The Laws of Yesterday’s Wars

From Indigenous Australians to the American Civil War


This book offers a culture-by-culture account of various unique restrictions placed on warfare over time, in a bid to demonstrate the underlying humanity often accompanying the horrors of war. It offers the first systematic exploration of Indigenous Australian laws of war, relaying decades of experience in communities. Containing essays by a range of laws of war academics and practitioners, this volume is a starting point in a new debate on the question: how international is international humanitarian law?

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Samuel White has served as a Royal Australian Infantry Corps and Australian Army Legal Corps officer. He has published many articles on international and domestic military law and international humanitarian law.


List of Illustrations

Notes on Contributors

   Samuel White

1 Indigenous Australians
   Ray Kerkhove & Samuel White

2 Māori Warfare and the New Zealand Wars – Atrocities, Chivalry and Apologies
   Alexander Gillespie

3 The Aztecs
   Samuel White & Ray Kerkhove

4 The Late Middle Ages
   Samuel White

5 The Renaissance
   Kyle Walker

6 The Viking Age
   Andrew D. Butler

7 Pirates and Privateers in Elizabethan England
   Andrew Read

8 Code of Necessity – Lawfare During the United States Civil War
   Christopher M. Bailey

   Samuel White


All interested in the history of war, the history of the law of armed conflict, and anyone concerned with comparative historical restrictions and customs.