History and Federalism in the Age of Nation-State Formation View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:Chapter     


Chapter Info

DATE

2002

AUTHORS

Maiken Umbach

ABSTRACT

German history from the French Revolution to the foundation of the first nation-state is usually described as a process of territorial integration: the pre-modern, polycentric ‘Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation’ was gradually replaced by a modern, centralized and expansive state under Prussian auspices. Yet not all aspects of the constitutional and cultural history of the Old Reich were rendered obsolete when Napoleon abolished the Empire in 1806. This chapter explores the longue durée of the imperial idea in the era of German unification. The memory of the Old Reich continued to shape German thinking about the nation. In fact, even before the Empire disappeared as a political structure, it took on a separate intellectual existence. In the eighteenth century, the so-called imperial reform movement sought to reinvent the Old Reich in a new language. What emerged was the vision of a federal state, compatible with the rational constitutionalism and respect for regional individualism that were hallmarks of Enlightenment thought. This idealized Empire of the Enlightenment in turn offered numerous reference points for nineteenth-century German nationalists, who wanted to lend their utopia of a pluralist, federal Rechtsstaat a sense of historical legitimacy. Invoked to defend regional privileges against the central state, the imperial idea was nevertheless more popular among liberals than conservatives. History did not only constrain progressive thinking. In nineteenth-century Germany, more often than not, it became the vehicle for a distinctive project of ‘federal’ modernization. More... »

PAGES

42-69

Book

TITLE

German Federalism

ISBN

978-1-349-42862-5
978-0-230-50579-7

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1057/9780230505797_3

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230505797_3

DIMENSIONS

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