Development of the Early modern State

Jul 2009
9,784
#1
This discussion and debate will probably be all over the place, but let's go at it anyway. In some cases developments are pre-1500 AD, but as we know and understand, history does not like many start-and-stop dates. :)

Here are a few possibilities (and I have my own biases):

1) The city-state communes of late medieval northern Italy. Milan, Florence, Bologna, Padua (and Venice) and so on. These had modern aspects of government as well as weaknesses. It is possible this item fits more into "Post Classical."

2) The maritime states of the 15th and 16th centuries. Venice, Portugal, Castile/Spain (possibly the Hansa). The requirements and stresses of long distances and security threats caused complex institutions such as bureaucracies and military organizations to emerge.

3) The "fiscal-military states" of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Dutch Republic, Sweden and England/UK (perhaps also Bavaria, Brandenburg and Savoy). These early modern states found differing models to support and sustain their development as important powers.

4) One argument might be that Russia and Habsburg Austria were also fiscal-military states, but that can be part of the debate.

What does everyone think about this?
 
Jul 2009
9,784
#2
Probably an understood definition for the "fiscal-military state" would be helpful. (part Wiki; part Oxford Bibiographies)

The fiscal-military state bases its economic model according to the sustaining of its armed forces (army and navy). Although coercion-extraction of resources, primarily through heavy taxation, has been seen as a prominent factor in this, it has not always been the case, and other mechanisms have been recognized and employed for the maintenance of early modern states and their military forces.

The conditions also differed markedly from 1500 to 1600 to 1700/1750. Such states could not function, or even come into existence, without more bureaucratic offices and institutions, and without mechanisms of funding.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,847
US
#3
The Hansa had complex bureaucracies , certainly from an economic perspective, yet they also had an element of the "fiscal-military state," don't you think? Their use of the cog is one example of their defensive prowess, especially on the seas.
 
Jul 2009
9,784
#4
The Hansa had complex bureaucracies , certainly from an economic perspective, yet they also had an element of the "fiscal-military state," don't you think? Their use of the cog is one example of their defensive prowess, especially on the seas.
I am not familiar with details of the Hanseatic cities and how they functioned. I have understood them to be commercial oligarchies (not all identical, but similar in that regard). By the time territorial states like Denmark and Sweden emerged, after about 1550, as strong military players in the north, the Hansa were in decline (perhaps by the first half of the 1500s).

One of the aspects of the successful early modern state was to augment its economic influence with military force. The Hansa had success against pirates and small adversaries, but when Denmark and Sweden became able to dominate trade in the Baltic, and could finance sizable fleets, the northern cities were at a great disadvantage. I think one of them built a huge warship, but it was never employed at war, and one ship was never going to be a threat to large fleets.

Do you have a source recommendation for the Hansa and its naval-military history?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,847
US
#5
I am not familiar with details of the Hanseatic cities and how they functioned. I have understood them to be commercial oligarchies (not all identical, but similar in that regard). By the time territorial states like Denmark and Sweden emerged, after about 1550, as strong military players in the north, the Hansa were in decline (perhaps by the first half of the 1500s).

One of the aspects of the successful early modern state was to augment its economic influence with military force. The Hansa had success against pirates and small adversaries, but when Denmark and Sweden became able to dominate trade in the Baltic, and could finance sizable fleets, the northern cities were at a great disadvantage. I think one of them built a huge warship, but it was never employed at war, and one ship was never going to be a threat to large fleets.

Do you have a source recommendation for the Hansa and its naval-military history?
Other than the use of the cogs, I don't. I believe they armed their merchant ships. But you are correct that they could not withstand the military power of nations such as Sweden.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,936
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#6
The modern state was the first form of sovereign state. This is important to be underlined because that was the process which differentiated the new kind of state from the medieval "entities". The state acquired sovereignty itself [while before there was a Sovereign and an administration]. The power got more and more concentrated and the sovereign function became unique with its own power [it's the genesis of the so called "monopoly of the force" ... for example, the Monarch has got a state army, he doesn't need to wait for the feudal Lords to gather troops]. An aspect of the modern state is that the dynasty was pivotal: where it was weak the modern state was on late as for its formation. This was due to the process of concentration: if there wasn't a powerful dynasty this process was more difficult to run. Nice examples of this have been Denmark and Poland. In Denmark there was an elective Monarchy and in Poland it happened something similar after the end of the dynasty of the Jagelloni in 1572CE.

An othet aspect of the modern state was the differentiation between the owner of the power [the Monarch] and who excercised it [the officer]. Still in progress as process of organization of the state, this differentiation will be a column of the modern state. This primitive organization, obviously, has been different, state by state, also regarding the presence of a Parliament and its relationships with the Monarch. In some cases the new equilibrium of power meant also a higher degree of freedom connected with the existence of laws and parliaments to make the power of the Sovereign "legitimate" [this is what the Venetian Ambassador Daniele Barbaro reported from England in 1551CE].
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#7
This discussion and debate will probably be all over the place, but let's go at it anyway. In some cases developments are pre-1500 AD, but as we know and understand, history does not like many start-and-stop dates. :)

Here are a few possibilities (and I have my own biases):

1) The city-state communes of late medieval northern Italy. Milan, Florence, Bologna, Padua (and Venice) and so on. These had modern aspects of government as well as weaknesses. It is possible this item fits more into "Post Classical."
I don't agree with your examples because I he Italian city states we're all centered around one city. A modern state is not centered around around one city. Important as London is, the English state is much more than just an extension of London. Same for France and Paris. You can see this in he US, where even though New York.is the largest city in the country, it doesn't completely dominate the country, and other and areas vie with it for cultural influence.

