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Early Modern Democracy in the Grisons
Social Order and Political Language in a Swiss Mountain Canton, 1470–1620

$149.99

Part of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern History

  • Date Published: January 1995
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521470865

$149.99
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About the Authors
  • The Freestate of the Three Leagues in the Grisons, a rural confederation of peasant villages in the Swiss Alps, was one of the most unusual political entities found in early modern Europe. 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 in habitants.

    •  A detailed first study of one of the earliest democratic states in Europe
    •  Focuses on the role of community in the history of early modern democracy
    • Reveals interesting and unusual features about the nature and importance of early Swiss history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "...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. Gräf, 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 WÜrgler, Jrnl of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 1995
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521470865
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 5 maps 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Acknowledgments
    List of illustrations
    Note on languages, orthography and abbreviations
    Introduction: social order, politics, and political language in the Grisons, 1470–1520
    1. Communalism and other political models in Europe and the Grisons
    2. Rhaetia to 1520: geography, society, history
    3. Local practice and federal government in the Freestate
    4. From consolidation to communal politics, c. 1580–1620
    5. Elite power and popular constraint in sixteenth-century Rhaetia
    6. Reform, communal action and crisis, c. 1580–1620
    7. Political language and political cosmology during the crisis years, 1617–22
    Conclusion: democracy in early modern Rhaetia.

  • Author

    Randolph C. Head, University of California, Riverside

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