History of International Relations

an Open Textbook Project by Erik Ringmar

Welcome to the web pages of the History of International Relations textbook project. This book provides a brief overview of the history of international relations from an explicitly non-European perspective. Europe certainly matters but, as it turns out, not all that much.

Click on the links below to read more. Check out the “book blog” too where I post additional material and updates, and follow the book on Twitter. I tweet on things historical and non-European above all.

I am thrilled that the textbook will be published by Open Book Publishers, in open access format, that the text will be free for everyone to read online or to download as pdfs, but also to buy as a regular book.

Happy reading!


Erik Ringmar, Professor, Dept of Political Science and International Relations, Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul, Turkey

  • Introduction


    International relations as the topic usually is taught at the university has next to no historical depth. In an introductory class your teacher might tell you that the basic rules of international politics were established in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War in the seventeenth century, or you might Read More
  • China and East Asia

    China and East Asia

    For much of its history, China was the all-dominant country in East Asia and international relations in this part of the world were more than anything organized by the Chinese and on Chinese terms. China itself was an empire, meaning that the country contained a multitude of different ethnic groups, Read More
  • India and indianization

    India and indianization

    India, just as China, is not a country as much as a world unto itself. Indeed it is often referred to as a “subcontinent” which includes not only India but today’s Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well. The history of India is long, as long as China’s. The first Read More
  • Muslim caliphates

    Muslim caliphates

    After the death of the prophet Muhammad in Medina in 632, his followers on the Arabian peninsula expanded quickly in all directions, creating an empire which only one hundred years later came to include not only all of the Middle East and much of Central Asia, but North Africa and Read More
  • Mongol khanates

    Mongol khanates

    In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Mongols created the largest contiguous empire the world has ever known. In 1206, Temüjin, an orphan and a former slave, united the many feuding clans which occupied the steppes to the north of China and took the title “Genghis Khan.” Once this feat Read More
  • Africa


    All human beings are Africans. It was in today’s Ethiopia, some 200,000 years ago, that the first settlements of homo sapiens were established. From this origin we gradually came to migrate to every corner on the planet. Africa is an enormous continent, occupying a fifth of the world’s landmass. It Read More
  • The Americas

    The Americas

    Taken together the Americas, North and South, cover an enormous geographical area which runs from one polar region to the other, comprising all kinds of climates and ecological niches, including rainforests, deserts, prairies and some of the highest mountains in the world. Human beings began settling in the Americas some Read More
  • European expansion

    European expansion

    A study of comparative international systems is by definition a historical study. There are no separate international systems to compare anymore. There is only one system – the system which first made its appearance in Europe in the late Renaissance and which later came to spread to every corner of the Read More
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