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7 Constructing the Imperial World-system (1618-1815)

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Chapter Summary

The political landscape of international law was transformed in the 17th and 18th centuries, before which the world was a four-continent universe . As the geography of dynastic and corporate ambitions expanded, the vision of a world legal system became less fanciful, at least in the eyes of idealists in that stage of world history. The carving up of the five continents was motivated by the lust for wealth, an affliction that spread out of the fevered 16th century. The imperial world-system of the centuries that followed could not have existed without the infusion of phenomenal energy in the merchant community. The principal contribution of the 17th and 18th centuries was in the reformulation of the civic enlightenment model of international law by Western intellectuals. In state practice, national autonomy was exalted at home, but not as a value to be widely shared beyond the periphery of European "civilization".

Keywords:civic enlightenment model; European civilization; imperial world-system; international law; national autonomy; world legal system



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