16 July 2014
SELDEN, John. Mare clausum sev de dominio maris Libri Duo. London: William Stansbury for Richard Meighen, 1635.
8° (286 x 190 mm). Title printed in red and black, woodcut device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, 5 in-text woodcut illustrations, 2 engraved maps, penultimate leaf with errata, first and last leaves blank. (Occasional faint spotting.) 20th-century red morocco, covers in gilt and blind, spine gilt, edges red by J. Haines. Provenance: Thomas Foley, Great Witley Court (armorial bookplate on verso of title).
FIRST EDITION of Selden’s great political work, written in response to Grotius’ Mare Liberum. In his work of 1609, Grotius, a jurist of the Dutch Republic, proposed that the sea should be international territory, with all nations free to use it for trade. In Mare clausum, Selden argued that countries should be able to claim territory in the sea as they could on land; indeed, England had already claimed sovereignty over the waters around the British Isles at the time of publication of this work. As conflicting claims grew, Cornelius Bynkershoek introduced a workable formula in his De domino maris of 1702, which restricted maritime dominion to the distance it could be effectively protected by cannon from land. This eventually developed into the three-mile limit. Selden originally wrote Mare clausum 16 or 17 years prior to publication, but James I prohibited its publication for political reasons; once published, Selden dedicated the work to Charles I. ESTC S117048; Sabin 78971.
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