by Perry Anderson
Forty years after its original publication, Lineages of the Absolutist State remains an exemplary achievement in comparative history. Picking up from where its companion volume, Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism, left off, Lineages traces the development of Absolutist states in the early modern period from their roots in European feudalism, and assesses their various trajectories. Why didn’t Italy develop into an Absolutist state in the same, indigenous way as the other dominant Western countries, namely Spain, France and England? On the other hand, how did Eastern European countries develop into Absolutist states similar to those of the West, when their social conditions diverged so drastically? Reflecting on examples in Islamic and East Asian history, as well as the Ottoman Empire, Anderson concludes by elucidating the particular role of European development within universal history.