THEORIZING MEDIEVAL GEOPOLITICS 

 

 

My first book on medieval things was Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades (2012).  

 

According to the conventional wisdom, a “Great Divide” – located somewhere between 1555 and 1714, with 1648 standing as the conventional date – separates the modern world from the medieval.  On one side of this divide is the definitively modern sovereign state and its derivative state-system.  On the other side of the divide is the medieval world, an “orientalized” Other comprising an exotic congeries of ideas, institutions and structures that are so alien as to render the epoch simultaneously both irrelevant to the study of modern international relations and inaccessible to the contemporary IR scholar.   In this book, I challenge that conventional wisdom, arguing that the true Great Divide – the moment when the sovereign state actually emerged as the primary unit of governance and warmaking – is to be found not in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, where it has often mistakenly been sought, but in the twelfth.   Viewing the late Middle Ages (1250-1550) through the lens of what I call the “historical structure of war”, I provide a fresh conceptualization of the geopolitics of late medieval Latin Christendom, emphasizing neither “feudalism” nor “heteronomy”, but rather the emergence of the “corporate-sovereign state”, the “corporate-sovereign Church” and “Hobbesian-Lockean anarchy”.  I go on to demonstrate how this distinctive historical structure of war gave rise to a constellation of public and religious wars that was unique to late medieval Latin Christendom. 

 

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