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Protecting the Fatherland: Lawsuits and Political Debates in Jülich, Hesse-Cassel and Brittany (1642-1655)

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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • Offers the first comparison between two small homogeneous German principalities, Jülich and Hesse-Cassel, and the large heterogeneous autonomous province of Brittany
  • Argues for the significance of fatherland-terminology in the early modern legal and political debates, showing that in small principalities it was a prerequisite to keep communicating with power-seeking princes; noble families in large principalities had other means of upholding their position
  • Draws on a vast amount of primary sources, uncovering a wealth of material that significantly expands the understanding of political language and debates

Part of the book series: Studies in the History of Law and Justice (SHLJ, volume 20)

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About this book

This open access book presents a comparative analysis of the use of fatherland terminology in a political and legal context in Jülich, Hesse-Cassel and Brittany from 1642 to 1655. Fatherland terminology includes words such as patria, patriot and nation. In historiography, the use of these words by the nobility is often interpreted as an early sign of nationalism that conflicted with the prince’s initiation of state-building. The book argues that neither ‘states’ nor ‘nationalism’ truly existed yet; rather, the political arena was dominated by dynasties. Further, it rejects the notion of deliberate state-building and demonstrates that the nobility used this terminology to object to princely politics as part of adopting a “presupposed office.” This status allowed the nobility to place itself outside the ruler-subject constellation and critique the situation. The Duchy of Jülich and the Landgraviate of Hesse-Cassel are used as examples of small economies of scale with homogenous nobilities, and ones where the Thirty Year’s War hit hard – which led to the illegal levying of taxes and the billeting of soldiers, and in turn to the nobility critiquing princely politics. In contrast, the Duchy of Brittany, with its large economy of scale and heterogeneous nobility, found an alternative way of pursuing its interests and keeping taxes as low as possible. The goal of this book is to discuss and present three representative cases that offer insights into how the nobility safeguarded the welfare and prosperity of the fatherland and its inhabitants.

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Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Holy Roman Empire

  2. Kingdom of France

  3. Conclusion

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Christel Annemieke Romein

About the author

Annemieke Romein obtained her PhD at Erasmus University in 2016 on a comparative study of the political terminology of the fatherland, patria and patriot in Hessen-Kassel, Gulik and Bretagne. In 2017 she received an NWO Rubicon grant with which she worked in Ghent from September 2017 to February 2020 on a project on political-institutional/legal history, a comparison between the regions of Flanders and Holland between 1576-1702. She was a Researcher-in-Residence/ project leader of the Digital Humanities “Entangled Histories” project at the KB National Library of the Netherlands. Since 2020 she is working at Huygens ING where she continues her research into early modern provincial regulations with her NWO Veni project ‘A Game of Thrones?’.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Protecting the Fatherland: Lawsuits and Political Debates in Jülich, Hesse-Cassel and Brittany (1642-1655)

  • Authors: Christel Annemieke Romein

  • Series Title: Studies in the History of Law and Justice

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Law and Criminology, Law and Criminology (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-74239-3Published: 09 October 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-74242-3Published: 09 October 2021

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-74240-9Published: 08 October 2021

  • Series ISSN: 2198-9842

  • Series E-ISSN: 2198-9850

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXIII, 218

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 10 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Theories of Law, Philosophy of Law, Legal History, Legal History

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