The importance and relevance of this book cannot be underestimated. It demands a reassessment of the relationships between the different regions and countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Although this study is concerned with the wider themes suggested by the title, it is essentially about their specific impact on social, political and economic life in Tunisia during the 19th century.
This book, a collection of essays and articles ranging from 1963 to 2008, is published at an opportune moment, the year of the 500th anniversary of Francis I’s accession on 1 January 1515, a year marked by conferences, exhibitions and, indeed, bizarre re-enactments such as that of the battle of Marignano at Amboise and Romorantin.
The history of the Huguenot diaspora following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes has been widely chronicled. First, exiled Huguenots wrote narratives of their escape in order to preserve the memory of their hardship – no doubt at the prompting of numerous individuals eager to hear their compelling stories.
Linda Colley's Britons has enjoyed a long afterlife. Her 1992 volume has become a key historiographical battleground for long-18th-century British historians. 'Four Nations' scholars have tested (and for the most part rejected) the British unity that Colley argued was forged in this period (1), while those of England have remained just as sceptical.
In 1372 Renatus Malbecco, a Milanese ambassador, arrived in Avignon for a meeting with Pope Gregory XI. His embassy was evidently unwelcome: he was ‘received with insults’ and promptly sent away. An observing diplomat recounted this event in a couple of terse lines. A little over a century later it was the turn of Ludovico il Moro of Milan to dismiss a visiting envoy.
The 13 essays in this book are the outcome of a conference (with the addition of a few other papers) held at Winchester University in September 2011.
How did the world of nation-states come about? What happened to the world of empires that preceded it? How did the transition take place and how inevitable was it? These may seem (and indeed are) old questions.