The material is examined from a variety of perspectives. First, it sheds light on the descriptive patterns and criteria for evaluating political power in the early 18th century, for the volumes focus on elements of princely rule based on interaction as well as the institutionalised state organised into administrative bodies. Second, it reveals the similarities and differences in the perception and evaluation of European and non-European systems of rule, which presupposes a global network. The imputed absolute power of non-European monarchies had an unsettling effect. Third, from the perspectives of the history of knowledge and of media, it is interesting to note that up-to-date information pertaining to states and politics was commodified and introduced under a publisher’s control into the market-based media system. Even though this information was compiled by young university students, who had to work under precarious conditions, the publications were not classed as academic scholarly literature. Scholars have also been unable to determine any interference on the part of the authorities. Apparently, these works were aimed at meeting the demands of a wider audience.
An examination of the Regnerische Staaten thus offers insight into a specific phase of a transitional and expanding discourse surrounding political rule. The topics addressed range from princely rule and princely society to statehood and the international system, the application of European norms to non-European systems of government and the opening of political concepts and analysis to an audience wider than that of the ruling elites.
Duration: July 2015 – December 2020
Project participant: Dr Volker Bauer (team member)