Studies of political development have traditionally focused on emerging countries with the shortest histories and poorest documentary records. This book brings the discussion into a realm where the time span is considerable and the documentation is vast--the formation of national states in western Europe.
Through a series of essays on major state-making activities, the authors ask what processes and preconditions brought powerful national states, rather than some other form of political organization, into a dominant position in western Europe.
The essays compare the experience of major European states between 1500 and 1900 with respect to war-making, policing, taxation, control of food supply, and recruitment and training of professionals and officials. The aim is to determine how well that experience fits available models of political change, especially ideas of political development.