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Barraclough’s Thesis Essay

972 words - 4 pages

By 1300, strong kings created strong centralized nation states if they did not have two factors of the Barraclough?s Thesis working against them at the same time. Geoffrey Barraclough, an English historian, developed six factors that could either make or break a nation state.The first of the Barraclough?s points is dynastic discontinuity. Dynastic discontinuity results when the reigning king fails to produce a male heir to the thrown at the right time. The bloodline dies out, and a new family comes in and takes over. This happened in Germany when the last Carolingian king, Louis the Child, died in 911 and in France when the last Carolingian king died in 987. Also in France, the Capetians, which started with King Hugh Capet in 987 after the death of the last Carolingian king, produced male heirs for three hundred years. The last three Capetian kings, the sons of Philip IV, the Fair, all died without male heirs and the nearest relative was King Edward III of England, the son of Philip?s daughter. As a result, Philip of Valois, a first cousin of the previous kings, became king, which eventually caused problems. In 1066, Willie the Bastard conquered England and imposed feudalism-a system of government based on the holding of land in return for forty days service in the field using ?shock warfare.? The next of Barraclough?s points is scattered crown resources. In Germany, the Habsburgs and the Luxemburgs used their position of emperor to increase their personal holdings. Rudolph Habsburg managed to take Austria by conquest from the King of Bohemia and added this territory to the family estates. Charles IV centered his powers in Bohemia, which was a new acquisition of the Luxemburgs. Neither France nor England had any scattered crown resources keeping them much stronger than the German empire.Barraclough?s next factor is ducal strength. In Germany, the German dukes elected a duke, Henry of Saxony, in 919. Henry and his descendants held the German monarchy until 1024, the most powerful of this line being Otto I, the Great. Also in Germany, the large territorial blocks of Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, and Bavaria became independent political entities under powerful dukes, which were originally districts of the Carolingian empire. In France, King John II granted the huge Duchy of Burgundy to his younger son Philip the Bold in 1363. Philip and his successors greatly enlarged their possessions in eastern France, the Rhone and Rhine valleys, and the lower countries. In England, William the Conqueror had three sons. The eldest boy became the Duke of Normandy, the second became king of England and the third, Henry, was given a cash settlement. After the death of the king, Henry seized the throne and became king and also managed to take over the Duchy of Normandy when his eldest brother died and united it with the kingdom of England.Another point that Barraclough made was the over-extension of an empire....

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