Robert von Friedeburg, Luther’s Legacy: The Thirty Years War and the Modern Notion of ‘State’ in the Empire, 1530s to 1790s – Cambridge University Press, 2016
In this new account of the emergence of a distinctive territorial state in early modern Germany, Robert von Friedeburg examines how the modern notion of state does not rest on the experience of a bureaucratic state-apparatus. It emerged to stabilize monarchy from dynastic insecurity and constrain it to protect the rule of law, subjects, and their lives and property. Against this background, Lutheran and neo-Aristotelian notions on the spiritual and material welfare of subjects dominating German debate interacted with Western European arguments against ‘despotism’ to protect the lives and property of subjects. The combined result of this interaction under the impact of the Thirty Years War was Seckendorff’s Der Deutsche Fürstenstaat (1656), constraining the evil machinations of princes and organizing the detailed administration of life in the tradition of German Policey, and which founded a specifically German notion of the modern state as comprehensive provision of services to its subjects.
‘This book offers an original and striking argument about the emergence of the German concept of the State from conflict and dialogue among princes and their subjects amidst the catastrophic circumstances of the Thirty Years War and its immediate aftermath. Friedeburg breaks new ground by shifting the discussion away from the unsteady development of German liberalism and the supposed uncritical and even enthusiastic embrace of monarchism, which allegedly pushed Germany along a deviant ‘special path’ away from western democracy and towards Nazism.’ Peter H. Wilson, University of Hull
I missed this when it came out a few years ago, but looks a very interesting contribution to debates about 17th century political theory and history.