Political Space in Pre-industrial Europe

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  • Edited by Beat Kümin, University of Warwick, UK, with a Preface by James C. Scott
  • Social and cultural studies are experiencing a 'spatial turn'. Micro-sites, localities, empires as well as virtual or imaginary spaces attract increasing attention. In most of these works, space emerges as a social construct rather than a mere container. This collection examines the potential and limitations of spatial approaches for the political history of pre-industrial Europe. Adopting a broad definition of 'political', the volume concentrates on two key questions: Where did political exchange take place? How did spatial dimensions affect political life in different periods and contexts?

    Taken together, the essays demonstrate that pre-modern Europeans made use of a much wider range of political sites than is usually assumed - not just palaces, town halls and courtrooms, but common fields as well as back rooms of provincial inns - and that spatial dimensions provided key variables in political life, both in terms of territorial ambitions and practical governance and in the more abstract forms of patronage networks, representations of power and the emerging public sphere.

    As such, this book offers a timely and critical engagement with the 'spatial turn' from a political perspective. Focusing on the distinct constitutional environments of England and the Holy Roman Empire - one associated with early centralization and strong parliamentary powers, the other with political fragmentation and absolutist tendencies - it bridges the common gaps between late medieval and early modern studies and those between historians and scholars from other disciplines. Preface, commentary and a sketch of research perspectives discuss the wider implications of the essays' findings and reflect upon the value of spatial approaches for political history as a whole.
  • Contents: Preface, James C. Scott; Introduction, Beat Kümin; Part I Political Sites: Representing political space at a political site: the Imperial Diets of the 16th century, Henry J. Cohn; The princely court and political space in early modern Europe, Ronald G. Asch; Drinking houses and the politics of surveillance in pre-industrial Southampton, James R. Brown; Politics, clubs and social space in pre-industrial Europe, Peter Clark; Political spaces and Parliamentary enclosure in an upland context: Cumbria c.1760–1840, Ian D. Whyte. Part II Spatial Politics: Political and geographical space: the geopolitics of medieval England, Christine Carpenter; Social space and urban conflict: unrest in the German imperial city of Esslingen am Neckar, Alexander Schlaak; The spatial dynamics of parish politics: topographies of tension in English communities, c.1350–1640, Steve Hindle and Beat Kümin; Petitioning places and the credibility of opinion in the public sphere in 17th-century England, David Zaret; Which Switzerland? Contrasting conceptions of the early modern Swiss Confederation in European maps and minds, Andreas Würgler; Outwitting power: bogus kings and officials in early modern England, Tobias B. Hug. Part III Outlook: Comment from a historical perspective, Bernard Capp; Spaces in theory, spaces in history and spatial historiographies, Mike Crang; Index.
  • About the Editor: Professor Beat Kümin is Director of Research, Department of History, University of Warwick, UK.