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  4. State-building and Nationalism in Early modern History (1500-1800)

Prak, Maarten; Kirmse, Stefan; Quirós Rosado, Roberto

State-building and Nationalism in Early modern History (1500-1800)

In: (Ed.)
The European Experience
A Multi-Perspective History of Modern Europe, 1500–2000

Open Book Publishers


This chapter discusses states and nations, and we must be alert from the start that in historical texts these terms still very much carry the imprint of their origins in the nineteenth century. Similar terms were used during the early modern period, but they carried different meanings, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes radically different. Borders between countries were blurred where today we find clear demarcations. We still have European countries cobbled together from distinct units—think of the United Kingdom—but these are coherent states compared to many of their early modern predecessors. Few early modern states had proper governments as we know them today. Patriotism may have been in evidence, though nationalism was not. And all of this—borders, institutions, and identities—was contested.