Theses Doctoral

A Theory of Revisionism: Louis XIV and the Spanish Netherlands

Hiroshima, Sean Kanoa Kean

This dissertation seeks to explain how revisionist states attempt to prevent the intervention of other states – “third-party states” – that are not the victim of their plans. By engaging in a deep analysis of Louis XIV’s efforts to prevent third-party intervention before and during his War of Devolution, I have been able to build a theory that not only describes the strategies a revisionist may employ, but also explains how it decides which among them to use.

In order to effectively select which of these strategies to implement against any particular third party, the revisionist will attempt to improve its belief about the third party by engaging in negotiations, where it deploys these strategies as offers which elicit telling responses from the third party. Despite the incentive to misrepresent private information, credible data can be transmitted during negotiations for a number of reasons, which I explain.

With this improved belief, the revisionist can better choose which strategies have the highest probability of neutralizing that particular third-party state. To both demonstrate where my theory was inducted from and illustrate how it works in practice, I examine in high detail the negotiations Louis XIV’s France undertook against the United Provinces and Austria. Through granular analysis of the offers traded in these talks, one can better understand how a revisionist approaches the task of neutralization, making clear exactly how the mechanisms in my theory operate. This dissertation makes several important contributions: it helps to fill a conspicuous gap in the international relations literature, which has neglected the study of revisionists as strategic actors, and also offers important counterpoints to bargaining theory.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Snyder, Jack Lewis
Jervis, Robert
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 19, 2023