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The Law of War and Peace (1625)

by Hugo Grotius

BOOK 3, CHAPTER 17
On Those Who Are of Neither Side in War

I.     From those who are at peace nothing should be taken except in case of extreme necessity, and subject to the restoration of its value.
IT might seem superfluous for us to speak of those who are not involved in war, since it is quite clear that no right of war is valid against them. But since in time of war on the pretext of necessity many things are done at the expense of those who are at peace, especially if they are neighbors, we must briefly repeat here what we have said elsewhere, that the necessity which gives any right over another’s property must be extreme; furthermore, that it is requisite that the owner himself should not be confronted with an equal necessity; that even in case there is no doubt as to the necessity more is not to be taken than the necessity demands; that is, if retention is sufficient, then the use of a thing is not to be assumed; if the use is sufficient, then not the consumption; if consumption is necessary, the value of the thing must then be repaid.

II.     Examples of self-restraint and precepts.
1.   When Moses and his people were pressed by the extreme necessity of passing through the land of the Edomites, he said, first, that he would pass along the royal road, and would not turn off into the ploughed fields or vineyards, and if he should have need of their water he would pay its price. Famous Greek and Roman generals assumed the same obligation. In Xenophon, the Greeks who were with Clearchus promised the Persians that they would march through without causing them any damage; and if they would have supplies for the Greeks to purchase these latter would not seize things to eat or drink from any one.

2.   Dercyllides, as the same Xenophon relates, ‘led his forces through peaceful territory in such a way that his allies suffered no ‘loss.’ Livy says of King Perseus: ‘He returned to his kingdom through Phthertis, Achaia, and Thessaly, without causing damage or injury to the lands through which he marched.’ Of the army of Agis of Sparta, Plutarch says: ‘They were a marvel to the cities as they traversed the Peloponnesus quietly, without injury and almost without noise.’

Velleius says of Sulla: ‘You would think that he had come into Italy not to avenge in war, but to establish peace, with so great quiet did he lead his army through Calabria and Apulia into Campania. showing exceptional care for crops, fields, cities, and men.’ Pompey the Great Cicero affirms that ‘his legions came to Asia in such a way that not only the hands of so vast an army, but even its footprints could be said to have done no harm to any one at peace.’ Of Domitian Frontinus thus speaks: ‘When he was establishing forts in the lands of the Ubii, he ordered that the value should be paid for the crops of the places which he incorporated in the fortifications; and by the report of this act of justice he bound to:: himself the allegiance of all.’

Of the Parthian expedition of Alexander Severus, Lampridius writes: ‘He conducted it with so great discipline, demanding so high respect for himself, that not soldiers, but senators, might be said to be passing by; wherever the soldiers were on the march, the tribunes were under arms, the centurions respectful, the soldiers gentle. Himself, however, the provincials received as a god, because of these great and numerous benefits.’ Of the Goths, Huns, and Alans, who were in the service of Theodosius, the Panegyrist says ‘There was no rioting, no disturbance, no plundering, as is usual with barbarians; indeed, whenever there was a shortage of supplies they bore the want with patience, and by their abstinence they augmented the grain which they diminished by their number.’

Claudian attributes the same conduct to Stilicho:

      So great the peace, so great the fear, the guardian of right,
      ‘Neath your command, that no plundering of vineyard nor of grain field
      Cheated the farmer of his harvest.

Similar conduct is attributed by Suidas to Belisarius.

3.   This condition was brought about by scrupulous painstaking in providing for necessities ‘ by the regular payment of troops, and by vigor in enforcing discipline, a rule of which you hear in Ammianus: ‘The lands of those at peace must not be trampled upon.’ In Vopiscus, Life of Aurelian, we read: ‘Let no one seize another’s fowl; let no one touch a sheep; let no one carry off a bunch of grapes, let no one destroy grain, let no one requisition oil, salt, or wood.’ Likewise in Cassiodorus: ‘ Let them live with the provincials under the civil law; let not the spirit of him, who feels that he is armed, become insolent, because our army as a shield should guarantee quiet to the Romans.’ These rules may be supplemented by the saying of Xenophon, in Book VI of the Anabasis: ‘A friendly city should not be compelled to give anything against its will.’

