Scholars of nationalism have argued that any national consciousness before 1800 was the province of small elites, who had little interest in engaging subjects in a national project, and lacked the technologies to do so. Highlighting the wide range of media available to early modern communities, this chapter argues that forms of national memory spread through the lively practice of local memory. Local memory practices, initially mostly associated with religious purposes, were used both to shape communal identities and to distinguish that community from other communities. They could be used to assert one’s importance to the larger world of region, state, kingdom, and nation, and conversely, rulers might forge a relationship with a community by becoming a stakeholder in a local memory culture. In this way notions of the national could spread and be used as a rhetorical tool in early modern society, without destroying alternative ways of thinking about the past, like the local.
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