The fourth part of the project is intended to span the Netherlands, Switzerland, the German Confederation/Germany, the Habsburg Empire, the divided lands of Poland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
In focussing on central and northern Europe, we are interested in foregrounding the following themes:
- The fortunes of the word in these places, with attention to whether there was any special form of cross-fertilisation between places sharing the same language, or language-group
- The ways in which traditions of republicanism, elective monarchy, and government via assemblies of estates, found in many parts of the region, shaped ways in which democracy was subsequently imagined, and were themselves subject to re-imagining by people influenced by new ideas about ‘democracy’
- The relationship between ideas of nationhood and political theories and practices (associated e.g. with attempts to actualise ‘the sovereignty of the people’ – prompting the question, who are the people?)
- Ways in which ‘democracy’ was invoked in relation to contentious issues in rural society (eg the rights of peasants; the future of serfdom)
- Mid century and later interest in new devices to improve the functioning of democracy (in which connection, Switzerland especially functioned as a site of experiment).