The Northern European City-States Unite in Leagues with Elected Representatives

  • Ronald M. Glassman


The Northern European city-states were small-market towns. Unlike in Italy, they faced powerful German and French Kingly-States, who could field huge feudal armies of armored knights. To defend themselves, they formed leagues of allied city-states. Representatives from each city met in a central location to make policy. Representative oligarchy gave way to representative democracy as the craftsman of the cities organized themselves into guilds and militias. In Switzerland and The Netherlands, where the Kings were weak or absent, representative democracy became institutionalized. This would also occur, of course, in England and France – but not without violent revolutions, the English led by Oliver Cromwell, the French by “philosophe” – intellectuals. Spain and Germany had parliaments too, but the Kings and their massive feudal armies successfully repressed the emerging Democratic movement and remained dominant. Parliamentary – democracy, nonetheless became an alternative system of political integration that could and did replace the divine Kingship from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald M. Glassman
    • 1
  1. 1.NYU School of Professional StudiesStern College of Yeshiva UniversityNew YorkUSA

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