The Genesis of Rebellion: Governance, Grievance, and Mutiny in the Age of Sail
by Steven Pfaff and Michael Hechter, Cambridge University Press, 2020
Think of mutiny, and you might imagine events akin to those that occurred aboard the Royal Navy frigate Hermione on September 21, 1797, when seething crew members erupted to murder their tyrannical captain and his fellow officers. Then they defected to the enemy by sailing to Spanish Venezuela.
In fact, though, the Hermione episode was unusual, and not just for its violence. More common were mutinies motivated by specific grievances. British seamen in the great age of sail — which the authors define as the period of 80 to 100 years commencing in 1740 — knew that the work was dangerous, quarters were cramped, and corporal punishment was common. For the most part, sailors did not rebel.
When they did, what set them off? How likely was