Issue 10 (96)
From the Patrimonial Monarchy to the Public / Legal State in Western Europe in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age
Volume: 11
Publication date: 31.10.2020
1000 RUB / 10.0 SU

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In Memory of Nina A. Khachaturian

The thematic section of this issue of the “ISTORIYA” — “From the patrimonial monarchy to the public law state in Western Europe in the Middle Ages and earlier Modern Times” is the latest work of Nina Khachaturian (7 october 1931 — 9 july 2020), Doctor of Sciences in History, Honored Professor of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the prominent Russian medievalist and francologue, the member of the Editorial Board of the journal “Srednie Veka” — of many years. She completed this section two months before her death.

Nina Khachaturian made a significant contribution to the development of the fundamental aspects of the history of Western European Middle Ages: the emergence of estate-representative institutions as the early history of parliamentarism and civil society; the formation of the estate of monarchy in France as the most significant stage in the development of the État moderne; the medieval city as an integral part of the feudal structure; the phenomenon of medieval corporatism and the socio-political nature of social classes as a reflection of the self-organization of medieval society. But the main research interest of Nina Khachaturian in the Western European Middle Ages was the political history, which she managed to turn into the “backbone” of the historical process. The research group “Power and society” that she created has become the most effective platform for Russian research on the political factor in the Wester medieval history thanks to regular scientific forums and the publication of collective monographs. Nina Khachaturian created her own research school on the political history of the European Middle Ages, while simultaneously educating several generations of medieval historians for almost 60 years of teaching at the Department of the history of the Middle Ages of Moscow State University. The Editorial Board decided to dedicate this issue to the cherished memory of Nina Khachaturian, an outstanding scientist and a remarkable person.


Summary

“From the patrimonial monarchy to the public state in Western Europe in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age” is a collective work based on the results of the conference organized on February 1—2, 2019 by the research group “Power and Society” (head researcher: N. A. Khachaturyan) of the Department of History of the Middle Ages (Lomonosov Moscow State University) in cooperation with the Department of Medieval and Early Modern Studies of the Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences.

The conference continued the earlier work of the “Power and Society” research group. Founded in 1992 in the time of welcoming new approaches and concepts to the Russian and post-Soviet historical studies the group has published seven monographs in “Nauka” [Science] and “Aletheia”, along with numerous articles in academic journals including “ISTORIYA” “Property in the Middle Age in Western Europe (Land, Authority, Law)”. In June 2020 the new monograph “The phenomenon of property in the social structure of the Western European Middle Ages” (ed. by Nina Khachaturyan. Saint Petersburg, 2020. Proceedings of the Faculty of History of Moscow State University. Issue 162. Series II: Historical Research) was published by the “Aletheia” publishing house.

The current issue reflects a noticeable innovation in the experimental and theoretical area of medieval studies, in particular, thanks to the new approaches in political history. The latter was once a very traditional and well-researched sphere of historical consciousness (identity) and historical knowledge. New angles and horizons signifying a much more in-depth attitude include the following important achievements that had been gradually added over time:

  1. Natural-philosophical concept of the historical process during the Enlightenment era prevailed over other theories.
  2. The “social history approach emphasized the specific details of the historical process on a whole and historical knowledge in particular and therefore identified what history should consider as its subject making political history one of the prominent bases of social life.
  3. In the age of structuralism in the 20th century, the idea of systematic development no longer viewed economic factor as the monopolizing one in interpreting the concept of “social structure”.
  4. Finally, cultural and historical anthropology ensured the “cultural dimension” of political history and emphasized the importance of the legal factor in the context of a comprehensive vision of the historical process. This new asset in historical knowledge provided the opportunity to draw special attention to such an indicator of the maturity of a state organism as the nature of the institutional level of its organization.

This does not mean that the issues of the organizational history of political institutes had not been researched before. They were the objects of special interest in historical knowledge of the 19th century emphasizing the history of political institutions. Among issues addressed were the number of officials, positions, and the departmental structure of the institution; however the social context was ignored. In the 20th century, the prosopographic (biographical) studies, in which the data on the number and the size of governmental departments were supplemented by the picture of the social origin or the social affiliation of employees, became a landmark in institutional analysis. This innovation brought the studies of political history into the area of the social structure and the social mobility of medieval society. The new turn in the institutional history at the end of the 20th century (1980s) is in fact owed to the Western European medieval studies (see articles by N. A. Khachaturian, S. E. Fedorov). Its distinct academic novelty is conveyed by the formula for the development of medieval statehood presented in the title of the publication.

Highlighting the issue of institutional maturity of the medieval state (this, according to P. Bourdieu, is a “form of legitimate violence”), the authors of the project stressed the importance of a comprehensive approach when studying it as a whole, dwelling on the medieval character of this highest institutional form of organization – the public state Etat Moderne — its medieval essence treating it as a direct precursor of the Modern Age states.

In this publication we research the issue of institutional maturity of the medieval state in the context of the potential of the social structure. Its most iconic markers are:

  1. the level of overcoming polycentrism in assessing the capabilities of the supreme power;
  2. the problems of correlating interpersonal and public social relations in a society;
  3. the phenomenon of “publicity” and addressing this issue in the context of the interaction between the supreme power (authorities) and society;
  4. the problem of “the common good” and the options for its solution in a particular country depending on public institutions and the supreme power (authorities).

The history of the institution of authoritarian power in the Middle Ages reflected the peculiar coincidence of factors in the specific features of the development of its representatives in the secular and spiritual spheres of life. Specifically, this was the case in the tendencies of the institutionalization of power of sovereigns and the heads of the Roman Church. Incidentally, as in the case of the clergy becoming more active in the public sphere as part of the Cathedral movement). Innovations in the process of the secular statehood becoming institutionalized make it possible to identify the components of forming a bureaucracy, along with the obvious signs (in retrospect) of the sad prospect the authoritarian regime entailed while attempting to employ representative institutions. These aspects predetermined the structure of the publication.

Issue publications 10 (96)
Author(s)
The Phenomenon of L’Etat Moderne and the Theory behind the Concept
Supreme Authoritarian Rule in Secular and Ecclesiastical Domains: Its Claims, Limits, and Opportunities
Innovations in Political and Institutional Life of City-States and Principalities
“Science Politique” and the Idea of “the Common Good” in the Spiritual Life of Medieval Western European Society
Images of History and History in Images
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