ERC Securing Europe, Fighting its enemies, 1815-1914


Menacing Tides. The European fight against maritime threats and the securing of the Mediterranean, 1815-1856

By Erik de Lange MA –

4-11 Bombardment Algiers 1816This sub-project is concerned with the fight against piracy and privateering. De Lange inquiries into the rise and dynamics of an international historical security regime specifically geared towards the pursuit of security at sea.

Being part of the larger security culture that emerged with the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the maritime security regime functioned on the basis of shared perceptions of ‘enemies of the state’, ‘vital interests’, and the corresponding practices of security provision. By analyzing these factors, the changes, proceedings and stagnations of European cooperation in fighting piracy will be brought into focus.

The nineteenth century witnessed the demise of an old menace to those travelling the seas. Anti-piracy efforts were carried out right after the Congress of Vienna as cooperative action was taken against the organized systems of sea predation of the Barbary States on the North African coast. Extending and intensifying over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century, the concerted European fight against piracy and privateering came to span the whole Mediterranean – profoundly reshaping the face of the region. After almost five decades that saw a variety of localities and a continuously changing collection of actors, the fight against piracy and privateering resulted in the 1856 Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law. This international legal treaty equating piracy and privateering illustrates how the methods with which sea robbery was fought could change from military expeditions to codified law.

Spanning the 1815-1856 period bookended by the Congresses of Vienna and Paris and taking the Mediterranean as its main spatial focus, this PhD research investigates how the dynamics of the maritime security regime related to contemporary envisionings of the Mediterranean as a European space of security.