The Roman Empire was a Mediterranean phenomenon, the result of one city state's conquests over other city states. Its central problem was the organization of military power in relation to political legitimacy. It was neither an empire of settlement nor an empire over peoples alien and unassimilable cultures. The British Empire was oceanic and commercial. By the end of the War of American Independence it had ceased to be an empire of settlement, but had acquired in India an empire over peoples not assimilable to European or British culture. The contrast has enduring relevance to the problems of today.
John G. A. Pocock is professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. His books include The Machiavellian Moment (1975), The Discovery of Islands: Essays in British History (2005), and Political Thought and History: Essays on Theory and Method (2009). He is completing a multi-volume study of Edward Gibbon. He is a recipient of the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction.
- Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project