The Rhine and European Security in the Long Nineteenth Century : Making Lifelines from Frontlines book cover
1st Edition

The Rhine and European Security in the Long Nineteenth Century
Making Lifelines from Frontlines

ISBN 9780367649715
Published August 1, 2022 by Routledge
206 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Throughout history rivers have always been a source of life and of conflict. This book investigates the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine’s (CCNR) efforts to secure the principle of freedom of navigation on Europe’s prime river.

The book explores how the most fundamental change in the history of international river governance arose from European security concerns. It examines how the CCNR functioned as an ongoing experiment in reconciling national and common interests that contributed to the emergence of European prosperity in the course of the long nineteenth century. In so doing, it shows that modern conceptions and practices of security cannot be understood without accounting for prosperity considerations and prosperity policies. Incorporating research from archives in Great Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well as the recently opened CCNR archives in France, this study operationalises a truly transnational perspective that effectively opens the black box of the oldest and still existing international organisation in the world in its first centenary.

In showing how security-prosperity considerations were a driving force in the unfolding of Europe’s prime river in the nineteenth century, it is of interest to scholars of politics and history, including the history of international relations, European history, transnational history and the history of security, as well as those with an interest in current themes and debates about transboundary water governance.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Making Lifelines from Frontlines

1. Securing Freedom of Navigation: A Revolutionary Fight Against a Barbaric Past (1789–1813)

2. The Balance of Power and the System of Commerce Before and After Vienna (1814-1815)

3. On Behalf of the Common Good: Dutch–Prussian Rivalry in and Outside the CCNR (1816–1831)

4. A River, a Legislator: The Origins of a Riverine Knowledge System in the 1830s

5. Between Radicals and Experts: Consolidating a Rhine Expert Regime in the 1840s to 1860s

6. Running an International Organisation in the Context of Increasing National Power Politics (1860–1900)

Conclusion: Composing a Heritage and Projecting the Future of the CCNR (1900–1918)

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Joep Schenk is lecturer at the History of International Relations section at Utrecht University, Netherlands. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow within an ERC-funded project on the making of a security culture in Europe in the nineteenth century and is currently researching international environmental cooperation and competition in historical perspective.