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European adventurers


There is to this day no article on the 'Adventurer' in any major European encyclopedia and little research has in fact been done on the historical, sociological, political or indeed European dimensions of this figure. Only recently have French historians turned their attention to the subject, notably in the well-documented studies of 18th century (ancien régime) adventurers by S. Roth (Paris 1980) and A. Stroev (Paris 1997). Far from being a peculiarly 18th century phenomenon, however, the figure of the adventurer is a type that recurs from the 16th to the 20th century, and in this larger historical framework its dominant characteristics become evident: social and geographical (above all European) mobility and multilingualism. Whether in the guise of the brilliant aristocrat of French absolutism or of the inter-war years' spy, the adventurer has always been a traveller between worlds, the world his only habitat.


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