The Freedom of the Seas
Written in response to Grotius’ ‘Mare Liberum’, publication of John Selden’s work was suppressed by James I, who saw it as potentially too controversial. Published for the first time in 1635, its significance was quickly realised in the Netherlands as well as England. Two Elzevir editions (bearing the original London imprint) were published in 1636 by Bonaventura and his nephew Abraham. A workable balance between ‘free’ and ‘closed’ seas (international and national waters) became the basis of international maritime law.
Condition & Materials
12mo. pp. [xxiv], 567, [i] + 2 folding copper engraved maps. Second Elzevir edition. Title page printed in red and black, with woodcut printers’ device, Latin text. Light dampstaining, mostly marginal. Recent blind-ruled calf, red morocco label, gilt edges. A 19th century owner has tipped in a transcription from ‘the Minutes of the Privy Council dated March 26th 1635 – His Majesty this day in Council taking into consideration a book lately published entitled Mare Clausum written by the King’s command & done with great industry – asserting the Right of the Crown of England to the Dominion of the British Seas. The King requires one of the Said Books to be kept in the Council chest. Another in the Court of Admiralty and another in the Court of Exchequer as Faithful and Strong Evidence of our Dominion of the British Seas’.