Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

On Mobile Legal Spaces and Maritime Empires: The Pillage of the East Indiaman Osterley (1779)

  • Nathan Perl-Rosenthal

Abstract

This article uses a legal case from the French Indian Ocean empire during the American Revolutionary War (ca. 1778–1780) to explore the operation of mobile legal spaces: that is, law-filled spaces that moved (such as ships) or which were highly shaped by movement in and out of them (ports). These types of spaces, characteristic of early modern seaborne European empires, created distinctive problems and opportunities for those navigating imperial rule, both rulers and ruled. In particular, the essay argues that the mobility of legal spaces added significant spatial and temporal dimensions to the well-known legal diversity and pluralism of the early modern world. In mobile spaces, legal regimes might overlap or conflict temporarily, be relevant for only a fixed period of time, or come into force when a ship reached a particular location. Recognising the ubiquity of these mobile legal spaces and the powerful effects that they had can change how we understand the functioning of law in colonial empires.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Footnotes

Hide All
*

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal is associate professor of history and spatial sciences at the University of Southern California. His first book, a history of nationality in revolutionary America, is Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution. He is currently working on a cultural history of the Atlantic age of revolutions, circa 1760s to 1820s.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Unpublished primary sources
Archives Nationales, Paris
Dossiers individuels, Personnel de la Marine, MAR C/7/295
Lettres du chevalier de St. Orens, 1777–1780, Campagnes, MAR B/4/150
British Library, London
Correspondence of the East India Company Directors, IOR/H/143
Centre d’Archives d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence
Greffes Île Maurice, Juridiction royale et d’amirauté, 1779–1786, Procédures criminelles, 6 DPPC 3086–3088, Dépôt des papiers publics des colonies (6 DPPC)
Published primary sources
The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine
Boucher, P. B. Institution au droit maritime ouvrage complet sur la législation maritime, ayant pour base l’ordonnance de 1681... Paris: Chez Levrault, Schoell et Cie., 1803.
Guyot, Joseph-Nicolas. Répertoire universel et raisonné de jurisprudence civile, criminelle, canonique et bénéficiale. 17 vols. Paris: Visse, 1784-1785.
Marsden, Reginald G. Documents Relating to Law and Custom of the Sea. 2 vols. London: Printed for the Navy Records Society, 1915.
Pistoye, Alphonse, and Charles Duverdy. Traité des prises maritimes dans lequel on a refondu en partie le traité de valin en l’appropriant à la législation nouvelle. 2 vols. Paris: A. Durand, 1855.
Sartoris, Jean-Pierre. Elémens de la procédure criminelle, suivant les ordonnances de France, les Constitutions de Savoye, et les Edits de Genève. 2 vols. Amsterdam, 1773.
Tillette de Mautort, Louis-François de Paule, ed. Mémoires du chevalier de Mautort, capitaine au régiment d’Austrasie, chevalier de l’ordre royal et militaire de Saint-Louis (1752–1802). Paris: E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie., 1895.
Valin, René-Josué. Nouveau commentaire sur l’ordonnance de la marine, du mois d’août 1681. New rev. ed. 4 vols. 1760; repr. La Rochelle: J. Legier, 1776.
Allen, Richard Blair. Slaves, Freedmen, and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Andrews, Richard Mowery. Law, Magistracy, and Crime in Old Regime Paris, 1735–1789. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Bayly, C. A. Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780–1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Bayly, C. A.. Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830. London: Longman, 1989.
Benton, Lauren. Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Benton, Lauren. “Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean Regionalism.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 47:4 (October 2005): 700724.
Benton, Lauren. A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Benton, Lauren. “Spatial Histories of Empire.” Itinerario 30:3 (2006): 1934.
Benton, Lauren and Lisa Ford. Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2016.
Blomley, Nicholas, Delaney, David and Braverman, Irus. eds. The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2014.
Bourguignon, Henry J. Sir William Scott, Lord Stowell, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, 1798–1828. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Cabantous, Alain. La vergue et les fers : Mutins et deserteurs dans la marine de l’ancienne France. Paris: Tallandier, 1984.
Chelin, Antoine. Maurice, une île et son passé. Sainte-Clotilde, Île de la Réunion: Bibliothèque indianocéanienne, Centre de recherche indianocéanique 1989.
