International Order And The Law Of The Sea
The second area of concern was jurisdiction over the seas. Could the sea be owned or, at the very least, could anyone assert jurisdiction over the sea in order to prevent others from entering as Alexander VI had asserted in Inter caetera ? The debate about possession of the sea drew the most attention from European scholars, because the discovery of the size and extent of the world's oceans significantly changed the nature of the debate about world order. Instead of armies of foot soldiers conquering new lands, the new empires of the early modern world, with the exception of Spain, were primarily concerned with trade and not with the acquisition of large amounts of territory. They were seaborne empires. Alexander VI's allocation of spheres of responsibility to the Portuguese and Spanish, if accepted by all European rulers, would have blocked overseas expansion except for those whom these two nations allowed into the regions allotted to them. The early years of the seventeenth century saw the publication of a number of legal treatises on the law of the sea. The Portuguese scholar Serafim de Freitas (c. 1570–1633) wrote a lengthy treatise on the legitimacy of Portuguese claims to monopoly of trade in the Indian Ocean on the basis of the papal grant. John Selden (1584–1684), an English scholar, argued that although the pope had no right to allot the seas to specific Christian monarchs, various European states had long-standing claims to possess parts of the sea. The most important work on the topic of the sea was Hugo Grotius's (1583–1645) Mare liberum (The freedom of the seas; 1609). Obviously defending Dutch claims to the right to travel anywhere in the peaceful pursuit of trade, Grotius argued that the seas were open to all and that no ruler had the right to exclude anyone from any sea.
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