15th century Europe: city states in Italy and Germany; the Holy Roman Empire; feudal monarchies in France and Spain.
Italy: medieval communes replaced by five principle city states by mid 15th century, Florence, Naples, Rome and the Vatican, Milan, Venice. Various combinations of representational and constitutional structures with monarchic notions of rule.
Rise of mercantile economy, new and prominent class of merchant bankers. Concentration of power in the hands of new elites.
Florence: rise of the Medici to power from 1430’s onwards.
Princely courts, and the princely network in Italy.The prince and the courtier.
Repeated assertion and representation of authority through ceremonial, family and patronage
networks, and the arts.
French and Spanish invasions of Italy from 1494 onwards.
Niccolo Macchiavelli, The Prince, 1513.
France: territorial consolidation between 1453 and 1530’s.
The three estates: clergy, nobility, townsmen
Standing army; new fiscal regime and system of taxation. Notion of the monarch as ultimate sovereign, with divine qualities.
Spain: trend toward unification, particularly through marriage of Ferdinand of Castile and Isabella of Aragon, 1469
Notions of divine sanction of monarchs.
Expulsion of Jews and Muslims: part of the trend toward homogenization and territorial consolidation.
Overall, through the later 15th century: growth of state bureaucracies, new taxation policies, formation of standing armies lay the foundations of absolutist polities. Territorial consolidation, notions of divine rule, centralizing tendencies, balancing out of various power holders.