Emer (Emerich or Emmerich) de Vattel (April 25, 1714 - December 28, 1767) was a Swiss philosopher, diplomat, and legal expert whose theories laid the foundation of modern international law and political philosophy. He was born in Couvet in Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1714 and died in 1767 of edema. He was largely influenced in his philosophy by Gottfried Leibniz and Christian Wolff and strove to integrate their ideas into the legal and political system. He is most famous for his 1758 work Droit des gens; ou, Principes de la loi naturelle appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des nations et des souverains (in English, The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns). This work was his claim to fame and won him enough prestige to be appointed as a councilor to the court of King Augustus III of Saxony.

The Law of NationsEdit


Vattel's masterpiece was largely influenced by The Law of Nations by Christian Wolff. His work began, in fact, by translating Wolff's text from its Latin into the vernacular and adding his own thoughts. The work was also heavily influenced by Gottfried Leibniz and Hugo Grotius. Focused largely on the rights and obligations of citizens and states, the work also had ramifications for Just War Theory as it outlined international diplomacy as we now know it. Vattel elucidated the "Golden Rule of Sovereigns": One cannot complain when he is treated as he treats others.

The work is available online at Online Library of Liberty.

Other worksEdit

Vattel also published works other than his magnum opus. His last work was written in 1762 and concerned the Natural law philosophy of Wolff.

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