Book Chapter

An Introduction: Political Representation



Damen M, Haemers J & Mann AJ (2018) An Introduction: Political Representation. In: Damen M, Haemers J & Mann A (eds.) Political Representation: Communities, Ideas and Institutions in Europe ( c. 1200-c. 1690). Later Mediaeval Europe, 15. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 1-16.

First paragraph: In the late medieval West, the political representation of subjects was organized under the term “Estates” (Staten, États), which regularly met with representatives of the prince with the aim of negotiating central issues such as war, taxation and trade regulations. Due to the emergence of larger administrative structures and the monetization of society, princes were more and more inclined to consult their subjects — especially the urban communities — in order to raise taxes and mobilize support in their struggle with noble contenders and princely competitors. On the other hand, local and regional communities themselves developed representative structures. This implies that the political coordination of a medieval state was not imposed by central authorities; it was always the product of a negotiation process between the various administrations and interest groups with a stake in the territory. What is more, categories of subjects and their representatives had an interest in cooperation not only with each other, but also with those who claimed to rule them. Thus the functioning of a medieval or early modern state can only be understood by recourse to the social and ideological background (i.e. practice and theory respectively) of political representation.

FundersRathenau Institute
Title of seriesLater Mediaeval Europe
Number in series15
Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online20/08/2018
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Place of publicationLeiden
ISSN of series1872–7875

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