We are publishing bi-weekly microreviews on Twitter: short discussions of monographs, edited volumes and articles which have inspired us (#RetroConflictsInspirations). Diplomatic, social, economic, legal history on the one hand, and conflict resolution & management theory on the other.

History meets the social sciences.

Search in microreviews and other website content: https://premodernconflictmanagement.org/search

Urban networks and emerging states (Blockmans & Heerma van Voss)

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

This #RetroConflictsInspirations takes a step back from individual Hanseatic case studies (which currently has a leading role in the daily research of today's @retro_conflicts's twitterstorian), and looks at the geographical and cultural context of the North Sea & Baltics, and themes of natural boundaries & human agency, as inspired by the discussion in Blockmans & Heerma van Voss, ‘Urban networks and emerging states’ (in particular pp.10-16) where the concept of a N-Sea culture is placed alongside the impact of urban networks specifically N-Sea & Baltic coastal cities as "nodal points of an area characterized by intensive exchanges, cultural interaction, competition and innovation."

This connection to the sea remains a central point, as demonstrated by referencing F. Braudel re: the Mediterranean being, despite its natural boundaries, a man-made entity, as "[it] has no unity but that created by the movements of men, the relationships they imply, and the routes they follow". This focus on cultural links, urban networks & geography is, of course, important in Hanseatic research, just as the authors' thoughts on the matter: "[...] it seems very difficult to isolate [N-Sea Culture] either from its Baltic or Atlantic connections. If anything, the overlap between the two economic systems … may then circumscribe the specific North Sea Culture."

W.P. Blockmans and L. Heerma van Voss, ‘Urban networks and emerging states in the North Sea and Baltic Areas: a maritime culture?’, in: Roding, J., and L. Heerma van Voss, The North Sea and Culture


Latest Blog Posts

Diplomatische Strategien der Reichsstadt Augsburg (Timpener)

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

The majority of conflicts our different sub-projects are concerned with went beyond the formal boundaries of a single city. Often, such altercations required the town council to engage with other municipal governments, regional nobility, and even royal courts. Which is why this week’s #microreview turns towards the topic of #medieval urban diplomacy in the form of Evelien Timpener’s study of late medieval Augsburg’s foreign relations.

Focusing on the council’s conflicts with regional nobility and clergy in the 15th century, Timpener argues, that the main task of urban diplomacy lay in finding allies to support the city’s interests, not in negotiating quick conflict resolutions. While Augsburg’s council situationally cooperated with the nobility, it was the exchange with other cities and the kings of the Holy Roman Empire which constituted the main pillar of the city’s foreign relations. To this end, the council’s diplomats – magistrates, jurists, and messengers – utilized a broad and flexible combination of letters and oral communication. While Timpener focuses on the city’s interaction with regional nobility and clergy, her findings can also be applied to the ‘international’ scope of Hanseatic cities. Although the contact with foreign courts has been a central topic of Hanseatic historiography, only few historians have paid attention to the how and who of the cities’ diplomacy. [....]

Continue reading

Luther, Conflict, and Christendom (Ocker)

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

A new #microreview for you today, this time a monograph on pre-modern conflict management, which shares our project’s roots in Georg Simmel’s understanding of conflict as a process not to be resolved but managed and guided: Christopher Ocker’s Luther, Conflict and Christendom.

Ocker is centrally interested in how an individual affects history, calling the book an anti-biogrpahy, not looking at Luther’s personal life but instead at how others interacted with his ideas and actions. Luther being Luther, that usually means looking at conflicts. He analyses conflict at the political and intellectual levels, as well as at the level of everyday life for common people, characterizing the Reformation as “conflict with relative, not absolute, parameters, defined differently for different people at different times.” This offers new insights into familiar aspects of the Reformation. Considering reform in German cities, Ocker suggests the process was not only a new axis for conflict or extension of old conflicts, but a new set of strategies by which conflict could be explored and managed. Turning to a lesser studied area, he examines how conflicts Luther identified between Protestant morality and the challenges and temptations of life came to the New World with protestant travelers who reinterpreted these conflicts to suit new communities and environments. Here, he highlights the advantages of a conflict management approach to studying two key sixteenth-century developments: the Reformation and transatlantic exchange. By centering the process rather than the subject of conflict, he reveals continuities missed by other methods. The focus on conflict also allows for a perspective neither top-down nor bottom-up but which shows relationships at different scales interacting as conflict moves from one man's intellectual life, to relations in communities like towns or abbeys, to the geopolitcal theatre. [....]

Continue reading