Friday, March 30, 2012

The origins of the modern state

I've been reading a fascinating little book by William Cavanaugh titled Theopolitical Imagination. One of the most interesting things in the book is a brief section on the origins of the modern idea of the state. Cavanaugh writes that "In the medieval period, the term status had been used either in reference to the condition of the ruler (status principis), or in the general sense of the condition of the realm (status regni). With Machiavelli we begin to see the transition to a more abstract sense of the state as an independent political entity, but only in the works of sixteenth-century French and English humanists does there emerge the modern idea of the state as 'a form of public power separate from both ruler and the ruled, and constituting the supreme political authority within a certain defined territory.'

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