Kinship, Property, and Authority European Territorial Consolidation Reconsidered

POLITICS & SOCIETY 43.2 (2015): 151-180

Abstract: This article is a step towards a rethinking of the emergence of the modern state in Europe. Traditionally, war has been viewed as the central mechanism of state formation. This approach claims that war caused the emergence of the modern state in two significant ways: 1) by consolidating the politically fragmented world of the middle ages through conquest; and 2) through the pressure of competition in a Darwinian international system, which forced the polities of Europe to create the bureaucratic structures fundamental to the authority of the modern state. This article seeks to undermine the first of these mechanisms by showing that the territorial consolidation of Europe was a logical result of dynastic lordship. I seek to show that the consolidation of territory and authority into fewer and fewer hands was a direct consequence of dynastic successional practices and therefore that the emphasis on coercion in European political development has been overplayed.