Jenseits von Piraterie und Kaperfahrt (Rohmann)Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz
#twitterstorians, ready for some pre-Christmas #RetroConflictsInspirations? Just, instead of giving, it is about taking. When studying conflicts in late medieval Northern Europe we inevitably run across the term pirate (seerover).
But too easily, Gregor Rohmann argues, have historians taken such accusations of piracy in the sources at face value, presuming a strict opposition between the criminal ‘pirate’ and the economy-minded merchant. Yet, how could the private use of force be illicit when there was no state with claims to a monopoly on violence? And when most instances of violence on sea actually stemmed from conflicts between merchants not shy to actively partake in it? ‘Piracy’, so Rohmann, was part of the economic system of late medieval Europe, not a threat from the outside; ‘pirate’ was less a defined legal category than it was a defamatory term undermining the reputation of an opponent. Only when wealthier merchants became sedentary and part of the urban elite, did they gain interest in a hierarchical monopoly on violence to protect their property: ‘The state legitimized itself by latching onto the economic elites’ altered demands for order and by criminalizing […] violent conflict practices.’ For #retroconflicts these are important considerations when looking at alleged escalation, the language of conflicts, but also institutional change over time.