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The Sparta and the Athens Of Our Age At Daggers Drawn: Polities, Perceptions, and Peace

Rendall, Matthew


Matthew Rendall


While historically notions of democracy have varied widely, democratic peace theory has generally defined it in procedural terms. This article takes a close look at the Anglo-French confrontation of 1840. I show that while leaders on both sides were prepared to risk war to gain bargaining advantages, only the French left really wanted to fight. Why? By today's criteria, Britain was incontestably more democratic, with its monarch's powers far more restricted and its suffrage several times as large. Nevertheless, both sides considered France more democratic, with French republicans despising Britain as an aristocratic oligarchy. While Spencer Weart is right to argue that democratic republics may be hostile to oligarchic ones, they will not necessarily define each other according to modern procedural criteria. Instead, they may judge regimes by the broader social structures that shape power relationships and by outcomes, possibly explaining wars or near misses between democracies.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2004
Journal International Politics
Print ISSN 1384-5748
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 4
APA6 Citation Rendall, M. (2004). The Sparta and the Athens Of Our Age At Daggers Drawn: Polities, Perceptions, and Peace. International Politics, 41(4),
Keywords Democratic peace, perceptions, oligarchy, Britain, France
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information In the published version of this article, I inadvertently omitted Sarah Ward from the acknowledgements. I am grateful for her research assistance.


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