The Making of Polities: Europe, 1300-1500

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Overview

This major survey of political life in late medieval Europe - the first for more than thirty years - provides a new framework for understanding the developments that shaped this turbulent period. Rather than emphasissing crisis, decline, disorder or the birth of the modern state, this account centres on the mixed results of political and governmental growth across the continent. The age of the Hundred Years War, schism and revolt was also a time of rapid growth in jurisdiction, taxation and representation, of spreading literacy and evolving political technique. This mixture of state formation and political convulsion lay at the heart of the 'making of polities'. Offering a full introduction to political events and processes from the fourteenth century to the sixteenth, this book combines a broad, comparative account with discussion of individual regions and states, including eastern and northern Europe alongside the more familiar west and south.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...his sanguine view of the importance of this period is compelling. Highly recommended." -Choice

"Watts’s book is a remarkable feat. It essays a reinterpretation of late medieval western European history which is far more than a work of synthesis …. It is courageous, original, and thought-provoking. It demonstrates the inadequacies of all the current conventional assumptions, and is to be welcomed for putting politics and ideas back at centre stage. Despite the title of the series in which it is published, this is much more than a text-book." – English Historical Review (2012) (George Garnett).

"very convincing book … develops a truly superb narrative, thanks to the European perspective" -Historische Zeitschrift (2010) (Karl Ubl)

"…succeeds with clarity and originality in its declared intention of reinterpreting and reassembling all the pieces of the puzzle in a coherent whole which is greater than the sum of its parts." - Storica (2010) (Isabella Lazzarini)

"an important new synthesis of late medieval politics and political culture: one that offers a strong and clear argument, both substantive and methodological; one that moves away from a focus on the nation-state and the large Western kingdoms; and one that succeeds in drawing out the parallels and commonalities that give the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries across the entire continent of Europe unity, logic, and direction." – The Medieval Review (2010) (Adam Kosto)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521796644
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2009
  • Series: Cambridge Medieval Textbooks Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 482
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of maps ix

Acknowledgements x

1 Introduction 1

Historiography 9

Three grand narratives 13

Social and economic crisis 13

War and disorder 19

The rise of the state 23

Structures 34

2 Europe in 1300: the political inheritance 43

Forms of government and resistance 48

Empires 48

Kings and kingdoms, lords and principalities 68

Communes and leagues 98

Churches 116

Conclusion 122

Forms of political culture 129

Ideas and discourses 131

Communication 148

Networks 153

3 The fourteenth century 158

The course of events 159

c.1300-c.1340 159

c.1340-c.1400 180

Conclusion 201

The growth of government 205

Justice and law 207

Military service 219

Taxation 224

Representation 233

Administration and office 238

Informal structures 244

Political thinking and writing 254

Government and political life 263

Conflicts of jurisdiction 264

Conflicts of political community 270

Resoultion 282

4 The fifteenth century 287

The course of events 291

c.1400-c.1450 291

c.1450-c.1500 339

Co-ordination and consolidation: the regnal polity 376

Political culture 381

Developments in government 393

The practice of politics 410

5 Conclusion 420

Bibliographical notes 426

Index 453

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