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Early Modern Democracy in the Grisons : Social Order and Political Language in a Swiss Mountain Canton, 1470-1620 - Randolph C. Head

Early Modern Democracy in the Grisons

Social Order and Political Language in a Swiss Mountain Canton, 1470-1620

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Published: 20th May 2011
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The Freestate of the Three Leagues in the Grisons, a rural confederation in the Swiss Alps, was one of the most unusual political entities in early modern Europe. In the sixteenth century, its inhabitants enjoyed popular sovereignty and remarkable local autonomy, and many of them insisted on political equality among citizens, and on political leaders' responsibilities to their communities. The author uses pamphlets and political documents to trace the Freestate's evolution, focusing on its institutional structure and on the political language used by its inhabitants. This language included radical statements about 'democracy' and rule by the 'common man'. Even so, the Freestate participated in contemporary European political developments; but because it was different, it provides new perspectives on political ideas in sixteenth-century Europe. It represents a political culture distinct from both absolutism and later liberal ideas.

"...an important book about a region which has been much neglected among English-speaking scholars. Randolph Head draws on a welath of German secondary works and rich, local, archival resources that provide new insights into the communal politics of this alpine republic." Canadian Journal of History "Head narrates this story of Grison democracy in vivid and lucid prose. He shows a mature command of scholarship...a good social and institutional history of the Grisons." Central European History "...a detailed and fascinating examination of the origins and flourishing of communalism...All in all, this book is a fine piece of work." American Historical Review "...an important contribution to the debate on the role and effects of communalism on both the old European social and political order and the development of modern parliamentarianism and republicanism." Holger Th. Graf, Sixteenth Century Journal "This work is a masterpiece. It is an engaging and informative study that should be considered indispensable to historians of early modern European political culture. It should also be considered an important companion study to the works of such historians as Thomas Brady and Peter Bickle...[A]n extremely learned and convincing work of history." Jeffrey E. Ford, Sixteenth Century Journal "This work serves both as an excellent introduction to an important and atypical early modern state and as a nuanced interpretation of 'communal' political practices and culture in counterpoint to established historiographical models...excellent study of Alpine democratic values" The Historian ...this book provides an important example of political thinking based neither in the city nor the nation-state, but in a rural setting in which peasants negotiate social relations, not through rebellion, but within the framework of regular political institutions." Rebecca Boone, Journal of Interdisciplinary History "This excellent study of Alpine democratic values highlights the distance between early modern communalism and modern democratic models grounded in individual natural rights." Peter G. Wallace, The Historian "This excellent study of Alpine democratic values highlights the distance between early modern communalism and modern democratic models grounded in individual natural rights." Peter G. Wallace, The Historian "Head's approach is a convincing one. His study treats the political culture at three different levels: that of the constitutional institutions, that of popular actions, and that of the political language." Andreas WUrgler, Jrnl of Modern History

Acknowledgments
List of illustrations
Note on languages, orthography and abbreviations
Introduction: Social order, politics, and political language in the Grisons, 1470-1520
Communalism and other political models in Europe and the Grisons
Rhaetia to 1520: geography, society, history
Local practice and federal government in the Freestate
From consolidation to communal politics, c. 1580-1620
Elite power and popular constraint in sixteenth-century Rhaetia
Reform, communal action and crisis, c. 1580-1620
Political language and political cosmology during the crisis years, 1617-1622
Conclusion: Democracy in early modern Rhaetia
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521470865
ISBN-10: 0521470862
Series: Cambridge Studies in Early Modern History
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 308
Published: 20th May 2011
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.2  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.62