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Reassessing Legal Humanism and its ClaimsPetere Fontes?$
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Paul J. du Plessis and John W. Cairns

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474408851

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474408851.001.0001

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date: 18 August 2017

Redefining Ius to Restore Justice: The Centrality of Ius Gentium in Humanist Jurisprudence

Redefining Ius to Restore Justice: The Centrality of Ius Gentium in Humanist Jurisprudence

Chapter:
(p.108) 5 Redefining Ius to Restore Justice: The Centrality of Ius Gentium in Humanist Jurisprudence
Source:
Reassessing Legal Humanism and its Claims
Author(s):

Susan Longfield Karr

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474408851.003.0006

Departing from narratives that dominate the history of political and legal thought, this chapter argues that it is necessary to reassess the contribution of legal humanism to the history and development of the western traditions of natural law, natural rights, and the law of nations (ius gentium). In particular, it explores Ulrich Zasius’ fundamental departure from traditional (scholastic and Roman) jurisprudence in the early 16th century. Addressing local problems of authority, Zasius reinterpreted ius gentium as a form of natural law, and, by extension, the source of natural and universal rights and obligations that exist prior to—and transcend—civil society. Rights and obligations derived from ius gentium not only provide civil laws and authorities with their moral and historical authority, they demarcate the limits of power within and between societies. As such, Zasius effectively transformed ius gentium from a mere category of law into a criterion of justice

Keywords:   Natural law, natural rights, ius gentium, legal humanism, Renaissance humanism, Ulrich Zasius, slavery, early modern political and legal thought

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