Nationhood and Constitutionalism in the Ditch Republic: An Examination of Grotius’ Antiquity of the Batavian Republic

ALEXANDER-DAVEY, E.

HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 1

Abstract: The emphasis in contemporary democratic theory and in the history of political thought on the ‘natural rights’ theory of popular sovereignty of Locke, precursors of which are found in the work of Hugo Grotius and others, obscures an important relationship between constitutional self-government and nationalism. Through an examination of the early political writings of Grotius, especially his Antiquity of the Batavian Republic, this essay shows how a national consciousness forged out of memories of native traditions of self-government, and stories of heroic ancestors who successfully defended those traditions against usurpers and tyrants, gives concrete substance to otherwise inchoate theories of constitutional self-government.