Saturday, March 22, 2008

Statehood and State Formation in Late Antiquity and the Early Modern Period

"Statehood and State Formation in Late Antiquity and the Early Modern Period"
A Conference at the Heidelberg Academy of Applied Sciences and Humanities

3rd to 5th April 2008

Organisation: Peter Eich (Potsdam), Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner
(Heidelberg), Christian Wieland (Freiburg)

In recent years, the emergence of the "state" and the development of
"state power" in early modern Europe have provoked strong interest
among historians. Central to this interest has been the effort to
describe the stages and patterns in the structural development of
European states, to connect these stages and patterns to the
relentless expansion of the claims of state sovereignty, and to
analyse the conditions of, and reasons for, that expansion. The aim
has been to explain the origin of the highly developed, intrusive
modern state. The period under consideration has been the entire
development of the European state--starting in the late medieval
period, but with a particular focus on the Early Modern period, when
these striking developments gained real momentum.

Yet amidst all this interest, it is not generally noticed that a
comparable development had already taken place earlier in European
history. The political system of the Roman Empire underwent, over
several centuries, a development strikingly parallel to what can be
observed between 1500 to 1800. A similar gradual expansion of the
claims of state sovereignty can be observed at Rome, and here too
this expansion was accompanied by the consolidation of state power.
The period in which this development is most dramatically visible is
Late Antiquity. The Roman state of that epoch was characterised by a
degree of centralisation and complexity that has no parallel in
antiquity, and displays instead a number of parallels, remarkable in
retrospect, to the bureaucratic states that came into existence in
the Early Modern period.

As of yet, no serious attempt at a comparative analysis of the
process of state formation in these two periods of history has been
made either by ancient historians or by early modernists. By
discussing the structural changes involved and analysing their
similarities and differences--as well as the reasons for them and the
circumstances in which they arise--this comparative conference aims
to remedy this omission.

For the program and more information see Guests are welcome, there is
no participation fee.


Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner
Seminar für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik der
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Marstallhof 4 D - 69117
Heidelberg Telephon 0049 / 6221 / 54 22 38 Fax 0049 / 6221 / 54 22 34

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