I say the margin state emerge with England, and later France in the late middle ages, where you had a strong central.government ruling an entire country. Although Spain might have been richer, England had a stronger central government earlier, and the English government has more existing elements that date back to the middle ages. By the late medieval period, England had a strong central judicial system, a strong central government, and an active legislative branch. While the Italian city states had some elements of a modern state, they also lacked some.key elements. Modern states like England prevailed over the Italian city states because they could draw upon the resources of a country. States like England and France could create large armies that were compromised of citizens whose first loyalty was to the state, not mercenaries whose first loyalty was to themselves which the Italian relied upon.

2) The maritime states of the 15th and 16th centuries. Venice, Portugal, Castile/Spain (possibly the Hansa). The requirements and stresses of long distances and security threats caused complex institutions such as bureaucracies and military organizations to emerge.
Venice, I would say no. Portugal and Spain, I would say possibly, but England as a strong central state, and a national sense of identity, both important for a modern state, was as old, and even predated them. When William I conquered England, he ensured a strong central government, and the English kings, unlike the French kings, did not usually have to worry about powerful nobles like the Dukes of Burgundy who were almost independent rulers. Also, there was a much greater standardization of units, and of central laws, in England than in France, where I believe it wasn't until the French revolution that some local standards of measurements were done away with. Some local lords in France maintained their own local justice until the Revolution.

I am not familiar enough with Portugal and Spain to say how centralized their legal system was, and how uniform their standards of weights and measures.

3) The "fiscal-military states" of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Dutch Republic, Sweden and England/UK (perhaps also Bavaria, Brandenburg and Savoy). These early modern states found differing models to support and sustain their development as important powers. [/Quote]

You can rule out the Dutch, since 17h century is too late, the elements of modern state had arisen in my opinion by the 16th century, and the Dutch were not even a country by then.

Bavaria, Savoy weren't modern states in my opinion. Bavaria was nominally part of a larger body, the he Holy Roman Empire, but the citizens of the Bavaria didn't seem o owe direct loyalty to the Holy Roman Emperor. There was national identity of being a member of the Holy Roman Empire in he modern sense, and I don't see the people of Bavaria having a national sense of identity the same way the English did. You can clearly see a modern national sense of English identity in Shakespeare's work. What national poet did Bavaria, Savoy, or even Brandenburg have?

4) One argument might be that Russia and Habsburg Austria were also fiscal-military states, but that can be part of the debate.

What does everyone think about this?
What time period about Russia are you talking g about? I think the modern state in Russia arose in the 16th century.

What makes a modern state in my view:

1. a central government that the common people owe direct allegiance and the majority of the people have a national sense of identity with.

2. Uniform standards of units (weights, measurements). It could be just adopting an existing international standards, like the metric system

3. An uniform system of laws that apply to all citizens throughout the state. There may be local laws as well, but there needs to be a set of common laws t

4. A bureaucracy and agents reporting directly to the central government that enforce central government policies and collect taxes.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,286
Spain
#8
The modern State born in 3 areas: Spain-Portugal, France and England. And the most important modern Kings in the early Modern State were Catholic Monarchs, Elisabeth and Ferdinand, Louis XI and Henry VII. The Spaish State had a burocracy, a Judicial System, a Professional diplomatic Corp (The Spanish Embassy in London is the oldest standing diplomatic office in the world... from 1483 to 2018 (although it has changed many time the place), second it is the Spanish Embassy in Rome, from 1489... and it is in the same building from 1647 to today, October, 2018... what it has become the oldest embassy building on Earth), a professional standing army. A professional Navy. A professional police.

This is the oldest Embassy in the same building: Spanish Embassy in Rome... it is in this building from 1647 when it was bought by the Catholic King by the price in 22.000 Roman Scudos

It is in Piazza Spagna... today...371 years later (15 generations after)... it continues being the Embassy in Roma.


 
Likes: Gvelion
Jul 2009
9,784
#9
@Bart Dale,

By the four criteria you listed in post #7 none of that was present in a general sense before the ending decades of the 18th century. And the topic is the EARLY modern state.

I would argue that when a state (national or otherwise) could mobilize resources and defend its interests militarily, it had the essentials of a fiscal-military state. Its interests might be those of a privileged elite - either economic or dynastic - and its purpose and functions were driven by those interests and done mostly by military means.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#10
@Bart Dale,

By the four criteria you listed in post #7 none of that was present in a general sense before the ending decades of the 18th century. And the topic is the EARLY modern state.
I disagree. By the time of Henry VIII, England had a common standard of weights and measures used throughout the country, and you can definitely see in Shakespeare a national sense of identity. People in Shakespeare time were English and proud of it.

And England did have a central bureaucracy and had agents that reported directly to the crown. By the time of Henry VIII the English army and navy did not consist of forces supplied mostly by local lords, or units recruited and paid by the king's own personal lands, but were truly national armies paid by the crown out of national revenues collected by the crown.
Certainly Shakespeare time was "Early Modern". I contend by the time of the Tudors England met the criteria of a modern state I laid out.

If you disagree, provide me specifics showing me where I am wrong. You haven't done that yet.

[ I would argue that when a state (national or otherwise) could mobilize resources and defend its interests militarily said:
I disagree. Charlemange could defend the states interest militarily, meeting your definition, but I would not call his realm a modern state.

And the medieval Norman kings could mobilize resources and defend their interest militarily, but I am not sure I would call Edward III kingdom a modern state.