The lecture focuses on administrative confusion and social disruptions in the Habsburg monarchy from the Thirty Years’ War to Charles VI (r. 1711-40). The lecture will demonstrate that these two aspects were the by-product of state formation in early modern composite monarchies. Whereas the advent of the ‘fiscal-military state’ (Brewer 1989) transformed our understanding of central bureaucracies over the past three decades, these days most studies of early modern state formation apply top-down perspectives.
By contrast, the paper approaches the Habsburg monarchy’s re-emergence after 1648 based on two distinctively different premises: First, individual actions and structural developments entail differing consequences for central institutions and the geographically more remote areas; and, second, by analysing these developments from outside the courtly and urban settings, Sander-Faes is arguing that state integration in the centre was accompanied by increasing state disintegration and loss of cohesion on the lower administrative levels. As the central government tried to cope with war-induced stress, its actions started to tear apart the administrative and social fabric that held traditional society together. By emphasising the crucial role of local actors, regional interlinkages, and the disintegrating consequences that warfare had on state formation, Sander-Faes offers a counter-narrative to traditional interpretations in the fields of History, IR, and Historical Sociology.