Contacts and Comparisons in History and Culture
Gerald Power Monarchy, Nobility and State Formation in Bohemia and Ireland, c. 1526-1609
Gerald Power Monarchy, Nobility and State Formation in Bohemia and Ireland, c. 1526–1609 This essay compares monarchical-inspired state formation in sixteenth- century Ireland and Bohemia, and the responses of the nobility of the respective territories to this process. State formation (sometimes referred to as state building or state making) in early modern Europe consisted espe- cially of the expansion of the power of the sovereign (most often a prince), stimulated into so doing by such forces as the demands of war, the social and political ferment unleashed in the wake of the Reformation, and the arguments and persuasions of counsellors.1 The nobility – defined in this paper as the upper nobility or peerage, as distinct from the more numerous and constitutionally junior knights or gentry – occupied an ambiguous position in regard to the expansion of state power. On one hand, nobles were natural partners of their princes; they were expected to be loyal and often stood to gain from their co-operation. But nobles were also protec- tive of their status and privileges, and relations with the monarch could become fraught when state formation threatened to erode traditional noble power. For their part, monarchs could not simply ride roughshod over the sensibilities of their nobles: princes well understood that enforcing ef fec- tive royal government was much more dif ficult without the individual and collective acquiescence of the nobility. Thus, state formation in early 1 State formation and noble power in Europe has an extensive bibliography; see, for example, Wolfgang Reinhard,...
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