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On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State

On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State

Charles Tilly
William Chester Jordan
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 136
  • Book Info
    On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State
    Book Description:

    The modern state, however we conceive of it today, is based on a pattern that emerged in Europe in the period from 1100 to 1600. Written from the experience of a lifetime of teaching and research in the field, this short, clear book is the classic work on what is known about the early history of the European state. Charles Tilly's foreword shows how Strayer's book set the agenda for a whole generation of historical analysts, not just in medieval history but also in the comparative study of state formation. William Chester Jordan's foreword addresses the scholarly and pedagogical setting within which Strayer produced his book, and how this both enhanced its accessibility and informed its focus on peculiarly English and French accomplishments in early state-building.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2857-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword to the Princeton Classic Edition: Joseph Strayer Revisited
    (pp. vii-xxvi)
    Charles Tilly

    What a Pleasure to hear Joe Strayer’s thoughtful voice again! In these extensively reworked lectures and papers, we hear him patiently, clearly, wisely drawing on profound knowledge of Western European history to explain where centralized states come from. He vivifies the topic not with exotic examples or stunning stories but with incisive insights into what happened in medieval Europe. In little over a hundred pages, he lays out a fresh interpretation of European state formation.

    Strayer even says clearly what he is trying to explain. He seeks the origin of political units exhibiting

    persistence in time;

    fixation in space;


  4. Preface
    (pp. xxvii-2)
    Joseph R. Strayer
  5. Chapter I
    (pp. 3-56)

    Today we take the state for granted. We grumble about its demands; we complain that it is encroaching more and more on what used to be our private concerns, but we can hardly envisage life without it In the world of today, the worst fate that can befall a human being is to be stateless. Hale’s “man without a country” does exist now, and he is wretched in ways which Hale could never imagine. The old forms of social identification are no longer absolutely necessary. A man can lead a reasonably full life without a family, a fixed local residence,...

  6. Chapter II
    (pp. 57-88)

    By 1300 it was evident that the dominant political form in Western Europe was going to be the sovereign state. The universal Empire had never been anything but a dream; the universal Church had to admit that defense of the individual state took precedence over the liberties of the Church or the claims of the Christian commonwealth. Loyalty to the state was stronger than any other loyalty, and for a few individuals (largely government officials) loyalty to the state was taking on some of the overtones of patriotism.54

    Nevertheless, while the sovereign state of 1300 was stronger than any competing...

  7. Chapter III
    (pp. 89-112)

    It may seen that the European states had accomplished very little during the period 1300-1450; that indeed, they were less effective political instruments in 1450 than they had been in 1300. This appearance, however, is deceptive. In the first place they had survived, which was no small feat considering the troubles of the later Middle Ages. Second, they had preserved their basic administrative structures, even if they had not expanded and improved those structures as much as might have been desirable. Third, repeated crises had pointed out weaknesses in organization and procedure so clearly that few politically conscious men could...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 113-114)