Charles Tilly On The Relationship Between Cities And European States

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The emergence of national states that dominate Europe today was due to a long process of the consolidation of territory that began around 990 AD. Charles Tilly, argues in Coercion, Capital, and European States, that the convergence of European states into national states was through the union of the concentration of capital and coercion (63). In evaluating Tilly’s argument, I will particularly focus on the relationship between the two mechanisms in which capital and coercion accumulated in; cities and states. As cities were the source of financial power, and states were the source of military power, the triumph of one over the other would lead to the union that is presented in Tilly’s argument. However, both had to interact together, because though both mistrusted each other, they needed to work together to protect their interests: “European cities and states have carried on a series of…love-hate affairs in which each became at once indispensable and insufferable to the other” (59). Also, Tilly examines the difficult relationship between cities and states by providing historical examples. For example, Tilly writes about how the city of Messina in Sicily changed sides from Spain, to France, and back to France depending on the external events that “Altered the state’s military position or the cities’ commercial position” …show more content…

Likewise, they required their subject’s participation in military service and their cooperation in social programs (63). Thus, cities were becoming increasingly incorporated into the state as they were needed as a source of capital. The subordination of cities to states allowed rulers with the financial foundation to properly, and more efficiently, flex their coercive power over the territory they controlled, leading to the formation of what one currently defines as a nation

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