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Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in by Thomas Ertman

By Thomas Ertman

For a few years students have sought to provide an explanation for why the eu states that emerged within the interval sooner than the French Revolution built alongside such diverse traces. Why did a few states develop into absolutist and others constitutionalist? What enabled a few to increase bureaucratic administrative structures, whereas others remained based upon patrimonial practices?

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Extra resources for Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

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Put another way, the structure of the territorially based parliaments encouraged cooperation at the level of the entire assembly, whereas in the status-based Estates such cooperation took place at the level of the individual chamber, with detrimental consequences for the future of the assembly as a whole (though not necessarily for its constituent status groups). A second reason for the greater resilience of the territorially based assemblies was that they were inextricably linked to and rooted in organs of local government.

This made it very difficult for the chambers to cooperate among themselves in defense of the rights of the assembly as a whole vis-a-vis its royal master. Conversely, this situation encouraged rulers to negotiate directly with the individual chambers and strike bilateral deals with them. In fact, as we shall see, the chambers were often more than willing to give up rights of co-legislation or even cotaxation as long as the social and economic privileges of their respective status groups were guaranteed.

Far from requiring a minimum apparatus, the collection of commercial revenues in fact demanded a large number of well-trained personnel with advanced computational skills and a detailed knowledge both of numerous commodities and of an array of complex regulations. On the other hand, land taxes were not difficult to administer, because central governments could dispense with the time-consuming business of wealth or income assessments and instead simply demand fixed amounts from each local area. It then fell to government officials or local notables to apportion this tax burden among the populace in any way which the latter seemed willing to tolerate, and to appoint the nonprofessional village collectors who were obliged to extract the sums involved from their neighbors.

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