Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism

Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism

Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism

Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism

Synopsis

'A complex, beautifully interwoven and controlled account of Europe from the ancient Greeks to modern absolutist monarchies... Exhilarating.' Guardian

Excerpt

Some words are necessary to explain the scope and intention of this essay. It is conceived as a prologue to the longer study, whose subjectmatter follows immediately on it: Lineages of the Absolutist State. The two books are articulated directly into each other, and ultimately suggest a single argument, The relationship between the two -- antiquity and feudalism on the one hand, and absolutism on the other -- is not immediately apparent, in the usual perspective of most treatments of them. Normally, ancient history is separated by a professional chasm from mediaeval history, which very few contemporary works attempt to span: the gulf between them is, of course, institutionally entrenched in both teaching and research. The conventional distance between mediaeval history and early modern history is (naturally or paradoxically?) much less: but it nevertheless has typically been enough to preclude any examination of feudalism and absolutism within, as it were, a single focus. The argument of these interlinked studies is that in certain important respects this is the way in which the successive forms which are its concern should be considered. The present essay explores the social and political world of classical antiquity, the nature of the transition from it to the mediaeval world, and the resultant structure and evolution of feudalism in Europe; regional divisions, both of the Mediterranean and of Europe, are a central theme throughout. Its sequel discusses Absolutism against the background of feudalism and antiquity, as their legitimate political heir. The reasons for preceding a comparative survey of the Absolutist State by an excursion through classical antiquity and feudalism will become evident in the course of the second work itself, and are summarized in its conclusions. These attempt to situate the specificity of . . .

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