Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics
War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades
Published December 21st 2011 by Routledge – 204 pages
Over the past two decades or so, medieval geopolitics have come to occupy an increasingly prominent place in the collective imagination—and writings—of International Relations scholars. Although these accounts differ significantly in terms of their respective analytical assumptions, theoretical concerns and scholarly contributions, they share at least one common – arguably, defining – element: a belief that a careful study of medieval geopolitics can help resolve a number of important debates surrounding the nature and dynamics of "international" relations. There are however three generic weaknesses characterizing the extant literature: a general failure to examine the existing historiography of medieval geopolitics, an inadequate account of the material and ideational forces that create patterns of violent conflict in medieval Latin Christendom, and a failure to take seriously the role of "religion" in the geopolitical relations of medieval Latin Christendom.
This book seeks to address these shortcomings by providing a theoretically guided and historically sensitive account of the geopolitical relations of medieval Latin Christendom. It does this by developing a theoretically informed picture of medieval geopolitics, theorizing the medieval-to-modern transition in a new and fruitful way, and suggesting ways in which a systematic analysis of medieval geopolitical relations can actually help to illuminate a range of contemporary geopolitical phenomena. Finally, it develops an historically sensitive conceptual framework for understanding geopolitical conflict and war more generally.
"Latham’s book deserves a wide readership. It is the first of its kind to engage with a literature that is probably unfamiliar to most students of international relations. It integrates historical interpretations of medieval politics with reflections on principal theories of international relations, and specifically with constructivist scholarship. … Not the least of the reasons for welcoming this study, which is a courageous and innovative one by any standard, is that it stimulates large questions about the relationship between the medieval and modern international orders and about how to characterise and explain the main continuities and discontinuities. Theorising Medieval Geopolitics is essential reading for those who are interested in the historical development of the modern European state and states-system. It is invaluable for those who wish to understand what is at stake theoretically in attempting to understand the relationship between the ‘medieval’ and ‘modern’ eras."
– Andrew Linklater, Aberystwyth University, e-International Relations
List of Tables and Figures Preface 1. Introduction 2. Toward a Theory of Medieval Geopolitics 3. Proprietorial War 4. Public War 5. Religious War 6. War and the Medieval-to-Modern Transition 7. Conclusion: Medieval Geopolitics and IR Theory Bibliography Index
Andrew Latham is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota. He teaches International Relations and Medieval Political Thought. His most recent publication is "Theorizing the Crusades: Identity, Institutions and Religious War in Medieval Latin Christendom," International Studies Quarterly, 2011, vol. 55, no. 1, 223–243.