.

The Library’s Grotius collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the country.  For more information, see an overview of our Special Collections.

The library display is located on the first floor, near the circulation desk.


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