De origine gentium Americanarum'>
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Title: In Search of the Origins of the Native Amaricans
Subtitle: The Story behind Grotius' De origine gentium Americanarum
Author(s): JANSSEN, Lydia
Volume: 44 Issue: 2 Date: 2017
De origine gentium Americanarum (1642) remains to this day by far the most enigmatic of Hugo Grotius’ works, despite multiple attempts to identify the motives behind the treatise. A careful analysis of previously overlooked early modern evidence and close examination of the contents of the treatise in light of Grotius’ other works allows for an unprecedented insight into the genesis of De origine. In view of this new information, existing political interpretations of De origine are no longer tenable and the role of Grotius’ religious views has to be relativised. Repeated contact with contemporary literature about the New World in the late 1630s and early 1640s inspired Grotius to formulate his own thoughts on the origin of the Native Americans. The development of La Peyrère’s preadamite theory called for a defense of monogenism and acted as an added incentive for Grotius to publish his De origine.