Poster on Mare Liberum (1609), the famous work by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) in which he formulated the new principle that the sea was international territory and all nations were free to use it for seafaring trade. The Peace Palace Library has an original copy of Mare Liberum , TMD 541, in the famous Ter Meulen/Diermanse Bibliographie de Grotius.
Image: a drawing of a Dutch sailing ship with a portrait of Hugo Grotius on the stern and a large Dutch flag and smaller flags of other countries.
This poster, produced during the First World War, propagates the principle of the Free Sea as the precondition for national independance and prosperity. The flags of the major combatants and neutral countries flutter amicably from the outer stays of a seventeenth-century ship. The Stars and Stripes flying from the main mast presumably expressed the hope that the United States, still neutral in 1915, would take the lead in restoring peace.
The principle of Mare Liberum was a significant bone of contention during the First World War. Germany invoked the principal when Britain used its powerful navy to establish a blockade in the North Sea.
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Text on poster
Mare Liberum. Hugo Grotius. Zoo schept de zeevaert lucht, zoo leeft men onbesprongen. Zoo wort al 't zeegewelt door eendrachtsmacht bedwongen waarbij de weerelt leeft en ieder weereltsdeel. Vrij naar Vondel. S.L. van Looy edit. J.B. Heukelom fecit