05 July 2022

BOOK: Deborah BOUCOYANNIS, Kings as Judges: Power, Justice, and the Origins of Parliaments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). ISBN 9781107162792, £ 29.99


(Source: CUP)

Cambridge University Press has recently published  Kings as Judges: Power, Justice, and the Origins of Parliaments


How did representative institutions become the central organs of governance in Western Europe? What enabled this distinctive form of political organization and collective action that has proved so durable and influential? The answer has typically been sought either in the realm of ideas, in the Western tradition of individual rights, or in material change, especially the complex interaction of war, taxes, and economic growth. Common to these strands is the belief that representation resulted from weak ruling powers needing to concede rights to powerful social groups. Boucoyannis argues instead that representative institutions were a product of state strength, specifically the capacity to deliver justice across social groups. Enduring and inclusive representative parliaments formed when rulers could exercise power over the most powerful actors in the land and compel them to serve and, especially, to tax them. The language of rights deemed distinctive to the West emerged in response to more effectively imposed collective obligations, especially on those with most power.


Deborah Boucoyannis, George Washington University, Washington DC

Deborah Boucoyannis teaches Comparative Politics at George Washington University. This book is based on a dissertation that received the American Political Science Association's Ernst Haas Best Dissertation Award in European Politics and the Seymour Martin Lipset Best Dissertation Award from the Society for Comparative Research. She has published in Perspectives on Politics, Politics and Society, and other journals.


Preface and acknowledgments
Part I. The origins of Representative Institutions: Power, Land, and Courts:
1. Introduction
2. A theory of institutional emergence: regularity, functional fusion, and the origins of parliament
3. Explaining institutional layering and functional fusion: the role of power
Part II. Origins of Representative Rractice: Power, Obligation, and Taxation:
4. Taxation and representative practice: bargaining vs compellence
5. Variations in representative practice: 'absolutist' France and Castile
6. No taxation of elites, no representative institutions
Part III. Trade, Towns, and the Political Economy of Representation:
7. Courts, institutions, and cities: Low Countries and Italy
8. Courts, institutions, and territory: Catalonia
9. The endogeneity of trade: the English wool trade and the Castilian mesta
Part IV. Land, Conditionality, and Property Rights:
10. Power, land, and second-best constitutionalism: Central and Northern Europe
11. Conditional land law, property rights, and 'Sultanism': premodern English and Ottoman land regimes
12. Land, tenure, and assemblies: Russia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
Part V. Why Representation in the West: Petitions, Collective Responsibility, and Supra-Local Organization:
13. Petitions, collective responsibility, and representative practice: England, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire


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