The Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe: Religious Conflict, Dynastic Empires, and International Change

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Overview

"With this book, Daniel Nexon brings an assertive and iconoclastic voice to an already vibrant conversation among international relations theorists about how the modern international system took shape in early modern Europe. His stress on the combustible power of religious ideas and his innovative model of power and authority amount to a sophisticated and creative explanation of the international politics of this period and indeed of any period—including, he arrestingly argues, our own."—Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame

"Daniel Nexon has woven a magisterial account of the impact of the Reformation on international politics. Using network theory and institutionalist analysis, he deftly crafts a composite theory that is relevant not only to the understanding of international change but also to the study of composite polities, empires, and nation-states. His study, furthermore, suggests how religion and institutional change can braid together to produce fundamental challenges to the existing international order. In so doing, he not only provides insights into the past but illuminates contemporary processes as well."—Hendrik Spruyt, Northwestern University

"In its depth of theoretical insight and subtlety of reasoning, few recent books in international relations and history rival what Daniel Nexon has accomplished in this impressive piece of scholarship. The book's fresh conceptualization opens new vistas on the past experiences, present conditions, and future trajectories of international relations. No theoretically inclined student can afford bypassing Nexon's challenging ideas."—Peter J. Katzenstein, Cornell University

"This is an extremely impressive book. Nexon not only illuminates a crucial and controversial moment in the history of international relations, but he does so in the context of making a vital theoretical and methodological contribution to the field. This is a very important study, and a superb piece of work."—Richard Little, University of Bristol

"This book makes a significant contribution not only to international relations theory, but also to comparative politics. Nexon develops an innovative and productive way of viewing changing patterns of international relations, and he helps us to transcend the often-artificial divide between domestic and international politics. He also successfully transcends the debate between materialists and idealists. This book should be of interest to a broad audience."—Mlada Bukovansky, Smith College

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Early Modern History
Daniel H. Nexon analyzes this relationship between religion and violence from the perspective of modern political science. His arguments are clearly stated and thought-provoking. . . . Nexon's analysis displays a sure sense of what made early modern Europe distinctive and gives due regard to contingency as well as structural factors. More importantly, his theoretical framework offers an interesting way to integrate religious and secular factors in an analysis of international change and to explore this in comparative perspective.
— Peter H. Wilson
Nationalities Papers
A stimulating, dense, and highly readable book.
— Stephen Deets
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
[C]hallenging ideas appear throughout this valuable and impressive work, which will surely spark a great deal of discussion among scholars of early modern politics and international relations.
— Tryntje Helfferich
Canadian Journal of History
Such an astute account of the dynamics of continuity and change in global politics will be invaluable both to students and scholars of the theory and history of international relations. . . . Nexon's outstanding volume would be of relevance to anyone interested in understanding the European origins of the idea and practices of sovereign territorial statehood. He has also produced the kind of book that is bound to trigger debate and it invites . . . its readers to pursue further the ideas discussed on its pages.
— Emilian R. Kavalski
Renaissance Quarterly - Megan Armstrong
As a historian of early modern France it is refreshing to venture into a scholarly domain that comfortably pursues large-scale political analysis. It is equally refreshing to find someone trained in international relations who takes religion seriously as an independent, and powerful, political dynamic. Daniel Nexon's ambitious reexamination of early modern state formations does just that. . . . [T]his is a highly satisfying and stimulating rethinking of the political significance of the Reformation.
Journal of Early Modern History - Peter H. Wilson
Daniel H. Nexon analyzes this relationship between religion and violence from the perspective of modern political science. His arguments are clearly stated and thought-provoking. . . . Nexon's analysis displays a sure sense of what made early modern Europe distinctive and gives due regard to contingency as well as structural factors. More importantly, his theoretical framework offers an interesting way to integrate religious and secular factors in an analysis of international change and to explore this in comparative perspective.
Nationalities Papers - Stephen Deets
A stimulating, dense, and highly readable book.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History - Tryntje Helfferich
[C]hallenging ideas appear throughout this valuable and impressive work, which will surely spark a great deal of discussion among scholars of early modern politics and international relations.
Canadian Journal of History - Emilian R. Kavalski
Such an astute account of the dynamics of continuity and change in global politics will be invaluable both to students and scholars of the theory and history of international relations. . . . Nexon's outstanding volume would be of relevance to anyone interested in understanding the European origins of the idea and practices of sovereign territorial statehood. He has also produced the kind of book that is bound to trigger debate and it invites . . . its readers to pursue further the ideas discussed on its pages.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2010 International Security Studies Section Book Award, International Studies Association

