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Publication . Article . 2021

Dynastic scenario thinking in the Holy Roman Empire

Jasper Van der Steen;
Open Access
Published: 31 Dec 2021
Country: Netherlands
Abstract Owing to the prevailing definition of ‘dynasty’ as a line of succession, historians have long neglected the fundamental tensions that underlie succession, and have undervalued both the active attempts of princes to control these tensions as well as their ability to anticipate the need to adjust to changing circumstances. Yet premodern dynasties were well equipped to anticipate and develop coping mechanisms for a wide range of future challenges regarding succession, religion, marital alliances and extinction. They did so by considering alternative scenarios for the future in house regulations. Using as an example the seventeenth-century house of Nassau in the Holy Roman Empire, this article argues that even though conflict remained endemic to dynastic power, future-orientated regulations constituted a basic consensus within princely families on how to deal with conflict, which both reflected and contributed to the associative political practices that held the Holy Roman Empire together.

History, Cultural Studies

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License: cc-by
Providers: UnpayWall