Niklas Frykman

Nov 9, 2020

The Bloody Flag

Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution

University of California Press 2020

The 1790s were a decade of turmoil and strife across the West. With the French Revolution, a new era of wars began that invoked the language of equal rights. In The Bloody Flag: Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution (University of California Press, 2020), Niklas Frykman recounts how these two factors combined to shape the mutinies that took place throughout the era. As he explains, recruiting crews for the navies of the era was typically a coercive process, one that took sailors away from more remunerative work in the merchant marine. Crowded aboard wooden warships, these men were often discontent and receptive to the idea of a more democratic process for governing ship life. This radical vision was reflected in the demands made by sailors when they mutinied and by the alternate forms of management they adopted. Such mutinies jeopardized operations in navies throughout Europe, until the growing influence of nationalism helped to counteract the influence of the transnational “maritime republic.”

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