Message to the reader
Message to the reader

The articles offered to the attention of the readers are written on the basis of the materials of the international scientific conference "Metamorphoses of Power in Western Countries in the XVII‑XVIII Centuries", which took place at the Historical Faculty of Moscow State
University two years ago, in April 2015. It was attended by specialists in the history of the Modern Times from Russia, Germany, France, Sweden. The conference participants continued the discussions about the character and evolution of the state power in the early modern era that began half a century ago and renewed in the last decade. The reports and speeches presented at the conference, devoted both to theoretical questions and the analysis of concrete examples from the history of individual European countries, provided ample material for comparison and made it possible to identify a number of common features characterizing the state, transitional, according to M. Weber's definition, from a patrimonial monarchy to legal and bureaucratic order, established in Europe in the XIX century. In their reports the authors drew attention to such characteristic features of the state of the XVII-XVIII centuries as the interweaving of public power and private interests, patriarchal ideology and bureaucratic methods of administration, favoritism and protectionism, the role of patronage and clientele, combined with active access to public space, attention to the propaganda, the desire to establish a dialogue with the subjects and attempts to apply the latest economic and political theories. At the same time, the participants of the conference came to the conclusion that no really existed state in the XVI-XVIII centuries can’t be considered typical and the collective image of a modern state can only be built by joint efforts of specialists in the history of different countries on the basis of a comparison of monarchies and other political forms of the studied epoch.

A number of theoretical problems connected with the phenomenon of power and its transformation in modern times were covered in an article by M.M. Krom prepared on the basis of his report at the conference[1]. In this issue of the journal Historical Studies we publish articles of other participants. They are united by the desire to combine the research of political discourse and management practices, to trace the influence of historical and event context on the development of statehood in different countries of Europe. In search of the reasons for the metamorphosis of state power in the XVII-XVIII centuries the authors refer to crisis phenomena such as religious schism and the religious wars caused by it, the Thirty Years' War (articles by Y. Rodier, A.V. Lazareva), the dynasty's change on the throne (E.A. Makarova's article). In the conditions of the crisis the question of the legitimacy of power, of the powers of the monarch arose. This stimulated the appearance of a significant number of philosophical, legal, political treatises and pamphlets containing new concepts of power which according to their authors should be organized rationally and to benefit the society. Thus, the comprehension of the experience of the Religious Wars in France served as a starting point for the development of the theories of absolute monarchy in which contemporaries saw the only sensible force capable of controlling and restraining human passions thereby preventing fratricidal civil wars (article by Y. Rodier). Comparison with the experience of other countries shows that similar teachings on the salvific power of state power began to appear in England after the Civil wars of the middle of the XVII century. The analysis of the texts and the iconography of the German illustrated leaflets of the Thirty Years' War period (article by A.V. Lazareva) reveals the transformation of the notions of state power in a crisis. The main duty of the ruler contemporaries began to consider the maintenance of order and security for subjects.

The published articles demonstrate the unflagging importance of the dynastic factor both in political discourse and in the practice of management of the XVII-XVIII centuries. Paintings by P.P. Rubens at the Whitehall Banquet Hall was a political manifesto glorifying the absolute monarch in the person of James I Stewart and were called upon to promote the establishment of a new dynasty on the English throne (article by E.A. Makarova). The activity of Emperor Leopold I who steadfastly defended the dynastic interests of the Austrian Habsburgs combined traditionalism and innovation which was clearly manifested in particular in his policy on the eve and during the War of the Spanish Succession (K. Kampmann's article). Evolution of the Habsburg monarchy in the XVIII century. (K. Lebo's article) gives an example of how the modernization of the state, the implementation of reforms were carried out while maintaining great differences in the degree of integration of the individual lands belonging to the hereditary possessions of the Habsburg lands. In these conditions the statement and propaganda of the dynastic principle should be viewed not so much as an archaic feature but rather as a means of building a state of the Modern age that is specific to the compositional monarchy. Bureaucratic rationalization manifested itself for example in the striving for the professionalization of the state apparatus and attempts to coordinate the activities of various departments was combined with the tendency to establish a dialogue with subjects that called for special attention to propaganda (articles by K. Lebo, L.A. Pimenova). The study of the procedure of taxation in Provence makes evident the full strength of provincial privileges and local representative institutions in France in the XVIII century. (The article by E.O. Martem'yanova). Published works (articles by K. Kampmann, K. Lebo, E.A. Makarova, L.A. Pimenova) also reveal the specifics of the relationship between the monarch's court and the state apparatus of the monarchies of the XVII-XVIII centuries. In the conditions when there was a transformation of the patrimonial kingdom towards the state of the Modern Times, the administrative functions were transferred to ministries, secretariats, councils and chanceries which however did not lose contact with the ruler's court.

Seven published articles based on the history of France, the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg monarchies and England of the XVII-XVIII centuries clearly show the general trends in the development of the state of the early Modern period primarily the tendency to affirm the absolute power of the monarch in theory and practice as well as national and regional differences.

Also in the "articles" section there is an article by E.V. Zotova, dedicated to the idea of continuity of the highest ecclesiastical power which is extremely important for the institution of the church. E.V. Zotova traces the idea of continuity of power in the images of bishops in manuscripts commissioned by the bishops and archbishops of Germany in X-XII centuries and its various iconographic variations. The author of the article examines monuments related to different periods of medieval art and correspond to different artistic styles. However the manuscripts are united by the fact that all of them were created by the order of bishops and they embodied important ideas for the representatives of the church authority and first of all the idea of succession of dignity from the holy predecessor using the most suitable iconographic schemes for a specific case allowing to place the necessary accents.

In 2017 the anniversary of the Reformation is celebrated all over the world. Faculty of History of Lomonosov Moscow State University could not fail to note this significant anniversary. April 24, 2017 at the faculty there was an international scientific conference "The time of silence passed." Five Centuries of Reformation in a Changing World " dedicated to the celebration of this jubilee. Over the five hundred years since the beginning of the Reformation perception of Luther and his heritage has changed many times under the influence of various political, social and cultural factors. In the conference report you can read about the influence of the Reformation on the historical processes in Europe and America and the perception of the reformation heritage for five centuries.

The Faculty of History of Moscow State University is the flagship in classical university education, therefore within both training courses and scientific projects we pay great attention to ancient languages. May 22, 2017 at the Faculty of History of Lomonosov Moscow State University a round table "Problems of the translation of Roman authors into Russian in our time" was held. During the work of the round table there was a presentation of a new bilingual series Bibliotheca antiqua. The reader will also be able to find detailed information on the work of the round table on the pages of this issue.

In the "Events, Exhibitions, Anniversaries" section of our journal you will see an article-interview about the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Germany, the homeland of the Reformation, where this anniversary is celebrated with much pomp. One of the most significant jubilee exhibitions was the exhibition "Luthermania" in Wolfenbüttel.

Moreover in our traditional column "Reviews" we publish very interesting surveys of the latest researches. One of them is devoted to military history - a whole interdisciplinary direction that focuses on all aspects of the life of society. This problem is the subject of a monograph written by Professor of German History and Politics Mark Hewitson "Absolute War. Violence and Mass Warfare in German Lands, 1792‑1820".

The collective monograph "George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy" was published on the basis of a conference organized by Oxford University (Pembroke College, Oxford University) and timed to the 300th anniversary of the birth of J. Whitefield, an outstanding English preacher, theologian, co‑founder of methodism.



[1] Krom M.M. Gosudarstvo rannego novogo vremeni: obsheevropeiskaya model’ I regional’nie razlichia // Novaya i noveishaya istoria. 2016. №4.



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