4.   In the light of these sayings you would aptly interpret that admonition of a great Prophet, nay, a greater than a Prophet ‘Extort from no man by violence, neither accuse any one wrongfully; and be content with your wages.” Similar to this is the .order of Aurelian in the passage of Vopiscus which has been cited ‘Let each one be satisfied with his allowance, let him live by the spoil of the enemy, not by the tears of the provincials.’

No one should think that, while it is fine to say these things, they cannot be carried into effect; for neither would the Divine Man urge them, nor the wise authors of laws prescribe them, if they believed that such rules could not be enforced. In fact, we must grant that, that can be done which we see done. Therefore we have adduced examples, to which may be added the notable example which Frontinus records of Scaurus, that an apple-tree, which the survey had included in the lines of the camp, was left on the following day, when the army had marched off, with its fruit untouched.

5.   Livy, after relating that the Roman soldiers in the camp at the Sucro had behaved themselves with too great licence, and that some of them had gone at night to pillage in the neutral land about; them, adds that everything was done through the greed and licence; of the soldiers and nothing according to regulation and discipline,’ There is another notable passage of the same writer, when he describes” the march of Philip through the land of the Denseletae:

They were allies, but from lack of supplies the Macedonians plundered their territory, just like that of the enemy; for, plundering on all sides, they first devastated homesteads,,, and then even some villages, to the great shame of the king, when he heard the voices of his allies calling in vain upon the gods, who are the guardians of treaties, and upon his own name.

In Tacitus, the reputation of Pelignus is one of shame, since he plundered allies rather than enemies. The same author observes that the soldiers of Vitellius were in idleness throughout the Italian municipalities, and a source of dread to their hosts alone. Also, in Cicero’s passage on the city praetorship, in his Against Verres, is, this accusation: ‘You gave your attention ‘to the plundering and harassing of the peaceful towns of the allies, and of our friends.’

6.   At this point I cannot pass without mention the opinion of the theologians, which I think is very true, that a king, who has not paid what he owes to his soldiers, is responsible for the losses which in consequence have ensued, not only to the soldiers, but also to his own subjects and their neighbors, whom the soldiers under pressure of want have treated badly.

III.     What the duty of those at peace is towards belligerents.
1.   On the other hand it is the duty of those who keep out of a war to do nothing whereby he who supports a wicked cause may be rendered more powerful, or whereby the movements of him who wages a just war may be hampered, according to what we have said above. In a doubtful matter, however, those at peace should show themselves impartial to either side in permitting transit, in furnishing supplies to troops,-‘ and in not assisting those under siege. In Thucydides the Corcyreans say that it is the duty of the Athenians, if they wish to be impartial, either to prevent the Corinthians from hiring troops on Attic soil, or to allow them the same privilege.’ Philip, king of Macedon, was charged by the Romans with having, violated his treaty in two ways, both in having done injury to the; allies of the Roman people, and in having aided the enemy with soldiers and money.

The same points are stressed by Titus Quintius in a conference with Nabis:

‘Still,’ you say, ‘I have not, strictly speaking, done violence to you and your friendship and alliance.’ How many times do you wish me to prove that you have done this? I do not wish to do so at greater length, and I shall sum up the gist of the matter. By what things, then, is friendship violated? In very truth by these two things, by treating my allies as enemies, and by allying yourself with the enemy.

2.   In Agathias we read that an enemy is one who does what the enemy wishes; and in Procopius, that he is counted in the ranks of the enemy who supplies a hostile army with what is directly useful for war. Demosthenes long ago said: ‘ He who creates and devises the means whereby I may be captured is my enemy, even if he does not strike me nor hurl a javelin at me.’ Marcus Acilius told the Epirotes, who had not supported Antiochus with troops, but were accused of having sent him money, that he did not know whether he should class them as enemies or those at peace. The praetor Lucius Aemilius censured the people of Teos for having aided the fleet of the enemy with supplies, and for having promised them wine; adding, that he would treat them as enemies unless they gave the same to the Roman fleet. And there is recorded a saying of Caesar Augustus: ‘A state, which receives an enemy, loses the right of peace.’

3.   It will even be of advantage to make a treaty with either party that is waging war, in order that it may be permissible to abstain from war while retaining the goodwill of either, and to render to each the common duties of humanity. We read in Livy: ‘Let them desire peace with either side, as befits impartial friends; let them not intervene in the war.’ Archidamus, king of Sparta, when he saw that the Eleans were leaning to the side of the Arcadians, wrote a letter containing only this: ‘It is a good thing to remain quiet.’

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