De veritate religionis Christianae

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by Hugo Grotius

De Veritate Religionis Christianae

Title page from De Veritate Religionis Christianae, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Hugo Grotius
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Amstelaedami: Apud Henricum Wetstenium
Date 1696
Edition Editio novissima
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [8], 296
Desc. 8vo (16 cm.)
Location [[Shelf {{{shelf}}}]]
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) is often touted as the "Father of International Law."[1] Grotius influenced thinkers like John Locke with his ideas of international law as natural law, or principles derived inherently from the human nature or human reason.[2] Grotius also wrote extensively on maritime law and the law of war.

Composed in a prison cell in 1620 after Grotius was arrested by Prince Mauris,[3]De Veritate Religionis Christianae is a Latin version of the Dutch poem “Bewijs van den waren godsdienst.”[4] It means "Proof of True Religion" and was written in 1622 as a defense of Christianity against other religions and atheism.[5] He proposed an undogmatic Christianity – bringing him into conflict with Dutch Calvinists who practice confession. He "was an ecumenist avant la lettre,"[6] meaning he was an advocate of a single Church before there was a general movement toward that goal.[7] The work contains six "books" with the first three touting the merits of Christianity, and the last three attacking paganism, Judaism, and Islam, respectively.[8] As an ecumenist and apologetic,[9] he identifies the cause of “the disunity and warmongering among Christian nations” as the "multiplicity of doctrines and the authority given to them."[10]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Grotius de veritate religionis Christianae. 8vo. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph. Later appears on Randolph's 1832 estate inventory as "'Grotius on Christ: Religion (latin)' ($1.50 value)." We do not have enough information to conclusively identify which edition Wythe owned. George Wythe's Library[11] on LibraryThing indicates this without naming a specific edition. The Brown Bibliography[12] lists the 1745 duodecimo edition published in Glasgow. Jefferson listed the volume as an octavo, but we do not know the precise edition owned by Wythe. The Wolf Law Library purchased a copy of the 1696 octavo edition published in Amsterdam.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary vellum with manuscript title and "626" or "bzb" on spine. Purchased from Daniel Thierstein.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.


  1. Sean Murphy, Principles of International Law, (Minnesota: Thompson West, 2006), chap. 3.
  2. Jeremy Waldron, God, Locke, and Equality: Christian Foundations in Locke's Political Thought, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 189.
  3. Jeremiah Hackett, reviewer, "Hugo Grotius as Apologist for the Christian Religion: A Study of His Work "De Veritate religionis christianae" (1640) by J. P. Heering; J. C. Grayson,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 164.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Wikipedia, sv "Ecumenism."
  8. Hackett, “Hugo Grotius as Apologist for the Christian Religion: A Study of His Work "De Veritate religionis christianae (1640) by J. P. Heering; J. C. Grayson,” 164.
  9. Wikipedia, s.v. "Apologetic."
  10. Hackett, “Hugo Grotius as Apologist for the Christian Religion: A Study of His Work "De Veritate religionis christianae (1640) by J. P. Heering; J. C. Grayson,” 164.
  11. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 13, 2013.
  12. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:

External Links

Read this book in Google Books.
Illustration from first page of text.