Anna M. Grzymała-BusseDec 3, 2023
The Religious and Medieval Roots of the European State
Princeton University Press 2023
In Sacred Foundations: The Religious and Medieval Roots of the European State (Princeton University Press, 2023), political scientist Anna Grzymała-Busse corrects a long-standing distortion in the study of state formation in Europe, writing religion back into the story and examining, at once pithily and methodically, the multiple contributions of the Roman Church to the emergence of modern practices of secular statehood.
Sacred Foundations expands the conventional geography of medieval European state practice and brings to bear a range of innovative data analysis, showing that not only the papacy, but also a host of individuals and institutions subsumed under the Church contributed to medieval Europe’s territorial fragmentation (especially in Germanic and Italian lands), to the genesis of state institutions and civil law, and to the emergence of a culture of taxation by consent. Sometimes through rivalry, sometimes through emulation, kings across medieval Europe acquired the necessary tools to multiply human capital, drive institutional innovation, and ultimately best the papacy at its own long-standing efforts at administration and secular rule.
Piotr H. Kosicki is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Catholics on the Barricades (Yale, 2018) and editor, among others, of Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century (with Wolfram Kaiser). His most recent writings appeared in The Atlantic and in Foreign Affairs.