The Medieval Roots of Democracy

Issue Date July 2015
Volume 26
Issue 3
Page Numbers 110-123
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A point of consensus in the so-called “sequencing debate” is that in Europe state-building preceded the development of political accountability, eventually in the form of democratization, by centuries. This is arguably a misrepresentation of the European sequence. Strong institutions of constraints were an integrated part of the political regime form when large-scale state-building began following the sixteenth-century military revolution. European state-builders were therefore checked by countervailing political power but were also able to channel authority through existing institutions. A comparison with Russia shows that it was on this basis that both the modern state and modern democracy emerged and took root in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.