The Renaissance of Roman Colonization: Carlo Sigonio and the Making of Legal Colonial Discourse

ISBN : 9780198850960

Jeremia Pelgrom; Arthur Weststeijn
208 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2020
History and Theory of International Law
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The colonization policies of Ancient Rome followed a range of legal arrangements concerning property distribution and state formation, documented in fragmented textual and epigraphic sources. When antiquarian scholars rediscovered and scrutinized these sources in the Renaissance, their analysis of the Roman colonial model formed the intellectual background for modern visions of empire. What does it mean to exercise power at and over distance? This book foregrounds the pioneering contribution to this debate of the great Italian Renaissance scholar Carlo Sigonio (1522/3-84). His comprehensive legal interpretation of Roman society and Roman colonization, which for more than two centuries remained the leading account of Roman history, has been of immense (but long disregarded) significance for the modern understanding of Roman colonial practices and of the legal organization and implications of empire. Bringing together experts on Roman history, the history of classical scholarship, and the history of international law, this book analyzes the context, making, and impact of Sigonio's reconstruction of the Roman colonial model. It shows how his legal interpretation of Roman colonization originated and how it informed the development of legal colonial discourse, from imperial reform and colonial independence in the nascent United States of America to Enlightenment accounts of property distribution. Through a detailed analysis of scholarly and political visions of Roman colonization from the Renaissance to today, this book shows the enduring relevance of legal interpretations of the Roman colonial model for modern experiences of empire.


1 Jeremia Pelgrom and Arthur Weststeijn: Introduction: Settler Colonies Between Roman Colonial Utopia and Modern Colonial Practice
2 William Stenhouse: Roman Colonies and the Distribution of Land before Sigonio
3 John Rich: The Mommsen of the Renaissance: Sigonio, the De antiquo iure populi Romani, and Roman Republican Colonization
4 Mark Somos: Sigonio in Anglo-American Projects to Reform the Imperial Constitution, 1751-1777
5 Mattia Balbo: Roman Colonization and Land Division between Enlightenment and Romanticism: Beaufort and Niebuhr
6 Luigi Capogrossi Colognesi: Roman Colonization in Twentieth-Century Historiography
7 Christopher Smith: Epilogue: Reflections on the Past and Future of the Roman Colonial Discourse

About the author: 

Jeremia Pelgrom is an assistant professor at Groningen University. His research focuses on Roman Republican colonialism and Italian landscape archaeology. He has co-directed two research projects funded by the Dutch research council (NWO): Landscapes of Early Roman Colonization (with Tesse D. Stek) and Mapping the via Appia (with Stephan Mols and Eric Moormann), and he is co-editor of Roman Republican Colonization. New perspectives from Archaeology and Ancient History (2014).; Arthur Weststeijn is an assistant professor at Utrecht University. He specializes in intellectual history and the history of political thought, with a particular focus on early-modern republicanism and imperialism. He is the author of Commercial Republicanism in the Dutch Golden Age (2012) and co-editor of Ancient Models in the Early Modern Republican Imagination (2017) and The Dutch Empire between Ideas and Practice, 1600-2000 (2019).

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