Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in by Thomas Ertman

By Thomas Ertman

For a few years students have sought to give an explanation for why the ecu states that emerged within the interval sooner than the French Revolution constructed alongside such diversified strains. Why did a few states develop into absolutist and others constitutionalist? What enabled a few to improve bureaucratic administrative structures, whereas others remained established upon patrimonial practices?

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Extra resources for Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

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7-11. For an extended discussion and criticism of Gerschenkron's argument in light of more recent research on European industrialization, see: Clive Trebilcock, The Industrialization of the Continental Powers 1780-1914 (London: Longman, 1981), pp. 8-20, 421426 and passim. Introduction 27 to construct larger and more specialized administrative and fiscal apparatuses in order to increase their military capacities. Yet the building blocks with which they attempted to do this - whether in the form of organizational models, legal concepts, or financial techniques - changed greatly between the 12 th and 18th centuries thanks to the forward march of "technological progress" in this area.

These groups took advantage of the power vacuum which arose during the decline of Europe's last dark-age polity and formed cityrepublics and the republican confederation of Switzerland. This explains the fact that all the alternative state forms found within 18th-century western Christendom were located within the medieval boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. 24 Birth of the Leviathan which lay under the direct control of noble lords large and small and hence beyond the direct influence of the new central authorities.

At the same time, however, its rulers, while de jure enjoying quite extensive prerogative powers, had lost direct control over much of the administrative, judicial, and financial infrastructure of their realms to proprietary officeholders, officeholder-financiers, and tax farmers. Over the course of many centuries these groups had succeeded in appropriating substantial portions of their respective states' public powers for their own private ends. Thus Latin Europe was the homeland of an early modern state form that I have termed "patrimonial absolutism," an ideal type most closely approximated by ancien regime France.

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