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Before the StateSystemic Political Change in the West from the Greeks to the French Revolution$
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Andreas Osiander

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198294511

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198294511.001.0001

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Pre‐industrial Europe

Pre‐industrial Europe

Chapter:
(p.341) 4 Pre‐industrial Europe
Source:
Before the State
Author(s):

Andreas Osiander

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198294511.003.0004

In the late pre-Reformation period, re-urbanization and increasing monetization impacting on what had become a profoundly rural civilization gave rise to political structures markedly different from those of the pre-Christian Mediterranean world. The increasing availability of energy from water power and wind power was one important (and much underestimated) factor enabling economic growth. Another was the expansion of the monetary mass as a result of the establishment of a supralocal financial system (unknown to the ancient world) and the easy availability of credit. This helped to give the more important princes an increasing edge over lesser actors, at the same time that development was both furthered and impeded by conflicting cultural and ideological currents — as reflected in the thinking of such authors as Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Nicolaus Cusanus, Jean Bodin, Johannes Althusius, and Thomas Hobbes. Even 18th-century ‘absolute’ monarchies like the French or Prussian ones remained closer to the ‘heteronomous’ political structures of the pre-Reformation period than to today's state.

Keywords:   monetization, water power, wind power, heteronomous absolute monarchy, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Nicolaus Cusanus, Jean Bodin, Johannes Althusius, Thomas Hobbes

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