chapter  2
39 Pages

The ages of rebellions and revolutions

The early nation-states

While politically fragmented Germany and Italy retained into the modern era the ancient and medieval nature of citizenship as a status enjoyed in urban or citystate contexts, England and France in particular were becoming consolidated nation-states. Furthermore, these states were ruled by monarchs who pretended to absolute power by virtue of the authority they held from God. If the monarch was so exalted by divine right above even his most noble subjects, could citizenship exist either in theory or in practice? The short answer is that the concept was so ingrained in political thinking that it could not be discarded even in this apparently uncongenial authoritarian environment. It had to be adapted; and education for this adjusted understanding of the status also had to be adapted. We start this chapter, chronologically, in the sixteenth century and pursue the story to the end of the eighteenth. By entitling the chapter ‘The ages of rebellions and revolutions’ we intend to highlight characteristics of this time-span which help to explain the nature of civic education in theory and practice over these years.