Kráľovstvo, monarchia alebo štát? K otázke používania konceptu štátu v ranom stredoveku

Kingdom, Monarchy or State? : On the Topic of Using a Concept of State in the Early Middle Ages.

When you mention "a medieval state" these days, it kindles some interest only in very few people. It is considered a self-evident fact a state was a completely normal part of our human history since time immemorial. The main reason why the term state is now commonly used also for the Early Middle Ages is the idea that today's modern states simply evolved from the ancient times. Historians, too, refer to a medieval political formation as State. They rarely, however, ask what is actually State when writing about political formations from the past. The works of previous scholars pointed out that any attempts to grasp its precise definition almost always bring a number of risks. When searching for the outset of State, there appears to be more questions than clear answers. Some historians and sociologists are highly aware of that fact. That is why they formulate their conclusions about a "medieval state" and functioning of the early medieval political formations carefully. Thinking about State in the Middle Ages has several aspects. First of all, the appropriateness of using this term for the above mentioned period in the history, and efforts to link those early medieval political formations with a today's modern state. The most important is, however, research about functioning of those formations, revealing their internal structures, a position of the monarch in them, dynasty presentation, management and administration, written culture, ecclesiastical structure, and other related matters. In research, historical sociologists, when talking about political establishments, use various criteria to point out when it is possible to talk about State and when not yet. Therefore, among the scientists, there are different views on the use of the term State in the case of the early Middle Ages. They often seek the essential characteristics which, they think, describe the functioning of the early medieval political formations the best. Selected features of those formations largely reflect scientists‘ own ideas about the periods they examined. In defining the political units in the early Middle Ages, there were no historical categories, which would be terminologically equivalent to a modern state. It is so due to the fact that today's research is not focused only on Latin term status but also on the semantic content of the Latin words like regnum, res publica, imperium, ecclesia etc. When we are to research the Middle Ages, we cannot expect to find medieval formations with such complex political power that is enjoyed by modern states. For the sake of terminological precision, historians should avoid the vision of State, when discussing the political formations in the medieval context. To designate an estate, a distribution of power or a government in the historiography of Medieval Studies the English term lordship (lat. dominion, fran. seigneurie) is often used. It is the equivalent of the well-known German term Herrschaft. In an attempt to define "statehood" in this period, these terms are used to express the essence of a medieval political power. They point to the personal exercise of power and control of subordinate people, which could have been serfs, knights and vassals, who were looking for consolidation of their positions. Lordship/Herrschaft, indeed expresses the variable structure policy and land relations. It is understood, that during that period there is no universally accepted term as a substitute for the term State. The main reason is the fact that there were different forms of power, governance and political thinking, so one term, to explain the uniqueness and differences among all those police units, cannot be coined. It should be always kept in mind that there were different periods and geographical areas as well during which and in which dissimilar concentration and enforcement of the central power existed. State is an obvious thing for us, but if you ask the question where are its origins you face many problems. The American historian Joseph Rees Strayer published his crucial work On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State in 1970. In his book he clearly pointer out the importance of some medieval institutions which provided the basis for modern nation states. Strayer assumed that the first modern nation state buds in Western Europe began to emerge more during the late Middle Ages, mainly due to administrative institutions establishment in the 14th century. State has long been considered as a permanent element in the history that is closely linked to the existence of the nation. The goal of all national efforts that expresses nation's viability, it can be said also a final stage of a national development ending in perfection, is when a nation is able to found its own state. In works of some historians you can come across the term "a medieval state" without any effort to explain it. They simply use it because it has been always used to describe any political formation. Yet, it is not important for them which historical period is concerned. As for some nations their historiography traditionally admits the existence of a "medieval nation", this is also the reason why they accept the existence of the state in the early Middle Ages. It is inhabitated by the always existing nation that owns political self-presentation in the creation of its own state. Still, what does such a conscious linking of the nation and the state actually express? Does it really serve a good understanding of the situation in the past, or does it rather obscure the opportunity to explore the early medieval political formations in their diversity, complexity and uniqueness? At present, works of Western medievalists, who deal with the establishment and organization of the medieval formations, are mostly not concerned with the validation of the existence of states in the early Middle Ages. The term State is rather perceived as a working and helping term which is not identified with a modern nation-state type. They try to avoid using it by applying less controversial terms, such as Kingdom, Monarchy, Principality, Lordship (Herrschaft), Crown etc.