"Scholars often debate the future of modern system of nation-states, but rarely do they study its origins. This groundbreaking book provides a sweeping reinterpretation of the religious and geopolitical conflicts of the seventeenth century, culminating in the emergence of the European state system."—
Foreign Affairs

"As a historian of early modern France it is refreshing to venture into a scholarly domain that comfortably pursues large-scale political analysis. It is equally refreshing to find someone trained in international relations who takes religion seriously as an independent, and powerful, political dynamic. Daniel Nexon's ambitious reexamination of early modern state formations does just that. . . . [T]his is a highly satisfying and stimulating rethinking of the political significance of the Reformation."—Megan Armstrong, Renaissance Quarterly

"Daniel H. Nexon analyzes this relationship between religion and violence from the perspective of modern political science. His arguments are clearly stated and thought-provoking. . . . Nexon's analysis displays a sure sense of what made early modern Europe distinctive and gives due regard to contingency as well as structural factors. More importantly, his theoretical framework offers an interesting way to integrate religious and secular factors in an analysis of international change and to explore this in comparative perspective."—Peter H. Wilson, Journal of Early Modern History

"A stimulating, dense, and highly readable book."—Stephen Deets, Nationalities Papers

"[C]hallenging ideas appear throughout this valuable and impressive work, which will surely spark a great deal of discussion among scholars of early modern politics and international relations."—Tryntje Helfferich, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Such an astute account of the dynamics of continuity and change in global politics will be invaluable both to students and scholars of the theory and history of international relations. . . . Nexon's outstanding volume would be of relevance to anyone interested in understanding the European origins of the idea and practices of sovereign territorial statehood. He has also produced the kind of book that is bound to trigger debate and it invites . . . its readers to pursue further the ideas discussed on its pages."—Emilian R. Kavalski, Canadian Journal of History

Foreign Affairs
Scholars often debate the future of modern system of nation-states, but rarely do they study its origins. This groundbreaking book provides a sweeping reinterpretation of the religious and geopolitical conflicts of the seventeenth century, culminating in the emergence of the European state system.
Renaissance Quarterly
As a historian of early modern France it is refreshing to venture into a scholarly domain that comfortably pursues large-scale political analysis. It is equally refreshing to find someone trained in international relations who takes religion seriously as an independent, and powerful, political dynamic. Daniel Nexon's ambitious reexamination of early modern state formations does just that. . . . [T]his is a highly satisfying and stimulating rethinking of the political significance of the Reformation.
— Megan Armstrong
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Product Details

Meet the Author


Daniel H. Nexon is assistant professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix
Preface xi
CHAPTER 1: Introduction 1
CHAPTER 2: Theorizing International Change 20
CHAPTER 3: The Dynastic-Imperial Pathway 67
CHAPTER 4: Religious Contention and the Dynamics of Composite States 99
CHAPTER 5: The Rise and Decline of Charles of Habsburg 135
CHAPTER 6: The Dynamics of Spanish Hegemony in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries 185
CHAPTER 7: The French Wars of Religion 235
CHAPTER 8: Westphalia Reframed 265
CHAPTER 9: Looking Forward, Looking Back 289
References 301
Index 333

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