A History of Power in Europe

Willem Pieter Blockmans, Author, Wim Blockmans, Author
Willem Pieter Blockmans, Author, Wim Blockmans, Author ABRAMS $60 (402p) ISBN 978-0-8109-6347-4
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Blockmans, a professor of medieval and European history at the University of Ley-den, is also editor of the seven-volume series Origins of the Modern State in Europe, 1300-1800, which in part provided the stimulus for this new work. Here, he takes an original approach, tracing the interaction of capital, cultural psychology (including religion) and political power. Starting with the earliest notions of a European nation-state around 1000 A.D., Blockmans underscores the role of capital and the appropriation of popular concepts to bolster reigning hegemonists. Unlike the empires to its east, Europe was historically fragmented: As both population and economies rapidly accelerated, the organization of power suffered great stresses and numerous transformations. A principal trend was the metamorphosis from the early subordination of rulers to the church, to the church's subordination to worldly rule and, lastly, to the abandonment of religion as a unifying concept, and its replacement with the nation-state. One of the most original aspects of this study is the incorporation of 370 illustrations, notable for their quality and significance. Plates of contemporaneous artwork face each page of text, allowing a rich and tangible experience of the culture and simultaneously providing context to the ideas under discussion. The result is highly successful as both a serious historical work and an art book. (Dec.)
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