Lineages of the Absolutist State (Verso World History Series)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Forty years after its original publication, Lineages of the Absolutist State remains an exemplary achievement in comparative history. Picking up from where its companion volume, Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism, left off, Lineages traces the development of Absolutist states in the early modern period from their roots in European feudalism, and assesses their various trajectories. Why didn’t Italy develop into an Absolutist state in the same, indigenous way as the other dominant Western countries, namely Spain, France and England? On the other hand, how did Eastern European countries develop into Absolutist states similar to those of the West, when their social conditions diverged so drastically? Reflecting on examples in Islamic and East Asian history, as well as the Ottoman Empire, Anderson concludes by elucidating the particular role of European development within universal history.
14th and first half of the 15th centuries. From 1450 onwards, a new era of economic revival and expansion set in. In the course of the next hundred years, the population multiplied, agriculture prospered, and internal trade and the use of money picked up rapidly, while the territory of the Muscovite State increased over six times in size. The three-field system – hitherto virtually unknown in Russia – started to supersede traditional and wasteful peasant assartage, in conjunction with the
(Count, Baron) to introduce more sophisticated and modern scales within the aristocracy, henceforward socially and etymologically derivative en bloc from the court (dvoriantsvo). Independent magnate power was ruthlessly suppressed; the Boyar Duma was eliminated, and succeeded by an appointed Senate. The gentry were reincorporated into a modernized army and administration, of which they once again made up the central personnel.22 The votchina and pomes t’e were united into a single pattern of
exercised under the royal ensign. The actual power of the monarchy as an institution, of course, in no way necessarily corresponded to that of the monarch: the sovereign who actually directed administration and conducted policy was as much the exception as the rule, although for obvious reasons the creative unity and efficacy of Absolutism was always at its height when the two coincided (Louis XIV or Frederick II). The maximum florescence and vigour of the Absolutist State of the grand siècle was
general only be sustained by the assent of exceptional vassal assemblies, capable of voting extraordinary economic and political support, outside the mediatized hierarchy of personal dependences. Mediaeval Estates can therefore virtually never, as pointed out earlier, be directly counter-posed to monarchical authority: they were often the precise precondition of it. In England, Angevin royal authority and administration had no exact equivalent anywhere in 12th century Europe. But the personal
economic and social superiority of Northern Italy, which had twice the population of the South and the overwhelming majority of the productive urban centres of trade and manufacture. The Kingdom of Sicily had only 3 towns of over 20,000 inhabitants: the North had more than 20.9 The cereal exports which furnished the main wealth of the South were, in fact, an indirect symptom of the commercial predominance of the North. For it was the thriving Communes of Lombardy, Liguria and Tuscany which