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Organised Crime

Seminar Questions

  • What forms did organised crime take in early modern Europe?
  • What roles did violence play in organised crime?
  • How did the authorities respond to organised crime?

Required Reading

All students should analyse

  • B. Cole, 'Blackbeard the Pirate' from Captain Charles Johnson, A General History of the Pyrates (London, 1725) AND
  • Joseph Nicholls, 'Captain Teach, commonly call'd Black Beard', from Captain Charles Johnson, A General History of the Lives and Adventures of the Most Famous Highwaymen, Murderers, Street-Robbers, &c. To which is added, a genuine account of the voyages and plunders of the most notorious pyrates (London, 1734)

All students should read EITHER

All students should also read:

Ruff, Julius R., Violence in Early Modern Europe 1500-1800 (Cambridge, 2001), Chapter 7.

AND one of the following items:


Further Reading

Amirell, S. E., et al. (eds), Persistent Piracy: Maritime Violence and State-Formation in Global Historical Perspective (Basingstoke, 2014)

Appleby, John C., Women and English Piracy, 1540-1720: Partners and Victims of Crime (Basingstoke, 2013)

Barkey, Karen, Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to State Centralization (Ithaca, NY, 1994)

Blok, Anton, 'The Peasant and the Brigand: Social Banditry Reconsidered,' Comparative Studies in Society and History 14/4 (1972), 494-503

Danker, Uwe, 'Bandits and the State: Robbers and the Authorities in the Holy Roman Empire in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries', in The German Underworld: Deviants and Outcasts in German History, ed. Richard Evans (London, 1988), pp. 75-107.

Dionne, Craig, and Steve Mentz, eds, Rogues and Early Modern English Culture (Ann Arbor, 2004)

Durston, Gregory J., Whores and Highwaymen: Crime and Justice in the Eighteenth-Century Metropolis (Hook, 2012)

Egmond, Florike, Underworlds: Organized Crime in the Netherlands, 1650-1800 (Cambridge, 1993)

Gioia, Cristina, 'Aristocratic Bandits and Outlaws: Stories of Violence and Blood Vendetta on the Border of the Venetian Republic (16th-17th Century)', in Steven G. Ellis and Lud’a Klusáková (eds), Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities (Pisa, 2007), pp. 93-107.

Gotti, Maurizio, The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds: 17th and 18th century Canting Lexicography in England (Tübingen, 1999)

Hobsbawm, Eric, Bandits, rev. ed. (London, 2001)

Hurl-Eamon, Jennine, Gender and Petty Violence in London, 1680-1720 (Columbus, OH, 2005)

Fijnaut, Cyrille, and Letizia Paoli, eds, Organised Crime in Europe: Concepts, Patterns and Control Policies in the European Union and Beyond (Norwell, MA, 2004)

Hignett, Kelly, 'Co-option or criminalisation? The state, border communities and crime in early modern Europe', Global Crime 9 (2008), 35-51

Judges, A.V., The Elizabethan Underworld (London, 1930)

Kamen, Henry, ‘Public Authority and Popular Crime: Banditry in Valencia, 1660-1714', Journal of European Economic History 3 (1974), 654-688.

Kinney, Arthur F., ed., Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars: A New Gallery of Tudor and Early Stuart Rogue Literature Exposing the Lives, Times, and Cozening Tricks of the Elizabethan Underworld (Amherst, 1990).

Laven, Peter, 'Banditry and Lawlessness on the Venetian Terraferma in the Later Cinquecento', in Trevor Dean and K. J. P. Lowe, eds, Crime, Society, and the Law in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 221-248.

Lunsford, Virginia W., Piracy and Privateering in the Golden Age Netherlands (Basingstoke, 2005)

MacMillan, Ken, (ed.), Stories of True Crime in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 2015)

McMullan, John L., The Canting Crew: London's Criminal Underworld, 1550-1700 (New Brunswick, N.J., 1984)

Middleton, Thomas, and Thomas Dekker, The Roaring Girl, ed. Paul A. Mulholland (Manchester, 1987)

Moore, Lucy, (ed.), Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld (Harmondsworth, 2004)

O'Malley, Pat, 'Social Bandits, Modern Capitalism and the Traditional Peasantry: A Critique of Hobsbawm,' Journal of Peasant Studies 6/4 (1979): 489-499

Ortalli, Gherardo, ed., Bande armate, banditi, banditismo e repressione di giustizia negli stati europei di antico regime (Rome, 1986)

Perry, Mary Elizabeth, Crime and Society in Early Modern Seville (Hanover, NH, 1980)

Povolo, Claudio, 'Liturgies of Violence: Social Control and Power Relationships in the Republic of Venice between the 16th and 18th Centuries', in Eric R. Dursteler (ed.), A Companion to Venetian History 1400-1797 (Leiden, 2013), pp. 513-42. Brill e-book


Blackbeard the Pirate: this was published in Defoe, Daniel; Johnson, Charles (1736 - although Angus Konstam says the image is circa 1726)