By Bernard Crick
Ebook by means of Crick, Bernard
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Additional resources for Basic Forms of Government: A Sketch and a Model
37 They emerged clearly towards the end of the twelfth century in the kingdom of Leon in Spain; in the thirteenth century they were flourishing in Catalonia, Sicily, Languedoc, Castille, Portugal, the Reichstag in the German Empire, Aragon, Navarre, Bohemia, Brandenburg, Austria, Valencia, Piedmont, England and Ireland; and by the fourteenth century in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Poland. 38 Most disappeared in the sixteenth century, more at the time of the French Revolution and the autocratic reaction; only a handful survived.
Except occasionally for religious proselytism, they had no such motives : they were regimes whose legitimacy depended on maintaining the status quo, not high rates of change or development. But 'oriental' despotism was a distinctive form of government, almost wholly untouched by the Greek tradition of politics and speculation about political justice, and some of whose features occur in contemporary Russian and Chinese government and stem from roots quite outside European conditions and the world-changing ideas that have sprung from them.
And did the king, particularly the German Emperor, have some special sacred power? No one doubted that there were some things which must be rendered to God but also some to Caesar, just as some things were due to the king and some to the local lord there was a basic dualism in both Christianity and feudalism : but no one could say with certainty, in either case, where the line should be drawn. All these questions were canvassed, sometimes with fire and sword. There was no ultimate way of enforcing these 40 delimitations but by violence, yet the sheer belief in a 'natural law' was important as a day-to-day restraint.