|Hugo Grotius (or De Groot, in Dutch) was born in Delft on 10 April 1583, two years after the foundation of the Dutch Republic. The new country was relatively tolerant in religious matters, although only those belonging to the Dutch Reformed Church – Calvinists - were allowed to celebrate their religion openly and hold public office. Grotius’ patrician family was Calvinist, wealthy and well-connected.||
His father, Jan de Groot, and uncle, Cornelis de Groot, had both attended Leiden University and held influential positions there. Generally regarded as a prodigy, Grotius followed in their footsteps and matriculated at Leiden University in 1594. He was eleven years old at the time, which was relatively young even then. Leiden University offered a broad liberal arts program, which included subjects that would lay the foundation for Grotius’ career as a lawyer and legal scholar.