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The Oxford History of Poland-LithuaniaVolume I: The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1385-1569$
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Robert Frost

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208693

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208693.001.0001

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On Unions

On Unions

(p.36) 4 On Unions
The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania

Robert Frost

Oxford University Press

A critique of the current framework in which late medieval and early modern unions are studied, this chapter looks at recent scholarship on composite states. It argues that, under the influence of political scientists and too ready to accept the notion that the nation state is the epitome of modernity and the only criterion by which state development can be assessed, scholars of political union have only been interested in pre-modern unions that can be described as federalist or proto-federalist. It argues that not since Georg Jellinek in 1882 have historians attempted a comprehensive classification of pre-modern unions which embraces real unions as well as federal unions, and which takes personal and dynastic unions seriously. The chapter follows Elliott in arguing that pre-modern unions must be judged on their own terms, and not solely according to the categories of modern political scientists.

Keywords:   political union, composite states, personal unions, dynastic unions, real unions, Jellinek

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