Alexander Osipian
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Restraining/encouraging violence
Commerce, diplomacy, and brigandage on the steppe routes between the Ottoman Empire, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia, 1470s–1570s
in A global history of early modern violence

This chapter examines the large-scale non-state violence on the trade routes in the buffer zone between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Ottoman Empire, and the Crimean Khanate. Though the rulers constantly declared their will to maintain their diplomatic contacts and protect the caravan trade between these states, execution of their orders was entrusted to those who actually committed the violent attacks – the Cossacks and the local dignitaries. The absence of stable central control over the means of violence in the buffer zone rendered preventive measures largely ineffective. The rulers preferred to avoid awkward responsibility by relinquishing their sovereignty over the steppe routes. The growth of brigandage on the steppe routes continued because of the patronage of the local authorities and the support of networks of assistance, which included alehouse keepers, ransom-brokers, and the merchants who bought the stolen goods from the freebooters.

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