Pre-modern Power Elites: Princes, Courts, Intermediaries

  • Jeroen Duindam


This chapter provides a global view of pre-modern elites. Dynastic rule predominates in history; it molded the shape of elites worldwide. Rulers’ offspring held elite status, and their alliances created a second elite. In addition to these two core groups, various types of servants can be found in most domains: domestics, administrators, soldiers, and spiritual leaders. Which forms of recruitment and legitimization can be found for these functional elites? Is it possible to establish regional typologies? How did these elites relate to the ruler, and how did their interaction take shape? How powerful were rulers, often styled as omnipotent? What tied the intermediary elites to the court, and what alienated them? The chapter closes with a brief comparison of pre-modern and modern political practices.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeroen Duindam
    • 1
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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