This comprehensive historical study analyzes and explains how international societies function. After examining the ancient state systems, the author looks in more detail at our worldwide contemporary society, which grew out of them. The book argues that relations between states are not normally anarchic, but organized international or supernational societies regulated by elaborate rules and practices, which derive substantially from experience. Our present international society, for all its individuality, is only the latest in the series. Current interest in international order and hegemonial authority, and the renewed concern with history in political science, make this a timely book. This book should be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates and academics interested in history and international relations.