The development of Western bureaucracy: overview and explanation
In medieval times, despite substantial differences between various countries, Western Europe was generally characterized by a decentralized system of political rule and administration. 'Apart from the dreampicture of the Holy Roman Empire and the actual extension of the temporal sway of the Church ... centralized government was everywhere at a discount. Administration had become drastically localized' (Gladden, 1972, p. 1 ). This was necessitated by the poor system of communication, furthered by the relative self-sufficiency of the local agricultural economy, and buttressed by the feudal system of stratification. Because of the poor communications, the stability of society depended largely on the ability of the feudal lords to maintain order. But this ability also made it possible for them to resist the encroachments of the crown into their domains of power.