“The Prostitution of the Russian Flag”: Privateers in Russian Admiralty Courts, 1787–98 Julia Leikin
Law & History Review Volume 35, Issue 4 November 2017 , pp. 1049-1081 Extract
In 1794, the Russian Empire convened the first high admiralty court for appeals to review petitions of merchants and privateers embroiled in the second Russian–Ottoman war of Catherine II's reign (1787–91). The Commission for Archipelago Affairs, as this admiralty court was called, decided more than 170 cases on the basis of Russian maritime law and its interpretation of the law of nations concerning commercial navigation and privateers. A year into its work, the commission determined that one case sat at the center of most disputes that pitted merchants against Russian-flagged privateers: the affair of Lambros Katsonis. The commission's decisions for most of the cases on its docket rested on its determination of Katsonis's standing in the Russian Empire. Once decided, the outcome of the matter went on to define the distinction between Russian privateers and naval officers in Russian law: precedents that shaped Russian naval practices for the next 50 years.