Systême universel de principes du droit maritime de l’Europe . . . Traduit de l’italien, avec des additions du même auteur.

Paris, Digeon, an VI [1797].

2 vols, 8vo (190 x 125 mm), pp. [ii], xxiv, 286, with a portrait frontispiece; [iv], 352; early twentieth-century green morocco-backed marbled boards; yellow edges; a very attractive copy.


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First French edition. Azuni’s own translation, with additions, of his principal work on maritime law, Sistema universale dei principii del diritto marittimo dell’ Europa (1795). ‘The first volume . . . is devoted to the sea and to the rights that can be exerted over it, and has an almost exclusively historical character. The author narrates the history of the maritime power of the chief states; considers the various theories relating to the extension of territorial waters; examines what rights can be exerted over them and over fisheries, straits, bays, gulfs and anchorages, and briefly passes in review the maritime laws of the principal states of his time. In the second book, which deals with the maritime law of Europe in wartime, he deals especially with relations between belligerents and neutrals . . . . [He] shows that neutrality is founded not only on particular treaties between the neutrals and the belligerents but also on the very nature of international relations. The sole obligation incumbent on neutrals is to remain impartial. In all other things they have the right to continue as before their relations with the belligerents . . . . Azuni extends the jurisdiction of neutral courts on prizes taken to them and in cases of litigation as to the neutral or enemy quality of goods and ships, especially if the goods and ships are claimed by subjects of the local sovereign. The last part of the book deals briefly with the right of asylum, with reprisals in time of peace, with privateers and pirates’ (Sereni, The Italian conception of international law p. 146).

Azuni was one of ‘the leading Italian writers on the problem of neutrality . . . . Having been for many years in Napoleon’s service, he was nominated senator and president of the Court of Nice. Azuni shared the admiration of the nascent progressive bourgeoisie of Italy for Napoleon, held to be the man capable of uniting Italy as one nation, under the rule of a liberal government, independent of foreign rule and of ecclesiastical oppression. The liberal bourgeoisie, to which Azuni belongs, given over as it was to industry and commerce, had experienced grave harm from the blockade England had inflicted on Europe during the Napoleonic wars. This and Azuni’s admiration for Napoleon explain the profound anti-British sentiment that runs through all Azuni’s work. Great Britain is constantly pictured as the principal opponent of neutrals’ rights’ (ibid. p. 145).

The Italian jurist ‘studied law at Sassari and Turin, and in 1782 was made judge of the consulate at Nice. In 1786–1788 he published his Dizionario universale ragionato della giurisprudenza mercantile. In 1795 appeared his systematic work on the maritime law of Europe, Sistema universale dei principii del diritto maritimo dell’ Europa, which he afterwards recast and translated into [this edition in] French. In 1806 he was appointed one of the French commission engaged in drawing up a general code of commercial law, and in the following year he proceeded to Genoa as president of the court of appeal. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, Azuni lived for a time in retirement at Genoa, till he was invited to Sardinia by Victor Emmanuel I and appointed judge of the consulate at Cagliari, and director at the university library. He died at Cagliari in 1827’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica).


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