Estates and the Problem of Resistance in Theory and Practice in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

  • Winfried Schulze


From the modern perspective, Central and East-Central Europe at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century seem to present a reasonably clear and unequivocal political picture. I need describe it only briefly here since its essential features were determined by the victory of the princes. As the confessional territorial state developed, the princes’ sphere of responsibility expanded. The princely state gained control over areas previously ruled autonomously by the nobility: it guaranteed the uniformity of religion; organised and regulated new forms of judicial proceedings; collected increasing tax revenues; appointed university professors and the like; conducted ecclesiastical visitations; and guaranteed the existing social order. All this fits into a long-term pattern leading from the beginnings of the consolidation of dynasties and secular rule in the late Middle Ages to the trend towards bureaucratisation characteristic of the late eighteenth century. The years around 1600, which particularly interest us here, are of special significance in this context. After the various crises of the sixteenth century, the outlines of the early modern state emerged and were consolidated at that time, a process which became apparent first in the financial side of the state’s activities, then in its military, economic and administrative functions.


Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Early Modern Period Religious Struggle Peasant Revolt 
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1991

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  • Winfried Schulze

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