The Lore and Laws of Peace-Making in Early-Modern and 19th-Century European Peace Treaties

28 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2018

See all articles by Randall Lesaffer

Randall Lesaffer

Tilburg Law School; KU Leuven - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 22, 2018


As the works of Gentili and Vattel exemplify, the writers of the law of nations of the 16th to 18th centuries largely construed the legal conception of peace on the basis of their conception of war. The nature of peace was dictated by the nature of war. In this, their theories gelled with peace treaty practice. Whereas some of the dualistic logic of the justice and legality of war transpired in the twin pair of amnesty and restitution clauses, early modern peace treaties were designed to deal with the consequences of war under the conception of legal war. They were founded on the assumption that all belligerents had a right to wage the war and equally enjoyed the protection and benefits of the laws of war. This created space to disregard claims of right and justice and negotiate a compromise without having to heed too many legal constraints with relation to pre-existing rights and claims. The triumph of legal over just war in peace treaties, albeit not in the discourse of the justification of war itself, was a logical consequence of the ascendancy of the sovereign state.

Suggested Citation

Lesaffer, Randall C. H., The Lore and Laws of Peace-Making in Early-Modern and 19th-Century European Peace Treaties (January 22, 2018). Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 03/2018. Available at SSRN: or

Randall C. H. Lesaffer (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law School ( email )

PO Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
0031 13 4662294 (Phone)


KU Leuven - Faculty of Law

Tiensestraat 41
Leuven, B-3000

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics