1st Edition

Empowering Interactions Political Cultures and the Emergence of the State in Europe 1300–1900

    The emergence of the state in Europe is a topic that has engaged historians since the establishment of the discipline of history. Yet the primary focus of has nearly always been to take a top-down approach, whereby the formation and consolidation of public institutions is viewed as the outcome of activities by princes and other social elites. Yet, as the essays in this collection show, such an approach does not provide a complete picture. By investigating the importance of local and individual initiatives that contributed to state building from the late middle ages through to the nineteenth century, this volume shows how popular pressure could influence those in power to develop new institutional structures. By not privileging the role of warfare and of elite coercion for state building, it is possible to question the traditional top-down model and explore the degree to which central agencies might have been more important for state representation than for state practice. The studies included in this collection treat many parts of Europe and deal with different phases in the period between the late middle ages and the nineteenth century. Beginning with a critical review of state historiography, the introduction then sets out the concept of 'empowering interactions' which is then explored in the subsequent case studies and a number of historiographical, methodological and theoretical essays. Taken as a whole this collection provides a fascinating platform to reconsider the relationships between top-down and bottom-up processes in the history of the European state.

    Introduction: Empowering Interactions: Looking at Statebuilding from Below, André Holenstein; Part I Southern Europe; Chapter 1 The Construction of Local Political Identity in Lake and River Communities in North-West Italy, Twelfth to Fourteenth Centuries, Roberto Leggero; Chapter 2 Models of Government ‘from Below’ in Fifteenth-Century Lombardy. The ‘Capitoli di Dedizione’ to Francesco Sforza, 1447–1450, Giorgio Chittolini; Chapter 3 Models of Government ‘from Below’ in Fifteenth-Century Lombardy. The ‘Capitoli di Dedizione’ to Francesco Sforza, 1447–1450, Bertrand Forclaz; Chapter 4 The Politics of Mercy: Village Petitions and a Noblewoman’s Justice in the Roman Countryside in the Eighteenth Century, Caroline Castiglione; Chapter 5 The Dynamics of Law Formation in Italian Legal Science during the Early Modern Period: the Function of Custom, Roy Garré; Part II Central and Eastern Europe; Chapter 6 Threats from Above on Request from Below: Dynamics of the Territorial Administration of Berne, 1420–1450, Simon Teuscher; Chapter 7 Modes of Reading, Community Practice and the Constitution of Textual Authority in the Thurgau and Graubünden, 1520–1660, Randolph C. Head; Chapter 8 ‘God is high up, the Tsar is far away’. The Nature of Polity and Political Culture in Seventeenth-Century Russia. A Comparative View, Endre Sashalmi; Chapter 9 Communication between Authorities and Subjects in Bohemia, Hungary and the Holy German Empire, 1650–1800: A Comparison of Three Case Studies, Stefan Brakensiek; Chapter 10 Corporate Property, Collective Resources and Statebuilding in Older Swiss History, Daniel Schläppi; Chapter 11 Local Demand for Order and Government Intervention: Social Group Conflicts as Statebuilding Factors in Villages of the Rhine Palatinate, c.1760–1810, Niels Grüne; Chapter 12 Joseph-Samuel Farinet and the ‘Modern’ State: Banditry, Patronage and Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Valais, Sandro Guzzi-Heeb; Part III Northern and Western Europe – and Beyond; Chapter 13 Political Topos or Community Principle? Res Publica as a Source of Legitimacy in the French Peasants’ Revolts of the Late Middle Ages, Vincent Challet; Chapter 14 Statebuilding in Portugal during the Middle Ages: A Royal Endeavour in Partnership with the Local Powers?, Adelaide Millán da Costa; Chapter 15 Informing the Council. Central Institutions and Local Knowledge in the Spanish Empire, Arndt Brendecke; Chapter 16 Peasants and Tax-farmers in Seventeenth- Century Sweden: Local Conflict and Institutional Change, Mats Hallenberg; Chapter 17 Statebuilding with the Participation of the Estates? East Frisia between Territorial Legislation and Communalist Ritual, 1611–1744, Reemda Tieben; Part IV Historiographical and Conceptual Debates; Chapter 18 Citizens and their Rulers, Wim Blockmans; Chapter 19 Concepts and Approaches in Recent Scholarship on Statebuilding – A Critical Review, Peter Blickle; Chapter 20 No Statebuilding from Below! A Critical Commentary, Wolfgang Reinhard; Chapter 21 Statebuilding from Below – Towards a Balanced View, Jon Mathieu; Chapter 22 The Impact of Communication Theory on the Analysis of the Early Modern Statebuilding Processes, Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger; Chapter 23 Empowering Interactions and Intertwining Jurisdictions, Angelo Torre;


    Professor Dr Wim Blockmans, now retired from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, Professor Dr André Holenstein, University of Berne, Switzerland and Professor Dr Jon Mathieu, University of Lucerne, Switzerland, Mr Daniel Schläppi, University of Berne, Switzerland.

    'It is the genuine achievement of "Empowering Interactions" to provide perceptive discussion and material for this challenging turn in the studies of state formation.' Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung