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Pre-Westphalia and Westphalia & Post-Westphalia


Medieval Europe & Pre-Westphalian System

  • Before the origin of the modern state system in Europe, the medieval Europe was characterized as a Pre-Westphalian system.

  • In the Pre-Westphalian system, the Church was the supreme authority from which the universal laws of governance and moral framework of organizing a society was derived.

  • The medieval Europe was based on feudal mode of production.

  • Unlike Westphalian system, the medieval social order in feudal Europe was not based either on the strict separation between the domestic (internal) and international (external) sphere on the one hand and the public and the private realm on the other hand.

Holy Roman Empire in 1648

  • There was no institutional separation of politics and economics during this period.

  • In fact, the highly differentiated carriers of political power in medieval politics and geopolitics were based on the vertical relations of subordination and horizontal relations of coordination.

  • In medieval Europe no political authority-pope, emperor, kings, dukes, counts, bishops, city-lords etc enjoyed the modern state’s monopoly of means of violence guaranteeing exclusive control over a bounded territory

  • Unified and exclusive authority claimed by modern sovereign states, the political authority in medieval Europe was dispersed, fragmented and overlapping.

  • But by the end of the 16th century the authority of the Church in medieval Europe was on decline due to the Renaissance and reformation movement

  • The economic practices of the new trading and manufacturing classes on the one hand, and the power of new science and technology on the other side, also effectively undermined the authority of the Church.

  • Thus, the bloody Thirty Years’ War came to an end with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648

  • And this led to secularization of life and the acceptance of a secular state in Europe.

The Thirty Years War

  • The Thirt