Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe

Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe

Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe

Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe

Synopsis

The contemporary organization of global violence is neither timeless nor natural, argues Janice Thomson. It is distinctively modern. In this book she examines how the present arrangement of the world into violence-monopolizing sovereign states evolved over the six preceding centuries. All may ... welcome [Thomson] as a fellow-grappler with that protean problem that confronts historians and ... social scientists alike: the shortcomings of international society [today], and the degree to which those shortcomings are attributable to the idea that `sovereign states' have of themselves, and the self-interested ways they tend to behave within it.--Geoffrey Best, The Times Literary Supplement Strike[s] at the heart of [the] assumption that a monopoly on violence is the hallmark of the state, ... [Thomson] is correct when she advises us that `state' and `sovereignty' are more mutable concepts than we might acknowledge or even admit. [A] major contribution to our understanding of international affairs and to the history of state- building.--Francis X. Hartigan, Terrorism and Political Violence Thomson's book is well worth reading. It is historically rich and theoretically erudite.--Michael C. Desch, Mershon International Studies Review

Excerpt

Analytically, the easiest case to understand is that of privateering. European states negotiated an end to the practice, producing a formal international agreement to give up the right to authorize this form of nonstate violence. Yet this outcome was neither foreordained nor simply the result of the powerful imposing their interests on others. As we will see, there was at least one alternative approach to dealing with privateering. The solution that was chosen resulted from a bargain involving real trade-offs between states of vastly different power capabilities.

As we have seen, problems with privateering became evident early on, but perhaps the first major protest against privateering that produced results was lodged by Spain. When Spain and Britain's James I made peace but Raleigh continued his depredations in Spanish America, the Spanish ambassador protested and Raleigh was arrested and later exe-

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