It is often argued that humanitarian interventions in the post-Cold War era present a new challenge to state sovereignty. In this debate, sovereignty is typically understood to mean nonintervention, so that humanitarian interventions necessarily violate sovereignty. This chapter attempts to address the issue by tracing the genealogy of sovereignty and intervention. Although most studies of interventions focus on the 1990s, more and more historically grounded analysts point out that interventions have always been routine and sovereignty has been porous throughout the history of the modern state system. If the phenomenon of intervention is as old as the history of international politics, then we would be mistaken to treat sovereignty as an absolute concept and intervention as its necessary negation. We may consider the possibility that it is rather the concept of sovereignty that has been historically problematic. In this chapter, I problematize sovereignty by, first, treating it as a composite concept that entails a state’s relations with other states and with its society, and, second, examining it as a historical variable rather than a constant. Borrowing the concept of relative capabilities from theories of international politics and that of relative autonomy from theories of the state, I argue that a state’s degree of autonomy from external actors is relative to both interstate and state-society relations.