Cohn, Bernard S. Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Cooper, Frederick. Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
Dening, Greg. Mr. Bligh’s Bad Language: Passion, Power, and Theatre on the Bounty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Drayton, Richard. “Knowledge and Empire.” In The Oxford History of the British Empire, II: The Eighteenth Century, edited by P. J. Marshall, 231252. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Dumas, Auguste. “Le conseil des prises sous l’ancien régime xviie et xviiie siècles.” Nouvelle revue historique de droit français et étranger XIX (1905): 317377.
Dumas, Auguste. Etude sur le jugement des prises maritimes en France jusqu’à la supprsession de l’office d’amiral (1627). Paris: Larose, 1908.
Elliott, Byron K. and Elliott, William F.. A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1904.
Foucault, Michel. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977–78. Edited by Michel Sennelart and translated by Graham Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Fusaro, M., Allaire, B., Blakemore, R. and Vanneste, T. U.. eds. Law, Labour, and Empire: Comparative Perspectives on Seafarers, c. 1500–1800. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Gould, Eliga H.Zones of Law, Zones of Violence: The Legal Geography of the British Atlantic, Circa 1772.” William and Mary Quarterly 60:3 (2003).
Kaplan, Steven L. Provisioning Paris: Merchants and Millers in the Grain and Flour Trade During the Eighteenth Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.
Keber, Martha L. Seas of Gold, Seas of Cotton: Christophe Poulain DuBignon of Jekyll Island. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002.
Kessler, Amalia D. A Revolution in Commerce: The Parisian Merchant Court and the Rise of Commercial Society in Eighteenth-Century France. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007.
Kuscinski, Auguste. Dictionnaire des conventionnels, 4 vols. 1916; repr. Brueil-en-Vexin: Éditions du Vexin Français, 1973.
Le Guellaff, Florence. Armements en course et droit des prises maritimes (1792–1856). Nancy: Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1999.
Linebaugh, Peter and Rediker, Marcus. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.
McClellan, James E. III. Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue in the Old Regime. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
McCusker, John J. Rum and the American Revolution: The Rum Trade and the Balance of Payments of the Thirteen Continental Colonies. New York: Garland, 1989.
Morieux, Renaud. Une mer pour deux royaumes : La manche, frontière franco-anglaise xviie-xviiie siècles. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2008.
Muir, Edward. Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.
Paul, Louis José. Deux siècles d’histoire de la police à l’île Maurice: 1768–1968. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1997.
Perl-Rosenthal, Nathan. “La mise en oeuvre des libertés révolutionnaires au sein de la marine : États-Unis 1775–1780 & France 1789–1792.” Mémoire de maîtrise, Paris IV-Sorbonne, 2005.
Pérotin-Dumon, Anne. La ville aux Îles, la ville dans l’île: Basse-Terre et Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, 1650–1820. Paris: Karthala, 2000.
Ploscowe, Morris. “Development of Inquisitorial and Accusatorial Elements in French Procedure.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 23:3 (Fall 1932): 372394.
Pritchard, James Stewart. Louis XV’s Navy, 1748–1762: A Study of Organization and Administration. Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1987.
Raffety, Matthew T. The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Rediker, Marcus. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700–1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Ritchie, Robert C. Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986.
Rodger, N. A. M. The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. New York: Norton, 1996.
Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale Agrarian Studies. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998.
Sonenscher, Michael. Work and Wages: Natural Law, Politics, and Eighteenth-Century French Trades. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Toussaint, Auguste. Une cité tropicale, Port-Louis de l’Île Maurice. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1966.
Truxes, Thomas M. Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008.
Vaughan, Megan. Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005.
Wood, Laurie M. “Îles De France: Law and Empire in the French Atlantic and Indian Oceans, 1680–1780.” PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin 2013.

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

On Mobile Legal Spaces and Maritime Empires: The Pillage of the East Indiaman Osterley (1779)

  • Nathan Perl-Rosenthal

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.